Table saws are versatile woodcutting tools that let you make fine and precision angled cuts. They are worth investing in if you’re a woodworker or DIYer looking to build some wooden structure from the ground up.
In this article, we’re bringing you the various types of table saw, their strengths, and drawbacks.
So you will know which type is best for the job at hand, and how much you might pay for a model.
6 Different Types Of Table Saws
Table saws fall under two major categories- portable table saws and stationary table saws. And still, each category has different types of table saws. Here we shall look at the table saws that fall under each category.
Portable Table Saws
Portable table saws are always lighter and smaller than their stationary counterparts. That’s because the use of heavier and sturdier materials is minimal in their designs. Also, their motor power doesn’t exceed 2HP.
They use 15-Amp, 120V motors that are smaller and less powerful than the ones you would find on stationary table saws. Also, portable table saws use a direct drive mechanism which helps to reduce their size.
But still, they are a great option for users looking for portability in a woodcutting tool.
1. Benchtop Table Saws
These are the most lightweight table saws you can find on the market. You can easily carry them from one place to another effortlessly. Their design forces you to put them on top of a table or other support for optimal operation hence the name “Benchtop” table saws.
They use a direct drive mechanism where the motor directly drives the blade and this helps give them their smaller size. Modern benchtop table saws use universal motors to operate. You can run them on either AC or DC electrical power.
Even though the universal motors are more powerful than the induction motors that were previously used, they aren’t as durable or quieter than the latter. Some of the materials you can expect to find on a benchtop table saw are aluminum or plastic.
Benchtop table saws are the least expensive models on the market. Their price is very affordable. But with that price range comes a few downsides. First, their tops are narrow, reducing the width of the stock you can rip.
Since their tops are smaller from front to rear, you will have a shorter rip fence. This will make it harder for you to have a clean, straight cut when you’re ripping. Also, the shorter distance between the front top edge and the blade makes it more difficult to make crosscut operations.
But they still provide sufficient power to cut most wood materials for homeowners and DIYers.
2. Jobsite Table Saws
Comparing them with benchtop saws, Jobsite table saws are slightly larger. For optimal operation, you will have to place them on top of a folding or stationary stand.
This makes them ideal for professionals such as carpenters, contractors or tradesmen.
Putting them on folding stands with wheels improves their portability significantly, which means you can always transport them from one location to another on the jobsite. You can always find materials of better quality on these tables saws.
Therefore, they are more long-lasting than benchtop table saws. Besides, their build is more rugged for improved performance and durability. In terms of tabletop size, they have larger table surfaces. As such, they have a better ripping capacity.
A larger tabletop means you will have a longer fence for improved ripping capacity. The fence is also more sturdy and dependable, giving these models an edge over their benchtop counterparts.
When it comes to the price range, you will have to spend a bit more to acquire one of these models. And just like benchtop saws, they use 15-Amp universal motors to run their blade only that theirs is a more powerful version. Some better Jobsite saws have a gear-driven motor for more power.
Their miter slot is 3/4-inch which produces finer cuts. If you combine that miter slot with their better fence, larger grip capacities, sliding extension cables and improved overall alignment, you will have unmatched performance in this category. Besides, these saws come with a riving knife and dust collection port.
3. Compact Table Saws
These table saw types are larger than both benchtop and jobsite table saw units. Unlike jobsite saws that sit on portable folding stands with wheels, these models sit on stationary stands, which means their portability is limited.
They also use universal motors that adapt of varying electrical power currents. You can power them using either DC or AC electrical power supplies because of their versatile electric motors.
Mostly they use a direct drive mechanism but though you can find some use a small, toothed belt drive mechanism.
Some models in this category have cast iron tabletops though their tables are smaller and lighter than those of contractor table saws.
You can also find some models with a sliding miter table and built-in miter blade that you can tilt to various angles for making excellent crosscuts.
Some have tabletops while others lack the same. However, their table surface is still smaller than the contractor table saws. This means you will still have less ripping capacities from these models.
Their build is lightweight and small, which means they’re very portable.
Stationary Table Saws
Stationary table saws are larger and heavier than portable ones. Also, they are more accurate and powerful, making them ideal for heavy-duty woodcutting performance.
