Table saw FAQs
What types of table saws are there?
Although all table saws have the same basic design (a flat tabletop with a circular saw blade raised from underneath) there are different types.
Benchtop: These are the smallest table saws and are designed to be placed on top of a workbench. I love the portability of benchtop saws. They can be transported in a truck bed or car trunk, and their compact size is great for those who don’t have the space for a larger model. Due to their smaller platform and limited rip capacity, they aren’t ideal for working with larger workpieces.
Contractor: Larger than benchtop models but still compact enough to transport in a vehicle (although you’ll probably need two people), contractor saws have a wheeled stand that can be easily moved around a job site. Even if you’re not a contractor, contractor saws are a great option for DIY-ers who don’t have the space or budget for a cabinet saw.
Cabinet: These heavy, stationary table saws are typically found in professional woodshops, and because of their large base, or “cabinet,” they require a significant amount of floor space. Because of their powerful motor and large rip capacity, cabinet saws can work with pretty much anything, and their sturdy, stable construction makes them extremely accurate.
Hybrid: Hybrid saws look similar to cabinet models, but they’re typically smaller and less powerful. They also weigh much less, and some feature rolling casters that allow you to roll them around your workspace. Hybrid saws could be a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have the budget for a cabinet saw but still needs something bigger than a contractor saw.
What is a table saw best for?
Table saws are perfect for performing “rip cuts” or long cuts along the grain of a wood piece. Their large platform keeps the wood supported as you work, which, combined with the adjustable fence, allows you to make accurate cuts.
They’re also great for making crosscuts (across the grain), too, which covers a wide range of carpentry and woodworking projects.
What is a good table saw for beginners?
If you’ve never used a table saw before, you probably want to use a contractor saw. They provide the stability needed to maintain proper control while you work but don’t require the space or financial commitments of larger options.
First-timers should also choose a saw that includes any additional accessories that you probably don’t have on hand, like push sticks. Regardless of which saw a beginner chooses, it’s essential that they understand that all table saws are extremely dangerous machines. Make sure to consult someone with experience to walk you through the basics; don’t just dive right in.
What’s the difference between a miter saw and a table saw?
In a nutshell, miter saws are better suited for precision work, while table saws are better for larger-scale cuts.
While miter saws and table saws both use circular blades to cut wood, they’re designed with different purposes in mind. Unlike table saw blades that rise up from the platform, miter saw blades are positioned above, and you use a handle to lower them down to perform your cuts. This allows you to keep your wood piece steady during the cutting process, making it easier to perform accurate crosscuts. Miter saw blades can also swivel from side to side, allowing you to easily make angled, or “miter” cuts. Some miter saws, called compound miter saws, can tilt their blades, allowing you to create bevel cuts.
How to safely use a table saw
Table saws’ design makes them one of the more dangerous woodworking machines you can use, and their exposed blade must be treated with the utmost respect.
You should always be aware of your surroundings, since slips and falls while cutting are a common cause of table saw injuries.
You should also research push blocks and push sticks, which are safety tools that can help keep your fingers away from the blade when you’re pushing wood through the saw. Auto-shutoff features are also good for safety, as they’ll turn the tool off in the event of a power outage.
If you’ve never used a table saw before, either get an experienced friend to walk you through the best practices or watch some tutorial videos on YouTube.