Best table saw for the money Top rated portable, contractor, cabinet, hybrid Review 2018

Best table saw for the money | Top rated portable, contractor, cabinet, hybrid | Review 2018

Are you buying a table saw and what to know which is the best table saw for the money? With so much information about table saws and the best to buy spread across multiple sites and platforms, I have brought it all together for you here in one convenient article. Maybe you’re a budding woodworker, or a seasoned professional, or looking to turn your hobby into extra cash. Whatever the case is, you are in the market for a table saw. But how do you make a choice with so many options out there?

Good news: I’ve gathered all facts, figures, and opinions, and compiled the information here to help you choose the best table saw for your needs. Nobody likes making a big purchase only to regret it later, and the following information is meant to help you avoid that hassle and headache.

Even with all the great products reviewed below, only one can be the named the best value table saw. When considering features, affordability, and project needs, one product came out on top: the DWE7491RS. Read on to learn about it and the other strong contenders. Let’s get started.

The Ultimate Table Saw Review

Hot Tip
This is THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Table Saws. It is a long in-depth article. If you are looking for something specific please use the table of contents above. Most items are available on Amazon, you may want to add them to your cart on Amazon and decide your final choice another day. I also suggest that, since this is such a long epic article, that you bookmark this article in your web browser so that you can finish reading it another day.

Best Portable & Benchtop Contractor Jobsite Table Saws

If you want a smaller more portable table saw you can check out my review of jobsite and contractor table saws here:

Best Hybrid & Cabinet Table Saws

If you want a more sturdy table saw you can check out my review of hybrid and cabinet table saws here:

BEST OVERALL TABLE SAW

When comparing the top contenders for Best Of winner for each type, I found one model to have the best combination of performance, features, and price. It isn’t the cheapest or most expensive, but it absolutely offers the best value for what you pay: the DEWALT DWE7491RS, a contractor table saw.

DEWALT is one of the top manufacturers for table saws, and this will be evident for woodworkers who know, use or have done extensive research on power tools and in particular table saws.  The manufacturer’s name is very prominent among table saw users, and although I didn’t mention all of their models, they are a reliable brand that delivers what they promise.

As I’ll explain later in the review, contractor table saws often offer the portability of smaller table saws with the features typically reserved for larger cabinet or hybrid models. This DEWALT table saw does exactly that.

The DWE7491RS provides both stability and portability at a price tag that won’t give you sticker shock. More information on my top pick can be found below, as I also chose this model for the best contractor table saw.

BEST PORTABLE TABLE SAW

Looking for a small footprint with big power? The DEWALT DW745 has both for a reasonable price—perfect for those who enjoy woodworking as a hobby or for small home DIY projects. At 53 pounds, this model is easy to transport from one location to the next, even without a stand or wheels.

As a portable table saw, it comes as no surprise that the DW745 has no stand, but it is adaptable to certain aftermarket stands. However, the model does come with a miter gauge, push stick, and blade guard to increase the safety of using the saw.

Similar to other portable and small contractor table saws, the DW745 has a 15-amp motor and boasts a rip capacity of 20 inches—smaller than that of the SKIL 3410-02 mentioned later in the review, but fairly large compared to its lightweight.

The fence moves smoothly across telescoping rails and locks into place easily using technology similar to my choice for best contractor table saw below. This fence technology makes for precise repeated cuts and increases the reliability and usability of the saw.

The DW745 provides casual woodworkers with big power and a good rip capacity for a smaller weight, and I gave it a 4.7 out of 5 rating. Buy the DEWALT DW745 here.

BEST CONTRACTOR TABLE SAW / JOBSITE TABLESAW

For the casual woodworking hobbyist and those who need both portability and stability in their table saw, this category is for you. Coming out on top was another DEWALT, the DWE7491RS with a 10-inch blade and 32.5-inch rip capacity—a great rip capacity for a contractor table saw.

The DWE7491RS also has wheels to make it that much easier to transport, especially weighing in at 110 lbs. The entire mechanism folds up, making it much easier to store. The fence system is also particularly noteworthy, as it can be locked, unlocked, and adjusted with one hand.

The table surface is made of aluminum, as is most of the DWE7491RS. There are some smaller parts made from plastic, including the miter gauge.

Although this model has an open base, it includes a 2-inch dust collection port than can be easily connected to a vacuum to manage dust during a project and minimize hassle during clean-up. It is less powerful at 15 amps, but it still packs a punch relative to its size.

This model was an easy addition to my Best Of list, with its small size, ease of portability and storage (despite its heavier weight), and dust collection port. With great customer ratings, and my own 4.8 out of 5 rating, the DWE7491RS is one of the best contractor table saws out there. Buy the DWE7491RS here.

BEST CABINET TABLE SAW

bestcabinet table saw -sawstop PCS31230-TGP252While it is the most expensive Best Of winners, and one of the most expensive top-rated cabinet table saws out there, the best cabinet table saw gives the user his or her money’s worth. The SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 uses a 3-horsepower motor and has a 52-inch rip capacity, giving plenty of workspace for the user and power for any material, whether softwood or hardwood.

The enclosed cabinet around the motor makes this model quiet and simplifies dust control as compared to the smaller, less expensive open table saws. It also possesses a conductive blade system which automatically shuts the motor down when it senses skin on the blade (read further on in the review to learn more about conductive blade systems).

The PCS31230-TGP252 has a table capacity of 1,000 lbs., making it effective for even the heaviest of materials. It is user-friendly and good for those with minimal woodworking experience, though an expensive investment like this model would likely be favored by professionals or other serious woodworkers.

