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Review: Best Table Saws

If a guy’s only going to have one shop tool in his workshop, it’s going to be a table saw. While other stationary power tools are useful, a table saw is all but indispensible. Oh, you can do many of the cuts that people use a table saw for with a circular saw, but you can’t do them with anywhere near the accuracy; especially if you’re trying to get a straight cut.

The table saw is a very versatile tool. Although designed predominantly for ripping wood, it can also be used for crosscutting and miter cuts. All of them come with both a fence for ripping and a miter gauge for crosscutting and miter cuts.

Some people pooh-pooh the table saw’s ability to do accurate crosscutting, but I’d beg to differ with them. I won’t argue that it’s easier to do accurate crosscuts with a miter saw or radial arm saw, but I’ve done miter cuts accurately enough on a table saw, to be able to make picture frames with expensive moldings. That requires a level of accuracy that’s hard to meet with any tool.

If you do a lot of miter cutting on your table saw, you may want to consider investing in a quality aftermarket miter gauge. Even the best of table saws have rather simple miter gauges. However, there are some excellent after-market models around, most of which are much larger and much more accurate than the typical manufacturer's miter gauge.

Like many tools, table saws have evolved through the years. Today’s saws have many improvements over the saw that my daddy taught me on. They also tend to be more accurate, which is extremely important if you are doing any sort of cabinet work.

Before looking for a table saw, you really have to decide what you want to use it for. If you don’t need that large rip capacity, then there’s really no reason to pay for it. On the other hand, buying a small saw, which doesn’t have the capacity you need, will leave you frustrated, and probably set you up for buying a larger saw later.

Take a look and check out our list of the best table saws in 2021 and the buyer's guide on table saws below, before looking at the lists of reviews we have prepared for you. This will give you a much better idea of the various saws out there and what you should be looking for in them.

Best Table Saw

Powermatic Table Saw

Powermatic is another company which produces a variety of saws and this one appears to be the best of their contractor saws, featuring the largest fence and table. I really appreciate those longer tables, because I worked for years with a 30-inch table. This one is a touch smaller than the SawStop and Jet, but at 50-inches still allows crosscutting a sheet of plywood in half.

The really nice thing about this saw is the miter gauge, which I think it probably the best one I’ve seen on a table saw. Not only does it allow micro-fine adjustment with its rack-and-pinion angle adjustment, but it also has positive stops at the common angles and extension plates for expanded workpiece support. I usually end up adding those myself, but Powermatic included it.

Once again, I took a good look at the fence and the t-bar on this one seems just about as wide as the others I’ve looked at, making for good, solid adjustments exactly parallel to the blade. The blade guard and riving knife are designed for quick, no tool change out, like the models we’ve looked at. There’s also a built-in dust collection port, they’ve put on-board storage for all the accessories, and the only thing missing is the leg cutoff switch.

BOSCH 10 In. Worksite Table Saw

The Bosch 4100-09 was an easy choice for number one. I wasn’t exactly thrilled that the fence isn’t rack and pinion, but it works so well that it’s not really a problem. The fence seems to be the most rigid one on a portable saw, holding exactly parallel to the blade. With a relatively quiet soft start motor that includes a torque control switch you dial in the power to match your work and speed.

To accompany the well engineered motor, the Bosch 4100DG-09 includes an easy blade change to cut down time on the job site. Portability is enhanced by eight inch pneumatic tires, attached to what I think is the best stand I’ve seen. Just stop, tilt the saw forward off the wheels and pull it back onto the stand. Five seconds and you’re ready to cut.

best Porter Cable PCB 220TS 10" JobSite Table Saw

Porter Cable PCB 220TS 10" JobSite Table Saw

With its tool free blade change system and relative low cost, this saw is a strong contender in the portable table saw arena. Right out of the box the saw may require some slight alignment work (common with most table saws) to assure accuracy. Once the saw is aligned you can expect to get a long life of accurate and smooth cuts.

