- Best Benchtop Table Saw
- Best Budget Table Saw
- Best Contractor's Table Saw
- Best Portable Table Saw
- Best Hybrid Table Saw
Best Table Saw
If a guy’s only going to have one shop tool in his workshop, it’s going to be a table saw. While other stationary power tools are useful, a table saw is all but indispensible. Oh, you can do many of the cuts that people use a table saw for with a circular saw, but you can’t do them with anywhere near the accuracy; especially if you’re trying to get a straight cut.
The table saw is a very versatile tool. Although designed predominantly for ripping wood, it can also be used for crosscutting and miter cuts. All of them come with both a fence for ripping and a miter gauge for crosscutting and miter cuts.
Some people pooh-pooh the table saw’s ability to do accurate crosscutting, but I’d beg to differ with them. I won’t argue that it’s easier to do accurate crosscuts with a miter saw or radial arm saw, but I’ve done miter cuts accurately enough on a table saw, to be able to make picture frames with expensive moldings. That requires a level of accuracy that’s hard to meet with any tool.
If you do a lot of miter cutting on your table saw, you may want to consider investing in a quality aftermarket miter gauge. Even the best of table saws have rather simple miter gauges. However, there are some excellent after-market models around, most of which are much larger and much more accurate than the typical manufacturer's miter gauge.
Like many tools, table saws have evolved through the years. Today’s saws have many improvements over the saw that my daddy taught me on. They also tend to be more accurate, which is extremely important if you are doing any sort of cabinet work.
Before looking for a table saw, you really have to decide what you want to use it for. If you don’t need that large rip capacity, then there’s really no reason to pay for it. On the other hand, buying a small saw, which doesn’t have the capacity you need, will leave you frustrated, and probably set you up for buying a larger saw later.
Take a look at our buyer's guide on table saws below, before looking at the lists of reviews we have prepared for you. This will give you a much better idea of the various saws out there and what you should be looking for in them.
Best Benchtop Table Saw:
Benchtop table saws have been largely replaced by contractor’s jobsite saws. Either way, the idea is to have a small table saw which can be carried around and set up where needed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a contractor taking the saw to a jobsite, or a homeowner with limited workshop space, these models combine portability with ease of storage.
Even though these saws are small, their capability isn’t. In many cases, the motor size is the same as a contractor’s shop saw, making them ideal for cutting all types of materials. What’s really smaller is the table which becomes the limiting factor. An important thing to look at with these saws is their maximum rip capacity. The biggest of this group will allow you to rip a sheet of plywood down the center, lengthwise. Not all of them can do that though, so be sure to check the saw’s rip capability if that’s something that you need.
A few of the saws come with fence extensions, typically referred to as “table extensions”, a feature I think is great. While a fence extension doesn’t provide extra support for the wood you are cutting, it does provide a wider saw capacity in a compact size. Considering the category of table saw that we are talking about here, that’s an important feature.
Most of these have on-board accessory storage, which is a nice feature to have, especially if you’re storing your saw in a closet or the garage. That way, when you grab your saw, you’ve got everything you need, not just the saw.
Like any table saw, the key to these is a good fence and good bearings on the blade arbor. If the fence doesn’t line up exactly parallel to the blade, you end up with a poor cut with blade marks and may not be even. Manufacturers realize this and put a lot of effort into making fences that lock perpendicular to the table, but due to the size of the saw, the T part of the fence is smaller; this means you have to take more care with fence alignment. As long as you’re careful, they’ll lock in place exactly parallel to the blade.
Another feature that we’re seeing a lot these days is a modular blade guard system. The blade guard, kickback pawls and riving knife all feature easy, tool less removal so whichever combination can be used as needed. This is especially nice for those of us who think that the blade guard gets in the way a lot. Instead of just removing it and leaving it off, we can use it when it’s most convenient
I would take any of the saws on the list and each of them made it here for different reasons, so saying one is better than another is a bit difficult. All of them are excellent tools, which should provide you with years of faithful service.