This cabinet table saw utilizes an extensive fence system, with an extension table and rails in addition. There is an option to purchase an integrated mobile base featuring two stationary casters and two pivoting casters, though this model is intended to be placed and used in the same location frequently.

I gave the SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 a 4.8 out of 5 rating, knocked down only by the high price and resulting limitation of who will purchase this saw. I also rated the SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 the best table saw under $3500.

Buy the SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 here.

BEST BUDGET CABINET TABLE SAW

For those looking for a powerful and sturdy cabinet table saw but don’t want to break the bank, look no further. The Grizzly G0690 offers a small rip capacity, at 29.5 inches, but much more power than the portable or contractor table saws with larger rip capacities. It comes in over $1,000 less than my choice for best cabinet table saw.

This model offers 4-inch dust port in addition to the enclosed cabinet around the motor, providing easier dust control and a quieter working experience. It has a 3-horsepower motor, like the other large saws reviewed here, and therefore the ability to cut through any materials.

A blade guard and riving knife come with this powerful saw, increasing safety, though no anti-kickback precautions are included. Similar to the SawStop above, an extensive fence system helps create consistent and repeatable cuts.

The G0690 runs on 220 volts of power, so it is not ideal for standard home situations unless the location is equipped for larger appliances, similar to a refrigerator or an electric dryer. This model is made of cast iron, contributing to its high weight of 530 lbs. but also increasing its durability and sturdiness.

Based on the low-cost option for a heavy-duty cabinet saw and the features included, I gave the Grizzly G0690 a 4.5 out of 5 rating. Buy the Grizzly G0690 here. Some of the other models by Grizzly that have more features than the G06090 but are still great value for money include the Grizzly G0691 & the Grizzly G0651.

BEST HYBRID TABLE SAW

If you’re looking for the power and features of a cabinet table saw, but at a less imposing and cumbersome size, you want a hybrid table saw. My top pick for this category is the Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS, weighing in at 288 lbs.

It includes key safety features: a blade guard and riving knife, but not anti-kickback pawls. The standard rip capacity is 30 inches, with an option to upgrade to 50 inches.

Similar to the cabinet table saws, the Jet Proshop model is made from cast iron, giving it the durability and stability desired for large, intensive woodworking projects. The motor is housed inside the cabinet structure and a 4-inch dust port is provided for easier cleanup and maintenance of the worksite.

You’ll still shell out a decent amount of money for this hybrid, but significantly less than a full cabinet table saw. It’s a great option for those who want professional features without the size that comes along with them. Based on included features, price, and other reviews, I gave this model a 4.1 out of 5 rating. Buy the Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS here.

BEST TABLE SAW – COMPARISON TABLE

Model Rating Power Weight Rip Capacity
DEWALT DWE7491RS 4.8 15 amps 110 lbs. 32.5 inches
SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 4.8 3 horsepower 515 lbs. 52 inches
Bosch 4100-09 4.6 15 amps 105 lbs. 25 inches
DEWALT DW745 4.7 15 amps 53 lbs. 20 inches
Ridgid R4516 4.5 15 amps 63 lbs. 24 inches
Grizzly G0690 4.5 3 horsepower 530 lbs. 29.5 inches
Shop Fox W1819 4.4 3 horsepower 536 lbs. 29.5 inches
SKIL 3410-02 4 15 amps 67 lbs. 24.25 inches
Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS 4.1 1.75 horsepower 299 lbs. 30 inches
Ridgid R4512 4 15 amps 117 lbs. 30 inches

BEST BUDGET TABLE SAW

When working on a lower budget, portable table saws are the way to go. The SKIL 3410-02 comes with a folding stand and is a great choice for those looking to dabble in woodworking or complete projects around the house.

It won’t do for those who are working on larger projects or using their table saw for professional work; for that, you’ll have to drop a bit more money. Weighing in at 67 pounds, it stays true to its portable nature, but the stand does not include wheels like the other portable table saws I’ve mentioned, making it more of a challenge to move.

The SKIL 3410-02 has a 15-amp motor like the Bosch and DEWALT, giving it the typical power of a portable model. It also includes a self-aligning fence, ensuring precision and ease for the user, and has an “EZ measuring” system, eliminating the need for additional measuring tools.

It has a smaller rip capacity than either the Bosch or the DEWALT models, but still comes in fairly large for a portable table saw at 24.25”. The benchtop includes a riving knife and blade guard, but no anti-kickback features besides these. The model also does not include a dust port.

Despite being best situated in one place for frequent use because of the lack of wheels, I think the SKIL 3410-02 is worth it for those looking to save money or dip their toe into home woodworking. I gave it a 4 out of 5 rating. Buy the SKIL 3410-02 here.

WHAT IS THE BEST TABLE SAW TO BUY?

This section includes specification of the best table saws overall, so you can note the advantages and disadvantages of each model and narrow down your favorites. Using this information you should be able to determine what the best table saw for your needs is.

While I have combined all four types of table saws into this review, the individual Best Of winner for each type can be found above.

WHAT IS THE BEST JOBSITE/ CONTRACTOR/ PORTABLE TABLE SAW TO BUY?

DEWALT DW745 Benchtop Table Saw

Looking for a small footprint with big power? The DEWALT DW745 has both for a reasonable price—perfect for those who enjoy woodworking as a hobby or for small home DIY projects. At 53 pounds, this model is easy to transport from one location to the next, even without a stand or wheels.

