Table Saws – The 4 Main Types Explained

A table saw is the most common piece of large woodworking equipment found in shops around the world. Table saw are very versatile, and if you can only have one piece of woodworking equipment, a rigid table saw is probably the best one to choose. These more portable types of table saws offer versatility and ease of use with the convenience of portability.

There are four main classes of table saws: contractor saws, benchtop table saws, cabinet saws and hybrid saws. When deciding between portable and floor standing table saws, the main thing you’re trying to do is balance durability with portability. Since most portable types of equipment do not have the same durability features, they typically do not last as long as their less portable counterparts.

In the modern table saw, regardless of type, the depth of a cut is changed by adjusting the distance that the blade sticks out above the table surface. The more the blade protrudes from the table, the deeper the cut that is made in the material will be. Conversely, the less a blade protrudes from the table, the more shallow the cut that is made in the material being cut, will be.

In older table saw, altering the angle of the blade was used to increase or decrease the depth of the cut. Nowadays, there is still an adjustable angle control, but this is used merely to adjust the angle at which the material is cut, and is not used to decrease or increase the depth of cut being made.

Contractor Table Saws

They are heavy, large and come with a base or stand that often also has wheels for increased mobility. The motor hinges off the rear of a contractor table saw and drives the saw blade back and forth by a single belt that uses a 1 to 2 horsepower induction type of motor.

This type of table saw is often used by homeowners and hobbyists for the standard electrical requirements and the low cost of operation. Because the contractor table saw motor hangs off the rear of the saw on a pivot, dust collected can be a problem when compared with a cabinet saw.

Benchtop Table Saws

They are very lightweight and are designed to be operated while they sit atop a table or other level supportive surface. These types of table saws generally have a direct drive that does not involve pulleys or a v-belt to drive the saw.

One of the advantages of using a benchtop table saw are that they are very lightweight and can be moved by one person. This makes them wonderful saws for taking from place to place. The down side, however, is that these compact table saws are made from somewhat less durable material. These are the least capable as well as the least expensive models of table saws available today.

Benchtop table saws are perfectly capable of handling most cutting jobs, it’s just that they will not be able to perform as well over time, or for specific types of cutting jobs. For example, when cutting using a miter edge, a benchtop table saw may have problems keeping the miter edge straight.

Cabinet Table Saws

They are heavy and incorporate a large amount of steel and cast iron in order to increase accuracy and minimize vibration. A cabinet table saw is characterized by having a closed cabinet case and generally have induction motors in the 3 to 5 horsepower range.

Cabinet table saws typically require greater electricity usage, and most likely a 220V outlet must be installed if there is not one already. Cabinet table saws tend to have several advantages over contractor table saws. For one, there is improved dust collection on most cabinet table saws. Also, cabinet saws tend to be easier to adjust in general.

European cabinet saws tend to be more complex in design whereas the cabinet saws used in the United States, Canada and China are very much the same design that they’ve been made after since 1937. The Delta Unisaw has evolved some since 1937, yet the same basic frame style is still used today.

Hybrid Table Saws & Accessories

In addition to the four main types of table saws, there are also hybrid table saws that are designed to compete in the market with the more expensive contractor table saws while offering some of the advantages of cabinet table saws at a much lower price.

Most hybrid table saws offer an enclosed cabinet area. Some hybrid saws have cabinet-mounted trunnions and some have table-mounted trunnions. For the most part, hybrid table saws are lighter than cabinet saws and heavier than contractor saws.

There are many table saw accessories that can expand the usability of any type of table saw. There are rip fences. These may need to be replaced form time to time, but most table saws do come with a rip fence. A rip fence is the guide that cutting materials are slid along.

Another useful thing to have is a miter gauge. Miter gauges fit into miter grooves that run parallel to the plan of the blade. These miter gauges can be adjusted to different angles in order to cut mitered edges on various materials.

If you have more questions about table saws and related accessories or performance tips or problems, I found the forums at http://contractortalk.com to be very helpful and full of useful information. If you have a question about table saws, I’d post it there and see what kinds of responses you get before trying some other website.


Post time: 11-15-2017