The Bosch GTS1031 has to be the most portable of all portable table saws. The well balanced design allows this saw to be carried one-handed and even stored on edge to take up less space. Read Full Review
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DeWalt's jobsite saw is almost as compact as the Bosch, although it takes two hands to carry it. The rack-and-pinion fence works very well, especially when adjusting it towards the right.This upgraded model adds 4-1/2-inches of cutting width, allowing you to rip a sheet of plywood right down the middle. Read Full Review
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Makita's conpact table saw is more like the old benchtop saws, albeit with some improvements. The best thing about this one is that it has a 25-inch rip capacity. Read Full Review
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This saw is a beast at almost 100 pounds, making it the biggest pick on our list. Like the Makita, it has a 25-inch rip capacity but it also adds a rear table extension to support the material. Read Full Review
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Best Budget Table Saw:
Every woodworker I’ve ever met dreams about having a big cabinet saw in their shops. But, for most of us, our budget and our desires don’t live in the same state, let alone within the same ball park. For most of us, buying tools is a matter of making compromises; trying to either find the cheapest option that will do what we need, or the most tool we can get for our money.
I’ve worked for years without a table saw, using my venerable Craftsman radial arm saw instead. I’ve always known that it really wasn’t the saw for ripping or cutting dadoes, and I’ve ruined more than one piece of wood using it that way. But, the budget monster just didn’t let me feel free to spend even a couple hundred bucks for a used table saw, at least not until my wife started pestering me about building the island in the kitchen. To do that, I wasn’t going to be able to use just my radial arm saw.
While I salivated over the idea of buying a cabinet saw, or even a hybrid, I still couldn’t afford them. So, I had to look at more reasonably priced saws. To my surprise, there are a few descent, low dollar table saws out there, which will give you good service.
The main criterion I used for my search was the maximum rip width. Many job site saws and tabletop models have narrow rip capabilities and to me, a table saw needs to have a minimum of 24.5-inches of rip capability. That allows you to split a sheet of plywood neatly, even though you can’t do much about ripping it in half the other direction.
While I’ve always said that the most important part of any table saw is the fence, there’s no way to count on getting a good fence at the price range that I established (under $300). Good fences are precision instruments, and cost quite a bit to build. For any inexpensive table saw, you’re going to have to work with the fence, aligning it yourself with the saw blade for every cut. If you take the time to do this, you can still get descent cuts out of them.
Pretty much all of the saws I looked at had descent power and 15 amp motors seem to be the standard. That’s enough for almost any task if you have a little bit of patience. Just be sure to push the wood through slowly if cutting anything thick or using a dado blade.
These saws also come with a stand and all the expected accessories. Many models today have on-tool storage for the accessories which is a nice feature to have, especially if you’re prone to losing things in your shop.
One thing you have to keep in mind, when looking at budget tools, is that you're not going to get the same level of precision and performance out of them that you get out of high dollar tools. It's really not fair to compare a $300 table saw to a $900 table saw as the higher cost model will usually win out. However, I find a lot of people reviewing low dollar tools as if they were high dollar ones. If you find a negative review on one of these saws, it probably means that the person who bought it was expecting to get $900 worth of saw for $300.
Craftsman did a really nice job on this saw by putting together a great package for the price. It has extensions on both sides, providing 24-inches of cutting capacity to both sides of the blades, along with an outfeed support. Read Full Review
This table saw has to be the best value for the money. It has a 30-inch rip capacity to the right of the fence, the largest size I've seen on any budget, job-site or benchtop saw. Read Full Review
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Craftsman has come out with some very nice low-dollar tools in their Evolv line. This 10-inch table saw has all the power you need for cutting dimensional lumber or plywood. The only thing I'd fault it on is the rip capacity, which is smaller than 24-inches. Read Full Review
Although not advertised as a job-site saw, this one could easily be used that way. Between the light weight, collapsible stand and on-board storage for everything, it's easy to take this saw with you to work wherever you need to. Read Full Review
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Best Contractor's Table Saw:
Table saws are the most common shop saw on the market with many a home workshop containing one, even if it doesn’t have any other large power tools; it’s the most versatile type of woodworking saw there is. While it may not be the best at mitering, it can make miter cuts; and while it may not be the best at re-sawing, it can do that as well in a limited way. However, the real strength of a table saw is for cutting plywood, the handyman’s favorite material.
There is no other type of power saw that works better for cutting sheet goods, like plywood and oriented strand-board (OSB) than a table saw. The saw’s fence allows it to make long, straight cuts, so plywood and other sheet goods can be cut for making cabinets, furniture, and other projects.
