As with anything, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the variety of types, sizes, features, colors, weights, what, when, why, where, who…(let me catch my breath). For now, let’s focus on what’s right for you with our Best Portable Table Saw Guide. We’ll start by identifying quality brands that align with your needs. Besides, who wants to buy something that won’t work?
We’ve used $2,000 as our minimum spending threshold on these models, because that’s what we’ve found you have to pay for a cabinet model with all the features we consider essential: a precision-machined cast-iron worktop, a versatile fence on sliding tracks, a 3 HP motor with belt drive, an all-steel cabinet, a cast-iron trunnion support, and machined flywheels to adjust the blade settings.
It is safe to say that we live in a DIY era. Think about it. When was the last time you went on YouTube or anywhere else online and looked for something that tickled your fancy, a guide on how something is made or done, or maybe a tutorial. Indeed, we do it very often, so why should woodworking and home improvement be any different? With the prices of table saws constantly dipping and the insane number of choices on the market, you can get one for yourself and save thousands of dollars by doing things yourself instead of hiring contractors.
Before we get into some of the top features, we want to take a look at the design of this cabinet. As it uses an enclosed cabinet, you’ll find that the motor lasts longer because it doesn’t wear down due to constant exposure to dust. This cabinet also features convenient hand wheels on the front and sides that help you make quick adjustments before cutting or as you work.
Another indication of how hard a table saw is working is monitoring the amperage (AMP) draw under loading conditions. We measured the amp draw for each saw using all three materials again at the same time we were recording RPMs. The first graph below shows the amp draw for each saw cutting plywood compared to the no-load amp draw. The white bar on the left indicates the no load amps and the colored bar on the right shows the maximum amp draw during the cut.
The type of woods you cut will determine how powerful a motor and how fast a blade speed you need from your portable table saw. If you’re going to be dealing primarily with thinner boards and softwoods, you don’t need anything hugely powerful. If you’re working with hardwoods or thicker softwood stock you should look for a more powerful motor. Likewise, if you’re only an occasional woodworker, you needn’t worry about finding a motor that won’t burn out.
However, with proper use, table saws are generally safe tools, advanced blade stopping technology not needed. Therefore considering a saw without such safety features is fine for the cautious DIY user or for the professional carpenter and/or builder. Take into careful account the actual table size of the table saw you are considering. If you are going to be completing rip cuts in large sheets of plywood, then you need a saw with a table large enough to support these big pieces of lumber.
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I can’t tell you how many times we’ve pulled out other jobsite saws only to have accessories fall off, or require off-tool storage. Bosch designed the GTS1031, however, to securely hold all of its accessories, even including the arbor wrenches (both of them) and an allen wrench for adjusting the riving knife and dust ejection points among other things. Our favorite was the rip fence, which simply flipped upside down and stored underneath the table – clever! About the most difficult adjustment was the riving knife, which is a tool-less maneuver, but one which requires you to stick your hand way into the blade cavity to reach the release lever. When making any adjustments to the blade, it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) to disconnect power to the saw as a precaution.