As a portable table saw, it comes as no surprise that the DW745 has no stand, but it is adaptable to certain aftermarket stands. However, the model does come with a miter gauge, push stick, and blade guard to increase the safety of using the saw.

Similar to other portable and small contractor table saws, the DW745 has a 15-amp motor and boasts a rip capacity of 20 inches—smaller than that of the SKIL 3410-02, but fairly large compared to its light weight.

The fence moves smoothly across telescoping rails and locks into place easily using technology similar to my choice for best contractor table saw. This fence technology makes for precise repeated cuts and increases the reliability and usability of the saw.

The DW745 provides casual woodworkers with big power and a good rip capacity for a smaller weight, and I gave it a 4.7 out of 5 rating. I also rated the  DEWALT DW745 the best table saw under $300.

Buy the DEWALT DW745 here.

Pros Cons
Large rip capacity for its small size No stand accompanying
Easy-to-use fence system
Lightweight and easy to transport

 

DEWALT DWE7491RS Jobsite Table Saw

For the casual woodworking hobbyist and those who need both portability and stability in their table saw, this model is for you. Coming out on top for the contractor table saw was the DEWALT DWE7491RS, with a 10-inch blade and 32.5-inch rip capacity—a great rip capacity for a smaller contractor table saw.

The DWE7491RS also has wheels to make it that much easier to transport, especially weighing in at 110 lbs. The entire mechanism folds up, making it much easier to store.

The fence system is also particularly noteworthy, as it can be locked, unlocked, and adjusted with one hand. The table surface is made of aluminum, as is most of the DWE7491RS. There are some smaller parts made from plastic, including the miter gauge.

Although this model has an open base, it includes a 2-inch dust collection port than can be easily connected to a vacuum to manage dust during a project and minimize hassle during clean-up. It is less powerful at 15 amps, but it still packs a punch relative to its size.

This model was an easy addition to my Best Of list, with its small size, ease of portability and storage (despite its heavier weight), and dust collection port. With great customer ratings, and my own 4.8 out of 5 review, the DWE7491RS is one of the best contractor table saws out there. I also rated the DEWALT DWE7491RS the best table saw under $600.

Buy the DWE7491RS here.

Pros Cons
Large rip capacity for its small size Fairly heavy for a portable table saw
Folds for easy storage and transport
Added dust port to keep work space cleaner

 

Ridgid R4516 Contractor Table Saw

Pricier and heavier than the DEWALT portable model, the Ridgid R4516 is still a good buy for those looking for a sturdy yet small table saw with good rip capacity. The R4516 has a rip capacity of 24 inches, higher than that of the DEWALT DW745.

It does, however, weigh in at 63 lbs., 10 lbs. more than the DEWALT but less than the SKIL portable model. It offers the same amount of power but can be more cumbersome when trying to move from place to place.

It does not include a stand, but is adaptable with many aftermarket stands. The R4516 does, however, include anti-kickback pawls and an integrated riving knife and spreader, which can be easily switched over to riving knife mode when non-through cuts are necessary. The base has a steel frame, giving it sturdiness and durability that isn’t found with other materials.

With so many similar features to the other portable options, what sets the R4516 apart is its combination of a large rip capacity and fairly light weight for a reasonable price. I gave the RidgidR4516 a 4.5 out of 5 rating. Buy the Ridgid R4516 here.

Pros Cons
Good rip capacity for small size No wheels, so more difficult to move
Easy to transport due to weight No stand accompanying
Sturdy steel base frame

SKIL 3410-02 Portable Table Saw

When working on a lower budget, portable table saws are the way to go. The SKIL 3410-02 comes with a folding stand and is a great choice for those looking to dabble in woodworking or complete projects around the house.

It won’t do for those who are working on larger projects or using their table saw for professional work; for that, you’ll have to drop a bit more money. Weighing in at 67 pounds, it stays true to its portable nature, but the stand does not include wheels like the other portable table saws I’ve mentioned, making it more of a challenge to move.

The SKIL 3410-02 has a 15-amp motor like the Bosch and DEWALT, giving it the typical power of a portable model. It also includes a self-aligning fence, ensuring precision and ease for the user, and has an “EZ measuring” system, eliminating the need for additional measuring tools.

It has a smaller rip capacity than either the Bosch or the DEWALT models, but still comes in fairly large for a portable table saw at 24.25”. The benchtop includes a riving knife and blade guard, but no anti-kickback features besides these. The model also does not include a dust port.

Despite being best situated in one place for frequent use because of the lack of wheels, I think the SKIL 3410-02 is worth it for those looking to save money or dip their toe into home woodworking. I gave it a 4 out of 5 rating. Buy the SKIL 3410-02 here.

Pros Cons
Great for hobbyists on a budget No wheels, so more difficult to move
Folds up for easy storage No dust port
Self-aligning fence and EZ measuring system for ease

Bosch 4100-09 Contractor Table Saw

This model, with my rating of 4.6 out of 5, came in close behind the DEWALT above for best contractor table saw. With its Gravity-Rise™ stand, in which you twist one lever and the steel frame folds up or down smoothly, the Bosch 4100-09 is easy to convert from storage or transport to use.

It is barely lighter than the DEWALT contractor model, weighing in at 105 lbs., and is also lacking in rip capacity, at 25 inches. It operates at 15 amps, giving it equal power output to its competitor.

However, the Bosch includes a “smart guard” system not found in the DEWALT, containing a blade guard, riving knife, and anti-kickback feature to heighten its safety. The fence system also proves easy to use and is crafted from machined aluminum, and the model includes a dust port just like the DEWALT.

