THE DIFFERENT TABLE SAW TYPES
One of the easiest ways to become acquainted with table saws is to learn their basic types. This was a lesson I wasn’t aware of when I started my research, so I had my work cut out for me.
First of all, based on their portability, there are two basic types of saws: portable and stationary. As you may have already read, the majority of the table saws I reviewed here are portable, to a certain extent. Now, within each of those two types, there are further classifications, which is what this article is all about. I don’t want to waste any more of your time, so let’s get straight to the point, shall we?
PORTABLE TABLE SAWS
The three basic types of portable saws are bench top, compact, and jobsite table saws. Since they are designed to be portable, they tend to be smaller and lighter. The use of heavier and sturdier materials in their design is also significantly reduced to keep their weight down. Most portable table saws come with direct drive 15-amp, 120V motors which produce no more than 2hp. Now, there are still some misconceptions regarding portable saws, and I will address them a little further along in this article.
The Bosch GTS1031 Bench Top Table Saw
Bench top saws are designed to be as compact as possible, very light, and very affordable. They are mostly aimed at users who want to get some light-duty work done in their garage or workshop. Even though they don’t have a stand or transport wheels, they are still considered portable because their small weight allows them to be carried around by almost anyone. For that, they rely on generous usage of lightweight materials such as plastic, aluminum, or other composite materials. Their tables are smaller and their rip capacity is very limited. Still, if you plan on cutting some plywood or softer woods such as pine, and don’t plan on working with full-size material sheets, these little saws will rise to the challenge.
Compact table saws are a step up from bench top table saws. They feature some of the same characteristics, such as direct drive universal motors and lightweight construction, but they will have additional features like stands, or even table surfaces made of cast iron. Some of them can even resemble full-size table saws, but their tables and rip capacity are a lot smaller.
Jobsite saws are a lot more robust and rugged in their construction than either bench top or compact table saws. They are often the table saws of choice for many contractors when they need a portable table saw, which is why you will often find they are referred to as “contractor table saws”, even by some manufacturers. However, even though this term has become widely accepted and common, true contractor table saws are an entirely different beast, but more difficult to come by on today’s market. I will discuss that issue later. Today, the terms “jobsite table saws” and “contractor table saws” are synonymous.
Jobsite, or “contractor”, table saws are still relatively compact and portable, but feature more robust components and produce more accurate results. They still have direct drive motors, but they are more powerful and durable, which makes them suitable for heavy-duty use. They also come with better fences and alignment adjustments, 24″ rip capacities, and some even come with extension tables. Another trademark of a jobsite table saw is the presence of a stand. I say trademark because these stands usually feature some sort of clever design which allows them fold-up to take up less space. In most cases, these stands also feature transport wheels. Features like riving knives, dust collection ports, and onboard storage space are usually considered standard for this type of table saw.
STATIONARY TABLE SAWS
The three basic types of stationary table saws are: contractor, hybrid, and cabinet table saws. Compared to portable saws they are much larger and heavier, more accurate, and more powerful. They are not really portable, although they can be mounted to a mobile base for transportation around the workshop. They also rely on belt drive motors for their power, and have heavy, cast iron tables. You may also encounter some with granite or aluminum table tops. Their tables tend to measure 27 x 20 inches, with the extension tables usually measuring 10 x 12 inches. More advanced stationary table saws can feature outfeed tables, extended fence rails, router tables, and so on.
Contractor saws, true contractor saws, used to be the go-to table saw for professionals, featuring belt drive and large outboard induction motors. Envisioned as an alternative to full-size cabinet saws, they were initially more portable. As their design progressed, their motors became more powerful and the units themselves became heavier, weighing as much as 200 to 300 pounds. Also, their outboard motors required longer belts, which increased the amount of vibration produced, and their dust collection abilities were generally poor.
