The table saw, as a power tool, is a must-have tool for modern woodworkers. In fact, it is the primary tool of woodworkers from which most woodworking jobs emanate. Of course, traditional saws still serve their purpose for some woodworkers, and they are still instrumental to the completion of some jobs.
Nevertheless, the more improved and more powerful table saws have become the very heart of modern woodworking shops. And with the table saws at hand, DIY woodworkers and contractors can breeze through their woodcutting jobs with ease and comfort.
The modern table saw (sawbench in England), as a woodworking tool, consists of a circular blade mounted on a shaft (arbor) and run by an electric motor. A table usually props up the table saw, and this table also supports the material to be cut. Out of the tabletop, the circular saw blade protrudes.
You can vary the cut’s depth by simply moving the blade down or up. The lesser the blade’s protrusion, the shallower the cut of the blade. The higher the blade’s protrusion, the deeper the cut will be. As an aspiring woodworker, it will be useful to know the different types of table saws so that you can choose the best table saw for your needed applications.
Table of Contents
- Different Table Saw Types & Categories
- Table Saws Accessories
- Motors and Drive Configurations of Table Saws
- Blades Types and Sizes
Different Table Saw Types & Categories
You will see various types of table saws in the market today. And as you shop around for the ideal table saw, you may get a bit confused upon seeing the various types of table saws. To make a wise purchase, it will help to know the following different types of table saws in the market today:
1) Bench Top Saws
If you’re looking for a compact table saw, you should consider the benchtop saw. It is light and affordable. It is designed for light-duty works you would usually engage in at your garage or small workshop. This table saw does not have transport wheels nor a stand.
This table saw is portable because it is light. You can also use it for cutting plastic, aluminum, and other composite materials. It also comes with a smaller table; however, its rip capacity is rather limited. Nevertheless, you can use it to cut some softer woods and plywood like pine.
2) Compact Table Saws
If you want to step up your woodcutting activities, you can go for a compact table saw. This table saw comes with some similar characteristics as those of the benchtop saw. It also features motors with direct drive, and it is lightweight too.
Nevertheless, it comes with extra features like a stand and a cast-iron table surface. Some of these table saws may also look like full-size table saws, though their rip capacity and tables are less than those of the full-size table saws.
3) Jobsite Table Saws
If you want something more rugged and robust than the previously discussed table saws, you can check out the Jobsite saws. Many contractors prefer this type of table saw, and for this reason, it is also called contractor table saws. Although this type of saw differs from the real contractor table saws, the two terms contractor and Jobsite table saws are often used synonymously.
Jobsite table saws can produce more precise results than the abovementioned table saws. For this reason, they are suited for heavy-duty usage. They are also equipped with better fences and better alignment adjustments.
They also have 24″ rip capacities. Besides, some Jobsite table saws feature extension tables. They also come with stands, and these stands more often fold up. These stands also more often come with transport wheels. Moreover, Jobsite table saws usually come with dust collection ports, riving knives, and onboard storage space.
4) Contractor Table Saws
The contractor table saws, or open-stand saws, are bulkier and heavier than the previously discussed types of table saws. They are larger and are attached to a base or stand. They often come with wheels. Their motors are more powerful with 1 to 2 horsepower made of 750W to 1500W induction motor type.
The motor hinges off the saw’s rear on a pivoting bracket. This motor drives the blade with one or two rubber v-belts.
Hobbyists and homeowners prefer this type of table saw because they can run it using the standard electrical system. Moreover, they are low-cost in comparison to larger saws. You can use this type of saw for larger projects.
You will find this type of saws more durable, long-lasting, and accurate than the abovementioned types of table saws. One downside of this saw lies in its dust collection. Since the motor hangs off the saw’s rear, dust collection becomes ineffective and problematic.
5) Hybrid Table Saws
Hybrid table saws are engineered to be competitive with the table saws of high-end contractors. They are equipped with the same features as the cabinet saws, and they offer the advantages provided by the cabinet saws. They are, however, less expensive than the cabinet table saws.
Hybrid table saws have an enclosed cabinet for improved dust collection. Their cabinets may be like those of the cabinet saws. Moreover, these cabinets are also equipped with a full enclosure from the floor to the tabletop. They may likewise come with a shorter cabinet propped up by legs.
Some hybrid saws also come with table-mounted trunnions, while some have cabinet-mounted trunnions. Of course, the cabinet-mounted trunnions are more flexible when it comes to adjustments.
The contractor table saws are lighter than the hybrid saws, while the cabinet saws are heavier than hybrid table saws. You will also find hybrid saws with sliding tables for improved cross-cutting capability.
These saws may also come with multiple v-belts, a serpentine belt, or a single v-belt. Moreover, they come equipped with a 1.5-hp motor or a 2-hp motor. They also run on the standard 15 or 20 amp, 120V household circuit. On the other hand, the cabinet table saw is equipped with a more powerful 3-hp motor and runs on a 240V supply.
6) Sliding Table Saws
The sliding table saw is also called the European cabinet saw. It is a traditional cabinet saw variation. It is often used for cutting large panels as well as sheets like MDF and plywood. Moreover, they come with a sliding table on its left blade’s side, and for this reason, it is also called a sliding table saw. This sliding table connects to the folding arm that is mounted under its table. This sliding door saw is utilized for ripping and crosscutting larger materials.