Table saws are broken down into three categories: cabinet saws, contractor’s saws, and job-site table saws. Contractor’s saws fill the middle position in this grouping, being somewhat good for cabinet work and somewhat portable…if you consider needing two guys to get it in the back of a truck portable. However, they don’t have the large table extensions of a true cabinet saw or the light weight and collapsible stand that a job-site saw would have. They are designed for the contractor to use in their shop.
Since these saws are intended for cutting sheet goods accurately, the most important part of them is the relationship between the blade, table and fence. If the fence is not absolutely straight and parallel to the blade, there’s no way to make a precise cut. Most saws have some adjustment in the motor and spindle, to allow aligning them to the fence. However, if the fence doesn’t lock down perpendicular to the table, then all bets are off. So, the fence is actually the most important part.
Additionally, the size and quality of the saws motor is important, along with the spindle bearings. A saw with too weak a motor won’t cut through material without bogging down, potentially causing more tooling marks in the cut, burns in the edge of the wood, and even ruining a piece of material. If the blade spindle isn’t mounted on good bearings, it will wobble, causing tooling marks in the cut as well.
All table saws come with blade height adjustments, angle of cut adjustment up to 45 degrees and blade guards. They also come with a miter gauge for making mitered joints, even though the table saw really isn’t all that good at that. One nice thing some models also feature is table extensions to more fully support a full sheet of plywood.
Besides being the safest model on the market, this table saw has a lot of features. The whole saw is designed to provide the contractor with cabinet saw quality, at a much lower price. Everything from the belt drive to the dust collection is really well designed, providing anyone excellent performance. Read Full Review
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This saw has just about everything the SawStop model does, with the exception of the latter’s safety features. The large size and cast-iron table mean you can crosscut a full sheet of plywood right down the middle. A really solid fence and T-slotted miter gauge help make accurate cuts. Read Full Review
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Powermatic's fence rails are two inches shorter than the others we've looked at, but you can still crosscut a sheet of plywood right down the middle. The really great thing about this saw is the miter gauge, which I think is probably the best one I've seen on any table saw. Read Full Review
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I'm a big fan of Delta's Unisaw. While this contractor's table saw isn't quite as good, it has a lot of the same quality of design and construction found in its big brother. Read Full Review
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Grizzly has put their arbor and trunnions on two steel rods, allowing them to raise and lower vertically, instead of rotating around a pivot point. This allows everything to raise and lower with the saw blade, ensuring consistent performance at any height. Read Full Review
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Best Portable Table Saw:
If you’re going to have any sort of a shop saw, chances are it’s going to be a table saw. By and large, table saws are considered the most versatile woodworker’s saw around. While they’re not perfect for everything, there are certain things which they do very well, especially allowing you to cut sheet goods accurately.
There are three basic types of table saws on the market; cabinet saws, contractor saws, and portable saws. Cabinet saws are designed for maximum accuracy, so that hardwood plywood can be cut to the various sizes needed when building kitchen cabinets. They’re also the largest, allowing them to support a whole sheet of plywood while cutting. Many have extensions just for this purpose. Contractor saws are smaller versions of the same thing, without the large table extensions.
Today’s portable table saws are compact units with big capabilities. They’re designed with collapsible wheeled stands, allowing ease of movement, while many of the better ones have table extensions which allow them to be used for cutting sheet materials accurately. These tools are designed to be very flexible, with modular blade guard systems and on-board storage for the fence and miter gauge.
There are several factors in choosing a good table saw. First of all, the blade needs to be set exactly perpendicular to the table and the direction of travel of the wood. More than anything, this affects the quality of the cut, whether or not a lot of blade marks are visible. Higher quality saws have adjustments for this, and you’d better count on having to adjust it out of the box. While some ship already well adjusted, that’s pretty rare.
The next most important thing is the fence. Three are a lot of fence designs out there, but the important things about the fence are its ease of adjustment and its ability to maintain itself exactly perpendicular to the table. Otherwise, you end up with tapered cuts when you don’t want them.
I’m very picky about the quality of the fence on a table saw because that’s something you have to live with. You really can’t adjust for it and you really can’t improve on it. The best table saw in the world with a crummy fence is basically garbage. On the other hand, a mediocre saw with a superb fence can make incredibly accurate cuts.
Speaking of fences, on portable table saws, the maximum distance between the fence and the blade is a major issue. Sheet goods come in 48-inch width, so you ideally want at least 24-inches of rip capability between the blade and the fence, otherwise, you can’t rip a sheet of plywood in half.