With the emergence of new, portable table saws, these contractor saws continued their lives as stationary saws in the workshops of hobbyists and enthusiasts because they were a lot less expensive than the equivalent cabinet saws, and a lot more powerful than the new portable models. As I’ve pointed out earlier, contractor table saws with outboard motors are extremely rare, and those you may encounter will be old models.
The ShopFox W1824 Hybrid Table Saw
Hybrid saws are the most difficult to categorize and there is a lot of confusion online about what they really are. Whereas old contractor saws featured huge outboard motors, saws which have the same characteristics as the old contractor saws, but have inboard belt drive induction motors, are usually referred to as hybrid saws. In reality, they are more of a middle ground between the old contractor saws and full-size, industrial cabinet saws. Hybrid saws usually have open leg stands, but there are some models which have full enclosures, which further increases the confusion and makes it even more difficult for buyers to tell the difference between hybrid saws with full enclosures and industrial cabinet saws. The similarities are mostly skin-deep.
Cabinet saws are the most powerful of the whole bunch. In fact, every single one of their characteristics is superior to those of other types of saws. As far as looks are concerned, they don’t look much different than cabinet-enclosed hybrid saws, but most of the similarities end there. Each component of a cabinet saw is designed to be durable and robust, and to withstand heavy-duty use. Cabinet saws are extremely precise, heavy, bulky, and made to last for decades. That’s why they have found their way into most factory shops, specialized schools, and workshops of nearly all professional contractors.
As for individual components, the fences found on cabinet saws are vastly more accurate and robust than those on other types of saws. Once you make all the necessary adjustments, you won’t need to continually readjust every so often, as is the case with all other table saws. Their motors are generally more powerful, as they run on 240V and produce between 3 and 5hp. Needless to say, there is literally nothing a cabinet saw can’t cut through. Hardwood, pressure-treated lumber, large material sheets, pine, plywood, and so on. Their tables are massive and feature extensions. Their weight often surpasses 500 pounds, which adds to their stability but does very little for their portability. Still, if you really need to move them, they can be mounted to a mobile base.
And there you have it. I have tried to make this as comprehensive as possible, which was not an easy feat, since the classification of table saws is really sketchy. As you have seen, the term “contractor saw” has adopted a new meaning. Also, it is sometimes difficult to discern which type of saw you are actually dealing with, and the manufacturers don’t really help with monikers like “hybrid cabinet saw”. Still, I hope you have learned what each of the saw types have in common and what they don’t have in common, as well as some of the specific features you can find on each of them.
The 10 Best Table Saws
1. SawStop PCS175 Table Saw
Ideal for both craftsmen and hobbyists, the SawStop 1.75 horsepower Professional Cabinet Saw delivers the performance you need with the peace of mind only SawStop’s patented safety system can provide.
- The safety system detects when someone accidentally contacts the spinning saw blade, and then stops the blade in milliseconds — resulting in just a nick on a SawStop saw instead of the devastating injury.
- Provides 99 percent dust collection both above and below the table.
- Comes with a 36-inch T-Glide fence system for added strength and increased precision as well as rails and extension table.
- Riving knife that minimizes kickback and provides protection during non-through cuts.
- Left-tilting blade that helps prevent wood from binding against the fence.
- 110-volt power requirement, making it great for the home shop as it delivers the convenience of plugging in anywhere.
2. JET 708675PK Table Saw
This Deluxe XACTASAW has a quick-release riving knife and integrated arbor lock that’s more efficient and keeps the operator safe.
- This Deluxe XACTASAW model offers an upgraded Poly-V belt drive system for smooth operation and optimal power transfer, plus a fully shrouded blade for highly efficient dust collection.
- The 26in. x 30in. wings and deeper table provide even more cast iron to work on.
- A built-in storage drawer sealed from the cabinet keeps accessories within easy reach.
- Standard 11in. left and right cast iron extension wings provide the largest table surface in its class.
- Three matched V-belts deliver full power to the blade
- Rail-mounted magnetic switch is easy to reach and provides overload protection.
