Tips on Buying a Table Saw

table-saw

The table saw is probably the most expensive and the most important tool owned by a woodworker nowadays. Most of the woodshops rely on this tool in particular, and therefore, it is advisable to make a sensible and well-researched purchase to avoid any worries later on. In fact, any ill-advised purchase can cause a costly error in terms of both finance and productivity. Below, we have mentioned a listing of essential features you must consider before purchasing a table saw.

Table saws are divided into 3 main categories:
1. Contractor’s Saws
Contractor-Saws

Contractor's Saws

This table saw happens to be portable and is used by the building contractors while a project is going on. As compared to a cabinet saw, this saw is much lighter in weight. The table is made of aluminum, the engine is positioned on the external part of the saw, and the trunnions are also lighter in weight. Portability is of higher significance as compared to power or precision with sizes varying from a horsepower saw with a bigger table to a compact-sized benchtop table saw. 

2. Hybrid saws

This type of table saw is a combo of both the cabinet (mentioned below) plus the contractor’s saws even though manufacturers differ widely when it comes to which features of the cabinet saw needs to be included. You will come across several hybrid saws that include heavier gears and trunnions, a cast iron saw table, and legs which help to keep the saw at the identical working height just like a cabinet saw. The motors on the hybrid saws are not over 2 HP.

3. Cabinet Saws
Cabinet-Saws

Cabinet Saws

This saw type happens to be the heaviest, largest, and most expensive of all the products available out there. Cabinet saws come with a heavy cast iron table which is machined to a smooth surface. The engine is positioned underneath the saw table within a cabinet, while the gearing and trunnions of the saw are very precise and heavy-duty. Cabinet saws come with a 3HP or 5HP motor in most cases. The weight of the whole saw along with a fence and wings is over 600 pounds. If you are in search of a top-quality cabinet saw, grizzly table saw won’t disappoint you by any means.

Voltage specifications

Most of the cabinet saws use 220V electricity in North America (either 1-phase or 3-phase when it comes to heavy-duty saws). On the other hand, 110V power is used by most of the contractor’s saws out there, since it is more widely obtainable. In most cases, the hybrid saws are set up to use 110V power, although it is possible to switch many of them to use 220V power wherever possible.

The benefits of using 220V electricity for powering the table saws are apparent. In fact, the saw’s engine will not bog down when the workload is heavy. However, this choice is not needed to be considered in portable circumstances since 220V is seldom available outside a shopping outlet.

Saw Table types

In most cases, cabinet saw tables are made from finely-machined cast iron. Thus the table top becomes flat plus precise and the saw receives support from the table’s weight. Amongst the other saw table types found on the contractor’s and the hybrid saws, painted steel and granite deserve special mention. Several hybrid saws might use the main table manufactured from cast iron along with extension wings made from aluminum.

Fence

After the motor and the table, the fence is the most distinguishable aspect between the table saw models. The fence of a table saw ought to be precise (always remaining parallel to the saw blade) plus easily adjustable. A flexing or sliding fence when being used can bind the saw blade with the wood, thus triggering perilous kickbacks. A sturdy but difficult to adjust the fence along the table’s front and rear edges can be perilous, apart from being annoying to use. 

The T-style fence like the Biesemeyer fence which we find on the Delta Unisaw is amongst the most well-liked styles of fences out there. A T-style fence comes with a square tube or a heavy bar fastened to the front portion of the saw table plus a dual-sided wide fence which glides along the table’s top. At the front part of the fence the locking mechanism locks down onto the bar or tube in any position along the table’s top and it is possible to micro-adjust it to stay parallel to its blade at all times. Although other manufacturers have got their unique T-style fence versions, the primary discriminating aspects are almost identical. 

Devote a considerable period of time emphasizing on the fence while picking a table saw. A fence which moves effortlessly, locks firmly in position, and stays true to its blade will be the correct choice. In case you do not find a fence of this type at the store, you will be disappointed once you return home and start using the table saw.

Tilt

Although the blade has been tilted to the right by the bevel adjustment on most of the table saws, a left-tilt mechanism is used by certain cabinet saws out there. This is a feature which depends on the preference of the user. In general, we regard the left-tilt saws as a safer option given that most of the cutting operations need the fence positioned to the blade’s right. In fact, the blade’s top is angled by the left-tilt away from the fence which prevents the blade to pinch the stock in between the fence and the beveled blade. Several individuals prefer using blades that are right-tilted and find it difficult to switch to a left-tilt. The right-tilted models appear to be available on a wider scale.

Accumulation of Dust

Plenty of sawdust is created by table saws. It will be possible to keep the motor of the saw cooler and also the gearing tidier by using a dust accumulation system along with the table saw. Virtually all the cabinet saws out there come with a 4” port for dust collection at the cabinet’s rear side along with a capture system inside the cabinet for funneling the sawdust in the direction of the port. You can expect the contractor’s saws to be used externally, and therefore, the bottom part of the undercarriage of the saw is left wide open enabling the sawdust to fall to the floor. The hybrid saws are somewhere in-between.

