A table saw is a must-have in a man’s “goody” room. However, even knowledgeable men need a bit of help when it comes to choosing the right tool, especially since you are annoyed by the lack of accuracy and clumsiness of a circular saw in trimming small pieces.
A top-notch table saw can crosscut, miter, rip and bevel anything and it stores away easily after you’re done. One of the best parts of such a machine is that you can actually see what you are doing because it sits still while you cut the wood. You also need to hear this: a table saw is not as accurate as an expensive stationary shop saw and it may struggle a bit with thick pieces of lumber. Still, most models are tougher than they appear and, more often than not, they are accurate enough to handle renovation work and general home repairs.
Before you go table-saw shopping, you need to know a few essential details:
The blade is of utmost importance. When you buy a table saw, it usually comes with a general –purpose 10-inch blade that can crosscut a 4×4. If you choose to replace the blade and pay about $60 on a new one, you should know that the quality of the cuts will dramatically improve.
If you don’t want the pieces to move backward, you also need to focus your attention on anti-kickback pawls. These arms are basically the ones that prevent your material from fidgeting, so never underestimate this detail.
Check the splitter, because it is an essential device which should mount on the motor assembly. In short, this riving knife rises and falls along with the blade and it can even be adjusted to match the width of the kerf.
The rip fence has to lock parallel to the blade and, if it grabs onto and even rides on front and back rails, even better. The table size is also an important aspect and it is always better to go bigger. More often than not, this type of saw comes with a rear bar which is meant to support the material as it exits and you should also have a throat plate which fits around the plate.
Unless you are impossibly tall, the optimal height should be at 36 inches. Know that your saw should be screwed or clamped to a wood table with legs that are wide-spaced.
You will need a blade guard which protects you from the spinning blade and should NEVER be removed and an exhaust duct, preferably one which fits a wet/dry vacuum or one which has a trash can under it to catch the material.
Buying a table saw is not that easy, especially if you want to fit into a certain price range and you only want the best machine. Although all table saws have essentially the same features, those that have a higher price tag will perform better and will have greater accuracy, stability and safety.
Of course there are table saws under $200, but you need to be prepared for this: they struggle with cutting a 2x material and cannot handle 4x due to intense vibration. However, if you only need to cut 1x material, you will be just fine with such a saw.
For $200-$400, you will get a midsize saw which can handle any house renovation. These table saws have a better rip fence and also a more stable blade-elevation mechanism and, although they have no problem with cutting a 2x material, it gets problematic if you try to cut 4x.
Naturally, if you go with the table saw which costs anything above $400, you will have a great machine not only for rough jobs, but also for finish carpentry. It has no problem whatsoever with cutting a 4x material and all its pieces resist not only the test of time, but also the test of wood.
If you decided that you need a table saw, you should also understand that these power tools should always be treated with care. Consider this a safety lesson 101.
When operating table saws, you should ALWAYS wear protective gear and never use such a mechanism which has damaged or dull parts.
Before you try to pick the piece of wood up, push it past the blade and do not try to cut a piece which is clearly too large to handle, because it will prevent you from keeping your cuts in control.
As silly as it may sound, if this is the first time you ever thought of operating a table saw, you should take a course on proper handling techniques. You could even ask somebody at your local hardware store to help, because it is better to be safe than sorry.
Check the wood you wish to work with for flaws, because a loose knot could lead to kickback, therefore to serious injuries and never forget about the blade guard.
Accessories to check
- Before you start playing with your new table saw, there are some things that could really turn you into a professional, such as:
- Goggles. Always wear protective eyewear;
- Push-stick. It makes it easier to safely push the material through a table saw;
- Saw guides. They guide material through a clean and straight line;
- Miter gauge system. It gives the table saw a greater speed and accuracy;
- Clamps for holding down rulers and other tools;
- Dado inserts.
Best table saws according to reviews
It is hard to choose the right table saw with all the options available, but there are just a handful of such machines that you can fully trust. Of course, any person who wants to know how to use a table saw knows that the names Makita, Bosch and DeWalt are the royalty in this domain, but there are also some other table saws like Sawstop, Jet and Grizzly which make your work better and safer.
All things considered, it is just a matter of taste and preference for certain details, because all these table saws are a great companion if you want to start renovating your house.