The table saw is essentially a circular blade peeking out through the top of a worktable; as the blade rotates, the workman feeds sheet materials into it, usually to rip them along the grain. Not suitable for novices, the table saw is the ‘boss saw’ in woodworking shops.
Table saws are made in a variety of grades and sizes, and, as a result, in different price brackets. These range from small and inexpensive benchtop models targeted to the casual home DIYer to bulky, heavy-duty and very expensive cabinet models suited to professional woodworking shops. Intermediate-sized and -grade table saws include jobsite, contractor, and portable table saws with some confusion and overlap between these classifications. In any event, this breadth and depth in sizes, grades, and models indicates how useful, popular, and well-established a power tool the table saw is.
The table saws that we review are – rightly or wrongly – called jobsite, portable, and even benchtop. Instead of poorly-defined names, it may be more helpful to identify them by their power. They fall in the narrow range of 1500- to 2000-watt rigs.
One of the main reasons for table saws’ ability to cut every plank and workpiece perfectly is down to the kinds and types of interchangeable blades. Varying in specifications such as teeth-per-inch and tooth configuration, blades are so specialised as to be made for ripcutting, crosscutting, or dadoing and rebating. Similarly, blades are specifically designed and made to cut hardwoods, softwoods, MDF, melamine, soft metals, and more.
Among all the power tools a table saw is one of the most complicated types of cutting devices. Although essentially it comprises of a motor-driven circular blade partially protruding through a slit in a worktable, the device is fairly complex. The saw-blade itself is shrouded by an adjustable blade guard. A parallel guide or fence rests in a groove, and some of them are so designed as to extend telescopically. An angle stop also rides along a groove and is adjustable to hold the workpiece at an angle to make mitre cuts. The blade itself can be tilted, often to angles as deep as 45 degrees, so as to make bevel cuts. Over and above these features, there are riving knives, splitters, stops, scales, cranks, locking knobs and levers . . . didn’t we say it was a complex piece of business?
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As complex as table saws are, we lay out the strengths and weaknesses of five models to simplify the selection process for you.
Having an abundance of features, manifesting excellent design, and with matchless cutting capability, Bosch’s rig is so very good that whingeing is impossible.
Bosch’s pro table saw has an 1800-watt motor with soft start and overload protection. It has a no-load speed of 3,650 RPMs. This model is also available in 110 volts for use on construction sites.
This table saw has a cutting height of 79 millimetres, and a cutting capacity of up to 460 millimetres to the right and 210 millimetres to the left. It has a useful 45-millimetre table extension.
It makes clean, smooth, and effortless ripcuts with the supplied 254 x 30-millimetre 24-tooth rip blade. With the right blade, this rig will make perfect cuts in hardwood, softwood, aluminium, plastic, and all other kinds of sheet products. For a table saw, this one’s surprisingly quiet.
The wheel and knob to adjust blade depth and bevel are well-designed and work smoothly; unfortunately, the raising/lowering mechanism seems to be a magnet for dust and if dust is not religiously suctioned, the mechanism will jam up. The bevel angle ranges from –2° to 47°. The riving knife’s height is easily adjustable.
The mitre angle ranges from –60° to +60° but the mitre gauge and fence, as in so many table saws, are the weak link. The mitre slots are not accurate and the mitre fence has distinct play partly due to indifferent design and partly due to sub-par machining.
The fence, however, is strong, heavy, and perfectly square. Factor in the front and rear locks that make it into an immovable object, and we have one of the best fences around.
It has dust extraction adaptors in two sizes.
The manual and instructions cannot be improved upon.
Overall, the Bosch GTS 10 sets the standard in portable table saw construction and finishing. It is a top buy for jobbing professionals, having well-machined and well-designed handles, and measuring 81 x 64.5 x 40 centimetres and weighing 26.4 kilogrammes.
Comes with dust extraction adapter, push stick, and angle guide, besides the blade, all of it securely stored in the base of the table.