While deciding on the saw to use, remember the dust collection aspect. In case you are planning to work indoors on most occasions, it is imperative to go for a saw which will permit you to perform some dust accumulation task for minimizing the airborne dust particles and also maintaining the cleanliness of the saw itself, not to mention the floor of your shop. On the other hand, in case you feel yourself better while working with the saw outdoors, it will be sensible to opt for an open-cabinet table saw; however, be prepared to gather lots of sawdust in the area where you are working.

Miter Gauge

A miter gauge happens to be one essential feature present on all the table saws these days. It is essential for the miter gauge to be powerful and it is possible to adjust the angles while the angles ought to stay firm once the lock has been tightened into position. It is imperative for the miter gauge to glide in the slots with no sloppiness in the device. You can translate the gauge to inexact angles by slopping the track while using the miter gauge.


2 miter gauge types are obtainable at present: the T-slot and the rectangular slot. While there are only 2 sides on a rectangular miter slot, there is a narrow groove at the base of the slot on each side in case of a T-slot. This helps to give an upside-down T shape to the slot (while viewed from each of the slot’s ends). There is a notch on the T-slot miter gauges on both sides of the glide which fits into the slots perfectly. In this way, the miter gauge can be prevented to be lifted from the slot while in operation.

Although regular miter gauges that are rectangular-styled will fit into the T-slots, the same is not vice versa.

Other table saw accessories like locking featherboards which are available commercially can be accommodated by the T-slots out there. Even though T-slots are seldom found on the contractor’s saws, these are usually present in cabinet saws. Although this feature will depend on your preference, it will nevertheless prove to be useful if present on your preferred model.

Safety Features

Safety features have been amongst the most significant advancements in recent times in the table saws out there. Table saws happen to be the most perilous woodworking equipment to be used right now, and therefore, it is sensible that the safety features on these saws ought to be those features that will be used by you the most. There is no point of getting rid of them just because they happen to be too clumsy.

Amongst the most beneficial safety aspects mention may be made of:
1. Big, paddle-style switch:

It will enable the user to switch off the saw using their knees or legs without using their hands.

2. Riving knife:
Riving-Knife

Riving Knife

This metallic component is positioned at the back of the blade of the saw and its width is like that of the saw blade. The riving knife helps to isolate the boards while the 2 cut pieces of the stock slide past the saw’s blade, and this helps to avoid any pinching of the wood on the saw’s blade thus thrusting it back towards the user. It is essential for a decent riving knife to be lowered or raised along with the blade on its own and it should likewise be removed while implementing a dado blade on the table saw.

3 Anti-kickback pawls:

You will come across anti-kickback pawls on some saws out there on both sides of the knife. These happen to be compact-sized spring-loaded metallic components along with teeth protruding in the downward direction towards the top of the table. While the wood slides past the saw’s blade, the pawls will rise up and will slide along the wood’s upper side. The teeth will grab the wood, thus maintaining its position in case the wood kicks in the reverse direction. Antikickback pawls come with several benefits and one of them is that they assist in avoiding kickbacks; however, they might likewise damage the stock’s upper surface.

4. Blade guards:

Most of the table saws out there likewise come with a detachable blade guard which happens to be a dual or a single plastic piece covering the saw blade’s top for preventing any contact by with the hands of the user. While some guards are designed intricately, the rest appear to get in the way, thus making the user rather confused in the long run. It is imperative to use a top quality blade as and when possible.

5. Blade brake:

An innovative blade braking device has been developed by one table saw manufacturer which will stop the blade from operating once the blade contacts any part of the body. This innovative mechanism is present in every model nowadays and saves lots of woodworkers from any serious injury. However, this system is likewise expensive as compared to the other systems on the market since it is imperative to replace the blade once it becomes engaged.

Blade-Brake

Blade Brake

You will need to consider one more aspect while purchasing a new table saw which is whether you require using a dado blade for cutting rabbets or dadoes. This technique is usually employed by the furniture builders and cabinet makers out there and is not performed on the job site on most occasions. However, in case a dado blade is needed at all, you will require a saw with the required HP and arbor for cutting rabbets and dadoes. Also, the contractor’s saws must be avoided in these situations.

You might consider other features too including the ability to add extension wings on both sides of the table saw, storage options, longer fence rails, mobile bases, and so forth.

A table saw will deliver the goods provided the blade allows it to do so. You will not get the desired outcomes while using an expensive table saw featuring a cheap saw blade; hence, put special emphasis on the blade while going for a table saw. On top of this, make it a point to maintain the cleanliness of the blade so it remains sharp and also serves you for a long time.

Leave a comment: