A table saw is one seriously versatile piece of kit; as far as cutting tools go, this is most-definitely not a one-trick pony. The best table saws can rip, cross-cut, miter-cut, square, dado, rabbet, and even apply shapes to edges of wood stock. It’s a must for professionals and an affordable luxury for us enthusiastic woodworking hobbyists.
Best Pick – Table Saw
- Self-adjusting parallel guide for precise cuts
- Cutting heights up to 79 mm cutting capacities up to 460 mm to the right and 210 mm to the left of the saw blade
- Safe storage of assembly tools and accessories (e.G. Push stick stops)
- Dust extraction ports on the protective guard and on the back of the tool
- No-load speed is 3.650 rpm
The stability and accuracy of a table saw can have a significant impact on the quality of finish. ‘A workman is only as good as his tools’ is most certainly the case when it comes to cutting – an unstable or imprecise table saw can result in even the most meticulously planned carpentry project being a complete waste of your time, materials and effort. You need a table saw that’s up to the job, as well as being the best type and model for your needs and budget.
Only got 5 minutes
Understanding the humble table saw
- The table saw, also known as a sawbench or bench saw, is a cutting tool consisting of a circular saw blade, mounted on an arbor, that is driven by an electric motor.
- The blade protrudes through the top of a table, which provides support for the material, usually wood, being cut. The best table saws will also allow you to cut steel and plastic.
- The depth of the cut is varied by moving the blade up and down: the higher the blade protrudes above the table, the deeper the cut that is made in the material.
- The angle of cut is controlled by adjusting the angle of the blade.
Before you buy
Before you start shopping for a table saw, consider the following points to ensure you’re clear when it comes to knowing exactly what you want, and consequently choose the best table saw for you and your cutting needs.
How much are you willing to spend?
How accurate does your cutting need to be?
Cutting logs or detailed crafts?
Frequency of use
Will you be using the table saw regularly for lengthy periods or the odd weekend of DIY?
Will you need to be able to move the saw around?
Where do you plan on keeping the saw; how much space do you have; and are the conditions suitable i.e. dry and secure?
How powerful do you need the motor to be? How much power are you comfortable handling?
Longevity and durability
How often will you use your table saw? What kind of cutting will you be doing and how often? What length of guarantee are you looking for?
Types of table saw
Before you can determine what the best brand and model of table saw is right for you, you’ll need to determine which type of table saw you need.
|Benchtop||Entry-level, portable table saw Lightweight Designed for use on a solid surface Popular choice for DIY enthusiasts and woodworking hobbyists|
|Jobsite||Slightly larger and more expensive than benchtop models Designed to be used on a folding or stationary stand during operation Popular choice amongst professionals looking for a portable yet powerful table saw|
|Compact||Larger than portable saws Designed to sit on a stationary stand Similar in appearance to a contractor saw, but a smaller, lighter version|
|Contractor||Attached to a solid stand or base; often wheeled Heavier and larger than compact models|
|Hybrid||Hybrid of contractor and cabinet models Recognisable as a high-end contractor saw but with some features of a cabinet model|
|Cabinet||Heavyweight Constructed from cast iron and steel to minimise vibration and increase accuracy Enclosed base|
|Mini and micro||Mini versions of the standard table saw Lightweight and compact design Popular amongst woodworking hobbyists and model builders Safest choice for detailed cutting|
|Sliding||Variation on the traditional cabinet saw Generous rip capacity makes it a popular choice for cutting large panels and sheet goods, such as plywood or MDF Sliding table fitted to the left of the blade used for cross cutting and ripping|
Best Budget – Table Saw
- High spec table saw features a cross stop with angle scale (+/- 60) allowing you to make precision angled cuts with accuracy and ease. Has a max cutting height of: 0° Max 80mm/45° Max 65mm
- Both sides of the table saw can be easily extended when working with extra wide workpieces. Left extension table size: 642 X 226 X 28mm. Right extension table size: 642 X 226 X 28mm
- Carbide-tipped saw blade (250 X 30 X 2.4mm) allows you to make precise longitudinal and angle cuts in solid wood, MDF and other substrates
- Features a quick clamp rip fence which ensures secure cutting performance each and every time. The extra sturdy base frame creates a more comfortable working height and a stable position on all surfaces
- Manufacturer 2 Year Warranty Included
Table saw features to look out for
Cutting capacity & depth
Cutting capacity features to look out for:
- Adjustable base plate
- Adjustment allowance with varying intervals up to 90˚ e.g. 45, 50 or 90 degrees
- Flush saw housing
You should test the cutting depth of a saw on a horizontal edge as opposed to a bevelled edge; this will ensure you get an accurate reading when the saw is in use at 0˚.
