Types of Table Saws
Table saws are in four different types:
Bench Top Table Saws
These saws do not have a stand. Instead, they use a workbench or table for support. Benchtop table saws, sometimes known as jobsite table saws, are the smallest of table saws since they are lightweight and they have small dimensions such that you can pick it up to a different location.
Seen as the most portable designs; this type of table saw is a big attraction for contractors who move to different job sites. They are mostly made from lightweight aluminum metal with a belt-drive configuration. The trunnions are also not as heavy-duty as those you’d find in a cabinet table saw. Contractor saws have their motors located on the outside of the saw with a power replacement of around 1HP to 1¾HP.
This table saw is considered the heaviest of them all weighing around 600pounds with the wings and fence as part of the machine. It is meant to stay put in a workshop. Their table tops are mounted to a smooth surface using their heavy cast iron tables. This equipment has a cabinet beneath the table which harbors the motor and heavy-duty trunnions. The motors can run with 3HP or 5HP.
Hybrid Table Saws
These table saws combine the features of a table saw and a contractor saw into one. There are different components to incorporate into a table saw to make it work as a hybrid table saw. Their distinctive features are the cabinet designs at the bottom. Otherwise, the surface looks much like other contractor saw.
Features to Expect in a Table Saw
Elevation and Tilt Wheels
These components allow you to direct the height of the blade and consecutively the depth of the cut. The elevation hand wheel is located at the front of the table saw. For example, if you have a 10inch table saw blade, it should be able to go to the highest position at 3-5/8 to perform accurate 4x cuts in one pass.
On the other hand, the tilt hand wheel is at the side of the saw. It is responsible for allowing the various tilts from 0-45degrees from the fence. It can tilt either on the right or left side in terms of the location of the arbor in that particular table saw.
Working with a table saw that has no mechanism for eliminating the sawdust can be a messy affair. First, you’ll be working on a dirty table and also putting yourself in the danger of developing respiratory problems. Dust collection in a table saw comes in the form of a port which collects the sawdust as it is being created. Some can be as deep as 4inhes with a vacuum dispenser to allow continuous work with the table saw.
Perhaps the feature you’ll never miss on a table saw. A miter gauge is adjustable, and it should be firm when the lock is applied tightly. It should also glide smoothly through its slot to provide accurate angles when performing cuts. You’ll encounter two types of miter slots: the T-slot and the rectangular slot. Miter gauges for rectangular slots can fit into T-slots, but the gauges for T-slots cannot fit into rectangular slots.
These are divided basing on the arbor size, diameter, kerf size, number of teeth and application. The materials that make saw blades are also another method by which they are divided. You’ll find that even though most blades are meant to cut through wood if you intend to cut through other stuff, you can see blades in carbon and carbide. Other blades of high-end table saws use diamond teeth which can cut through metal.
Blades come in standard sizes like 10” or 12.” Some blades can be as big as 1ft while others as little as 5inches. With teeth between 24 and 80, they are intended to fit their specific applications.
The type of motor also defines a table saw. In the case of portable saws, they can produce 2HP when running on 120V circuits. Hybrid saws mostly fit this category. For the powerful table saws, they can produce up to 5HP on 220V circuits.
There are two types:
This type of drive system is linked directly to the blade. The power moves from the motor to the blade without a belt.
Power is transferred using a belt drive which spares the motor the wrath of sawdust. It enables the machine to last for longer than direct drive motors. Belt drives are either poly-V belts which counter the vibration felt on the machine as it cuts. Regular-V belts do not hinder vibrations and can, therefore be loud. Always wear ear protection when using table saws with regular V-belts systems.
The switch comes in handy to stop the machine during accidents. It should be large and located at the front of the saw where you can operate it using the whole hand. The OFF switch, in this case, should always be bigger than the ON switch to enable fast action.
When examining the switch, look for one that provides a plastic cover on the ON button to prevent accidental switching up. A switch that can be locked using a padlock also comes in handy to avoid switching up by unauthorized persons and kids. There are also magnetic switches which keep the machine OFF during power surges and irregularities in power supply.
Table Saw Accessories
As the name suggests, they are pieces of wood or metal platforms which are used when manipulating large sheets of material. They are mounted on the table’s sides to increase the working capacity of the machine.
These are bases that come with wheels to allow mobility of the machine. They lock into the bottom of the table saw such that when you are working it is stable and steady but it can move around the station when need be.
During shelving applications, you may need to cut straight slots and wide slots in a single pass. That’s where dado sets come in handy.
Types of Table Saw Blades
The best cuts are only achievable with the right blade. Blades have a construction from different materials. Carbide blades are made to be resistant to impact, for example when cutting aluminum sheets.
It rips lumber along the grain. They have fewer teeth than crosscut blades.
It performs crosscuts at a slightly less aggressive angle than a ripping blade. They have more teeth since they need to slice across.
It works for mitering, crosscutting, and ripping. They are preferred as everyday sawing blades.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Table Saw
Here, we will just mention briefly the factors that should guide you in deciding the best table saw for your type of projects. We are going to elaborate more on what you should be looking for when purchasing a table saw. Read through:
The weight of a table saw indicates the type and portability. If you are looking for a stationary table saw, weight is not a hindrance as is the case with cabinet table saws and hybrid table saws. However, if you need a portable table saw, you should look at the weight of the machine. It should be easy to pick up and travel with to different job sites.