Unlike the portable versions that use a direct drive mechanism, stationary table saws use belt drive mechanism.
Some models have a mobile base for easy transportation. They all have tabletops though the material of the table might vary. While the majority of them have cast iron tables, some have granite or Aluminum-made tabletops.
4. Contractor Table Saws
Contractor table saws are also known as open-stand saws. They are heavier and sturdier than benchtop, jobsite and compact table saw units.
That’s because they feature heavier and high-quality materials such as cast iron metal as their tabletops. Although some have lighter weight stamped metal or open webbed cast iron in their extension wings.
They are also more durable because of their high-quality materials. Their tables are larger meaning you can always expect to have more ripping capacities from them.
First, they use larger induction motors instead of universal motors. These motor models are more powerful, making these table saws one of the best for heavy-duty woodcutting operations. They all use a belt drive mechanism since their motors hang off the backside of the units for improved mobility.
You can remove the motor with ease in case you’re looking to transport one of these table saws from one location to another. They are heavy, weighing in at around 200-300 pounds. But still, they are considered to be semi-portable.
Their fences have an upgrade that makes the units able to cut thicker stocks with great accuracy. However, dust collection might be a real issue if you don’t have a dedicated dust collection port.
Their miter gages are better than what you find in portable table saws since they have little or no slops when you adjust them. This helps you to have finer cuts with great precision.
5. Cabinet Table Saws
Cabinet table saws are an improved version of the contractor table saw units. Their name results from how their base features a cabinet-style full enclosure. Their design means they feature more cast iron and steel in their construction, have heavier trunnions and arbor assemblies.
Also, they have gear-driven motors that optimize their power output. With all those advantages, these saws are more powerful than contractor saws and can cut through even the thickest hardwood effortlessly all day long.
They vibrate much less compared to contractor models. Therefore, they don’t destabilize the alignment or settings of the table saw. Their motors are enclosed inside the cabinet-style base, making these units quieter than contractor saws.
They have improved dust collection functionality because of their cabinet base. Heavy-duty trunnions firmly hold the motor and arbor assembly onto the base of the cabinet. This motor attachment improves the alignment of the blade to the miter slot and fence.
They produce more accurate and finer cuts because of their construction or manufacture. They have flatter tabletops, heavier and more robust bearings, and pulley systems and have a very reliable fence system.
Their electric motors are more powerful, with the majority being 3-5HP motors. To drive such powerful motors, you will need to plug them into a 240V power outlet. They sacrifice portability for excellent performance since their average weight stands proudly at 500 pounds.
Cabinet table saws are a great woodcutting tool for professional woodworkers and enthusiasts.
6. Hybrid Table Saws
Hybrid table saws might be a confusing category of table saws. But they are table saws that combine the features of a cabinet table saw with contractor table saw. That means they have the features of the all-powerful cabinet table saws in a lightweight and more portable stand.
They have gained popularity due to their phenomenal performances at a remarkably affordable price range. Most of the time, these table saws look like cabinet table saws but perform like the contractor versions.
To start, their trunnions and arbor bearings are more substantial than those of a contractor’s table saw. Also, they have an improved drive belt mechanism with exceptional gearing if you compare them with contractor models.
And just like cabinet table saws, these models have their electric motor and arbor assembly sturdily attached to the base of their stands with the substantial trunnions. The result of this is a better blade alignment to the miter slot and fence system.
And since the motor is enclosed inside the base, these models are quieter and vibrate less than the contractor models. In more simple timers, hybrid table saws are the scaled-down versions of the cabinet table saws.
Apart from being lighter than cabinet saws, they have relatively more powerful motors than the ones you’d find on contractor table saws. The horsepower of their motors staggers around 1.5- 1.75HP, which is still impressive.
Powering their motor consumes less electrical energy. With a 110V power outlet, you will sufficiently power them for great woodcutting operations. They’re suitable for most woodworks, and hobbyists can take full advantage of them.
There’s always a table saw type that will meet the needs of your woodcutting operation. You only need to make the right choice and buy the right type. You stand a better chance of getting the best table saw if you are armed with the right knowledge like you are right now.
Be sure to go deep through this article and find out more information about each type of table saw unit.