The included fence could do with some work to stiffen up a bit, but with a little work, changing out the rod to a stiffer one, you’ll have a really good fence. Miter gage slot is a T-slot, so it will accept after-market accessories. The very stable stand gives confidence when cutting heavy pieces.

Stability aside, the included stand does not allow for adjustment to aid in leveling and this can be very troublesome especially when level ground is not available. A right side table extension and rear out-feed support nicely round out this saw, allowing rip cuts up to 30-inches wide. A telescoping outfeed support helps hold larger pieces and there’s on-board storage for all the accessories.

Rockwell BladeRunner

I had to include this pick because it’s a rather unique saw. Rather than the typical circular saw design, this one is more like a jigsaw mounted upside-down under a table. It’s not quite a scroll saw, nor is it quite a table saw, it’s something in-between. I’ve chosen it because it does have a table while being extremely portable at only 13.2 pounds.

While it doesn’t have the wide rip capacity of the Jet or Makita, it does have the ability to rip regardless as well as crosscut capability with an included miter gauge. Additionally, Rockwell makes a jig for using this saw to cut circles, and another for mitering picture frames.

Steel City 10" 1.75 HP Granite Topped Hybrid Table Saw

Steel City 10" 1.75 HP Granite Topped Hybrid Table Saw

Yes, you read that right, this saw actually has a seamless granite table rather than cast iron or cast aluminum. As you can very well imagine, that makes for an extremely flat table, with low friction and a surface that’s almost impervious to damage. Just don’t try and move it around very often, or you’re going to gain a very intimate knowledge of hernias as this saw weighs a whopping 554 pounds.

This hybrid saw has a cabinet-mounted trunnion for its 1-3/4 HP motor and the table insert is magnetic to ensure it stays in place. With a heavy duty fence and a 30-inch cutting capacity, this saw will provide years of excellent service and it comes with a five year warranty. For those who have something against granite, they also make the same saw with a cast-iron table.

best Craftsman 10" Table Saw with Laser Trac, #21807

Craftsman 10" Table Saw with Laser Trac, #21807

The best low dollar table saw I could find was this Craftsman, although I'll have to admit that it went up in price in the last year; nevertheless, I almost bought one. It’s gotten lots of good reviews by customers who have bought it with over 142 positives on the Craftsman site.

The saw comes mounted on a wheeled cart, with on-board storage for all the accessories. The table has extensions on both sides, plus an extendable support on the back for the outfeed. The thing that impressed me most about this saw was that it has a 24-inch rip capacity on both sides of the blade. That’s a bit unusual. The 15 amp motor runs at 5,000 RPM, making it a bit faster than most table saws, and they’ve also put a laser on it for aligning the workpiece to the blade.

best Craftsman Evolv 10" Table Saw, #28461

Craftsman Evolv 10" Table Saw, #28461

Craftsman’s Evolv line has really impressed me for a low cost tool line. This is a much better line of tools than their old Sears line. They’ve put a lot of work into the ergonomics of the tools, which I always appreciate.

This saw impressed me with its price because for well less than $200 you can get a stationary table saw, with pretty good capacity. It doesn’t have the rip with capability of the others that we’ve looked at, but if that’s not a concern, it’s a capable saw for smaller work. While the table might be smaller, the motor isn’t, so you can still cut through two inch dimensional lumber without a problem.

Buyer's Guide

Table Saw Buyer's Guide

Most woodworkers consider the table saw the most universal shop saw there is. Personally, I think the radial arm saw is a more universal option, but that opinion is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Radial arm saws are dying out, having been mostly replaced by power miter saws, especially sliding miter saws.

The main advantage the table saw has over any other saw is size. That makes it possible to accurately cut sheet goods like plywood. If you've ever tried to cut a sheet of plywood in half with a circular saw, you know how hard it is to make that a straight cut.

Other than cutting sheet goods, the table saw's main function is ripping. Properly adjusted and properly used, any table saw should be able to rip a 1/16” slice off of a hardwood board and have that slice stay together. If the saw blade and fence are exactly parallel, the blade isn’t wobbling, and the table is flat, you can make that cut repeatedly every time.