Although Bosch didn’t come out on top in my review (mainly due to its smaller rip capacity relative to its weight), it’s still a great choice as a contractor table saw. I rated the Bosch 4100-09 the best table sawunder $500.

Buy the Bosch 4100-09 here.

Pros Cons
Gravity-Rise™ stand for ease of transport and storage Small rip capacity compared to size
Smart guard system provides heightened safety
Reliable and effective aluminum fence system

WHAT IS THE BEST CABINET TABLE SAW TO BUY?

SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 Cabinet Table Saw

While it is the most expensive Best Of winners, and one of the most expensive top-rated cabinet table saws out there, the best cabinet table saw gives the user his or her money’s worth. The SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 uses a 3-horsepower motor and has a 52-inch rip capacity, giving plenty of workspace for the user and power for any material, whether softwood or hardwood.

The enclosed cabinet around the motor makes this model quiet and simplifies dust control as compared to the smaller, less expensive open table saws. It also possesses a conductive blade system which automatically shuts the motor down when it senses skin on the blade (read further on in the review to learn more about conductive blade systems).

The PCS31230-TGP252 has a table capacity of 1,000 lbs., making it effective for even the heaviest of materials. It is user-friendly and good for those with minimal woodworking experience, though an expensive investment like this model would likely be favored by professionals or other serious woodworkers.

This cabinet table saw utilizes an extensive fence system, with an extension table and rails in addition. There is an option to purchase an integrated mobile base featuring two stationary casters and two pivoting casters, though this model is intended to be placed and used in the same location frequently.

I gave the SawStop PCS31230-TGP252 a 4.8 out of 5 rating, knocked down only by the high price and resulting limitation of who will purchase this saw. Buy the SawStop PCS175-TGP236 here.

Pros Cons
Large rip capacity and load handling ability High price even for a cabinet table saw
Extensive fence system
Conductive blade system for enhanced safety

Grizzly G0690 Cabinet Table Saw

For those looking for a powerful and sturdy cabinet table saw but don’t want to break the bank, look no further. The Grizzly G0690 offers a small rip capacity, at 29.5 inches, but much more power than the portable or contractor table saws with larger rip capacities. It comes in over $1,000 less than my choice for best cabinet table saw.

This model offers 4-inch dust port in addition to the enclosed cabinet around the motor, providing easier dust control and a quieter working experience. It has a 3-horsepower motor, like the other large saws reviewed here, and therefore the ability to cut through any materials.

A blade guard and riving knife come with this powerful saw, increasing safety, though no anti-kickback precautions are included. Similar to the SawStop above, an extensive fence system helps create consistent and repeatable cuts.

The G0690 runs on 220 volts of power, so it is not ideal for standard home situations unless the location is equipped for larger appliances, similar to a refrigerator or an electric dryer. This model is made of cast iron, contributing to its high weight of 530 lbs. but also increasing its durability and sturdiness.

Based on the low-cost option for a heavy-duty cabinet saw but the lower rip capacity, I gave the Grizzly G0690 a 4.5 out of 5 rating. Buy the Grizzly G0690 here.

Pros Cons
Affordable version of cabinet table saw Low rip capacity compared to weight
Sturdy cast iron build Runs on higher voltage
Great for professionals or serious woodworkers

 

Shop Fox W1819 Cabinet Table Saw

Though similar to the Grizzly G0690, the Shop Fox W1819 is another good option for those looking for a lower cost cabinet table saw. It comes with a rip capacity of 29.5 inches, but an option exists to upgrade the rip capacity to 49 inches.

Unlike the Grizzly, the Shop Fox W1819 includes anti-kickback pawls in addition to the blade guard and riving knife. It is similar, however, in its cast iron build, extensive fence system, and 4-inch dust port to improve cleanup and project precision.

The Shop Fox W1819 operates on a 3-horsepower motor, like most larger saws included here, but also requires 220 volts, and therefore is not equipped for standard home outlets. Since the manufacturer is fairly new as well, this model is not yet as popular as the similar Grizzly model.

I gave the Shop Fox W1819 a rating of 4.4 out of 5, based on its price and value combined. Buy the Shop Fox W1819 here.

Pros Cons
Option to upgrade rip capacity to 49” Newer manufacturer, not well-known yet
Sturdy cast iron build Runs on higher voltage than standard outlets
Great for professionals or serious woodworkers

 

WHAT IS THE BEST HYBRID TABLE SAW TO BUY?

Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS Hybrid Table Saw

If you’re looking for the power and features of a cabinet table saw, but at a less imposing and cumbersome size, you want a hybrid table saw. My top pick for this category is the Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS, weighing in at 288 lbs.

It includes key safety features: a blade guard and riving knife, but not anti-kickback pawls. The standard rip capacity is 30 inches, with an option to upgrade to 50 inches.

Similar to the cabinet table saws, the Jet Proshop model is made from cast iron, giving it the durability and stability desired for large, intensive woodworking projects. The motor is housed inside the cabinet structure and a 4-inch dust port is provided for easier cleanup and maintenance of the worksite.

You’ll still shell out a decent amount of money for this hybrid, but significantly less than a full cabinet table saw. It’s a great option for those who want professional features without the size that comes along with them. Based on included features, price, and other reviews, I gave this model a 4.1 out of 5 rating. I also rated the  Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS the best table saw under $1500.

Buy the Jet Proshop 708494K JPS-10TS here.

