If you’re in the market for a new table saw for DIY woodworking projects, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the choices available. Whether you’re buying your first table saw or want to an upgrade that offers better accuracy for your woodworking projects, shopping for one is not always straightforward.
There are different categories to choose from and considerations to make before shopping. A table saw is a major purchase and will be the backbone of your woodworking projects for years to come. It has to be the right one for the job you want to do, be affordable, dependable, durable and have the right functional and safety features.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when buying a table saw:
Understand the Different Types of Table Saws
Before you make a purchase, you should understand that there are three different categories of table saws on the market.
Cabinet table saws are designed for woodworkers, carpenters or DIY hobbyists who need powerful cutting capabilities to complete woodworking projects. They are designed to be large and heavy with a heavy-duty fence, three or more horsepower motors for adequate power, and durable cast-iron parts. Due to their weight, they aren’t portable and are designed for in-shop use.
Contractor table saws are designed for portability and use on job sites. They come with a 3-4 horsepower motor, a lighter duty fence, lighter-weight construction and no cabinet. They don’t require too much space in a shop, so they are great for your home DIY woodworking projects even if you don’t have a permanent workspace set up. However, if the saws are moved around a lot, tuning can be a problem.
Hybrid saws have features of both contractor and cabinet saws. The motor is pretty much the same size as that of contractor saws. They come with a partial cabinet that contains the motor and also helps with noise reduction and dust collection. They can be tuned to achieve a high level of accuracy, yet are small and lightweight enough to be moved around in the shop.
Learning the differences between each of these table saw categories, through table saw reviews, is important when it comes to deciding which type of saw best suits your DIY woodworking projects.
Consider Your DIY Project Needs
What exactly do you plan to do with the table saw? How you intend to use it will drive your purchase, so be honest with yourself. Are you planning to build simple DIY woodwork like a bread tray or pot rack for your kitchen? Or will you be doing larger jobs, like breaking down large sheets of plywood to build kitchen cabinet or doors?
What you plan to do with your saw is by far the most important consideration to guide your purchase. If you’ll generally be ripping wood less than 1” thick or cutting joinery, a 1.75 horsepower motor of a hybrid or contractor saw would be enough. However, for more heavy-duty work like ripping thick wood, you need an industrial strength saw with at least 3 horsepower or more.
If you don’t have enough space in your shop or garage, you’ll have to omit some table saws from your shopping list or you’ll see more issues if you purchase without being thoughtful. For instance, when it comes to breaking down plywood, you need a saw with a wide rip capacity and lots of space both at the front and behind the saw.
You need a long table to the right of the saw and a long fence rail to complete your woodwork comfortably. You can opt to buy a contractor or hybrid saw on wheels to complete your projects outside when space is limited.
Table saw injuries have risen to 40,000 every year, a significant increase of 10,000 annually in the last decade. This is an indicator of how important it is to make sure that you consider the safety features provided before making a table saw purchase for DIY woodwork.
Choose features like a riving knife to prevent potential kickbacks, flesh-detection technology that stops the blade from spinning in case of an accident, push stick, magnetic switch, blade guard, slitters and others. Always check the safety features provided to be certain they’re set up correctly and functioning as expected.
Prices vary depending on brand, the type of table saw and included features. If you want the best quality saw, you should be willing to spend more for guaranteed performance and durability for years to come. On the lower end, less expensive, lower-quality table saws will require regular tuning to maintain performance. Buy the best quality you can afford.
A table saw is definitely an important investment. Due to the expense involved, it’s advisable to take your time shopping around to find the best deals on the market. Don’t forget to read customer and expert reviews of the specific type of table saw you want to buy.
Table saws are not just for professional woodworkers, carpenters or renovators. There are many DIY woodworking projects you can complete at home if you have one. So it’s important to buy the right saw for your needs so it will be a worthwhile investment.