There are a myriad of tables saws on the market, probably more than any other stationary woodworking tool. Part of the reason for so many different options is that they vary extensively in size and purpose. Building contractors can't carry a cabinet saw onto a jobsite effectively and cabinet makers can't get the accurate cuts they need in sheet goods out of a small portable unit.

Table Saw Types

Benchtop Table Saw

These are the smallest of all table saws, predominantly designed for use on-site by building contractors. While compact, the saws that we have chosen aren't cheap by any means. They are quality tools intended to provide accurate cuts. The only drawback is the small table and short fence make ripping sheet goods accurately very difficult.

Portable Table Saw

Portable tables saws are also designed for building contractors when a larger saw is needed. These are slightly larger than the benchtop models which help to overcome the problems caused by small tables. Most come with an integral cart/stand so they can be moved on-site by one person and set up for use.

Budget Table Saw

The same size as the portable and benchtop units, budget saws are ideal for the homeowner doesn't use their saw all the time. These are intended to be fixed saws which come with a stand, although in some cases the stand is collapsible for storage. The one drawback to these saws is the table and fence aren't as well made as on higher cost saws; this means the saw may not cut as accurately.

Contractor's Table Saw

The contractors saw differs from the portable saw in that it’s a shop saw rather than one intended for a jobsite as they have permanent bases and larger tables. This provides greater accuracy, especially when cutting larger pieces. A contractor saw is an excellent choice for the serious woodworker to have in their home workshop, striking a balance between quality and price.

Hybrid Table Saw

Hybrid saws are a newer addition to the lineup, designed for those who want a cabinet saw, but can't really afford one. They typically have a larger motor than contractor's saws, better bearings, as well as a larger, heavier table and fence which provide for more accuracy. However, they are not as large as a true cabinet saw.

Cabinet Saw

The cabinet saw (which we don't have a review list for) is the most expensive category of table saw. These saws are extremely large, with table extensions to the side and back of the saw. They also have large motors with heavy duty bearings to eliminate wobble or vibration. These features optimize the cabinet saw for cutting sheet goods perfectly straight without waste.

What to Look For in a Table Saw

Of course, the first consideration when looking at a table saw is the intended use. If you are going to be using it for a lot of projects at remote locations, then it doesn't make sense to look at a stationary saw. You also need to take into consideration the amount of space you have to store the saw, as these saws can use up your workshop space quickly.

While there are several important things needed to make a table saw “good,” most of these have to do with the saw’s accuracy. This is determined by three things:

- The flatness of the table
- The mounting and adjustment of the motor and blade arbor
- The quality of the fence

The major difference between different table saws is how easy it is to make that accurate cut. A higher quality fence will lock in place well, exactly perpendicular to the fence rail and parallel to the blade. A lot of what you’re paying for in a more expensive saw is the ease in which you can get the fence adjusted exactly parallel to the saw blade. With low cost saws, it depends on you, with high dollar one, the fence does the work for you.

When I am looking at a table saw, the one thing I focus on is the fence. This is the single most critical piece of the saw, and how well it is made will tell you a lot about the rest of the saw. A fence that slides smoothly and locks in place accurately will provide the most accurate cuts. If a manufacturer has gone through the pains of making the fence that good, you can rest assured that they have done a good job on the rest of the saw.

The material and flatness of the table affect how easily the workpiece slides across the table, helping to make an accurate cut. This is also very important if you are using hardwood plywood, as you don't want to have the saw mar the surface of your workpiece.

Another important difference in different saws is how large a rip you can make in sheet goods, like a sheet of plywood. If a table saw has a 24” rip capacity to the right of the blade, then you can make any width rip in a 4’x 8’ sheet of plywood that you want, ripping it the long way. If it has a 48” capacity, you can make any width rip you want in that same sheet of plywood, ripping it the wide way. Cabinet saws often have this capability, as it is commonly needed in a cabinet shop, but contractor’s saws usually don’t. Of course, having that extra capability is expensive.

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