Contractor saws are a perfect balance between functionality, manoeuvrability and price. These sorts of saws are perfect if you have bigger projects that you’re working on and will stay on site for a few months. This is due to the fact that they are a lot less portable, but that being said they are a great in-between saw as they still have great rip capacity and overall cutting power.
Below we’ve included the current pricing (at the time of publishing this article). Pricing includes the cost of the stand and ranges from a low of $349 for the Hitachi to a high of $1,299 for the SawStop. The lowest price isn’t always the best in our opinion, we’re looking for the best value. The Hitachi is an incredible deal at $349 and our top pick for price and value for a saw that has lots of power, a rack & pinion fence, and a solid stand.
Makita joins DeWalt with an external riving knife release so you don’t have to reach into the throat to loosen it. We actually ran into an issue with the design because of a slightly bent plate holding the knife in place. That aside, the intent of the design is sound and should make for an an easier experience. Because of the external release, Makita screws down the throat plate in place. You should only need to get in there for blade changes if everything functions properly.
Paul – Good catch….I’ve updated that to say Skilsaw not SawStop…thank you! As you can imagine…all the data makes it tough to keep it all straight. I’m not even sure how you’d install that aftermarket fence on these saws. If you do I’d love to see how!! Those really look like they are made to install on cast-iron full size saws. I’d choose the DEWALT with a slight edge over the SKilsaw.
Portable or “jobsite” table saws are the absolute opposite of cabinet models. These are the lightest, most travel-friendly table saws on the market. These are easy to pack up and store in the back of a pickup truck or work van, and they can be set up pretty much anywhere. You can fit them to folding stands, use them on countertops, or sawhorses. We love them for quick contractor jobs, and they’re the ideal tool for general handymen who do a lot of shorter jobs rather than extended carpentry fittings. These are also a great entry-level choice for DIYers who don’t need a massive table saw, but need something that they can pack away at the end of the day. And, of course, they’re the least expensive table saws you can buy!
The DEWALT and Makita finished in first for our ergonomic rankings followed by a tie for second between Hitachi and Skilsaw and a tie for third place by Bosch and Ridgid. Both the DEWALT and Makita built their saw with the professional contractor in mind. Overall the entire crew really likes the saws with a rack-and-pinion fence system and the large wheels on the Skilsaw were also a big favorite.
Skilsaw produced the only worm drive table saw in our group and we had high expectations, especially given the high RPM count. In the end, the power is definitely at the professional level and settled in tied for fourth overall with DeWalt. This was the lightest, most compact saw in the group. Like DeWalt, the lack of an outer housing leads to more efficient cooling but drops storage for an extra blade.
Dewalt has refined the DW745's design, most notably improving the blade guard and safety measures. What stands out about the DW745 is its rack-and-pinion rip fence that moves along telescoping rails at the front and rear of the table. This means that once the fence is set square, it should stay square. However, the DeWalt's maximum width for a rip cut is 16 inches, compared to 18 inches for the Bosch. But most users will make large rip cuts with a circular saw, so the 2-inch difference in capacity isn't a big deal.
While DeWALT’s DW744X is the only model here without wheels, the saw is otherwise well appointed. It’s got a unique rip fence design: instead of sliding along front and back rails, the fence is fixed to them. To change rip fence settings, you extend the rails out on rack-and-pinion gears. The design keeps the fence parallel to the blade/miter slots and prevents it from deflecting if pushed laterally. A red hairline cursor makes fence settings easy to read, and it passed my ripping tests with flying colors.
The SawStop Contractor Saw CNS175-TGP36 stands out chiefly on account of its unique safety brake, which stops the spinning blade dead when it senses the presence of skin. However, it's also an excellent saw in other respects: powerful, well built, and easy to assemble, with great dust collection and loads of features. Cost is a major concern, but so is the cost of the injuries SawStop is designed to eliminate.
Table saws are undeniably the kings of rip cuts on the jobsite and in shops. The concept is simple: Place a motor below a solid table to turn a blade somewhere in the 4000-5000 RPM range through the surface and watch the sawdust fly. The idea may be simple, but the reality is much different. How big should the table be? What size blade should you use? How heavy can you get away with making it?
How many teeth a saw blade has will determine how smooth the cut is. Most blades have from 24-80 teeth. The exceptions to these blades are specialty material specific blades (i.e. for masonry) In general, the more teeth a blade has the smoother the cut will be. The higher tooth count means that the cut speed will be slower as well. You cannot overcome a slower cutting speed by pushing harder on the material. This is a common mistake newbies make. All this will do is cause kickbacks when the saw blade catches and tosses the object back towards to the user at dangerously high speeds.
