Selecting a Table Saw

A table saw is a multipurpose woodworking tool consisting of a circular saw blade mounted on a stabilizing arbor, which is driven by a motor. The blade extends above and through the plane of the table top, which in turn provides support for the wood being cut.  The wood is used mostly for larger project, and is cut by pushing it through the saw blade. The depth of the cut is changed by repositioning the blade higher or lower. Deeper cuts are made in the panels by moving the blade higher above the table top.  The blades angle can also be change allow the board to be cut at an angle.

A table saw is an indispensable implement for cutting wood panels to precise size, squaring wood, making cabinetry, for making miters, rabbets or dados, and ripping lumber.  The saws versatility makes in very useful for many types of woodworking, and is generally a very early purchase for a wood shop.   It is important to know the difference among the major types of table saws so that you have the correct one for your needs.  Beyond price, there are a number of things to consider.  Which you be doing large jobs need extra power, or will a smaller more portable saw work for you?  What level of precision will you require?  How much room do you have, both for the saw and the work area it will require?

Table saw fall into one of four major classes, which define what you can expect from each class.  The four class are (1) Benchtop Saws; (2) Contractor Saws; (3) Cabinet Saws; and (4) Hybrid Saws and are defined as follows:

Benchtop table saws

The benchtop table saw, aka a portable saw, is designed to be lightweight and is the least expensive, but with lowest capability of the four saw types.  Generally they have direct drive powered from a universal motor, which offers more power for its relative size and weight. The motor is not as heavy-duty or as quiet as a standard brushless motor, yet they still offer sufficient capability and precision for most projects.

Bench-top saw are designed to be portable and to be lifted by one person, and carried where they are needed.  They are ideal for carpenter needing to have a saw a various job sites or for the home shop with limited space.  The bench-top table saw being a smaller saw needs to be place on some type of support such as a table or bench.  The lighter weight is obtain by have a much smaller motor, smaller overall size, and have a greater amount of aluminum and plastic, and less steel than other saws.

Conversely, they can not deal with larger panels and do not have the power, or precision of the larger saws.  Although usually sufficient for hobbyist and the home shop, carpenters have to weight the advantages and disadvantages of the smaller saw. Bench-top saws are lacking in power to rip thicker hardwood and are often not accurate enough for fine woodworking.

Contractor Saws

Contractor saws, aka open-stand saw, were originally designed to be somewhat portable, often having wheels, they are usually portable enough to bring to a job-site. Contractor saws are heavier than bench top saws, but are lightweight compare to larger saws.  This large size and greater power allows them to be used for larger projects and allows them to be more durable and longer-lasting then a bench-top saw.  They are usually priced low enough for the hobbyist and home shop, and until lately, have been practically the only alternative for smaller shops. Generally not requiring 220-volt power is another plus for the home user.

Contractor saws do make a few concessions in the name of affordability and portability. The motor hinges off the rear of the saw, often connected to the arbor assembly via a single V-belt and drives the blade using a 1 to 2 hp induction type motor.  Because the motor is hanging off the rear of the saw, dust collection can be problem in compared to a cabinet saw.

Selecting a Table Saw - Page Two - Cabinet Saw and Hybrid Saws

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