How Do I Choose the Best Woodworking Table Saw?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Portable table saws are used for on-site work.
Portable table saws are used for on-site work.

One of the most common staple tools in a workshop, the woodworking table saw allows a woodworker to cut lengths of wood straight and flush while the heavy material is supported by the machine's table. Choosing the best woodworking table saw will take a bit of research and patience, and the process should start with the user determining how he or she is likely to use the unit on a regular basis. This will determine what style of table saw is needed to accommodate different carpentry applications.

A benchtop or portable woodworking table saw is exceptionally small and lightweight. It is often used for on-site work that will require the unit to be moved by hand. Of all the woodworking table saw designs on the market, this is perhaps the least capable of different types of heavy-duty jobs, but its portability make it a convenient and useful choice for job sites. This will be the least expensive design as well, and it is likely to feature parts made from a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, and even plastic.

A step up from the benchtop or portable model is the contractor woodworking table saw. This unit will be portable to a certain degree as well, but it will be quite a bit heavier than a benchtop or portable model. The contractor woodworking table saw will feature a larger table in most cases, as well as heavy-duty metal legs or some sort of base. This is the most appropriate choice for most hobbyists as well as some professionals who need a more portable option that will be able to handle heavier-duty jobs than a benchtop model is capable of. The cost of such a unit will be more than a benchtop model but less than cabinet table saws.

Professional wood shops will feature a cabinet woodworking table saw. This unit is so named because of its cabinet-style base that is exceptionally sturdy and usually very heavy. It is not portable at all, though it is capable of handling the most heavy-duty jobs. These units will take up a significant amount of space and can be extremely expensive when compared to benchtop and contractor models.

A relatively new offering is the hybrid table saw, which bridges the gap between contractor saws and cabinet saws. These models aim to combine the functionality and heavy-duty capabilities of a cabinet model with the lower cost and smaller stature of the contractor models. These are quickly becoming the preference for professionals and hobbyists alike.

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Discussion Comments


@titans62 - I'll second your idea about finding used tools. I just went to an auction last week where they had a few table saws for sale. I ended up getting an industrial table saw for about $600, and it looked like it had hardly been used. I'm pretty sure it was so cheap, because no one else really wanted to deal with hauling it away.

I was curious if anyone here knew what the article meant by the hybrid table saws. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. What is the hybrid part about it? It seems like you would only be able to have the cabinet style or the contractor style. The only thing I can really think of is if the blade mechanism and that stuff is housed in a cabinet, but the rest of the table is open on the bottom.


@kentuckycat - The other option, which is great when buying any tools as you move forward, is to try to find used table saws. That's how I got all of my first saws, and even a lot of my current tools that I still use today. Just check newspapers and flyers for auctions or just people selling tools. A lot of times, you can get like-new tools for deep discounts.

As far as table saw accessories, most saws will come with a fence. Other things that will be needed are a featherboard and push sticks, but those can be made without having to buy them. Depending on what he will be sawing, it might be worth buying or making some extensions to hold long pieces of wood that stretch over the sides of the table.


@kentuckycat - I guess you could really look at that problem from two different ways. If you are relatively sure your son will keep with woodworking, then I would go ahead and invest in a saw that is a little more durable and well made. On the other hand, if you think this might just be a fad, I would suggest getting a less expensive model and then upgrading when the time comes. Or even better, he might be able to sell his work and pay for it on his own!

If you go with a less expensive saw, I would expect to pay a couple hundred dollars. A saw in the more expensive category will be around $500. That's not to say the less expensive saws are cheaply made or won't get the job done. They just won't last as long.

I have always had success with Bosch table saws, but really anything from a reputable company like Delta, Jet, DeWalt, Craftsman, etc. should work fine.


My son has just started to show some interest in doing woodworking. We just moved into a new house, so now we have a larger pole barn where we can actually keep a woodshop. The problem I am having is that I know a table saw is an important tool, but I don't really know anything about buying them.

I have looked at a bunch of different ones online, but I don't know the first thing about features and quality and other things like that. I think I understand what the article means by the professional models, and those are definitely out of my price range, but the table saws I have looked at that are contractor models seem to mostly be affordable.

Any help would be appreciated. I am mostly concerned about any table saw reviews anyone has, what the best brands are, and anything I should be on the lookout for.

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    • Portable table saws are used for on-site work.
      Portable table saws are used for on-site work.