Bosch provides a 3-year warranty provided the purchase is registered within 28 days.
- Solid and robust, this table saw is also sleek and well-finished.
- Cutting capability – smooth and clean – is unmatched.
- One of the best fences on a jobsite table saw – square and an ‘immoveable object.’
- Mitre fence has some play.
- Mitre slots are not precisely machined.
Little gripes aside, Lumberjack’s robust rig has super sawing capability and has so much else going for it that it’s one of the best values among power tools.
Sporting a 1500-watt motor that drives the blade at 5000 rpm, Lumberjack’s TS210SL ticks quite a few boxes, chief among them price: this is one of the lowest-priced table saws you’ll find, yet it is not the lowest in terms of quality, not by a long shot.
The table’s surface area is 465 x 500 millimetres, and the extension on each side is 105 millimetres long so that with both extensions in place the table becomes 676 millimetres long. The table surface is surprisingly strong, smooth and level for a such a low-priced item.
The fence is also surprisingly good for a bargain-basement rig. It is tolerably accurate, runs the length of the table, and is secured by clamps at both ends. The mitre gauge is inaccurate and dodgy but nothing that can’t be corrected and adjusted. It also has some play.
The blade’s angle can be varied from 0 to 45 degrees, with a maximum height of 70 millimetres at 90° and 45 millimetres at 45°. The blade guard is a ‘cut’ above; it is quite robust and it is translucent, allowing a view of the blade and workpiece.
The On/Off buttons are large and easily accessible but they probably should not be right next to each other. It also has an overload protection switch.
All said, the TS210SL is reasonably accurate and makes smooth, clean cuts in all timber and composite sheet products with the supplied carbide-tipped 210-millimetre blade. However, this rig is very loud and noisy. Just how loud and noisy? Let’s say it’s as loud and noisy as any of America’s many latter-day ‘celebrities.’
The 35-millimetre dust port provides above-average dust extraction.
Assembly is somewhat difficult. Fabrication is spotty and unpredictable – you may have to force some parts together or re-machine a component or two; on the other hand, everything may easily fall into place.
Although Lumberjack’s table saw is super-light and portable at 17.3 kilogrammes and 60.5 x 52.5 x 34 centimetres, it is surprisingly sturdy and rugged.
This is a good little table saw but at its throwaway price is a staggering value for money to the extent that it is surely one of the top value-for-money power tools. It is a Value Pick all day long.
Besides the blade, fence, and mitre gauge, a push stick is included.
Lumberjack provides a one-year warranty.
- Has power and RPMs to spare – impressively powerful for a budget kit.
- Surprisingly strong and sturdy overall.
- One of the best value-for-money power tools around.
- Somewhat difficult assembly.
- The mitre gauge has some play.
- Very noisy operation.
Powerful motor, robust construction, first-class fence, very good dust extraction, and more ‘pros’ mean this table saw is a winner for Dewalt – and the buyer.
Cost: Price not available
Dewalt’s table saw has a powerful 1850-watt motor, with overload protection, that drives the blade at 3850 RPMs no-load. The DW745-GB is also available in a 1300-watt 110-volt building site-use model. Befitting its ‘professional’ designation it has a steel roll cage.
It has a rip capacity of 610 millimetres. Maximum rip to the left is 305 millimetres and to the right, 508 millimetres.
The shoe bevels 0 to 45 degrees for bevel cuts. Both the bevel lock and scale are well made and are clearly above average. The maximum cutting depth at vertical is 79 millimetres and at 45 degrees, 57 millimetres.
The fence is sturdy, accurate, and straight – perfectly parallel to the blade. The rack and pinion system is reliable and the front and rear locks very securely set the fence.
The mitre gauge provides cutting angles from -60° to 60°. However – like mitre gauges in most table saws – is not up to snuff.