Pros Cons
Offers all three key safety features Fairly expensive for a hybrid
Made from heavy-duty cast iron
Option to upgrade rip capacity to 50 inches

 

Ridgid R4512 Hybrid Table Saw

The second Ridgid model to make the list, the R4512 will fulfill most needs and is a somewhat portable hybrid table saw. It comes with wheels attached to the stand, but it will still take some muscle to move the 117-lb. apparatus and customers have complained of wheel failure and weakness.

The R4512 operates on a small 15-amp motor, making it the least powerful of the hybrid and cabinet table saws. However, it does take only 110V, a standard home outlet, as compared to the 220V needed for the other hybrid and cabinet table saws. It is not recommended for daily use, but can still be utilized for larger projects due to its size.

This model has a 30-inch rip capacity, like the Jet Proshop hybrid model, but the less powerful motor puts it at a disadvantage for what types of materials the R4512 can handle. While this Ridgid gains portability, it loses stability and power. I gave this model a 4 out of 5 rating, based on its price, motor, and portability. Buy the Ridgid R4512 here.

Pros Cons
Lightweight and portable Wheels don’t always work as needed
Operates on standard home outlet voltage Weight makes it cumbersome to move, though it is portable
Small motor but can still be used for larger projects

 

Most popular table saw

The most popular table saw among all of these great options is the DEWALT DW745. I have given it 4.7 out of 5 stars. It is one of the most popular table saws available on the market now, due to the needs of customers and the low price that comes with portable table saws. Though it is not the best in terms of features nor power, it is affordable and manufacturer by a well-known and respected brand. Though this saw is popular it is not my recommendation as the best overall table saw as it is underpowered for larger jobs and lacks the surface size necessary for those jobs. If you like the DEWALT brand and want a larger, more capable model, I recommend the DEWALT DWE7491RS. This packs more power than the DW745 and is my choice for the best overall table saw because of its size and price combination.

TABLE SAW BUYER’S GUIDE

Before I start, what is a table saw? At its simplest, it is a circular, mechanical saw mounted under a table or bench in order to have the blade project up through a slot in the surface. Table saws are used for straight sawing, either across or with the grain, depending on the type of blade. The table saw can often be adjusted to change the cutting depth and angle needed for each new project.

With thousands of options out there for tables saw, though, how can you know which is the best for you? In order to figure this out, you need to determine a few key things:

  • Use – what jobs do you plan to use this table saw for? Cutting firewood, making cabinets, taking on freelance woodworking jobs?
  • Size – are you going to store this in your garage, in your basement, or move it between home and job sites? The use also plays into size, because if you choose an undersized or underpowered table saw, you will struggle working with larger materials or projects.
  • Design – manufacturers craft unique designs to compete in the market, which creates variations between producers and between models from the same manufacturer. Each variation comes with its own pros and cons.
  • Price – what budget are you working with for your table saw purchase, and does that budget fit your needs?
  • Specifications – saw blade diameter, motor type, table top material, and engine power are a handful of things you should consider when choosing a table saw

Even after considering all these factors, it can still seem overwhelming to choose which table saw best suits your needs and your budget. However, I break down your options in this review to help clarify your options and make your decision easier.

Before moving on, make sure you have a strong idea about why you are buying a table saw and what parameters your purchase must fit into—it is hard to make a purchase of any kind without a clear vision in mind for its use in your life.

Types of Table Saws

Table saws are divided into four categories: portable, contractor, hybrid, or cabinet. Each has its pros and cons, and inevitably, as you increase the size and power of the type you choose, it becomes less portable and more costly. It can be difficult to decide which type is best for your needs, but not for long. I break down these four main categories below to help make your buying decision cut-and-dry.

Portable table saws

Portable table saws are exactly what their name suggests: table saws than can be moved from one location to another with relative ease. For this reason, they tend to be smaller and lighter than their stationary counterparts, making use of aluminum, plastic, or other composites—a great choice if you’re lacking room to store your table saw or if you will be taking it from one place to another for different projects.

Their small size and light materials make portable table saws the low-cost option and good starter saws. However, their smaller and lighter build means a lack of stability, studier materials (used to keep the table saw from moving around on a surface), and power, with most portable table saws operating under 2 horsepower.

Portable table saws are designed to be attached to a surface with clamps or mounted on a separately purchased stand. They typically use a 15-amp lightweight universal motor designed to run on standard 100-volt power, which operates loudly and limits the saw blade to no larger than 10 inches in diameter.

The small surface size and blade diameter makes the portable table saw more suited for cutting plywood, pine, or other soft woods than for cutting full sheets of material. The portable table saw also uses an aluminum rip fence that typically offers a 20-inch rip capacity, smaller compared to the other types of table saw.

Portable table saws are often designated as either benchtop or jobsite table saws. The former does not regularly come attached to a base, while the latter replaces a standard stationary base with a folding stand. Beginner, novice, or casual woodworkers with limited space would benefit from a benchtop table saw, as would those looking to use their saw for personal home improvement tasks. Jobsite table saws are most beneficial for those in the construction industry looking to improve the accuracy of hand tools without having to give up portability.

Contractor table saws

Not surprisingly based on its name, the contractor table saw was designed with professionals in mind. A step up from the portable table saw, the contractor table saw remains more lightweight (at around 250–350lbs) than the cabinet or hybrid table saw but utilizes sturdier materials such as steel or cast iron to offer greater stability than the portable table saws.

