The 10″ table saw is the most popular piece of woodworking equipment most woodworking shops have. Today when you buy a 10″ table saw you have quite a few choices from hybrid table saws, contractor saws, cabinet table saws and even portable table saws (also known as bench top table saws). While you can buy some of the benchtop or portable saws in different sizes, the 10″ table saw blade is by far the most popular. These machines can definitely increase your productivity and increase the accuracy of the cuts at the same time.
Table saws can be expensive. A small bench top model may cost less than $200 but a full featured table saw with a good fence like a Biesemeyer table saw fence may run over $3000. And shop owners don’t balk at spending that kind of money because they know they will get a excellent return on their table saw investment.
So what is the best table saw? Or maybe you want to have a variety to select from so you want to know what are the best table saws. Most people start out doing searches for a table saw review on the model they are considering. You should be a little sceptical of some of the so called table saw reviews in some of the popular industry magazines. I contend that the high advertising budgets spent by table saw manufacturers sometimes cause the magazines to “overlook” some of the things that may prove to be a real nuisance when using the saws.
Probably one of the most important considerations should depend on how much room you have for a table saw. If you work in a really small shop (like a converted single car garage) then you may not have room to place and efficiently use a large table saw with a nice big outboard table. That might be your dream 10″ table saw but it may not work in your situation.
If you are not doing commercial or production work and are a hobbyist, then a smaller table saw like a contractor saw may be your best choice.
Of course the capabilities of the table saw’s cutting capacity may be a factor if you need to cut heavy thick wood. Just because your 10″ table saw has the ‘capacity’ to cut through lumber as thick as you want, it does not mean it will have the power to cut through that lumber.
After size, then power and accuracy are the next two important things you should consider. To really get the power you need you may have to opt for a table saw that requires 220VAC instead of the normal 120VAC. That may mean extra expenses if you have to have a 220VAC circuit installed in your shop. If you do already have 220VAC available, then you can look at the specifications and you will find that many of the popular models are capable of operating on either 120VAC or 220VAC. You will have to rewire the motor but the operator’s manual will explain how to do it.
Accuracy cannot be over stated. Some saws are excellent but they come with mediocre table saw fences. The fence may not hold alignment parallel to the blade over a period of time and your accuracy will suffer. Some fences are simply not strong enough to handle long heavy lumber and they get “pushed” away from the blade causing poor cuts. Be sure to check on the fence that comes with your 10″ table saw and if your pocket book and budget can handle it I would recommend upgrading to a Biesemeyer fence.
From my own personal experience, I can attest to how big a difference a high quality table saw fence can make. The time saved alone is worth the extra expense over the long run not even mentioning the amount of aggravation you will save with a nice high quality table saw fence.
One important factor that is not mentioned is just how well the dust collection system works with the table saw. Just because the saw comes with a large dust collection port does not mean that the dust will actually be sucked into the port. My current table saw has a 5″ dust port which I connect to a very powerful dust collection system and it still throws sawdust in my face as I’m cutting lumber. Even using a zero insert in the saw doesn’t help that much.
Next you may want to take a look at the table saw extension wings. Are they truly flat with the rest of the table? How stout are they? I’ve had extension wings that I thought were plenty strong flex under the weight of some large panel stock and end up with slight angle cuts instead of the 90 degrees I wanted. Not a problem unless you need to glue the joints together. At that point you have a real problem.
The amount you pay for your table saw will most likely be more than you will pay for any other machine in your shop so do your homework. And be sure the features you are buying are really important. I tell a story about my wife spending a lot of money for a washing machine years ago. When I asked her why she spent that much money she said the salesman showed her how you could literally tie your clothes in a knot and the washing machine would actually untie the knots. Wow! All I sad was “Honey we don’t tie our clothes in knots before we put them in the washer.”
So if someone shows you how smooth a table saw runs by balancing a nickel on its edge with the table saw running, ask yourself if that is a feature you need and will help you make better cuts or is it a nice visual salesman ploy/marketing gimmick?
Know what’s important, know what features are “must haves” and anything else is just a bonus. And if you can balance a nickel on edge with the saw running you can certainly impress your friends. Although I don’t think your customers will care one way or another.