When you’re thinking about build quality, you should consider how often, and how intensively you’ll be using your portable table saw. The more you’ll use it, the more you should invest in a sturdy unit that’s built to handle all that use. If you’re only an occasional DIYer, on the other hand, you can probably stand to have a few more plastic parts on your unit, since you aren’t going to be putting it to the rest as often.
Safety and precision are usually at a high level. Some models even offer a sliding table as an option to mitigate cross-cutting. Needless to say, hobbyists love the sliding feature because it saves a lot of time and most importantly – nerves. As far as the driving mechanism goes, there are three possible options – single V-belt, serpentine belt, and a multiple V-belts.
The professional level saws saw a separation as well and all were well ahead of the cutting power we saw with the value group. A middle tier of cutting performance started with Makita and Bosch’s 4100 while DeWalt was significantly better. Entering the fray with the only worm drive system, we had high hopes for Skilsaw’s entry. It was solid and smooth—definitely at the Pro level— and close to what the 4100 delivered.
Ridgid notches a third place finish as the only saw to include an independent blade height lock. The adjustment wheel raises and lowers with multiple full turns like most saws, but integrates a lock into the center. For the bevel adjustment, the outside of the height adjustment wheel turns a rack and pinion style system to accurately change the blade angle – a feature Makita shares.
In order to measure the blade speed we used a digital laser non-contact tachometer. A piece of reflective tape was adhered to each saw blade just behind the carbide tooth, so that the tape would be just above the top of the wood cutting surface, allowing us to capture the blade speed during the cuts. We used a power-feeder to ensure that all the material was pushed through each saw at the same feed rate. In the photo above you can see our test set-up with the power feeder, a decibel meter to the left, the digital tachometer in the center, and the amp meter on the right. If you look really closely at the saw blade, the piece of reflective tape is to the left side of the blade near the power feeder.
The throat plate is the removable piece surrounding the blade that sits flush with the table. Removing it gives you the ability to access the blade for removal or riving knife adjustments. The narrower the blade clearance the better for two reasons. First, it helps keep material from falling into the blade area or lodging between the blade and throat plate. Second, it gives you material support very close to the cut to help reduce tearout as the blade exits the cut.
That’s why we’ve created this handy guide! As usual, our trusty team have taken a comprehensive look at all the options out there. We’ve looked for portable units that don’t sacrifice power or accuracy for their small size. You’ll find our Top Three recommendations below, along with a few additional choices for new woodworkers and demanding professionals.
Even though the trunnion mechanism from Powermatic has been known to be the best there is, further refinements have been made to it in order to make it even better. The conically shaped worm gear drive with better surface area, the high end bearings, but also the cast iron, box style construction combine with the solid and smooth feel of the height and tilt adjustments. Thanks to the adjustable backlash, it’s very easy for users to adjust the mechanism back to the factory fresh feel and clearances.
The saw’s table measures 29 x 21.5 inches which makes this unit suitable for the fabrication of large sheets of material and large wood stock. The table is made out of aluminum and is really smooth which means you will be able to slide even the largest pieces in with very little effort. Still, for extra safety, I would recommend the optional extensions when ripping longer workpieces.
Excellent saw. Got here sooner then expected. Fairly simple to put together. Folding stand is very solid and easy to operate. Takes up very little space in my garage. I've never owned a table saw before so I'm easily impressed. Some other buyers recommended upgrading the blade, which I did. The blade it came with was ok but the Freud 10 in. 40 tooth Premier Fusion makes a very smooth cut. I haven't hooked up dust collection to it yet but it seems like it would work great. The scale for the fence is spot on. I would highly recommend this to any diy.
Framing work is full of rougher cuts that rarely makes use of more than one blade at a time. But occasionally you might need dados for an onsite custom build in. If that sounds like you, be sure to find out the saw’s dado stack capacity. It requires a longer arbor and you won’t be able to use your normal throat plate for it. Some manufacturers offer a dado throat plate if they have the capacity for it.
The quiet, 220-volt motors in these saws cut through the hardest stock, hour after hour, without bogging down. Cabinets are metal and extend to the floor for the best dust collection. The tops are cast iron, wide, and stable, which makes it easy to cut sheet goods. The trunnions are cabinet-mounted, so you get minimal vibration and maximum accuracy. They're also heavy; some weigh over 600 pounds. Once a cabinet saw's in place, that's where it stays.
Table saws cut more or less the same way as a circular saw (covered in their own report): a round blade, usually 10 inches in diameter, spins as it works its way through the wood. The main difference is that the blade is fixed in place, sticking up through a gap in the table, and the operator moves the wood past the blade instead of moving the saw itself. Table saws support and guide lumber and wood panels as they pass over the spinning blade, making it easier to make accurate repeat cuts than with a circular saw.
While other cabinet table saws may not offer you a clear cut every single time, that’s not the case with the SawStop ICS51230-52. This model features industrial fence system which ensures that every time you cut something, the cut is going to be very accurate and perfectly straight. One last thing to keep in mind is that the unit includes a standard base, while the mobile base and jobsite cart are sold separately.
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.