I know what you’re asking. Why buy a contractor table saw rather than a lighter portable one if you might want to move it? Although bulkier and heavier than the portable table saw options, contractor table saws can offer the functionality of a cabinet table saw at a lower weight and more affordable price. They are not ideal to move because of their cast-iron tabletop, but they can still be relocated much more easily than cabinet or hybrid table saws due to their more lightweight steel or aluminum base.

Contractor table saws also include extension wings that often need to be purchased as add-on items for portable table saws. These extension wings, made of either pressed steel or cast iron, allow for a larger rip capacity than the portable versions. The fence system is not as reliable as the hybrid or cabinet table saw, but remains effective for appropriately sized projects. The contractor table saw motor is typically a 1–2-horsepower simplified belt-drive system that runs on standard 110V power, similar to the portable table saw.

Coming in at a lower price than cabinet models, but offering more power and stability than portable models, the contractor table saw remains a top choice for woodworking enthusiasts and those who work with larger sheet materials but have no need for the bulkier, more expensive cabinet models. They are the most affordable option for those looking to work on carpentry, small cabinetry projects, trim work, and basic furniture creation.

Cabinet table saws

This industry doesn’t mince words: cabinet table saws, as the name implies, are ideal for cabinet makers because of their ability to handle large, heavy sheet materials. The name is also derived from the “cabinet” that houses the motor. Also referred to as professional or industrial table saws, they offer the most power and stability of the table saw types at the highest prices. They often look similar to hybrid table saws but weigh hundreds of pounds more.

Utilizing cast iron and professional-grade steel, the cabinet table saw is stationary once place in a shop. The 3–5-horsepower induction motor requires a 220V power source, similar to that required by other major home appliances such as an electric dryer or refrigerator. The completely enclosed base enables integral dust collection, and along with the sturdy materials increases stability and dampens vibrations for quiet, smooth operation.

Cabinet table saws tend to be manufactured to more rigorous standards than their more affordable counterparts: flatter surfaces, more robust bearings and pulleys, and often a more reliable fence system. As their high costs and premium materials reflect, they are designed to be durable and reliable enough to meet the needs of professional woodworkers or those looking to perform heavy-duty projects with their table saw, such as creating full sets of furniture or similarly intensive home woodworking projects.

Hybrid table saws

Hybrid table saws are the newest option out there for those in the market for a table saw. They attempt to bridge the gap between casual woodworkers and professionals and to service the more serious woodworking hobbyists who want the sturdiness and reliability of a cabinet table saw at the price of a contractor model. If money wasn’t an option, everyone suggests the cabinet table saw is the number one option, but for those of us that live and work in the real world, money is always a deciding factor to take into account.

Hybrid table saw motors tend to run in the 1–2-horsepower range with a quieter induction motor, similar to the motor used in cabinet models. The motor offers as much horsepower as possible while still operating on a standard household 110V power source.

Some hybrid versions come with the enclosed “cabinet” base, while others have an open base more similar to contractor table saws. As a result, some hybrid models offer more stability and quieter operation than others do. Regardless of an enclosed or open base, hybrid table saws tend to have smaller base dimensions than cabinet models.

Similar to contractor table saws, hybrid versions usually have a cast-iron top with either pressed steel or cast-iron extension wings and a steel or aluminum rip fence than can be adjusted for different rip capacities. With all these similarities, it can be easy to confuse hybrid and cabinet table saws. Just remember that unlike cabinet table saws, hybrid models can run on a normal domestic electric supply of 110V but at a higher horsepower than contractor models. And if in doubt, come back and refer to my review for help!

TABLE SAW SIZES

Now that you’ve learned how to differentiate between the different types of table saws, I’m going to break it down by size and power for you. Different projects and materials require different saw sizes and motor power, which I have outlined for you in the table below.

TYPE WEIGHT POWER PRICE
Portable 75 lbs. or less 15 amp $
Contractor Up to 250 lbs. 1.5–2hp $$
Cabinet 375 lbs. or more 3–5hp $$$-$$$$
Hybrid Up to 375 lbs. 1–2hp $$$-$$$$

 

Equipped with the vast amount of knowledge you’ve acquired here, it’s time to choose your table saw. But how do you narrow it down and make the right decision? Read on to find out.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TABLE SAW FOR YOU

Before going out and picking out the first table saw you see in the type you want, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Using your table saw for recreational woodworking and using it for freelance jobs to supplement your income are very different situations and call for different types of table saws. You’d be fine to use a portable model for the first situation but would be better off with a contractor table saw, or even a hybrid model, for the second.

If you’re looking to gauge your interest in woodwork or plan on using your table saw only a few times a year for small projects, the portable table saw will suffice. However, the other three table saw types offer more room for growth in your woodworking hobby or career, each with its own pros and cons mentioned earlier.

Along with the consideration for how you’ll be using your table saw and what your budget is, you should note the specification differences between table saw types for a handful of parts. The saw blade diameter is usually between 10–12 inches, no matter the type of table saw. However, the type of blade should not be a large deciding factor, as most table saws ships with a lower caliber blade than can be easily upgraded and replaced.

The differences in the base size and structure, as noted in the description for each table saw type, affects stability and the ability to transport your tool from one location to another, as well as how easily dust collection will be—an enclosed base offers more reliable dust collection than an open base.

The table extension wings, or lack of them, will change the rip capacity, or the maximum distance between the saw blade and the rip fence. The ability to change the location of the rip fence allows you to change the size of cuts made during a project: if you want to cut 10 pieces of wood to each be 20 in. wide, you need to be able to set your rip fence 20 in. away from the blade. Portable table saws have the smallest rip capacities, and not all of them come with the table wing extensions.

