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Table Saw Shopping Guide
The acronym of champions: DIY. Are you ready to rebuild your kitchen cabinets and give your home a little DIY pizzazz? There’s something to be said about completing your home projects, and you can’t top the feeling of telling your friends that you built and installed your beautiful kitchen cabinets yourself! Don’t let the lack of tools limit your dreams — keep that self-motivation going by picking out an efficient table saw that works as hard as you do.
Especially when you’re new to the craft, safety should be the first thing you learn about table saws. All table saws are required to have safety regulations, and their use will be thoroughly described in every manual. Two additions that can improve your safety and your project’s sharpness are anti-kickback pawls and a riving knife. You’ll see these two mentioned throughout our product notes.
Your professional woodworking skills will begin with a small vocabulary lesson:
Riving Knife: A flat piece of metal closely located to the back of the blade. This will prevent the wood pieces from pinching together once they’re cut, ultimately reducing the risk of kickback.
Anti-Kickback Pawls: Located behind the riving knife, these aggressive teeth will catch wood or other materials if they shoot back toward the operator.
While these two features are important to the safe use of your table saw, their ease of adjustment is vital to the effectiveness of your table saw. For more advanced projects like cross-cutting and dados, you may want to adjust the position of your riving knife and pawls.
Rip Capacity and Rip Fence
Rip capacity and rip fence both sound like words you’d use in skateboarding or surfing, but they’re important factors when considering your next table saw.
Rip Fence: A metal bar that runs parallel to your blade. This will help your measurement stay consistent throughout your cut so that you don’t have a 2” wide piece of lumber on one end and a skinnier .5” wide piece on the other. You want your cuts to be straight right? Well, the rip fence will make sure that happens.
Rip capacity: This is the measurement between your rip fence and your blade. For compact and worksite table saws, the rip capacity will not exceed 35”, and the average capacity sits at 24”.
The more rip capacity you have, the more space your table saw will take up in your garage or storage. The less rip capacity you have, the smaller your stock materials will need to be.
If you plan on cutting larger materials, consider the rip capacity in your decision. On the other hand, if you have a small workspace or you know you’ll be working with smaller stock, there’s no need to look for more rip capacity.
Portability for Every Worksite
Will you be transferring your table saw from site to site or will your new tool be mostly used in the garage? This can be a huge determining factor when looking at your next table saw. A table saw does not have to be lightweight to be portable. Even when weighing more, worksite table saws can come on rolling or collapsible stands to make transport simple. Take a look at the weight of each table saw and also how easily each table saw is to move.
For table saws, versatility comes in many forms. Some table saws have more beveling options, meaning they can tilt their blade to any degree at the turn of a knob. Others will have the standard beveling options, like 45 degrees, but may not have the full range. Beginners can easily complete new projects without needing a beveling angle of precisely 42.25 degrees, but if you’re looking to expand your carpentry skills, you may want to look for more beveling adjustments.
Different wood-working projects also mean different joint jigs. For instance, when building a bookshelf, you will most likely use a dado cut. To make this happen, you’ll need to use a dado blade. Check product details to ensure that the table saw is compatible with the blades you need for your project by keeping an eye on the arbor base and blade change capabilities. Typically, arbor base sizes, (the slot on the table saw where the blade is located), are ⅝”, and for general projects and broad woodworking, this should do the trick. However, if you have a blade in mind for a very specific project you want to work on, check to see the compatibility of your blade and table saw.
Table Saws Shouldn’t be Overwhelming
Whether you’re a new or experienced carpenter, the different aspects of a table saw can feel overwhelming. But, when you know exactly what you’re looking for in a table saw, you will have the power to make the right decision.
Plus, we’ve broken down the differences between our top table saw picks so you can easily compare them. Now, just envision the project that you want to accomplish so that you can find the perfect table saw to make it happen. Compare our top picks to find the table saw that will get the job done.
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