Table saws are versatile enough to earn a spot in every home shop—even if that shop shares the garage with the family car. The market offers a range of saws, from $200 portable table saws, less accurate saws to heavy and very accurate cabinet saws costing thousands.
If you work with wood in any capacity, chances are you rely on a table saw to make clean, accurate cuts. These power tools consist of a circular blade that’s mounted underneath a flat, table-like work surface, so unlike most other power saws, the table saw cuts from underneath rather than from above. The table-saw blade is partly exposed; most table saws let you adjust the blade up and down a bit to tailor the amount of exposed blade, as well as its angle, to your needs.
Table saws are useful for quite a few different types of cuts. They provide fast, highly accurate rip cuts, which is a cut that goes with the wood’s grain to reduce a board’s width. You can also use your table saw for crosscuts; this is a cut that goes across the grain to reduce a board by length. You can also do a miter cut with a table saw: that’s a diagonal cut across the width of a board, and is very useful when constructing trim. Beveled cuts, which cut into the end of the board at an angle, are another possibility.
We spent a lot of time setting up and taking down the saws to see how well the stands worked and how easy it was to install and remove the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls. Then we ran a torturous ripping test with 3-in.-thick slabs of oak to find the best table saw. And finally, we used the saws for more conventional tasks like cutting plywood and ripping framing lumber as another test to determine the best table saw.
Continue now read our guide to choosing the best table saw for your project needs, skill level, and personal budget—and don’t miss our top picks for both hobbyists and pros.
What is a Table Saw?
A table saw gets its unique edge from the blade that sits halfway above and below its tabletop surface. It provides ample workspace and great control for woodworking, courtesy of its fixed blade. These standard components are to be expected with any table saw you purchase, but some may include special features like dust-collecting ducts, special guards, and auto-stop safety technology.
Types of Table Saws
There are two basic forms of table saw: portable and stationary. But within those two categories are more than one type.
Benchtop table saws, as the name suggests, are designed to sit on your workbench. They do not have a support stand of their own. These are a good choice for DIYers, as they are fairly lightweight, less expensive than larger machines, and reasonably portable. On the downside, they are somewhat limited in the size of board they can handle.
Jobsite table saws come with a stand, which is often lightweight and wheeled so that it’s fairly easy to move the tool from jobsite to jobsite. These are often more rugged and larger than benchtop table saws. Jobsite table saws are very popular for both DIYers and professional tradespeople.
Contractor table saws are stationary tools that sit atop a sturdy frame. They are similar to jobsite saws, but are typically larger and more powerful. Still, the term “contractor table saw” is now often used for models that more properly are jobsite table saws.
Cabinet table saws are most often found in professional woodworking or carpentry shops. These very heavy and powerful tools are generally built of cast iron and have a cabinet enclosing the frame to reduce vibration, improve dust collection, and add support.
Finally, hybrid table saws are somewhere in between contractor and cabinet tools in size, power, and price.
Table Saw Features
Personalize your table saw to meet your exact needs using features such as anti-kickback pawls, a miter gauge or an electric brake.
Anti-kickback pawls: These jagged teeth prevent the work piece from kicking back at you, so they need to stay sharp and bite at the right angle.
Bevel capability: Most table saws allow you to tilt the blade to the left for angled cuts, though some right-tilt models are available to accommodate personal preferences. Look for easy adjustment and positive stops at common angles, so you can make fast, accurate bevel cuts.
Blades: To get high-quality cuts, consider a premium blade. A “combination” blade combines the fast cutting characteristics of a rip blade with a reasonably smooth surface on crosscuts. Choose a combination blade with 40 to 60 carbide teeth. For the smoothest crosscuts, select a blade with 80 carbide teeth. If you try to use this blade for rip cuts, it may not eject the chips fast enough, so you’ll get slow results and possibly a burned cut.
Our Top Picks
DEWALT likely needs no introduction as it is an extremely experienced power tool manufacturer that specializes in professional-grade products. That said, the DEWALT DWE7491RS jobsite table saw still manages to surprise in a couple of aspects across the board.
For starters, this model comes with a powerful motor that generates 2 hp and pushes 15 amps which is better than average for a jobsite table saw. On top of that, the DEWALT DWE7491RS also spins its blade at 4800 RPMs which makes it great for cutting dense hardwoods.
Keeping this solid spec train rolling, this portable table saw also boasts a 32 ½ inch rip capacity to the right and 22 inch rip capacity to the left– the latter of which tops the list. This table saw also comes with a decent rolling stand that not only makes moving it from job to job easier but acts as its own stand as well.
From a quick glance, it would seem that the DEWALT DWE7491RS Jobsite Table Saw is easily the best value, even if it is a bit expensive.
Unfortunately, these table saws are known for quality control that has become a bit iffy– especially recently– which can make getting a “good one” a bit of a gamble. Fortunately, the saw comes covered by Dewalt’s three year limited waranty, which should give you some peace of mind in case you get a faulty tool.