- Deluxe miter gauge with adjustable positive stops and large soft grip handles provides large crosscutting capacity and accurate miters.
- Heavy-duty chrome-plated handwheels contribute to smooth trunnion/arbor movement.
- Precision ground high luster cast iron table tops with front edge bevel for hassle-free workpiece positioning.
3. Grizzly G0690 Table Saw
Destined to be the gold standard for 10 foot left tilting Cabinet Table Saws, this saw will be the focal point in any shop.
- Heavy-duty cast iron trunnions, precision-ground cast iron table with miter gauge T-slots.
- Heavy-duty powder coated cabinet.
- 3 HP Leeson motor and triple belt drive to its massive cast iron table and wings.
- Camlock T-fence with HDPE face.
- heavy cast handwheels, magnetic switch.
- T-slot miter gauge and 4 foot dust collection port.
- Includes quick release riving knife, quick release blade guard and push stick.
- Quick release for changing guard/riving knife.
- Includes standard and dado table inserts.
4. DEWALT DW745 Jobsite Table Saw
The DEWALT versatile 10-Inch Jobsite Table Saw features the Site-Pro Modular Guarding System for application-specific setups that result in quick, accurate cuts.
- It pairs a portable design with a powerful 15 amp motor and large 20-inch rip capacity.
- 10-inch blade spins at a no-load speed of 3,850 rpm for quick, clean cuts–no matter what the application.
- Exclusive fence configuration enables a huge 20-inch rip capacity.
- Rack and pinion fence rails make fence adjustments fast, smooth, and accurate.
- The fence’s telescoping design allows the rails to move out to 20 inches to rip full sheets of materials or be retracted for a compact design that’s easy to transport.
- Table surface is coated to reduce friction for improved cut quality across the board.
- Metal roll cage base provides a sturdy setup and improved durability when compared with plastic bases.
- A handy 2-1/2-inch dust collection port allows you to connect the saw to a Shop-Vac for efficient dust extraction and a cleaner work area.
5. Bosch 4100-09 Table Saw
The Smart Guard System is the first ever quick and easy-to-use modular blade guard, anti-kickback pawls and riving knife system.
- Provides superior control over the material and maximum visibility while cutting.
- Engineered for maximum trueness, the ‘Squarelock’ Rip Fence glides along the rail at a finger’s touch or locks into place for solid and consistent cutting performance.
- Easy set up and take down of your table saw; heavy-duty construction and 8″ pneumatic wheels allow the Gravity-Rise stand to handle the toughest jobsites.
- Integrated Sub-base increases tool life by handling jobsite abuse, while protecting the table saw’s base.
- Built-in sub-base and tabletop carry handles add to the saw’s portability from jobsite to jobsite.
- On tool storage for all saw attachments and tools.
- Soft Start and ‘Constant Response’ Circuitry for quiet and smoother start-up, reduced start-up torque and maintaining speed under load.
- Exclusive Arbor Lock for single wrench blade changes.
6. SKIL 3410-02 Table Saw
The 3410 SKIL Table Saw is ideal for DIY woodworkers looking to tackle bigger projects in and around the house.
- Rip long boards to width, cross cut smaller pieces, miter or bevel – this powerful table saw features 3-1/2-inch cut height capacity to slice through 4X the material.
- The 20 x 26-inch cast aluminum table supports your work, and the self-aligning rip fence.
- The 3410 Table Saw sets up fast with the Quick-Mount system on a heavy-duty steel stand.
- A 15 amp motor is perfect for ripping through all varieties of wood.
- Includes a durable steel folding stand with quick-mount that makes setup quick and easy, and storage convenient.
- The 3-1/2-inch cut height can cut through 4x the material in one pass, providing the cutting capacity necessary for tackling various carpentry and woodworking projects.
- An EZ view measurement system and self-aligning rip fence ensure accurate settings and measurements.
