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Choosing a table saw isn’t as straightforward as closing your eyes and pointing to decide.
There are many considerations to keep in mind, such as features, type of table saw, and the space you’ve got in the workshop.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
Below are the main considerations to keep in mind before purchasing your next table saw.
- There are four main types of table saws.
- The sizing of your rip fence will affect the projects you can complete.
- There are different sizes of table saw to suit your environment.
- Consider what features will suit your project the best.
How to Choose a Table Saw
Whether you’re a professional woodworker, serious hobbyist, or beginner, there will be a table saw that suits you and your work. However, in the sections below are a few considerations to make first in order to find your ideal table saw.
Types of Table Saw
There are four main types of table saw that you could buy, all of which have their own unique features and benefits to the user. We have a full article dedicated to the four main types of table saws; be sure to check it out for more detailed information.
Benchtop Table Saw
These table saws are portable and often use a clamping method to attach itself to a worktop securely. They tend to have a smaller ripping capacity between 18 and 24-inches.
Contractor Table Saw
Contractor table saws are larger but can still be considered portable. You can buy a collapsible stand or trolly to wheel them around a worksite or shop. Their rip capacity tends to range between 24 and 36-inches.
Cabinet Table Saw
Cabinet table saws are the most powerful and largest table saws on the market. They tend to be used by professional woodworkers and weigh over 600lbs. You’ll benefit from a rip capacity of up to 52-inches, great for large workpieces.
Hybrid Table Saw
Hybrids table saws combine the features of both a cabinet and contractor table saw but are cheaper than a cabinet table saw. The rip capacity usually ranges between 30 and 50-inches.
What Table Saw Projects Do I Have Planned?
When choosing your table saw, you have to think ahead about what projects you’ll be carrying out. Understanding the size of workpieces you plan to cut will help you choose.
Rip capacity is what we mean when we say you need to consider sizing. The rip capacity is the available space between the blade and rip frame, which determines the size of the workpiece that can be cut using the rip frame.
Rip frames will allow you to cut wood, ensuring stability and a straight line. You can get various sizes of rip frames, ensuring you find a table saw with a suitable rip capacity as modifying it might affect the reliability of the cut.
If you’d like to know more about how rip frames and capacity affect your woodworking, take a look at our in-depth article.
Do I Have The Space For A Table Saw?
Table saws can be bought in a whole range of sizes to fit your needs. Many people with cramped workshops tend to go for the benchtop table saw as they can be clamped onto your worktop and aren’t as bulky as other types.
Larger cabinet table saws are better suited to professional workshops with open and clean spaces. If you work on construction sites often, a contractor table saw could suit you.
They tend to come with collapsible legs, or you can purchase ones with wheels; they’re just a bit bigger than a benchtop table saw, so it’ll fit in a work van comfortably.
What Features Are Important To Me?
Researching what features you’ll need for your projects is important for safety and efficiency. Below is a list of features that can be seen in high-quality table saws.
Effective Dust Collection System - Your dust collection system should have at least two dust ports to effectively vacuum any dust created. Dust inhalation can develop a series of problems for your respiratory system later in life if you don’t take the necessary precautions.
A Suitable Fence Size - Most professional or hobbyist woodworkers tend to operate table saws with a 26 to 30-inch rip capacity. The higher you go, the larger the materials. However, a 30-inch capacity usually covers most workpieces.
An Accurate Miter Gauge - If you’ve spent some time in the woodworking world, you’ll understand that being able to cut at angles is essential. A miter gauge will offer the user 45 and 90-degree angled cuts.
If you’re struggling to find a table saw, all of the above information is what you’ll need to make an informed decision. Keep in mind all of these considerations and if you follow any advice, just look for something that can cover as many of your tasks as possible.