Circular saw in carpenter's workshop

A table saw is an essential power tool for any workshop. They are perfect for cutting and polishing wood, as well as soft materials such as plastic, brass or aluminum metal sheets. These tools are available in a wide selection of models with different specifications, that are suitable for professionals and amateurs.

Table saws are more typically designed for professional applications, since they must be stable and installed on a flat surface. For smaller jobs, a handheld tool such as a jigsaw, or a circular saw might be more suitable. In this article, we focus on everything you need to know about table saws, so that you can find the model that is best for you.

Key Facts

  • A table saw is the most important tool in any carpentry workshop.
  • Unlike handheld circular saws, which are manually pushed over a cutting surface, table saws have a fixed disc which remains in place, while the material slides towards it. This makes the cutting process much faster and easier.
  • Table saws are specialized tools and are designed for professional jobs. They help you to achieve very precise cuts, even at an angle, which is virtually impossible with other types of tools.

Ranking: The best table saws on the US market

Table saws are the backbone of any carpentry workshop. They are precision tools, perfect for lots of different cutting tasks. To help you choose the table saw that is best for you from the wide-range available on the market, we have researched and selected the best models available in four different categories:

Best table saw for DIY enthusiasts

This is the perfect tool for do-it-yourselfers to take care of jobs around the home. It is the cheapest option on our list, and great for someone who wants a quality tool without a big financial outlay. It has a heavy-duty steel stand. It is easy to setup and pack down for storage or to be transported. This is the best entry-level product available on the market right now.

Best compact table saw

Weighing less than 50 pounds, this is the most portable table saw in its class. Although compact, it has a powerful 1850 Watt motor for high performance in any situation. Scissor legs are lightweight, and allow for a fast setup so you can start working right away. Moderately priced product from a trusted manufacturer. Great option for someone who wants a powerful table saw to use around the house.

Best high-powered table saw

High-powered table saw for professional cabinet-makers, hardwood floor installers, deck builders and remodelers. A 2″ dust collection port easily connects to a vacuum for efficient dust extraction, keeping clean up times to a minimum. The rolling stand is designed for easy setup and breakdown with excellent stability, and features large heavy duty wheels that easily roll over steps, curbs, and jobsite debris.

Best portable table saw for professionals

Delivers both professional rip capacity and outstanding portability with treaded rubber composite tires. This is a power tool that can get the job done, no matter where you are. It includes constant response circuitry to help maintain speed under load, and overload protection. The most expensive option on our list, but definitely worth the money for professionals who need a reliable table saw for their jobsite.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about table saws

A table saw is a vital part any workshop setup. They deliver precision cutting, and can perform various tasks quickly and easily. In this shopping guide we will show you the main features of table saws, and answer the most frequently asked questions about these tools.

Mujer cortando madera en un taller

Circular saws are a basic tool for carpenters.
(Source: Diaz: 73042950/ 123rf.com)

What is a table saw?

Table saws are power cutting tools. They have circular saw, shaped like a disc, which is fixed onto a table, along with cutting guides. When the saw is activated, it rotates at a high speed, while the user pushes the material which is to be cut along the guides. They are very powerful and extremely precise tools, which are designed for professional work.

Although they are most commonly found in carpentry and mechanical workshops, today there are table saws on the market at very affordable prices. This has made them very popular with DIY enthusiasts, since they are the perfect tool for a wide-range of different tasks.

Las sierras circulares de mesa consisten principalmente de un disco de corte que sobresale del centro de una mesa horizontal.

There is a big variety of different table saws available these days, so you need to find the one that best suits your needs.
(Source: Citalliance : 93322030/ 123rf.com)

What different components do table saws have?

Now it is time to delve a little deeper into the main components of table saws. It is important to know about these features, since then you will be able to understand the ways a certain tool can be operated. Here are the most commonly found components of table saws:

  • Table for the saw: Made of anodized aluminum or wrought iron. Some models include cutting guides to make perfectly straight cuts easier.
  • Blade protector: An essential safety feature that covers the cutting blade when the machine is not being operated.
  • Dust extraction hose: This extra feature is not integrated in all models. It sucks up dust that is produced from cutting.
  • Guide for parallel cuts: Another extra feature found in some models. It marks out parallel cuts, making them easier to get perfectly straight.
  • Folding table extension: an extension for the table that is equipped with hinges. It is a safe way to increase the cutting space, ideal for long pieces of wood or other materials.
  • Miter gauge: Allows the tilting of the saw blade, or the cutting material, for making miter cuts.
  • Eccentric lever: Used to adjust the cutting settings. Clamps and holds the cutting material, making the saw safer and more secure to operate.
  • Blade-height crank: Allows the depth of the cut to be regulated.
  • On/off switch: Supplies energy to the tool, and makes the blade start spinning.
  • Push stick: Protects the hand, while allowing good control of the material as it is pushed through the cutting blade
  • Base legs: Used to support the tool. Most models have an adjustment system to adjust the height and level.
  • Cutting blade: Serrated circular discs. Fixed to a shaft that rotates at high speed.

What type of table saw would be best for me, and what level of precision can I expect?

This is the first question question you should be asking when buying a new table saw, no matter if you are a professional carpenter or a DIY enthusiast. If you are a professional and you are looking for a powerful tool for tough jobs, you have to choose a high performance model. These large-sized tools must be installed in a fixed location, and are capable of cutting all types of wood.