Some job site environments are pretty tough thus your table saw should be twice as tough to withstand all the abuse. The materials used in overall construction should be the best, and the construction itself should be versatile. This plays a huge role in the machine’s functionality.
A stable or well-balanced table saw gives you an easy time working with it. You will save time as it allows you to work as fast as you wish and thus improved output.
A stand comes in handy when you need to set the saw up on your job site, and if the stand has wheels, you will have an easy time maneuvering it around. Also, if you will be loading the saw in your truck, it should have handles. This gives you an easy time and also it’s more secure as you will unlikely hurt your fingers.
A powerful table saw means you get to do more and better than you would otherwise do with other tools. If you are looking into increasing your output, invest in a more powerful table saw.
Your table saw’s rip capacity determines how versatile it will be. If you are not buying it for just a one-time project, just invest in a table saw with a great rip capacity as it will be useful in many other projects.
Each cutting will require different depth and width cutting. The question is, how deep or what width can your saw handle? Just as with Rip capacity, this also plays a huge role in the versatility of the tool so the deeper and wider the better.
Dust collection mechanism
You don’t want to take too much time cleaning up after you’re done working. If your table saw has a great dust collection port, you can easily connect it to a vacuum for efficient dust extraction.
Again, no one wants to take up too much time trying to set up their table saw. Make sure the saw you are about to buy is easy to set up. You can check the customer reviews to see the kind of experience other buyers had while setting it up.
A smooth startup gives a smooth operation and less wastage.
Some table saws are too loud when in use such that you cannot enjoy what you are doing. You might not come across a totally quiet table saw, but there is definitely one with minimum noise. Machines that use regular-V belts produce higher noise levels than those that use Poly-V belts.
Accuracy is everything when it comes to table saw operations. If the saw is accurate, you will not only have less waste but also have great output with all your projects. You will also end up saving a lot of time because you won’t to do the same cut twice or keep readjusting the settings after every few cuts.
The most common cause of inaccurate cuts is by using the wrong alignment of the miter gauge on the slots. Remember that T-gauges cannot fit rectangular slots.
The best table saw should have all the necessary accessories. Apart from a stand that’s not included in all the above choices, all the other important accessories come with your package for a smooth operation.
You should be able to access all these accessories whenever you need them easily, and there is no better option to this than having an on-tool storage. Also, transporting the saw becomes more convenient and secure as you will have everything together.
The table top size determines the kind projects you can handle, small or large. A small table top might limit you or force you to add an extension. Adding an extension is not exactly a bad thing since if you are investing in a table saw worth thousands of dollars, it should have the capability to increase the working capacity.
Cabinet table saws mostly utilize 220V electricity on three-phase or single phase electricity. While contractor table saws use 110Vpower, you’ll find hybrid table saws can use either of the two power requirements. Therefore, 110V is better for portable table saws since their power outlets are widely available outside the workshop.
Check the space you need when buying a table saw. Stationary cabinet table saws take up a lot of space. If you’ll use it in the middle of your workshop, you may have trouble working with long wood and large sheets of material. Ensure that you have at least 8ft of space from the blade both in front and behind and 36inches all around the blade.
Know the dimensions of the table saw if you want to take it to job sites. Contractor table saws carry small weight such that it can be moved easily. They also take up little space such that if they have wheels bases, you can relocate it to another area of the workshop.
Table saws are regarded as the most dangerous workshop tools we have today. As such, there have been significant advancements to improve the safety features of table saws. The necessary safety aspects to look for in a table saw include:
This is a piece of metal which glides right behind the saw blade. It is the same width as the table saw blade to keep the board separated. It helps in preventing the wood from pinching the blade which could cause kickback and severe injury. It should be raised and lowered automatically, and have a smooth uninstalling mechanism when you want to work with a dado blade.
These pawls can be located on either side of the riving knife. They are like springs which hover on the wood as it glides along the blade. If the wood was to get caught in the teeth and bounce back, they are in place to provide a barrier by which the wood is caught and stopped before performing a full kickback.
When you want to turn off the saw, using your hands is not always possible. That’s why you need to use either the leg or knee. Paddle style switch comes in handy at such times.
A high-quality blade guard should let you see the blade and the wood as it works. Some blade guards have a construction from plastic and can be a single piece or dual piece which covers the saw blade’s top. It’s always important that you use the provided saw blade’s guard whenever possible.
Perhaps the most intelligent of safety features is the blade brake. This is a mechanism which stops the blade when it comes into contact with a body part. It is an innovative feature which has saved thousands of workshop workers from serious injuries. This attribute is a trademark of the SawStop Table saw and has been integrated into all their models. Although it adds to the cost of a machine, you should consider it for your future safety.
If your hands are on the same course as the blade, you may not get to the switch in time to prevent further injury. That’s why you need a table saw which has a switch that can be engaged using the knee, leg, or hip movement.
This is an arguable fact that left blade tilt designs prevent the occurrence of kickback more than right blade tilt. Most table saws whose angle tilting is from 0-45degrees bevel adjustment have their blades tilt to the right. In this position, the wood is susceptible to pinching into the blade and causing kickback. A left tilt mechanism seems to keep the wood in a smooth glide.