This saw has a lot of good features going for it. The fence is probably the most rigid in the market, helping you get the cuts right where you want them. The stand is truly amazing, allowing you to set up in about five seconds. Read Full Review
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The rack and pinion fence on this saw is excellent. With an electronic soft start and speed control, you don't have to worry about the motor messing up and making poor cuts. A good all around design. Read Full Review
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The tool-free blade change on this saw is truly unique. It's also got a really great fence, with a rack and pinion mechanism that keeps it properly aligned. A little work on the fence can make it even better. Read Full Review
This little saw is extremely rugged, designed to take a beating. It's well balanced, allowing you true one-handed capability. Even so, everything stows on-board, making for a nice compact package, which will stand on end to take up even less space. Read Full Review
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Best Hybrid Table Saw:
Hybrid table saws are a relatively new arrival on the scene. Before their introduction, the jump from a contractor’s table saw to a cabinet saw was enormous, both in price and capability. Recognizing this, manufacturers have taken steps to close the gap, providing homeowners and do-it-yourselfers with a mid-grade table saw that has some of the benefits of a cabinet saw, without as high of a price.
Different people describe hybrid saws in different ways, including calling them a “light-duty cabinet saw”. However, the key thing in understanding them is determining what they give you for the money.
Table saws of any type are primarily designed for ripping lumber and it doesn’t matter whether you’re using it for a 1-inch by 4-inch into thin strips for a crafts project or a sheet of plywood; it’s still ripping. Since that’s the saws main purpose, I’ve always said the key component of any table saw is the fence. The more stable the fence is able to maintain itself exactly parallel to the blade, the better the saw.
Hybrid saws typically have fences more akin to ones found on cabinet saws than those on contractor’s saws and to me, that’s a great advantage. The biggest difference is the T-bar that aligns the fence with the rail. On cabinet saws, this part of the fence is more robust and longer, allowing it to better keep the fence aligned. At the same time the fence itself is more robust and less prone to flexing.
Hybrid saws also typically have larger tables than those found on contractor’s saws, although not as big as those found on many cabinet saws. The larger table helps to keep the plywood lying flat, making it easier to ensure the cut is exactly perpendicular to the face of the wood.
These saws also have larger motors than those found on contractor’s saws, although not as large as those found on a cabinet saw. A cabinet saw motor will typically be 220 volts and provide about 3 HP. By comparison, a hybrid table saw will have one that’s about 1.75 HP, running off of 110 volts. This eliminates the need for special wiring in your shop to set the saw up. The larger motor used in a cabinet saw requires three drive belts, while the hybrid saw uses one wide micro-V belt.
Contractor’s saws don’t use any belts between the motor and the blade arbor. In most cases, the motor shaft is also the arbor. By using a belt drive for the hybrid saw, manufacturers have made a nice compromise.
Speaking motors, this is the other place where you find a big difference between a cabinet saw and a hybrid saw. Hybrids use the same type of trunnion as contractor’s saws, which attaches to the bottom of the table. In contrast, cabinet saws have the motor trunnion attached to the cabinet, totally separate of the table.
I have to admit, it's hard to pick a best in this category. All of the saws on this list are excellent and I'd be more than happy to have any of them in my workshop.
I picked this saw from Shop Fox over the others for a combination of the table size and motor size. The larger motor and larger table on this saw give you a distinct advantage when using it. Read Full Review
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Grizzly provides top-quality products at a very reasonable price. This saw is almost identical to the Shop Fox I picked as number one. However, it has one main difference as its several hundred dollars cheaper. Read Full Review
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For the flattest, smoothest table possible, Steel City has put a granite table on this saw. It will give you precise, smooth cuts all the way. Read Full Review
Jet makes a wide range of table saws. This hybrid provides excellent service, in a contractor style saw. The fence is the same one they put on their heavier cabinet saws. Read Full Review
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The first thing that stands out on this table saw is that it’s actually polished, not just ground. That provides a glimpse of the quality that's built into it, not to mention a very smooth surface to reduce friction. Read Full Review
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Table Saw Buyer's Guide
Most woodworkers consider the table saw the most universal shop saw there is. Personally, I think the radial arm saw is a more universal option, but that opinion is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Radial arm saws are dying out, having been mostly replaced by power miter saws, especially sliding miter saws.