On the other hand, if you are love doing DIY projects on weekends and only want to use a table saw for light work, it is best to buy a semi-portable model. The accuracy of these saws is still very impressive and they are also compact, making them easy to pull out to use on a workbench, and then to store away after use.

How do I use a table saw?

Now you know all the basics about table saws. However, unless you are an experienced carpenter, you may not be aware exactly how they are supposed to be operated, and may even be a little apprehensive. This is completely normal. Table saws are powerful pieces of equipment, and if you are going to be working with them for the first time, the idea may be a little scary. To help you get started, we will explain step by step how to they should be used:

  • Before use. The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with how the table saw is capable of being used, its functions and all the different controls. You must be very clear how to turn it on and off. These tools have various safety features, so it is a good idea to learn how to use them properly.
  • Safety and protection. Do not remove any protective elements of the table saw. Wear appropriate safety clothing, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions.
  • Space for working. Place the table saw in a dedicated space for working. It must be a place where you can work comfortably, without any risk to yourself or anyone around you.
  • Stable surface. If the table saw does not have legs, you must place it on a workbench or on a stable surface. Before operating, use a level to make sure the machine is level.
  • Place the material. Select the piece of wood, or other material, and place it on the table against the guides.
  • Position. Always stand in front of the machine when you are using it, so that the on and off button is in front of you and easy to reach.
  • Push the cutting material. Never use your hands to push the cutting material towards the blade. Use a rod stick or another block of wood. Push the material little by little and in a smooth motion, without exerting any pressure.
  • Turn on the machine. As soon as you have finished cutting, turn off the machine to avoid any accidents.
  • Maintenance. Once you have finished using your table saw, clean the lower and upper housings. Use a vacuum cleaner for any places that are hard to reach. Also check the condition of the saw teeth after each use, and that the blade is securely fixed. Change the disc whenever necessary.

Shopping Criteria

Now that you have read our shopping guide, you should already have all the information you need to know about table saws. However, before you make your purchase, there are some important factors you need to keep in mind, so that you find the product that is perfect for you:

  • Power
  • Table
  • Material to be cut
  • Accessories
  • Type of cuts

Power

Since every type of material has a different hardness and resistance, the power rating is a very important specification to consider when purchasing a table saw. The power determines the speed of rotation of the disk, as well as the size and type of materials which can safely be cut.

The power should be at least 1000 watts, and it is very handy if the tool includes some type of speed regulator which will allow you to adjust the amount of power, depending on the type of material you are cutting. Remember that materials like plastics and acrylics require a slower cutting speed to avoid cracks. The cut depth is also determined by the power.

La potencia debe ser de al menos 1000 vatios (W) y siempre será mejor si incluye algún tipo de regulador de velocidad que te permita ajustar la potencia al tipo de material que estás cortando

Table saws can give you a perfectly straight cut.
(Source: Mavoimage: 54601239/ 123rf.com)

Table

You must ensure that the table provides the correct amount of strength and support for the jobs you are intending to do with your table saw. The table must be made of steel or another type of strong material. It should also be stable and have resistant rubber stops, which will help to keep the table from moving around.

It is also very important to check that the saw table is easy to setup and assemble. This will allow you to start working quickly, and a level table will help to make sure that your cuts are as straight as possible. Make sure that the table is 100% secure, so that the saw is safe to use.

Material to be cut

The material to be cut will determine the power, and therefore the type of table saw you will need. It is very important that you know the thickness capacity you require your table saw to handle. For this you should consider the most common thicknesses wood is generally supplied in: 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″ and 1″.

If you plan to cut planks or plywood boards, you will need a machine with a guide for parallel cuts. It is also advisable that it has a table that can be extended, as these types of wood usually come in long pieces. An extension will allow you to work more comfortably and safely.

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When using a table saw, you should wear goggles, hearing protection and a dust mask.

Accessories

Table saws are tools that have a wide variety of accessories, many of them are designed to make their use safer and more efficient. Some models have a system that allows the blade to be tilted, for making miter or angle cuts. Others accessories, such as protectors, will stop wood chips from being fired out in different directions.

You should look for features such as a push stick or guides, which help you feed the cutting material along the table into the saw. Check if the table has additional extensions or supports, which will allow you to handle longer pieces of material more easily.

Type of cuts

If you want to be able to cut very thick pieces of wood, or if you intend to make bevel cuts, you should choose a table saw with an adjustable cutting disc, both in height and inclination. This function is usually performed by a lever at the front of the machine, that moves along a graduated scale.

The eccentric lever will allow you to adjust the height of the cutting disc, which will allow you to work on much thicker materials. It will also allow you to perform bevel or angle cutting. Normally, this type of lever will allow you to set the tilt of the cut at an angle ranging from 0 to 45 degrees.

Summary

Table saws are the most important tool in any carpentry workshop. Thanks to the wide-range of new models out on the market, that are more compact and affordable, they are also becoming very popular with DIY enthusiasts. They are very versatile tools that allow you to cut different types of materials in a single pass, quickly, precisely and easily.

There are so many different models of table saws these days, so choosing the best one for you can be a little tricky. However, if you keep in mind everything you have read in our guide, you will easily know how to choose the table saw that best suits your needs and what you need to look for.

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(Source of featured image: Belchonock: 97741272/ 123rf.com)

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