The successful performance of a table saw depends largely on the blade, after all, it is the part that will be doing the majority of the work! In order to a achieve a controlled, smooth and precise cut, the blade must be:
- Made from good-quality steel – the best table saws will come with carbide or tungsten-tipped blades; this increases strength and durability, and encourages an accurate and tidy cut.
- Appropriately sized – standard table saws ten to have between around a 24 to 28-tooth saw blade measuring between 250-255mm
- Set at the correct cutting depth
- Suitable for the workpiece – some blades are more suited for cutting wood rather than steel, while others are multi-functional and capable of cutting many different materials to a high standard
- Adjustable – if you intend on making longitudinal and angled bevelled edge cuts, you’ll need a table saw with a tilting blade head; tilt capacity is generally around 45˚
- Fixed to a suitably-sized arbor – usually around 20mm
- Mounted between parallel throat plates (also known as table inserts)
Power & Speed
The more powerful the motor, the faster the speed. The best table saws will be fitted with an impressive high-torque motor, usually between 1800-2000W, which results in a decent RPM of around 5000 RPM. The higher the RPM, the faster the blade will spin, and the better the quality of cut.
Benefits of a powerful motor:
- Increased control
- Capable of cutting denser, harder materials
- Opportunity to use bigger blades with ease
- A blade spinning at a high RPM makes it easier to achieve an accurate and precise cut
The fence is a metal barrier which runs parallel to the edge of the saw table and blade. It’s an important feature to look out for as it creates a fixed resistance point when using the blade to cut straight; the edge of the workpiece is placed flush against the fence, ensuring a straight, accurate, clean cut.
The best table saws will have a fence that can be adjusted using the measuring gauge on the table edge – this allows you to set the width of the workpiece you intend on cutting. Some table saw models will allow you to remove the fence completely; this is handy if you need more room or you only intend on cutting at an angle.
The mitre gauge of a table saw is as important to angled cuts as the fence is to straight cuts! A mitre gauge allows the user to make angled, bevelled or cross cuts into a workpiece cleanly and safely. The metre gauge can be found on the top of the table, running parallel to the blade and along a sliding carriage. It comprises a scaled measuring guide and a lockable, rotating, semi-circular support, which the workpiece is laid flush against for cutting. The best table saws will have a mitre gauge that can be rotated clockwise and anti-clockwise anywhere up to 60˚; this degree of rotation gives you greater flexibility when it comes to cross and bevelled cutting.
Expandable rip capacity
The rip capacity of a table saw is the distance between the blade and the fence. An extendable table will allow for a greater rip capacity, in some cases up to 65cm, useful for cutting larger workpieces such as large sheets of MDF or plywood.
Table saw maintenance
Knowing when to sharpen
When your smartphone needs charging, you get a low battery warning; if your car needs fuel, your petrol light illuminates. Unfortunately, when it comes to your table saw, the only indication you’re likely to get is that sawing feels far more difficult than it did previously!
It’s important to get the timing right when it comes to sharpening. Get giddy with the grinder too early and you stand a good chance of damaging the cutters. Too late and not only will you have wasted your time trying to saw with a blade that’s no longer fit for purpose; you’ll also have to put a lot more work into restoring the blade to its former glory; you’ll also have unnecessarily put yourself at risk as worn cutters have the tendency to snag and potentially project fragments of the workpiece in the direction of the user.
Unless you’re sharpening for a reason that isn’t due to the blades becoming worn i.e. post-oiling, the key is to sharpen when you first feel the cutting process becoming laborious.
A well sharpened table saw should require little force when cutting through wood. If you feel you’re having to ‘force’ the cutters through the workpiece without seeming to get anywhere, this is a sign the cutters have become worn and need sharpening; dull cutters tend to just ride through cuts without actually making them deeper.
The type and amount of waste produced from cutting with a table saw can be a surefire sign that your blades are due a sharpen! Visible chips and solid fragments of the workpiece indicate the cutters are sharp and doing their job; dust suggests the cutters aren’t reaching the depth of the cut they should be and so are in need of some sharpening TLC.
Knowing how to sharpen
What you will need:
- Sharpening kit or whetstone
- Clamp the table saw bar lightly in a vice
- Ensuring the arrows on the rivets are pointing towards the nose of the bar, place the guide between the rivets (the guide has rollers that will ensure you don’t go too deep).
- Use the angle indicated on the top plate of the cutter and apply consistent even strokes (2-4 strokes should be plenty – you’re looking for the cutters to brighten – ideally achieving a shiny silver color).
- Once you have sharpened a few of the cutters, release the chain, allowing you to see the cutters which still require sharpening.
The sharpness and speed of the rotating blade means caution must be taken when operating a table saw.
|Safety Concern||Preventative Measure|
|Blade stability||Providing the blade is fixed to an appropriately sized arbor, this should guarantee the stability of the blade.|
|Splinter guard||A splinter guard not only reduces the risk of splintering but also increases accuracy.|
|Dust inhalation||Inevitably, with cutting, some dust will be produced. The best table saws will have a dust extraction tool/port which works like a vacuum, drawing any potentially harmful dust particles away.|
|Accidental switch on||A decent table saw will have a power up/power down switch that is accessible whilst also being covered to reduce the risk of an accidental switch on.|
|Riving knife||Installed to prevent potentially dangerous kickbacks|
Best of the Rest
- Multi-material: Japanese tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) blade included cuts steel, aluminium, wood with embedded nails, plastic and more
- Powerful: 1500 W optimised gearbox and blade system, increases motor and blade life to cut through a variety of materials with ease
- Accurate: Rip cutting, assisted by an adjustable, full-length, parallel fence with measuring rail guide; 0 degrees - 45 degrees bevel tilt and 60 degrees - 60 degrees mitre covers all common cutting angles
- R255-TCT multi-material blade (28 teeth) included
- 3 years limited warranty (only valid if purchased in the UK)
- Voltage: 220 û 240V; Power: 1800W; No-load Speed: 5500rpm
- Table Size: 642 X 478 X 28 millimeter; Left extension table size: 642 X 226 X 28 millimeter; Right extension table size: 642 X 226 X 28 millimeter; Full Table Fence (642 millimeter); Height and angle is adjustable
- Carbide-tipped saw blade: (250 X 30 X 2.4 millimeter); Cutting Range: 0 - 45; Max Cutting Height: 0 Max 80 millimeter/45 Max 65 millimeter; Dust Port: 35mm
- Quick clamp rip fence for secure cutting
- Cuts solid woods, MDF and More
- High powered 2000W, 5000RPM, 220-240V motor
- 64.2mm x 938mm extended table
- Quick and easily adjustable rip fence for exact cutting
- (+/- 60°) Cross stop, allowing for further precision in cuts
- High-quality Carbide-tipped 24-tooth blade
Frequently Asked Questions
How sharp does a table saw blade need to be?
A table saw needs to be sharp! If you attempt to use a dull blade to saw through wood, you run the risk of buckling and burning. It’s important to take the time to sharpen the blade as soon as you feel the cut isn’t quite as smooth as it was previously, or draw on the skills of a professional to do the sharpening for you.
What will a table saw cut?
The best table saws will have a blade that allows you to cut plastic, aluminium, steel or wood, with you having to do no more than guide and control the workpiece. Alternatively, a table saw with an interchangeable blade gives you the option to swop between blades depending on the material being cut.
Do I need throat plates?
Throat plates, also known as table inserts, are strongly recommended. Normally made of either metal or wood, they’re mounted on either side of the blade, and are levelled by the surface of the table. Their role is to prevent the workpiece falling into the arbour, which could potentially jam and damage the internal mechanism.
Last update on 2020-05-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API