Auto-suggest helps you quickly narrow down your search results by suggesting possible matches as you type. Married with 6 kids, quality technician for Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, amateur woodworker since 2001.
Some basics -For many woodworkers, the table saw is considered the most important tool in a wood shop. Portable saws include 3 subgroups a€“ the entry level bench top models, compact saws, and portable jobsite saws. Bench top saws tend to be small, light, inexpensive, entry level, and aimed mainly at the casual home owner. Compact saws are a slightly larger class of saw than the entry level bench models, but are still lighter, smaller, less expensive, and more portable than full size stationary saws. Please post, reply, read, and view our tutorials to learn all about our new forums and features. There are several models typically costing in the $100-$200 range, or less, from brands like Skil, Black & Decker (Firestorm), Craftsman, Tradesman, Ryobi, Hitachi, Task Force, Central Machinery, Pro Tech, Cummins, Delta, Jet, and others.
These are the type of saws that most carpenters, contractors, and tradesman use on the jobsitea€¦ which might explain why theya€™re often incorrectly referred to as a€?contractor sawsa€?.
Theya€™re often still considered bench top saws, and still tend to retain direct drive universal motors, and less rugged overall construction, though some do feature a cogged vacuum cleaner style belts, and most will have some sort of a leg stand.
What was true just a few years ago may no longer apply, so it can be difficult to get reliable information even from seasoned veterans if they havena€™t been keeping up on the trends.
The vast majority have universals motors, most of which are direct drive, and run on standard 120v residential circuits. Theya€™re still small, light, and portable, and retain many of the disadvantages inherent to a smaller saw, but are made more ruggedly and are generally more accurate than the entry level bench top saws.
Some even feature cast iron tops, and can look remarkably similar to a full size contractor saw from a glance, though the table area is smaller and the construction is significant lighter duty. From that perspective, in most applications metal is preferred to plastic, cast iron is preferred to steel, steel is preferred to aluminum, aluminum is preferred to plastic, stronger plastics are preferred to more brittle plastics, etc.
Universal motors tend to be considerably louder than induction motors, and have less torque, so they tend to rely on higher RPM to get the cutting done. To keep weight and cost down, bench top models tend to feature materials and designs that are less robust than those found on more substantial saws. Most still have direct drive universal motors, and lightweight construction compared to a full size stationary saw, but the motors, gears, and underpinnings are made to hold up better to the rigors and demands of a construction site than most bench top models. To help simplify your purchase, herea€™s one mana€™s view of the table saw marketplace in the USA. Ita€™s subjective to some degree, but you get the gist of the strength of materials game.When you approach a table saw in a store, try to imagine whether or not the saw would be stable when you push a piece of heavier material across the blade.


Most have reasonably powerful 15 amp motors, many have standard A?a€? miter slots, decent fences, better alignment adjustments, extension tables, ripping capacities up to 24a€?, and are available with a variety of clever foldup or rollaway leg stands.
Opinions vary widely about which saws are best, and the classifications are more blurred than ever.
Is there enough operating room in front of the blade for you to get the workpiece settled before it contacts the blade?
Claims of greater horsepower than that are misleadinga€¦if it plugs into a standard home outlet, ita€™s not more than 2hp (at least not for long enough to matter). Many of these saws are made to a€?looka€? the part of a stationary saw or a higher grade jobsite saw to the uniformed, but the similarities dona€™t go very deep.
There are popular and reasonably capable models from companies like Bosch, DeWalt, Ridgid, Porter Cable, Makita, Jet, Craftsman, Hitachi, and Ryobi, among others. Because many saws roll off the same assembly lines from the same plant, but sport different name plates and color schemes, in my opinion ita€™s better to focus more on the type of saw that's most suitable for your needs than what brand name to buy. Push a little on the front of the sawa€¦if it moves easily, ita€™ll move when you're cutting if you dona€™t take precautions to anchor it down.
Many are also available with a variety of lifts and leg standsa€¦.which is where our first point of confusion shows up. Many are no more than 17a€? deep, leaving very little room to operate in front of the blade, which can make safe accurate cuts more difficult.
Prices tend to be in the $300-$600 range, and many are capable of suitable accuracy for furniture making in the hands of a skilled woodworker.
For the sake of simplicity, leta€™s assume that a portable benchtop or jobsite saw on a leg stand is still a portable saw, not a stationary saw. Many dona€™t feature standard miter slots, or dona€™t accommodate the use of common aftermarket accessories or parts from other saws. These saws have modern riving knives, some have dust collection ports, and are an excellent option if you need to move the saw easily from location to location, or need to store them out of the way easily. This article will help explain some of the basic features and differences between types of commonly found 10a€? table saws. Bench top saws of this type tend to cost less upfront, but often represent a very poor value down the road due to their poor resale value and poor reliability. However, they still dona€™t offer the sheer size, mass, and performance benefits of a full size stationary saw. The vast majority of table saws available in todaya€™s market can be divided into two major categories a€“ portable and stationary, with varying sub-classifications for each. Many people gravitate towards this type of saw because theya€™re inexpensive and readily displayed at many popular home centers.
Theya€™ll cut wood and other materials, but are difficult to use, and difficult to get good results with.


Operating area is very limited, and the lighter weight makes them less stable during operation (many weigh in the range of 50#). If it plugs into a standard 120v outlet, ita€™s not mathematically feasible for the circuit to safely supply enough amperage for the motor to produce more than 2hp for long enough to matter. Ita€™s often not feasible to repair them in the event of a mechanical or electrical failure. Sometimes ita€™s prudent to save a little longer and spend a bit more to spare yourself the trouble of wasting your entire expenditure.
The fence is a critical part of the cutting operation during rip cuts, check it out thoroughlya€¦.it should have easy adjustments for horizontal and vertical alignment, and should clamp down firmly on the fence rail, or should at least have adjustments for the clamping pressure. If it sticks a little on the rail, dona€™t worrya€¦ a little wax in the right location should help it gliding nicely (never wax or lubricate where the fence clamps against the rail though).
Stock miter gauges are notoriously poor, but are easier to compensate for than a bad fence with an aftermarket miter gauge or crosscut sled.
Table mounted trunnions can be more tedious, but ita€™s usually a one time deal and is manageable.Belt Drive or Direct Drive?The vast majority of top shelf saws have a heavy duty belt drive mechanism with an induction motor.
There's also less chance of frying the motor should you stall the blade on a belt drive saw, as the belt will generally slip a bit as opposed to overheating the motor coils.
There are pros and cons to both which many feel are minor concerns, and it really boils down to a matter of preference. Right tilt bevels toward the fence on a standard bevel cut, which is considered less safe than if it beveled away from the fence. You can move the fence to the left of the blade for safer bevel cuts, but that makes it a non-standard operation, which is still not quite as safe as a bevel cut on a left tilt saw. On Left tilt saws the blade bevels away from the fence with the fence on the right of the blade (standard location), which is considered safer.The downside of a left tilt saw is that any changes in blade thickness will skew the zero reference on the tape measure because the left side of the blade registers on the right side of the flange (the same direction as the tape measure reads). This can be adjusted by recalibrating the cursor and always using blades of the same thickness, using shims as spacers, or just measuring by hand.
Blade thickness changes make no difference with a right tilt saw because the right side of the blade registers against the left side of the flange, so changes in blade thickness dona€™t impact the tape measure.Herea€™s another difference that will also be a matter of preference.
The arbor nut on a right tilt saw gets applied from the left side of the blade and uses a reverse thread orientation, which is typically done with your left hand.
The arbor nut on a left tilt saw goes on from the right side (easy for right handers) and uses a normal thread orientation.



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