7 Best Table Saws | March 2017
- easy-to-adjust blade height
- professional-grade hardware
- some assembly required
- 1-year warranty included
- tool-less modular blade guard system
- stowable anti-kickback pawls
- smooth 15-amp motor
- weighs just 45 pounds
- telescoping fence rails
- mighty 3-horsepower motor
- 52-inch t-glide fence
- top-quality construction
Getting A Great Table Saw
A table saw is a powerful tool that makes short work of even large pieces of lumber, allowing you to make rip cuts down the grain of boards, beams, and even entire sheets of plywood. No carpentry shop or professional construction site is complete without a table saw. Deciding which saw is best suited to a given home workshop, furniture production factory, or building site is an important decision and merits careful consideration.
The obvious starting point for an analysis of which saw is best suited to the needs of a given person (or company, school workshop, and so forth) is the budget at hand. Even the most affordable table saws of a quality meriting serious consideration cost more than two hundred dollars; such units are small but still capable of many tasks. The top of the line table saws come with price tags topping out at well over three thousand dollars and can handle almost any lumber you would ever need cut and then some; more often than not these mighty saws are more tool than needed, so to speak.
But with top quality saws come features that some people may find well worth the extra investment, substantial though it may be, and thus our discussion starts with pricier models. At the top price range for table saws, you can often get a saw with safety technology that will automatically halt its blade the instant it encounters human flesh. (The process literally takes but a few milliseconds.) The knowledge that your fingers and hands are safe from major injury caused by a rapidly rotating, razor sharp blade is more than convincing enough for many people to invest in these technologically marvelous table saws.
However, with proper use (see below), table saws are generally safe tools, advanced blade stopping technology not needed. Therefore considering a saw without such safety features is fine for the cautious DIY user or for the professional carpenter and/or builder. Take into careful account the actual table size of the table saw you are considering. If you are going to be completing rip cuts in large sheets of ply wood, then you need a saw with a table large enough to support these big pieces of lumber.
For ripping beams and cutting smaller sheets of wood, a smaller table saw is the smart move. When you can easily move a table saw around a work site, it means less time and effort spent moving around heavy piles of lumber and more time actually cutting the wood into the size you need.
And no matter the size of your prospective table saw, make sure it features an easily adjustable fence so you can quickly alter its position to accommodate various sizes of lumber.
The Basics Of Table Saw Use And Safety
The first step to take when using a table saw is to don all the appropriate safety gear a responsible operator should use. This includes, at the bare minimum, eye protection and thick work gloves. It's also a good idea to protect your ears with ear muffs or earplugs and to consider a mask that will cover your mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of fine saw dust particles.
While your table saw is unplugged, take the time to clear and clean the work surface, removing any debris that could negatively impact the smooth path of the wood you will be cutting. Then lower or raise the blade to where the blade gullet (the curved section between each blade tooth) is equal with the top of the piece of wood to be cut. Also make sure that your saw's dust exhaust port is clear and open and that a bag is in place to catch excess sawdust.
Make sure the table saw's fence is in the proper position and is locked securely, and then place the lumber to be ripped near the blade but without any contact. It's now time to power up your saw.
Move the wood to and then "through" the spinning saw blade slowly and steadily. It's alright to use your hands while you're still at least a foot or so from the blade, but once the end of the board or sheet nears the blade, you should use a pushing stick to keep the wood moving and to keep your fingers away from the blade. Even an experienced carpenter can have a lapse in concentration or a slip that can lead to serious injury.
And as your board nears the end of its cut, watch out for the kickback that can occur when a table saw sends a section of wood flying back at the operator. You can keep a pushing stick firmly held against the wood to reduce the risk of a kickback, but also try to stand aside from the potential "flight path" in case the wood gets away from you anyway.
A Brief History Of The Table Saw
For centuries, the job of the sawyer was, quite simply, to saw logs into lumber. Working in two man teams, a pair of sawyers would use massive saws -- called whipsaws or pitsaws -- to cut felled trees into workable planks with their own muscles as the motive power. The job was exhausting and often dangerous, yet necessary to create the precious lumber used to build everything from homes to railroad bridges.
By the late 18th Century, a new tool had been created that would eventually have the sawyers out of work: the circular saw. These early rotating saws were powered by a range of different forces, often including running water or wind, and sometimes driven by animal power. By the early 1800s, the sawmill was replacing the saw pit and its hardworking manual sawyers.
The advent of ever better motive power that came with 19th Century developments led to ever more efficient and ever more compact power saws. The first recognizably modern table saws date to the latter decades of that century, and with compact and powerful electric motors developed and refined thought the 20th century, soon tables saws were widely available that were both compact enough for home use yet powerful enough for nearly any lumber ripping task.