That said, I have been looking for that ideal replacement saw that will hopefully take me further down the road than the Craftsmen, and a unit that will do what I need it to do. This review could not have been found at a better time. I will take the results that were achieved and use them as a measurement in purchasing a new one. Thanks for the time spent on conducting this testing and review. Very much appreciated!
Table saws cut more or less the same way as a circular saw (covered in their own report): a round blade, usually 10 inches in diameter, spins as it works its way through the wood. The main difference is that the blade is fixed in place, sticking up through a gap in the table, and the operator moves the wood past the blade instead of moving the saw itself. Table saws support and guide lumber and wood panels as they pass over the spinning blade, making it easier to make accurate repeat cuts than with a circular saw.
It’s worth remembering that contractor table saws are still going to be pretty portable because they’re designed to be used by contractors. That being said, unlike portable table saws, they don’t necessarily fold up into a compact position. This is largely because contractors tend to have the facilities needed in order to transport a larger bit of kit. The extra space that they take up in comparison to a portable table saw means that contractor table saws are able to offer a greater level of power and precision. Both of these points further support the fact that contractor table saws sit in the middle ground.
Standard table saws are also called contractor table saws, even if they're really intended for the home do-it-yourselfer. These table saws have open, fixed legs, and they take up more space than a portable or benchtop table saw. They're also heavier – weighing as much as 200 to 300 pounds. On the plus side, their tables are often larger, making it easier to cut 4 by 8-foot panels of plywood or sheetrock. Prices for contractor saws range from around $600 to nearly $2,000.
I have another post for Woodsmith magazines. ShopNotes 2.00 each copyIssue 1 Premiere Issue Shop -- Built Router TableTable Saw AccessoriesTips for Accurate CrosscuttingElu Router ReviewIssue 2Wooden Joiners MalletStorage Bin SystemHand-Cut MortisesRadial Arm Saw FenceIssue 3Handy Tool Carry-AllShop-Built Cling StationPlate Joinery TechniquesAdjustable Grinding JigIssue 4Shop-Built Panel SawThi...
First up is the portable table saw. There are two variations in this category, the first of which is the benchtop. As the name implies, the benchtop table saw is designed to be used on top of a table or bench. They’re small, so that it doesn’t matter which table or bench you put them on, and they’re light enough to be carried from place-to-place. This type of saw was originally meant for construction, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get good use out of it in your shop or garage.
It’s a little extra assembly work, but you’ll be grateful you did it later. The blade guard will keep your hands away from the saw and the splitter will help to reduce kickback from the machine and keep the wood flowing smoothly through the table saw. Additionally, if you’re working to cut thin boards, you should use a push stick or a push shoe to make sure your hands stay guarded while you work.
Blade guards are an important safety device and should never be removed from the saw. You want to find one that rises up parallel to the table so it is always on top of the material you are working with. The purpose of this blade guard is to protect you from the spinning blade. While some woodworkers find them annoying, the safety they provide is well worth the inconvenience.
SawStop is the only saw in the group to employ this style fence and they have the best in the group. Ridgid comes in second with a traditional front clamping fence system that has a backside contact point. Its solid construction and wide cast front clamp left us impressed. DeWalt’s came in third with an innovative effort that locks into several points based on where you need it. Rather than sliding along, it stays in place while the rack and pinion system moves it into place. It’s not perfect, but it eliminates a lot of accuracy issues that come from locking the fence out of square on some systems.
I knew there were jobsite table saws on the market for less than $250, but I never thought they were good enough to get my recommendation. Sure, the SKIL 3410-02 is not a professional saw and may not be versatile enough for contractors, but the stand, power, accuracy and build quality of this table saw are much better than I thought possible in this class.