The sliding table saws are the largest types that you would see in the market today. They are mostly utilized by cabinet shops engaged in large production. They also have powerful motors ranging from 3 to 7 hp, 3-phase induction motors. Moreover, they usually come with a riving knife for preventing kickback.
They also sometimes come with a scoring blade. This scoring blade is a smaller blade mounted on the regular saw blade’s front. This second blade reduces splintering in some stock types, like those of the laminated ones.
The sliding table saws (European Models) usually come in multi-purpose configurations and may offer planer, jointer, boring, and shaper features. Their blade arbors usually come in 30-mm diameter and are twice as large as those of the US versions.
Many American woodworkers would use wobble dado or dado stack to cut dados. On the other hand, European woodworkers tend to use a router or shaper for a similar purpose.
7) Micro and Mini Table Saws
These table saws come with blades of about 4 inches or smaller in diameter. The mini table saws come with 4-inch diameter blades, and they are popular among building contractors who need small and portable saws.
These saws are also smaller than the typical table saws and are safer to use when cutting small pieces. They also use blades with smaller kerf than those of standard blades. With smaller kerf, they cut with less material lost and with less occurrence of kickback.
Table Saws Accessories
Every type of table saw comes with its accessories, and these accessories ensure the optimum use of a table saw. So, before choosing and buying a table saw, it will be best to know the different types of accessories for different types of table saws:
Sliding Extension Table
Sometimes you will be working with more extensive materials or stack, so you will need a table extension while cutting or ripping materials especially ripping wider boards. In such a case, you’ll need a sliding extension table. This additional workspace is an extension that you fasten to your table to extend its width for a more convenient cutting of larger wood sizes.
Dado Blade Kits
Another kit that you would surely love to tinker with is the dado blade kit. It consists of blades that run through a special dado plate. These blades let you make dados and rabbets, allowing you to make wide cuts at once. You will need to complement this kit with a unique sacrificial fence for you to make rabbet cuts.
Smooth Ripping Fence
The smooth ripping fence is a metal piece that sits on the tabletop and the slides. It sits parallel to the table saw blade to guide the wood straightly for an even cut.
Flexible Miter Gauge
A miter gauge is another tool that can assist you in holding any workpiece on the tabletop. It will hold a workpiece at a particular set angle while you cut on your table saw. You will slide it in a slot on the table or machine that you use. You can use it to make square crosscuts, angled crosscuts, make many identical cuts and accurate 45-degree cuts, and many more.
You can build a crosscut sled, and it is indeed an excellent tool to let you make fixed crosscuts. It also offers an extra safety level when using a table saw by preventing kickbacks, enabling you to make accurate and straight cuts with enough back support for stabilizing the wood while it goes near the blade.
The tenon jig is a metal or wood tool that holds the workpiece vertically to enable the table saw to cut across the wood’s end.
Motors and Drive Configurations of Table Saws
As you pry inside the various types of table saws, you will get a surprise of your life, for almost all table saws are powered by two main types of motors. So, when choosing a table saw, it will also help to consider which between these two motor styles you would choose:
Direct Drive Motors
Most benchtop and portable models of table saws utilize a direct-drive motor. This motor style has the motor directly connected to the blade. Furthermore, some think that this motor style leads to the motor’s quick wearing due to its proximity to the source of sawdust.
Nevertheless, if you take care of your table saw, this type of motor can last for many years. Most cordless and battery-powered table saws make use of brushless motors for driving the table saw blade. These table saws usually have direct-drive motors.
Belt Drive Motors
Belt drive motors are usually found in both the contractor and cabinet-style table saws. They come with a belt that channels power to the motor, allowing the saw to situate the motor a bit farther from the blade. Away from the blade, the motor is not affected so much by dust. You can also remove the motor easily with this kind of motor setup for greater portability.
Blades Types and Sizes
When it comes to blade sizes, the most common blade sizes are the 8-1/4 inches and the 10 inches blades. Most Jobsite and portable blades are 8-1/4” in diameter. This blade size is great for lighter works. Nevertheless, if you want to raise your woodcutting a notch higher, you should use the 10-inch blades.
These blades let you work efficiently on thicker stocks that may require beveling. There are also blades as large as 16 inches in diameter. These blades are used for commercial levels of works using cabinet saws. Below are several factors that you need to consider to zero in on the best type of blades:
Blade Tooth Raking and Angle
When choosing a blade type, it will be useful to know the blade’s maximum cutting speed and how it would interact with the material to be cut. If you get the right tooth configuration for any application, you will indeed get a nice and clean cut.
Blade Tooth Quantity
Blades also come in varying tooth quantities. Hence, it will be useful to note that blades with fewer teeth per inch can produce faster cuts but rougher edges. If you want a fine cut or finish, it will be best to use blades with around 80 teeth or more to produce a sanded-like finish.
It will help if you also consider the level of vibrations that a blade produces. Thus, it will be useful to pay attention to the blade’s vibration dampening feature. Remember that the more the blade is stable and not vibrating, the better and cleaner it will cut. Moreover, such a blade is quieter when in operation.
The use of the table saw comes with succinct benefits such as speed in cutting, accurate cuts, effortless cuts, and versatility when cutting. It is perfect for precise ripping and occasional cross-cutting. For this reason, the table saw is a “must-have” tool for cabinet and furniture makers.
Nevertheless, since table saws come in many types and applications, it will be best to know which table saw type befits your needs and the applications you intend to use it. It will also help know the different accessories to use with your table saw to get the optimum results from its use.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker and carpenter who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.