Pro Woodworking Tips.com
Table Saws - Part 2
Table saws come in different sizes and configurations. Some are designed for occasional use,
while others are designed for specific functions. With the size of the market, and the various requirements
needed by different types of end users, it has evolved into a very competitive market.
The smallest models of the group are aimed at homeowners, with the occasion need for a saw. These
are not powerful, or accurate machines. They are typically very loud, and have very small tops. The only real
plus to these units is the portability and low price. I wouldn't recommend them.
Many people wanting to get involved in woodworking are tempted to buy these saws, due to the low
price, and uncertainty that they will continue with woodworking as a hobby. This is a problem in that the saws
don't perform well and lead the user to believe that woodworking is best left to the "pros". Poor quality tools
lead to poor quality results. Spending a little more for a better quality saw can result in a much more
The next group of saws in the spectrum would be the contractors saws. These too, have evolved into
a pretty diverse group. Many are now available with stands that fold and are fitted with wheels to make them
very portable. They are generally larger than those in the previous group, have a more powerful motor, as well
having a higher level of quality. They are primarily designed to be used on job sites, by carpenters and
contractors. They are capable of producing high quality work.
Some contractors saws are very large, powerful machines. They are comparable to cabinet saws in
quality and performance. The trade off to these is the cost is higher, and they are considerably less portable.
Many contractors use these saws on larger job sites that have need for continuous use.
There is a new "breed" of saws recently being offered to the market place. They are called "hybrid"
saws. The idea behind them is to offer a saw that looks like a cabinet saw, but cost much less. These are a
scaled down version of cabinet saws. The have smaller motors, typically 1 3/4 H.P., and have lower quality
throughout. The castings are lighter, resulting in more vibration. While I've never used these saws myself, the
responses from tool suppliers is less than positive. I've watched as sales people try to steer people away from
buying them, as they feel they're not what they appear to be. Again, lesser quality tools lead to lesser quality
The next group would be cabinet saws. The Delta Unisaw and the Powermatic 66 are the most popular
of this group. These saws generally start at 3 H.P. motors, and are offered with 5 H.P. motors as well. They are
capable of very fine work. The accuracy built into them is done with cabinet and furniture makers in mind.
Instead of one or two drive belts, they have three. The castings are very heavy, to eliminate vibration. When
properly tuned, they are a pleasure to work with. The accuracy is something that you can depend on.
A perfect example of this is a friend of mine brought me a laminated cabinet door, which he bad
built an inch too big. He wanted to know if I could cut the door to the right size, without cutting the
laminate. I asked him if he wanted me to cut the glue or leave it. He thought I was kidding. The quality of
these saws will permit that kind of accuracy!
Table Saws - part one
Return To Table Saw Index