The main advantage the table saw has over any other saw is size. That makes it possible to accurately cut sheet goods like plywood. If you've ever tried to cut a sheet of plywood in half with a circular saw, you know how hard it is to make that a straight cut.
Other than cutting sheet goods, the table saw's main function is ripping. Properly adjusted and properly used, any table saw should be able to rip a 1/16” slice off of a hardwood board and have that slice stay together. If the saw blade and fence are exactly parallel, the blade isn’t wobbling, and the table is flat, you can make that cut repeatedly every time.
Table Saw Types
There are a myriad of tables saws on the market, probably more than any other stationary woodworking tool. Part of the reason for so many different options is that they vary extensively in size and purpose. Building contractors can't carry a cabinet saw onto a jobsite effectively and cabinet makers can't get the accurate cuts they need in sheet goods out of a small portable unit.
Benchtop Table Saw
These are the smallest of all table saws, predominantly designed for use on-site by building contractors. While compact, the saws that we have chosen aren't cheap by any means. They are quality tools intended to provide accurate cuts. The only drawback is the small table and short fence make ripping sheet goods accurately very difficult.
Portable Table Saw
Portable tables saws are also designed for building contractors when a larger saw is needed. These are slightly larger than the benchtop models which help to overcome the problems caused by small tables. Most come with an integral cart/stand so they can be moved
on-site by one person and set up for use.
Budget Table Saw
The same size as the portable and benchtop units, budget saws are ideal for the homeowner doesn't use their saw all the time. These are intended to be fixed saws which come with a stand, although in some cases the stand is collapsible for storage. The one drawback to these saws is the table and fence aren't as well made as on higher cost saws; this means the saw may not cut as accurately.
Contractor's Table Saw
The contractors saw differs from the portable saw in that it’s a shop saw rather than one intended for a jobsite as they have permanent bases and larger tables. This provides greater accuracy, especially when cutting larger pieces. A contractor saw is an excellent choice for the serious woodworker to have in their home workshop, striking a balance between quality and price.
Hybrid Table Saw
Hybrid saws are a newer addition to the lineup, designed for those who want a cabinet saw, but can't really afford one. They typically have a larger motor than contractor's saws, better bearings, as well as a larger, heavier table and fence which provide for more accuracy. However, they are not as large as a true cabinet saw.
The cabinet saw (which we don't have a review list for) is the most expensive category of table saw. These saws are extremely large, with table extensions to the side and back of the saw. They also have large motors with heavy-duty bearings to eliminate wobble or vibration. These features optimize the cabinet saw for cutting sheet goods perfectly straight without waste.
What to Look For in a Table Saw
Of course, the first consideration when looking at a table saw is the intended use. If you are going to be using it for a lot of projects at remote locations, then it doesn't make sense to look at a stationary saw. You also need to take into consideration the amount of space you have to store the saw, as these saws can use up your workshop space quickly.
While there are several important things needed to make a table saw “good,” most of these have to do with the saw’s accuracy. This is determined by three things:
- The flatness of the table
- The mounting and adjustment of the motor and blade arbor
- The quality of the fence
The major difference between different table saws is how easy it is to make that accurate cut. A higher quality fence will lock in place well, exactly perpendicular to the fence rail and parallel to the blade. A lot of what you’re paying for in a more expensive saw is the ease in which you can get the fence adjusted exactly parallel to the saw blade. With low cost saws, it depends on you, with high dollar one, the fence does the work for you.
When I am looking at a table saw, the one thing I focus on is the fence. This is the single most critical piece of the saw, and how well it is made will tell you a lot about the rest of the saw. A fence that slides smoothly and locks in place accurately will provide the most accurate cuts. If a manufacturer has gone through the pains of making the fence that good, you can rest assured that they have done a good job on the rest of the saw.
The material and flatness of the table affect how easily the workpiece slides across the table, helping to make an accurate cut. This is also very important if you are using hardwood plywood, as you don't want to have the saw mar the surface of your workpiece.
Another important difference in different saws is how large a rip you can make in sheet goods, like a sheet of plywood. If a table saw has a 24” rip capacity to the right of the blade, then you can make any width rip in a 4’x 8’ sheet of plywood that you want, ripping it the long way. If it has a 48” capacity, you can make any width rip you want in that same sheet of plywood, ripping it the wide way. Cabinet saws often have this capability, as it is commonly needed in a cabinet shop, but contractor’s saws usually don’t. Of course, having that extra capability is expensive.