The table saw is a mainstay in the woodworker’s shop. It will rip, miter, square pieces, along with join, groove, and shape pieces.
I have been looking at table saw brands. I want to upgrade from using my circular saw and a rail, which is not super accurate.
Although not necessary to have, a good table saw is a useful tool if you do a lot of DIY woodworking.
To help myself (and others) in the buying process, I thought I would provide an uncomprehensive list of table saw manufacturers, along with a short buyers guide in this article.
26 table saw brands
- General International
- Laguna Tools
- MK Diamond
- Shop Fox
Table saw buyers guide
Bench-top vs contractor vs cabinet saws
Space is a premium for most hobbyist woodworkers, who often use a garage stall for their projects.
The best portable table saw for the money will offers a small footprint and cost compared to a cabinet saw.
A jobsite saw is a portable, compact tool that usually has transport wheels and a stand, which makes it easy to move to storage or where the job is.
A bench-top saw will not have the stand or wheels but use your work bench for support.
It is portable, as well, and can be moved out of the way when not in use. The bench-top saw does solve space issues.
Often small, portable saw use 10 inch blades, which can be shared between table, miter, and circular saws.
If you have space and want a more stationary table saw, a contractor, hybrid, or cabinet saw is in order.
A lot DIYers will use the best contractor table saw, which features legs and generally has a larger footprint than portable saws.
Also, they usually have less electrical draw and power than a cabinet saw.
Hybrid saws usually fall between cabinet saws and contractor saws for power and accuracy.
Cabinet saws are the big boys. They typically require 220 volt outlets, have 3-5 horsepower motors, and are stationary.
Blade size on commercial table saws are 8″, 10″ or 12″. Of course, there are outliers, with models that can accommodate 5″ blades and 30′ blades. To find the blade size for your saw, consult the instruction manual or manufacturer.
Blades come in different teeth sizes, often between 24-80 teeth. More blade teeth often provide smoother cuts whereas lower amounts of teeth provide rougher cuts.
Saw blades also are made with different materials like carbon steel, steel, tungsten carbide, for example.
Carbon steel or steel blades are usually good for cutting plywood or hardwood boards. But if you are cutting hard masonry, for instance, a diamond tooth blade would be appropriate. Blades are available to cut through PVC, aluminum, steel, and many other materials.
It is important to use the right blade material for the project.
Blades also come in rip vs crosscut options. Rip work well for rough cuts because they have a low number of teeth, which allows a large amount of material to escape between the teeth. Cross-cut blades have a high number of teeth, which provides a smoother cut.
The horsepower of a motor is important when buying a table saw. Motor power works in tandem with operating voltage.
For example, a 1-2 horsepower table saw motor will function at 120 volts, which is what standard house outlets are.
But, as you increase to 3-5 horsepower, the saw may require 240 volts. (More electricity is needed to power the motor.)
The more horsepower the greater ability to cut through thicker wood. That said, a 1-2 horsepower saw will rip through 2 inch thick wood. Beyond that, you may want to consider a 3 to 5 horsepower unit.
Table saws use direct drive motors or belt drive motors. A direct drive motor provides a direct attachment to the blade, which removes any horsepower robbing belts and pulleys.
Belt-drive motors use a belt to transfer power to the blade. Because belt drive motors can be located away from the blade, where a lot of sawdust occurs, they tend to last longer. However, the belts do need to be checked for wear and tensioned.
Features vary with different table saw brands and models, but here is an overview of items to consider.
On a small, portable saw, they may have an extension table to increase the size capacity of the work surface.
If you like to do a lot of shelving or joinery work, consider getting a saw that supports dado sets — unless you are like me and like to use pocket hole joinery.
Elevation and tilt wheels are nice to have.
Dust collection systems are really nice to have, especially if you are buying a small portable table saw that shares space in your garage stall. It is never fun to sweep or vacuum up sawdust.
A good blade guard is essential to protect you from kickback or contacting the blade.
A shaft or arbor lock will hold the blade in a stationary position, which makes changing it easier.
The rip fence serves as a guide for the wood or material being cut as it moves through the blade.
A micro-adjustable rip fence is beneficial for increased control, and an extendable rip fence is beneficial to offer a bigger ripping area.
A miter gauge allows you to tilt the blade at an angle to make angular cuts. A table saw with a miter gauge works well for creating angled cuts if you don’t have a miter saw or miter box.
Also, many saws feature a bevel system, which allows the blade to be tilted for bevel cuts.
Cost: How much is a table saw?
Cost is an important part of the buying process. A good table saw for beginners is around a few hundred dollars, but a top rated cabinet saw for professionals will cost thousands.
Cost begs a good question: Do you need to buy a new saw, or could you find a used saw? It is a good question. It is subjective and depends on you.