DeWalt DW745
DeWalt DW745

Midrange benchtop table saw

For carpentry projects or as a starter saw, the DeWalt DW745 has earned solid reviews over the years for durability, overall performance and easy adjustments. The rack-and-pinion fence earns kudos for accuracy, and the 2012 version of the DeWalt DW745 comes with a convenient blade guard with riving knife. The saw weighs just 45 pounds and can even be hung on a workshop wall for storage. An optional folding stand (*Est. $65) earns kudos from owners. The three-year warranty is another plus. There's no soft-start motor and the saw can't accommodate a dado for cutting grooves. Nor does the miter gauge on the DeWalt saw earn much praise. But overall, reviews point to the DeWalt table saw as a great upgrade from a cheap entry-level saw.
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Skil 3310
Skil 3310

Entry-level table saw

For general DIY projects, reviews recommend this inexpensive Skil benchtop saw. Making accurate cuts requires extra time and care -- double-checking both ends of the rip fence with every cut, for example -- but tests show that it can be done. Even at this price, the saw has a riving knife (to prevent kickback) and comes with a stand. And the small size makes it nice for tight spaces.
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Bosch 4100DG-09
Bosch 4100DG-09

Best portable table saw

If you need a saw that can go to projects with you, this Bosch table saw consistently earns top ranking in comparison tests. The Bosch 4100 series is praised in tests for accuracy, convenient scales, easy blade changes, onboard storage and dust control. The soft-start 15-amp motor has electronic torque control to regulate the output to match the workload. The wheeled stand snaps open or folds flat in a single lever-activated motion. Reviewers also praise the convenience of the blade guard system, complete with riving knife to prevent kickback. This top-of-the-line Bosch table saw adds a digital rip fence for additional precision.
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Craftsman 21807
Craftsman 21807

Budget contractor saw

If you need a saw that's big enough to rip plywood, yet don't want to break the bank, the Craftsman 21807 is recommended as a good choice. The lightweight Craftsman 21807 contractor saw is strictly a homeowner model for rough construction, not for accurate woodworking projects (quite a few owners say they need to readjust the fence for every cut). But it's big enough to rip a sheet of plywood in half, and comes with a quick-release base so it can be moved out of the way as needed. Safety-wise, it lacks a blade brake to prevent accidental cuts, and the convenience of the blade guard gets mixed reviews. But it does include a riving knife to help prevent kickback, plus a dust bag to eliminate the need to attach a shop vac. The warranty is for one year.
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SawStop Contractor Saw CNS175-SFA30
SawStop Contractor Saw CNS175-SFA30

Safest contractor saw

If you want the safest contractor table saw on the market, the SawStop Contractor Saw incorporates a proprietary flesh-sensing blade brake, plus a riving knife and excellent blade guard. If you add the handled jobsite cart (*Est. $200), it becomes a portable table saw. In addition to the award-winning safety features, reviews say this saw runs and cuts smoothly, with excellent dust collection through a 4-inch port. Cast-iron wings (*Est. $100) cost extra. For mobility within a workshop, add a mobile base (*Est. $160). You can also buy versions with longer rails. The warranty is for two years.
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SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw
SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw

Safest cabinet saw

Cabinet saws provide more power and precision than other table saws; of course, they also take up a lot more workshop space. The 3-horsepower SawStop Professional Cabinet table saw earns top ranking for its superior safety features: an excellent riving knife and blade guard system, as well as a flesh-sensing blade brake to prevent cuts. Reviewers also praise its performance, exceptional dust control and overall ease of use. For easier use in small workshops, you can add a mobile base (*Est. $200). The warranty is for two years.
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COMPARE PRODUCTS
See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Table Saws Runners Up:

SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw *Est. $4,040

4 picks including: Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking…

Delta Unisaw 36L352 *Est. $2950

4 picks including: About.com, Amazon.com…

Ridgid R4510 *Est. $500

4 picks including: Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com…

DeWalt DW744X *Est. $500

3 picks including: Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com…

Bosch GTS1031 *Est. $370

3 picks including: Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com…

Craftsman Pro 21828 *Est. $325

1 pick including: PopularMechanics.com, Popular Woodworking…

Craftsman Pro 21833 *Est. $550

1 pick including: Sears.com, LumberJocks.com…

Ridgid R4512 *Est. $280

1 pick including: HomeDepot.com, LumberJocks.com…

Table saws cover a wide price range

Table saws support and guide lumber and wood panels as they pass over the spinning blade, making it easier to make accurate repeat cuts than with a circular saw. According to the Power Tool Institute, about 69 percent of all table saws are portable models, used for carpentry or in small woodworking shops. These saws range in price from less than $200 to over $700, with corresponding ranges in capacity, accuracy and convenience.