If you are making a cut that will require your hands to get close to the blade, (within 6 inches) use a push stick or two to eliminate the chances of your hand touching the blade. If this is a big concern for you, maybe consider a saw that uses flesh detection to stop the blade. The additional cost of the saw will be instantly appreciated the first time you need it.
One shouldn’t expect a massive amount of storage, but being a table, it does offer some level of free space. In fact, some models even offer space for fences, gauges, blades, and other necessary equipment. Apart from that, you can always keep the necessary tools in the reach of your hands. It will make the process much easier and also a lot quicker.
This is a truly great saw, except that it is really tough to adjust the blade and rip fence for parallel. Once adjusted though, it is a fine piece of engineering. What I like best is that the saw is built for the job site. It is extremely beefy, but no too heavy. In my opinion, it strikes a nice balance. Its cart stand is the best in the industry, bar none. Once adjusted, the saw returns to its settings extremely well. It is obviously built for the long haul, and should last a contractor many years. I would definitely purchase this saw again. Now with the things that I wish were better. First, adjusting the blade for parallel is just plain hard. Mine was out from the factory by 4 thousandths. It is a trial and error process, and the instructions suck. Here's what to do: 1. Loosen the four screws indicated in the instructions. Starting from behind the saw, center the blade housing in the rear left to right as best you can, then tighten one screw not quite snug (you want the housing to rotate on this screw when you adjust the front). Next move to the front of the saw and loosen the lock lever for blade angle adjustment (the housing won't move unless you do). Now, begin experimenting with holding the housing at 90 degrees with one hand while sliding the housing back and forth with the other until square. When you think that you are close, lightly tighten one of the front housing screws. Check for parallel (look for videos on how to check a table saw blade for parallel), then tighten the blade angle adjustment lever. With these screws and the lever tight and locked, check again for parallel. If it is still good (I got it to 1/1000 inch of parallel), then lock all the screws and check one more time, if it's still good, then you are done with blade housing adjustment.
Bigger tables offer more potential for additional extensions. For example, if you’re planning to process a massive piece of wood but you cannot cut it in smaller pieces; a table extension will definitely come in handy. There are a lot of commercial add-ons you can choose from, but you can also construct one yourself if you’re experienced enough. Experimenting with these things never gets old or boring, but keep safety in mind at all times. Make sure it’s completely safe to use the said extension and pay special attention to the amount of vibrations and the overall integrity of the table after you’ve installed the add-on.
From there, the rest of the saws created a top tier of cutting power that wasn’t mind-blowingly better, but definitely noticeable. It took many cuts back and forth between saws to determine which came out ahead of other because they are so close to each other. Bosch’s REAXX took third place overall with SawStop ever so slightly ahead. Part of that simply came down to the fact that SawStop was a little bit smoother cutting. Coming out on top was Ridgid. There was noticeable vibration compared to Bosch and SawStop here, but it was able to muscle through each cut a little bit better than the other two.
We took all of the data from the RPM and AMP measurements and added them to come up with the final performance rankings. For each saw we added up the total percentage decrease in RPM’s (for each material type) and added that to the total percentage increase in AMP’s (for each material type). This gives us a relative comparison of each saw over all 6 sets of data.
While your table saw is unplugged, take the time to clear and clean the work surface, removing any debris that could negatively impact the smooth path of the wood you will be cutting. Then, lower or raise the blade to where the blade gullet (the curved section between each blade tooth) is equal with the top of the piece of wood to be cut. Also, make sure that your saw's dust exhaust port is clear and open and that a bag is in place to catch any excess sawdust.
As far as the design goes, cabinet saws don’t look much different from the hybrid ones. However, when it comes to sheer power, this type is the most powerful one in every regard. Therefore, devoted professionals who work on massive heavy-duty projects usually prefer cabinet saws over anything else. Each element of a cabinet saw is constructed to withstand a lot of stress and pressure.
A gauge will allow you to make very detailed cross and angled cuts. This is a bit of kit that you need to research in great depth as it can make or break the accuracy of your cuts and angles. With a good gauge, you can check blade height, blade angles, miter angles and much more. For further reading checkout Wikipedia’s table saw page and for in-depth air compressor reviews.
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.
When your skin contacts the blade even slightly, the charge transfers, and a switch flips on the motor, activating an instant brake. The aluminum brake swings into contact with the blade, stopping it instantly. The brake also propels the blade down through the arbor, so it retracts completely below your worktop. That means that other than the initial contact, you won’t touch the sharp edge at all.