Recommended Table Saws
Your table saw is without doubt the most versatile machine in a woodworker’s shop. Ideally, it should be the first machine tool you purchase. There are product reviews at the bottom of the page, but I highly recommend reading the general information first.
Table saws are just that, a table with a saw sticking up out of the middle of it. The work surface is made of heavy duty metal. You can raise and lower the blade. You can also angle the blade. Most of your better saws have some sort of set up for dust collection.
They can cut all types of wood in different ways, without having to worry too much about about destroying the wood – like you would with a handsaw. They can crosscut (cut against the grain), and also rip, (which means cutting with the grain). You’ll probably use different blades for each of these, but the main idea is the same. A good table saw can also square, miter, groove, shape, and join pieces of wood. One thing you want to keep in mind is the size of the saw’s motor. It should be strong enough to cut hardwoods with little to no vibration of the wood and the saw. Using a quality table saw can make virtually any woodworking project much, much easier, which is why we created a table saw review at the bottom half of this page.
One of the most important parts of a table saw is the rip fence. The fence is the part of the saw you slide the wood again, when sawing. Your fence should be absolutely parallel to the blade. Otherwise you won’t get good, accurate cuts.
Table saws can be very dangerous pieces of machinery, when used wrong. The blade is rotating at thousands of rpm’s. It can easily catch your skin or clothing. The result, here, would be very dangerous to you. Any table saw you buy needs to have a blade guard. This fits on the top of the blade, so that it’s not exposed. Also, you can turn off most table saws with your knee. This is to protect you in the event both of your hands are occupied holding a piece of wood on the table.
Benchtop saws are small portable table saws without legs. These are meant to be carried to the job site and put on a table, tailgate, or some sort of surface. Contractor saws, on the other hand, are meant to be portable, like bench top saws, but they have some sort of leg structure. They’re meant to be carried to the job site, but left up over a period of time. (Or at least, you could do that, if you wanted.) Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Table Saws Recommendations & Reviews
There are three table saws that I like in particular, so we’ll start by reviewing those.
I used to own the Jet 708315BTC. Here’s a picture of it:
As you can see, the Jet 708315btc is a true benchtop saw. It doesn’t have legs. You would have to put it on the floor, or set it up on legs. Jet actually sells legs for this, so you can turn it into a contractor saw.
A couple of things I like about the Jet are the 15 amp motor, and the belt drive, which reduces blade vibration. It’s got a cutting capacity of 24 1/2 inches, when the wing is extended. Also, it’s got built in storage for the power cord, rip fence, and other utilities.
It’s a nice saw for the price, but I needed something more robust, so I bought a DeWalt DW745, which is my current saw:
Like the Jet, the DeWalt has no legs, and is made to be highly portable. It’s got a smaller rip capacity than the Jet, only 16 inches, but for a lot of applications, that’s just fine. I like the rack and pinion fence. And, of course, the 15 amp motor. You can find out more about the DeWalt 745, here.
My next favorite benchtop saw could also be considered contractor saw. It’s the Bosch 4000-09 and it is a good option if you don’t mind spending a few hundred dollar extra in comparison to the DeWalt above. The reason you could consider it a contractor saw is the legs. It’s got “gravity rise” legs. This means they spread out and set up without much work from you:
The Bosch 4000 has a 25-inch rip capacity, a really well designed fence, and a 15 amp motor. I keep mentioning the 15 amp motor, because not all saws have that. The “el cheapo” ones have smaller motors. Avoid those! You can find out more about the Bosch 4000-09, here.
Now, let’s review the real contractor saws.
Contractor Saws Recommendations
Contractor saws are like bench top saws, except the come with legs. That’s why the Bosch 4000, above, is actually a small contractor saw. Contractor saws are portable, and probably a little bit more accurate because they are bigger.
My all time favorite contractor saw is the Delta 36-5052:
The Delta has a 1 1/2 horsepower motor (plenty strong!). The work surface is made of cast iron. This makes the saw very accurate for a portable saw. And it’s got two cast iron wings.
A good and cheaper alternative would be the Jet 708307k, although I have no experience with it:
These aren’t probably the “best” bench top and contractor saws, since I only worked with a few of them. And I’m sure a lot of folks would disagree with me about my selection. But anyone would agree that these saws are a decent choice and from very good manufacturers. Hopefully my experience will help you choose your bench top or contractor saw.