Choosing The Perfect Table Saw – A Beginners Guide

October 2, 20140 Comments

Buying a table saw opens up a whole new level of woodworking. All previous ways you have cut materials will be dwarfed by the speed, accuracy, and let’s face it, extreme satisfaction that results from using a table saw.

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Before you take your credit card for a thrashing, here are three simple tips to ensure you get it right.

1. Know what you want it for
Sure having a hybrid saw with full dust extraction is badass, but if you work on a project for a couple of hours every second weekend, you probably won’t need to spend that much. A portable table saw or contractor saw if you are working on some large cuts will suffice.

2. Pick a model, not a brand
Sure some brands are known to be high quality, but don’t write off a brand just because you haven’t heard of it. Each individual model has its strengths and weaknesses, so analyse them on that, not just the brand. The comparison guides at http://www.tablesawchoice.com should be very helpful during this phase.

3. Try one out first
If you have never used a table saw – don’t just pick one without trying it out. Even if you can’t smash a few sheets of plywood through it to test it out, ask a mate if you can take a look at theirs, or check one out at a shop. Measure it up.

What should you actually look for in a table saw?

There are tons of features available, so if you have answered the questions above, you will have a good idea of what you want. Here are a few more things to keep an eye out for:

Quality fence
This is the one part of the machine that will frustrate the heck out of you if it isn’t good quality. Look for a fence that is heavy, and one that slides easily up and down. Bear in mind that you can get a replacement/upgrade fence for most saws.

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Blade size
Unlike the fence, it’d take a little more than a couple of minutes to change the blade size on a table saw. Take some time to consider how big you need it. It is always better to go for at least a 10” blade.

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Dust collection
It is a sad fact that most inexpensive contractor or portable table saws have a pretty poor dust collection facility. This is one thing to think seriously about though as respirable dust from woodworking can cause serious damage. If you opt for a more expensive saw with more features, expect to get a decent dust sucker with your purchase.

Weight of the saw
Of course portability is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can ruin your saw. The weight of a heavy table saw is not just because the manufacturer loves giving people hernias – it is because the weight of the saw helps to minimise vibrations. A motor with a few horsepower can give some serious vibrations, so ensure that your saw is nice and heavy, as contradictory as it sounds.

Extension wings
Having to rig up your own extensions can be a pain in the neck, so buying a quality saw with strong extensions will help you immeasurably when it comes to making those massive crosscuts.

Safety devices
Flesh sensors, magnetic off switches, foot switches and riving knives are all additions that would make your saw super safe – but expect to pay for it. These extra features normally only come on the higher range of saws.

One last final word of wisdom – don’t try and save a few bucks on power or quality of blades. A saw with plenty of grunt and a sharp blade will give you accurate cuts, less kickback, not burn the wood and not bog out when under heavy load.

Huge thanks to Mark from the “Table Saw Choice” website for writing this article. Look for more to come, in the meantime, stop by his website to checkout all things Table Saw.

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