A miter gauge is a device that allows users to set up the angle of the material being cut with a table saw. And while most table saws come with built-in miter gauges, they aren’t always the greatest quality, which is why the Kreg KMS7102 Table Saw Precision Miter Gauge System is invaluable.
Pre-calibrated right out of the box, Kreg’s miter gauge has positive stops at 0, 10, 22-1/2, 30, and 45 degrees, so you can begin using your brand new miter gauge straight away.
With a 25-inch fence made of durable aluminum to ensure long-lasting use, a micro-adjustment system that allows users to adjust their desired angle up to 1/10th of a degree, and a ton of extra features you’ll be hard-pressed to find on even most built-in miter gauges, the KMS7102 is a must-have for both professional and amateur woodworkers.
Those looking for the best Worm Drive Saw in 2021 will like the Skil brand. It’s affordable and features a 15 amp motor. You can tackle quite a few heavy-duty projects with this one. Plus, the kit is complete with a blade guard, blade wrenches, miter gauge, and steel folding stand. The easy-mount system ensures that it works effectively, and there’s an EZ view measurement system, too.
This portable table is made of cast iron, and there are cast iron extension wings, too, so it’s going to last a long time. As far as portable table saws go, this one features a 25-inch rip capacity.
Make more efficient cuts with the EZ measurement system, too. Just line the wood up and focus on what you’re doing. Those who want something easy on the wallet and adjustable should like this.
Sometimes, you need to buy a table saw that will grow with you as your skill levels improve. The Bosch 4100-10 packed with a 10” diameter saw, it also has an array of excellent features, making for an easy learning curve. The blade is driven by a 15A motor, driving the blade to speeds of 3650 rotations per minute.
Measuring about 29 x 21.5 inches, this table saw is large enough to deal with large wood stocks. Plus, the top is made of aluminum, meaning pieces of wood slide off the top with the least effort.
For that reason, it would be a great asset to a beginner looking to handle medium-sized projects comprising of large plywood sheets.
Another standout feature on the Bosch is the square lock rip fence. An aluminum construction aids in sliding, devoid of hitches, for accurate measurements.
In addition, the variable speed drive ensures optimal power consumption. Moreover, a soft start circuitry tones down intense motor start up. In the process, users don’t have to deal with circuit breaker trips.
Built for portability and durability, this table saw features a built-in carry handle to help you move it around easily and set it up anywhere in seconds, unlike traditional saws that are permanently fixed to a tabletop. It includes the best starter kit and accessories, with built-in storage to house everything.
It also comes with multiple blades, a miter gauge, and a rip fence, making it perfect for DIY projects. A safety switch prevents the system from accidentally starting even when plugged in, which is great for protecting the user as well as children. This table-top provides a mess-free environment for all your DIY projects. Simply plug a shop vac into its vacuum port and clean any dust or wood chips are you saw. It can handle rip, miter, cross, and scroll cuts precisely with the fence and miter gauge included in the accessories. It weighs only 15 pounds, so it’s adequately portable for various house projects.
Best Table Saw Brands
DeWALT was founded in 1924 with the creation of a universal woodworking machine. Since then, DeWALT has become a household name known for professional grade and durable products. And their product line is vast, ranging from radios and work lights to the best chainsaw and nail sets.
Makita got its start more than 100 years ago in 1915 as an electric motor sales and repair business. In that time, Makita has grown into a well-known global giant in power tools. Whether it runs on gas, electricity, or battery, there isn’t much Makita doesn’t make of professional quality.
SKIL made its name with their Model E, the first handheld, portable circular saw, and has been renown for innovation since. There product line has expanded to an array of power tools including table saws, drills, routers, and many others, in addition to accessories for these tools.
What are table saws used for?
Table saws are very versatile and have a lot of applications but they are best used for making long straight cuts. They can perform three different types of cuts: cross cut, rip cut, and dado cut. If you need a machine to make long, repetitive cuts with precision, a table saw will be perfect for the task.
Do I need a stand for my table saw?
Since table saws are a highly technical and expensive home power tool, your safety and productivity are paramount when operating this machine. Investing in a heavy-duty stand will help with stability and support, especially when working with large pieces of wood. Check if the brand offers a stand when you purchase your table saw; ideally, you want one that has wheels for portability or a collapsable design for storage efficiency.
Can I sharpen my table saw blade?
If it’s steel you can probably sharpen it yourself using a file or a sharpening tool. If the blade is carbide, then you’ll most likely want to find a professional to sharpen it for you as carbide requires special equipment to sharpen.
The purchase of a table saw is no doubt a big investment. But there is a lot of flexibility in this class of tools to find one that fits in with your budget and your wants. Make sure to take into account how you will need to use the tool and where you will need to use it. Heavier models will be sturdier but they will also require more effort to load up when you need to.
Overall, you’ll want to find a saw that matches your needs but doesn’t break your budget wide open. However, since this is not a purchase you will likely make often, be sure that you are satisfied with the saw you decide to go with.