We found excellent objective comparison tests of current portable table saws at Popular Mechanics and Fine Homebuilding, covering saws that come with blade guards and riving knives that meet the latest safety standards. Both publications also test ultraportable benchtop saws, as do publications aimed at professional remodelers and contractors: Tools of the Trade, The Journal of Light Construction and ThisIsCarpentry.com. Owner-written reviews are also useful in evaluating portable and contractor table saws, often over longer periods of time -- at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com and Sears.com.

A reader survey at Popular Woodworking, a publication for serious woodworkers, finds that almost 90 percent of them own bigger, more powerful table saws; 60 percent own contractor saws and 30 percent own cabinet saws. Heavier table saws vibrate less, making accurate cuts easier, and stronger motors cut denser and thicker hardwoods more easily. They also last longer. Our report covers the full range of table saw types, including cabinet saws priced at around $3,000.

Magazines devoted to serious woodworking provide excellent reviews of hybrid and cabinet saws. We found excellent reviews at Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, Woodcraft, Woodworker's Journal, Workbench and Wood magazines. The top contenders among cabinet saws are well covered here. However, the new hybrid saws that come with improved blade guard systems haven't yet been tested in these publications. Since these saws are often the main starter saw for serious amateur and even professional woodworkers -- priced at less than half the cost of cabinet saws -- the lack of current reviews leaves a serious gap.

Table saws are getting safer

Table saws pose serious risks of injury, since part of the spinning blade on a table saw comes up above the surface of the table -- and the user's hand is guiding the wood toward the blade. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), table saws are the most dangerous power tool in common use. Thanks to new safety standards formulated by the CPSC with Underwriters Laboratories (UL), most table saws now come with better blade guards. The new guard systems are easier to remove and replace as needed, and include true riving knives (which ride up and down with the blade when its height is changed).

These improvements are important because inconvenient blade guards are apt to be left off the saw, even though the spinning blade can kick back a piece of wood toward the user with tremendous force, causing serious injury to any part of the body that's hit.

Most table saw injuries aren't due to kickback, but instead involve contact with the blade (cuts or amputations) -- and most happen to hobbyists and homeowners. A July 2011 report from the CPSC concludes that even an excellent riving knife and blade guard system, as found on the portable Bosch 4100-09 (*Est. $550) , can't prevent serious cuts from contact with the blade.

The CPSC concludes that additional protection from blade contact is needed, from technology equivalent to that of SawStop's flesh-sensing blade brake -- which stops the blade in milliseconds if a hand touches the blade. So the CPSC has proposed new regulations to require this capability on all table saws. The comment period ended March 16, 2012, and at the time of our report it's not clear whether or not the stricter requirement will be adopted -- and if so, on what schedule. For more on this controversial issue, see our Useful Links section.

Meanwhile, SawStop has designed a prototype benchtop table saw that incorporates its blade brake, and David Butler has designed a Whirlwind blade brake that works as soon as a hand touches the blade guard (while the saw is running). The Whirlwind system could be added to existing table saws, a big advantage, but it only works if the blade guard is in place -- thus, not for all cuts. Neither the Whirlwind nor the SawStop bench saw are in production yet, and it seems likely that negotiations about patents and licensing fees will also cause delays.

At present, then, the safest table saws are still those manufactured by SawStop. Reviews testing the SawStop confirm that the technology works and that the saws provide excellent build quality, convenience and performance. Price is the big drawback. It's less an issue for the SawStop Professional cabinet saw (*Est. $3,000) , priced competitively with other cabinet saws. Reviews say that the SawStop Contractor Saw (*Est. $1,600) competes well with hybrid saws that cost about three or four hundred dollars less. This finger-sensing technology just isn't available now, though, for a budget starter saw or extremely portable saw.

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Bosch 4100-09 10-Inch Worksite Table Saw with Gravity-Rise Stand
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,170.00   
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Bosch 4100 10-Inch Worksite Table Saw
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New: $1,126.00 $619.99   
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Sawstop CNS175-SFA30 1-3/4 HP Contractor Saw with 30-Inch Aluminum Extrusion Fence and Rail Kit
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from Amazon.com
New: $1,749.00 $1,599.00   
In Stock.
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