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Table Saw Buying Guide

Table Saw.

A table saw is a great addition to a workshop or job site. A table saw can quickly make straight cuts, joint cuts and groove cuts, providing the flexibility to handle many different projects.

Table Saw Basics

On a table saw, the blade is in a fixed position. The operator pushes the workpieces through the blade to make cuts. A table saw can make long, straight, rip cuts (with the wood grain) and repeated crosscuts (across the wood grain) much more quickly and accurately than handheld circular saws. A table saw can also make miter and bevel cuts (angled cuts).

Some standard components include:

  • Rip fence: a bar that functions as a guide for a workpiece as it moves past the saw blade.
  • Miter gauge: a guide that you can adjust to move the workpiece past the blade for making cuts at specific angles.
  • Bevel system: a mechanism that allows you to tilt the blade to make bevel cuts.

Some table saws are highly portable, making them the perfect choice for framing and deck building, or for use in shops with limited space. Stationary models usually operate in one location as a permanent feature. Stationary table saws can offer a larger table and more features.

When using an extension cord with a table saw, make sure you have a suitable cord. Follow the device manufacturer's recommendations for compatible extension cords and see Power Cord Safety Tips.

Always follow the device manufacturer's operating, maintenance and safety instructions, including instructions on safety gear.

Table Saw Drive Configuration

Table saws use one of two drive configurations:

  • Direct-drive motors link directly to the blade and transfer all of the motor's power to the blade.
  • Belt-drive motors have a belt that transfers power from the motor to the blade. In belt-drive systems, the motor can be offset away from the sawdust that the saw generates, enabling the motor to last longer. Belt-drive systems require slightly more preventive maintenance than direct-drive systems, so you'll need to check the belts for wear and proper tension periodically.

Table Saw Features

The right features can make you more efficient and simplify your projects:

  • Amps measure the power of the saw motor. Higher amps mean more cutting power.
  • Arbor or shaft locks immobilize the shaft and blade, making it much easier to change the blade.
  • Dust chutes and blowers help move sawdust from the work area.
  • Micro-adjust rip fences offer fine control over your work.
  • Extendable rip fences fold or slide out to offer expanded rip cutting capability when needed
  • Mobile stands provide support and portability for the saw.
  • Blade guards protect the operator from dust and debris, as well as kickback and accidental contact with the blade.

Shop for Table Saws

Table Saw Accessories

Accessories let you use a table saw in a variety of applications:

  • Extension tables or supports mount to the side of the table saw and provide a larger more stable work surface when cutting wide stock.
  • Out-feed extensions give extra support during long rip cuts.
  • Accessory tables increase the versatility of your table saw and can turn your table saw into a router table, shaper or even a scroll saw.
  • Sliding miter tables slide in the miter slot, square with the blade and provide very accurate miter cuts.
  • Dado heads cut wide, straight slots in a single pass. Dados are especially useful in joinery and shelving applications.
  • Mobile stands give stationary saws mobility. Most mobile bases have casters that lock to keep the saw stationary when it's in use. Mobile bases are good options for small shops or shops in shared spaces, so you can roll the saw out of the way when it's not in use.

Table Saw Blades

Blades are available for a range of cuts and applications. When purchasing a blade, make sure it is compatible with your table saw.

  • Rip blades are efficient for cuts along the direction of the wood grain.
  • Crosscut blades create clean cuts across the wood grain.
  • Combination blades work for ripping, crosscutting and mitering.
  • Hollow ground blades make clean cut on material such as acrylic.
  • Carbide-tipped blades feature a hardened finish on the cutting tips that gives them a longer cutting life.
  • Dado blades create kerfs (narrow cuts), rabbets (recessed cuts) and grooves.
Always unplug any power tool before servicing.