Three of the most important considerations are listed below.

Rip fence and miter gauge

The rip fence is crucial to making straight and consistent cuts during a project. It rides on fence rails, meant to keep the fence perfectly parallel and in place for the duration of your work. The quality of your work can be heavily diminished by an inadequate fence system. Fences tend to get sturdier as you move from portable table saws up the rankings to the cabinet models, but this is not always the case.

The fence should be sturdy, easy to move across the table and lock in place, and have no movement during use. Trying to repeat a cut only to find out after the fact that your fence moved 1/16th of an inch each time can be frustrating as well as costly.

The miter gauge serves the same purpose as the rip fence, but for materials perpendicular to the blade. It can be adjusted to various angles, and should be held to the same standards as mentioned above for the rip fence: sturdy, able to be locked easily, and stays in place for multiple cuts. The fence and miter gauge should never be used at the same time: use the fence for ripping (cutting parallel to the blade) and the miter gauge for crosscutting (cutting perpendicular to the blade).

Table flatness

Not surprisingly, a cutting surface that isn’t flat can cause all types of problems. The generally accepted deviation is 0.005 inches, and buying from a well-known manufacturer often ensures that you are getting a completely, or near completely, flat surface.

Flatness is easiest to achieve with cast-iron tops, but that doesn’t mean that other materials will not be flat—it just means to keep your eyes open. Any wing extensions must fit tight and flat to the table to maintain flatness throughout the table saw surface.

Blade guard

It shouldn’t be shocking that you want to protect yourself from injury while using your table saw. An effective blade guard does that for you. Blade guards use plastic leaves on either side of the blade that move independently from it in order to allow plastic to pass under the leaves and through the blade.

Blade guards should give the user a clear view of the blade and the wood at all times during use and be easy to change. This is not something you want to skimp on; you can’t keep woodworking, either as a hobby or a job, if you injure yourself in the process.

TABLE SAW OPERATION

Think you’re all set to go now that you’ve chosen the best saw for you and brought it home? Hold up a second. Let’s talk about how to operate that saw safely and successfully before we jump right in. You don’t want the first use of your saw to send you (or someone nearby) to the emergency room. Even those who have used table saws before can use a safety refresher.

Basic safety tenets when operating any machinery, particularly with a blade, are as follows:

  • Read the user manual before operation
  • Verify the location of the on/off switch and the emergency power disconnect
  • Use protective gear, including eyewear and dust masks
  • Always keep a first-aid kit nearby
  • Check for anything unusual before each use: any cracks or nicks in the blade, any residual material from earlier use
  • Make sure the blade guards are working correctly
  • Do not reach over the blade to grab something from the other side
  • Make sure your fingers are a safe distance from the blade and blade guards at all times

Eyewear will protect your eyes from any wood shavings or dust in the air while operating your saw. You must always wear the eye protection, but when using a material that chips significantly, a face shield is suggested in addition to the safety glasses. A dust mask can also be useful to keep the dust from entering your lungs through your nose and mouth.

I’m not through with safety yet, though. Listed below are the two main safety incidents that can arise when using a table saw, along with suggestions on how to prevent injury in those situations.

Kickback

A leading cause of table saw–related accidents is kickback. This occurs when the saw blade catches the material and ejects it back at the operator at high speeds. It can cause serious injuries to the user, but there are ways to prevent it from happening.

Kickbacks occur more often during crosscutting than during ripping materials. Making sure you use the right blade for your project is a good way to prevent kickbacks: use a crosscutting blade for crosscutting, and a ripping blade for ripping. Make sure your blade is maintained and sharpened. Simple enough, right? Not so much.

Kickbacks can still occur even when precautions are taken, which is why many table saws come with splitters, anti-kickback pawls, or a riving knife. A splitter sits behind the blade and keeps the recently cut portion of the material separate, lessening the likelihood of kickbacks.

A riving knife has a similar use, but it is attached to the same mechanism as the blade and can move with the blade; therefore it doesn’t need to be removed when making cross, non-through, or dado cuts. Removing the splitter for those cuts means it is more likely the user will forget to reattach the splitter when going back to ripping, and so a riving knife ups the level of safety of the table saw.

The anti-kickback pawls typically accompany the splitter. They each protect one side of the material and are meant to keep the material from launching in the case of a kickback by sinking their “claws” into it. Similarly to the splitter, however, they often get in the way of cuts other than ripping and must be removed—making it more likely that the user will forget to put them back on when returning to ripping.

Fingers in contact with blade

Even those of us with the best intentions make mistakes. You might think your hands and fingers are far enough from the blade, but in fact end up slicing yourself with the blade—either a small cut or something hospital-worthy. There are ways to prevent this, though, so to save yourself a hefty hospital bill, read on.

When in doubt, use a push stick. This device is made specifically to keep fingers away from the blade and allows users to push thin pieces of materials through the blade without putting their skin in peril. Some models include push sticks upon purchase, but you can pick one up from the store or Amazon.

Some table saws come with sensors that stop the blade as soon as it comes in contact with human skin. You’ll still get cut, but it will be a much smaller nick than without the sensor. The conductivity in skin triggers the electrical signal in the sensor to activate the aluminum brake, which stops the blade immediately and causes it to drop below the table.

It is also important, when using a table saw without an enclosure, to remember than you can cut yourself on the blade below the table as well. No matter what you use to help prevent cutting yourself on the blade, it remains a key safety precaution to always be aware of where your body is in relation to your table saw.