The 24-tooth carbide blade is not bad but the proud owner of this table saw really should buy a better blade that’s worthy of this very powerful rig. It affords exceptionally straight, sharp and smooth cutting of all sheet goods from wood to laminates. However, it is rather noisy.
Dust extraction is very good.
You will notice cheap plastic on an adjustment knob; this needs to be handled with TLC lest it break.
The mechanism that raises and lowers the blade can get sticky over time, and if dust gets into the bearings the whole deal may jam up.
The guarding components are adjustable without tools.
Among the helpful design elements are on-board storage for accessories and adjustable rear feet for uneven surfaces.
Assembly is a breeze and the manual and instructions are second to none.
The eye-watering price probably puts this table saw out of reach of most DIYers.
Besides the blade and fence, it comes with a mitre fence, a reducer, a push stick, and two blade spanners.
At 22 kilogrammes and measuring 85.4 x 68.4 x 37.6 centimetres, the Dewalt DW745-GB is fairly light and portable. This, taken together with all its other plus points, makes it an ideal jobsite table saw. With virtually nothing to choose between this rig and the Bosch Professional GTS 10, it was a toss-up as to which one would be our Best Pick.
On another day . . .
Dewalt provides one year of free service and a three-year warranty.
- Top quality fence that you can bet your bottom dollar on.
- Unusually good bevel setting and bevel-cutting capability.
- Just about every little thing on this rig says, ‘For professionals.’
- The blade raising-and-lowering mechanism can be affected by dust that tends to accumulate in it.
- One or two knobs are made of el cheapo plastic.
- Very, very expensive.
A real mixed bag, the powerful motor and sturdy construction are let down by poor rip fence and mitre gauge, but the price is certainly right on Parker’s rig.
For an inexpensive table saw, Parker’s PTS-250 has a seriously potent 2000-watt motor and a no-load speed of 5000 RPM. It starts with a roar and a jerk and operation is noisy.
The table measures 500 x 650 millimetres. Each side extension can add a further 230 millimetres to the table.
The rip fence is not square; it will need to be tinkered with to align it with the blade. It is not even sufficiently long, is not sturdy, has flex, and locks at only one point. We feel that even a budget-priced kit should not have a fence of such inferior quality.
The blade too is not perfectly square and the bevel angle gauge is not marked accurately. At least raising and lowering the blade is simple and easy to operate, and the mechanism is quite smooth.
The cross-stop for mitres has a range of -60° to +60°. However, the mitre slots and the blade are misaligned which is made a non-issue by the near-unusability of the flimsy mitre gauge.
All that taken into consideration, for rough-cutting and resizing, this table saw is a good buy. The supplied carbide-tipped 24-tooth blade is adequate for such purposes.
On the plus side, the table itself and the saw assembly itself are sturdy and stable, and are more than good enough for hobbyist purposes. Factor in the powerful and reliable motor and the workhorse cutting, and this kit can be viewed as a good value for money given the throwaway price.
Be aware that assembly is somewhat complicated and this rig will take some time to put together; also, you may need a helper.
Though rank novices should probably avoid the PTS-250, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool DIYer you’ll see this table saw as an improvement project.
Relatively light at 22.5 kilogrammes, this kit is also relatively compact at 31.8 x 56.8 x 71.2 centimetres.
Parker provides a one-year warranty. Unfortunately, the company’s customer service leaves a lot to be desired.
- The worktable and the saw assembly are solid and sturdy.
- Very powerful motor, especially in view of the price.
- Tidy value for money.
- The rip fence is a dead loss as is the mitre gauge.
- Little, if anything, is in alignment.
- Assembly is complicated and time-consuming.
Let down by a very poor rip fence and mitre setup, VonHaus’s table saw makes up in power and in its workhorse rough-cutting capability, yours at a fair price.
VonHaus’s table saw has 1800 watts of power and a no-load speed of 5000 RPMs. The powerful motor starts suddenly with a distinct jolt. Operation is very noisy; perhaps too noisy.
