Last Updated on 2020-11-07 by Harry Masterton
Buying a new table saw might not be as big of an investment as buying a new car, but there are easily as many options, prices, types and manufacturers to choose from. The first thing you need to do when the thought ‘What Type Of Table Saw Should I Buy’ is to measure and think carefully what your needs are.
The second is to measure what your budget is. And when you’re thinking about budget our advice is always try and stretch beyond where you are now to future proof your needs as your skills, projects and even your business grows.
Check our buying guide and review of The Best Table Saw For Woodworking. We cover the table saw best buys in the following categories. Best Table Saw Under $1000 – The Best Table Saw Under $500 – and The Best Table Budget Table Saw
From do it yourself handymen to professional contractors and cabinet maker there is a perfect fit for each. Too much saw is a waste of money, bearing in mind our advice to future proof your purchase. Not enough saw can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous.
If you like our article on what type on table saw should I buy then checkout our complete coverage (constantly updated) of the essential woodworking power tools for your shop with links to reviews for each category.
Table Of Contents
What Type Of Table Saw Should I Buy?
Check The Following Points Before You Buy
While figuring out what type of saw you're looking for, here are a few of the most obvious things to take into consideration when making your selection.
- Table Saw Abilities – Any basic table saw will allow you to make a straight and even cut on a wide variety of materials. However, some projects may require specialty blades that only fit certain sized saws. or an extended rip fence. Some jobs require portability. Differences in horsepower are important as well. You need to know what kind of work you're going to be doing.
- Table Saw Price – You can find decent basic table saws for less than $150. Or, you can spend several thousand for a new, top of the line saw with all the bells and whistles. If you're serious, do your research. Sales and price matching can save you hundreds on a new saw. Or, check the classifieds and pawn shops for deals on something used. There are plenty of bargains out there, go find them.
- Table Saw Power – Everybody wants more power, but how much do you need? A basic table saw usually has about 1.5 to 2 horse power, but extended use would be better in the 3.5 to 5 range. Especially with larger cuts of wood.
- Table Saw Quality – Quality isn't always measured by price, but it's usually a realistic guide. Cheaply manufactured tools may do the job, but won't last as long or preform as well. Most reputable makers will back up their product with a good warranty. When buying used, look it over closely. You can usually tell when machines have been poorly taken care of.
- Table Saw Accessories – From laser guides to dust collectors, there are many extras for just about any type of saws you're looking at. Many of them can be very handy. Remember, they all cost extra. Don't get talked into a bunch of stuff that you don't really need.
- Your Woodworking Shop size. – Are you looking to fit a table saw in a small woodworking shop? Is that’s the case then a compact saw or a job-site saw that can be moved and stored is going to be a better option when you think about ‘what type of table saw should I buy’.
Those are the basics of what to watch for when saw shopping. Now, let's look at the particulars of each type of table saw to decide which one you are going to be shopping for. There a small handful of specialty saws that could probably fit onto this list, but we're just going to look at the 5 most common choices available.
What Type Of Table Saw Should I Buy? Saw Types
Compact table saw
The primary purpose of a compact table saw is to be portable. When you need a full sized saw at a job site where it has to be moved constantly, a light weight saw is essential. Some of the lightest saws can weigh as little as 50 lbs., although the average is around 100 lbs. They are designed to be set on any flat surface, including portable stands that can be bought separately or table tops. Usually considered light weight and reasonably priced, they are a common choice for many home-handymen.
Job site table saw
Portability is still a key issue with the job site table saw. A folding, or scissor style stand is attached to the base, often with wheels. This gives the saw a steadier foundation while still allowing plenty of mobility at the job site. A step up in power and accuracy over the compact saw is also expected. It can also be a good choice for someone who has a limited amount of space in his workshop.>
Contractor table saw
The next step up in price, function and size is the contractor table saw. Stationary by design, it gives the user a very stable platform for doing precision wood working. Moderately priced compared to the cabinet table saw, it is a good practical choice for a lot of amateur carpenters. The only downside is that it is the low end of the stationary saws. The working parts are not of the same quality as the high end machines.
Cabinet table saw
This is the big one. This is the one that most of the pros use. Solidly built, the motor is completely encased inside of the cabinet. Most often running on a 240 volt outlet, the motors are built to run strong and smooth all day, every day. A large surface area with accurate rip fences allow for professional level precision and speed. Cast iron is used in many of the parts. Some can weigh over 600 pounds, so put it some place it's going to stay for a while.
Hybrid table saw
This one is slightly out of order on our bottom to top list, but still has a legitimate place in line. The hybrid table saw actually fits somewhere in between the contractor saw and the more expensive cabinet saw. Like the contractor saw, it too is stationary. However, the belt driven motor is housed inside like a cabinet saw. Many of the components are made from superior materials as well, making it a less expensive version of the cabinet saw, or a sturdier version of the contractor saw.
Those are the basics. If there were just one answer to the question ‘What Type Of Table Saw Should I Buy’ it would be easy.
The challenge is, there's a different answer for each woodworker and each woodworking shop. If you want to be happy with your choice of table saw for a long time, you're going to have to ask yourself a few questions. How much saw do I need? How much saw can I afford? How much saw can I handle? How much saw do I have room for?
Ask those questions and hopefully you’ll find the answer to your question ‘What Type Of Table Saw Should I Buy’