7. Makita 2705 Table Saw
Makita’s 2705 10-Inch Contractor Table Saw is a versatile and powerful table saw for use in the shop or on the jobsite.
- The 2705 combines a range of convenience and ease-of-use features with large capacity and 15 amp power.
- Adjustable dual slide guards allow for ease of measurements from the blade to the rip fence for cutting setups
- Riving knife/spreader adjusts to 3 different positions for through, non-through, and dado cuts.
- Right extension table allows for greater cutting capacity with the capability to rip 4×8 sheets of plywood.
- The 2705 is powered by a 15 amp motor that delivers 4,800 rpm with an electric brake for maximum productivity.
- The large cutting capacity (3-5/8 inches at 90 degrees and 2-1/2 inches at 45 degrees)
- Can rip 4X material in one pass and can use up to a 6 x 13/16-inch dado blade.
- Features a tool-less modular blade guard system with adjustable dual side guards to allow for ease of measurement from the blade to the rip fence for cutting setups.
- Precision adjustment features include a 3/8 x 3/4 inch T-slot miter gauge with grooves that securely support cutting material for wide crosscutting jobs.
8. Powermatic PM1000 Table Saw
Bring some of the Gold standard home to your workshop with the Powermatic PM1000 Cabinet Table Saw.
- Wired for 115V usage and runs off a 1-3/4HP motor with a poly-v belt that reduces vibration and maximizes motor efficiency.
- 30″ Accu-Fence system.
- Blade surround and collection hose provide an unobstructed path, maximizing dust collection.
- Conveniently located hands free power switch.
- Tool-less guard assembly with independent side leaves is easy to use, maximizing safety.
- The sturdy miter gauge pivots 60 degrees to either side, allowing easy adjustment for a full range of cuts.
9. Craftsman Evolv 28461 Table Saw
Craftsman Evolv 15 Amp 10 In. Table Saw 28461Craftsman Evolv
The Craftsman 10 inch table saw has a sheer table top for smooth cuts every time.
- Potent 15 amp motor powers through tough materials cut after cut.
- Easy to adjust miter gauge gives you quick, accurate control for tight bevels and corners.
- Advanced guarding system delivers versatility and superior blade coverage in a safe package.
- Upper guarding assembly installs via clamp with latching action.
- Spreader easily repositions to lower riving knife position via a tool-free internal cam lever (lower riving knife position for non-thru cuts only).
- Push button assembly makes the anti-kickback pawl easy to use and safe.
- Fence is quick release mounted for fast rip adjustment.
- Large 25″ x 17″ steel table top work surface support a variety of material big and small.
- Rack and pinion blade height control delivers smooth, accurate adjustment even on the fly.
10. SKILSAW SPT70WT-01 Table Saw
SKILSAW introduces the world’s first Worm Drive table saw specifically designed for ripping.
- Built with Worm Drive gearing for maximum torque and power, the SPT70WT-01.
- Dual Field motor which provides an increase in cutting speed and a smooth startup for a saw that runs cooler and lasts longer.
- Large cuts can be managed more easily with the saw’s ability to rip full sheets of plywood in half with a 3-1/2 in. depth of cut and 25 in. rip capacity.
- Durable all-steel roll cage design and a die cast aluminum top, the 49 lb. table saw stays lightweight for quick and easy jobsite setup and transportation.
I hope this list of the best table saws was helpful.
If you think I left out one that is important or have a suggestion for a future article, let me know in the comments below.
Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C1 Comment
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Paul Dalton 3 months ago
I am disappointed that – for a November 2018 review – you left out the DeWalt 749 and the Stanley SPT99 tablesaws. These are newer, more capable models than the older DeWalt and Stanley tablesaws you did include.
In particular, the newer DeWalt takes a dado set up to 13/16″ (the older DeWalt cannot accept any dado set at all) and the Stanley 99 series has a much more powerful motor than does the Stanley 70 series.