The worktable measures 642 x 478 millimetres. The extensions add 226 on each side to increase the table’s length to a total of 930 millimetres. It is made of sheet metal and is fairly flat and is quite sturdy.
The blade has a cutting angle from vertical to 45°. At vertical the maximum cutting depth is 80 millimetres and at 45° it is 65 millimetres. You will need to check the blade – it may or may not be properly aligned.
A cross-stop with an angle scale allows mitre cuts from -60° to 60° but the plasticky thing is virtually a write-off. The rip fence is also quite poor. It is not long enough, neither is it parallel with the blade nor is it steady and stable. Those who are so inclined will have fun with this table saw by treating it as an improvement project.
VonHaus’s sturdy table saw has more than enough power to cut through all kinds of sheet products but it is somewhat rough and ready, particularly with the supplied carbide 24-tooth 250-millimetre blade. This is not anyone’s go-to saw for accurate cutting tasks, like re-facing, but is a powerful and no-fuss rig for bulk resawing and rough-cutting.
The On/Off buttons are large and easily accessible but they probably should not be right next to each other.
Assembly, although straightforward, is a drawn-out task. The instructions are barely sufficient and where adjustments are concerned, you’re on your own.
At only 22.7 kilogrammes and 72 x 56 x 33 centimetres, this is a fairly portable table saw.
VonHaus provides a 2-year warranty.
- The worktable is flat, and is solid and sturdy.
- Powerful rig is well suited for rough-cutting.
- As moderate on the pocket as it is on the weighing scales.
- The rip fence is quite poor.
- The mitre gauge and cross-stop are also quite poor.
- Very noisy.
How To Use A Table Saw
As a table saw is one of the most dangerous of all power tools, safety precautions and careful and technically-correct operation are of paramount importance. Losing concentration for but a split-second can lead to the blade causing not only an injury, but, even mutilation and amputation. Not only that, the risk and intensity of even kickbacks from table saws is such that these too can and do cause bad injuries, broken fingers among the least of them.
The brief outline underneath sketches out how to ripcut a board.
• Put on cut-resistant work gloves, a dust mask, and goggles.
• As most boards are longer than the length of the worktable behind the blade, be sure to set up an outfeed support adjoining the rear end of the worktable.
• Put the board on the table and adjust the height of the blade such that the base of its gullet is level with the top of the board. The gullet is the U- or V-shaped valley between adjacent teeth.
• It is a matter of personal preference whether the wider side by the ripline will be on the outside and the narrow side against the fence, or vice versa. However, beginners should definitely keep the wider side of the board on the outside to allow themselves maximum clearance from the blade.
• Adjust the fence so that if you align the side of the board against it, the board will be fed into the blade along the line that you want to rip it, with the narrow side by the ripline being between the blade and the fence.
• Ensure that the splitter and pawl are all shipshape for it is these that protect the operator from kickbacks in case the blade binds.
• Ensure also that the blade guard properly covers the blade and protects you from it.
• Keep a push shoe or push stick at hand.
• Switch on the saw.
• Do not stand directly behind the board to avoid injury in case of kickback; stand at an angle to it so that you are to the side of the near end of the board. By taking this position you will be able to comfortably push it and operate the table saw while also keeping yourself safe.
• If the rip is a narrow one, you could stabilise the board against the fence by pressing it with the hand that is away from the end of the board (the left hand, if you’re right-handed) or with a push shoe or stick held in that hand. However, if the width of the board or the position of the ripcut does not provide at least 150 millimetres of clearance from the blade, you really should not handle the board with your hand and should use a push shoe or stick. Finally, if the depth of the board is so little, say less than 25 millimetres, that your hand may slip, then do not handle it but use a push stick.
• Hold a push shoe or stick in the hand nearer the end of the board, and begin pushing the board into the blade, slowly, steadily, and firmly.
• Keep doing so until the length of the board is ripped. Then turn off the table saw.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.