 

HOW TO USE A TABLE SAW

In the previous paragraph, I covered the safety issues that can arise when using a saw and how to address or prevent them. Use the correct operating procedures and, when necessary, safety gear to avoid any mishaps. Here, I’ll discuss a few more important considerations when using your table saw.

Environment

As mentioned above, check your blade and make any adjustments to the table saw before turning the table saw on. Make sure there are no unusual cuts or material left behind from a previous project. When you finish with a project, make sure to clean up and dispose of dust and wood shavings. Keep up with these scraps during use as well, to minimize clutter and the risk of slipping on the dust or shavings.

Using the table saw

With hand-fed saws (most saws that individuals or small contractor shops use), the user begins by adjusting the height and angle of the blade, along with repositioning the rip fence or miter gauge if necessary.

Then, holding the wood or other material to be cut, the operator pushes it into the blade, while the blade guard lifts to let the wood (but not your fingers or hands!) through to the blade. The user should be standing to one side of—never directly in line with—the material being fed through the blade. The rip fence or miter gauge will ensure that you achieve the desired cut and width of your material.

After completing the cut, the saw blade should be lowered below table level through the slot.

If material longer than 3 feet in any dimension (length, width, or height) is being cut, a helper should be used to support the material going through the blade.

Starting and stopping the saw

Do not make any adjustments to the saw while it is powered on. Make the adjustments before turning the power on, and if any adjustments are needed during your project, turn off the power and ensure that the blade has completely stopped moving before making the adjustments. If the table saw has a power cord, the cord should be unplugged during adjustments as well.

I know we all like to do things quickly in the 21st century, but it is important to turn off the saw correctly each time and check that it has fully stopped rotating before leaving the work area. Do not attempt to stop the blade more quickly by shoving something against it. This can result in kickback and injury.

HOW TO SHARPEN A TABLE SAW

Any owner of a table saw will eventually come to the day where they find that the blade needs sharpening. Can you, and should you, do this yourself? Most seem to agree that sending your steel blades off to the experts is the best call. Getting them properly sharpened and reshaped can save you time and effort in the long run, especially in the case that you make a mistake and end up spending even more money for replacement blades. You’ll know they are properly sharpened when you send them off to the professionals.

Still thinking about doing it on your own? Before you begin, you’ll need to gather a tarp, a sharpening file, a face or dust mask, some newspaper, lubricating oil, eye protection, and work gloves.

Remove your saw blade from the saw before sharpening, and always handle the blade carefully—it is still a somewhat sharp piece of metal, though you’ve removed it to sharpen it. Ensure that the table saw is off and unplugged, then wedge a piece of wood underneath a blade tooth to keep the blade from rotating. Loosen the nut with the wrench likely provided with the table saw, and finish loosening it by hand while gently holding on to the blade so it does not fall through the slot and underneath the table.

Lay the tarp on the floor (it can be a messy job) and make sure you are wearing your eye protection, face mask, and gloves. When you begin filing, small shards of metal will be falling. These can also create a slippery floor, so make note of where you step.

Using your sharpening file, make strong back and forth strokes against the section or tooth you are sharpening. This process can take some time, as you want to spend several minutes on each section. Again, I know we like to do everything as fast as possible these days, but this is worth taking the time to do slowly and correctly.

Rotate the blade and continue sharpening until you are satisfied with the results. To keep the blade smooth and rust-free, you want to lubricate it before placing it back on the table. Put a small amount of lubricating oil on the blade and, using the newspaper, spread it across the entire surface (including the blade edge) and rub it into the blade.

Run a test cut on a piece of wood or other material, and if you aren’t satisfied with the sharpness, repeat the steps above (or send to the experts this time). If you’ve got a carbide blade, though, you can touch it up with a diamond stone, but eventually it will need expert filing.

Below I have shared some of the top-rated sharpening tools on Amazon. The type of file you use will depend on the size of the blade tooth, but I have listed crosscut files below because they are best for general purpose. The sets are, of course, more expensive, but individual files won’t cost you much.

Tekton — two sides of filing surface, comes in 8 in., 10 in., or 12 in.

INNOVANT — nine-piece set, different shaped files for different tasks

Nicholson — five-piece set; one 6 in., three 8 in., one 10 in. file included

BEST TABLE SAW ON THE MARKET

To wrap up, I did my best to cover all relevant aspects of purchasing a table saw, from table saw basics and buying guide, to safety tips and usage directions, to the comparisons of the best table saw for your price in each category. My goal was to help you make the best decision for your table saw purchased, based on all the available facts and reviews, and I hope I succeeded. So did I help you find the best table saw for the money?

Going forward, I hope you come back to use this article for table saw questions or suggestions, or to my other reviews to help you with your next big purchase. Whatever type you choose, and whichever model you choose, you can’t go wrong. Each item mentioned and reviewed here is a great quality product from table saw manufacturing leaders. Just keep in mind your needs and budget, and you’ll reach the right conclusion for your purchase.

Even with all the information provided, making a decision can still be difficult. So, to help you out one final time, I suggest taking another look at my reviews for best overall table saw (DEWALT DWE7491RS) and the best budget cabinet table saw (Grizzly G0690) before you make your purchase.

Best Portable & Benchtop Contractor Jobsite Table Saws

Still want more information? If you want a smaller more portable table saw you can check out my review of jobsite and contractor table saws here:

Best Hybrid & Cabinet Table Saws

If you want a more sturdy table saw you can check out my review of hybrid and cabinet table saws here:

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