SawStop CNS175-SFA30 Contractor Saw
SawStop CNS175-SFA30 Contractor Saw

Best contractor saw

For the woodworking professional or serious home do-it-yourselfer, it's tough to look past the safety features and performance of the SawStop Contractor Saw. It incorporates proprietary technology that senses the presence of skin and tops the spinning blade dead -- saving many a finger, hand or limb, tests and reports say. Performance and build quality are excellent as well. Cost is a major concern, but so is the cost of the types of potential injuries SawStop is designed to eliminate.
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Ridgid R4512
Ridgid R4512

Best value contractor saw

The 13-amp, 1.75 volt, Ridgid R4512 is a heavy-duty contractor saw with a cast-iron table and minimal vibration despite its table-mounted trunnions and stamped steel wings. It earns mostly positive reviews from owners. Mobility is a big plus: a foot pedal raises and lowers the casters so it's easy to move, but then locks down flat to the floor to minimize vibration. Dust collection is also good. For the price, most owners posting at HomeDepot.com (where the R4512 is primarily sold) accept that the fence, miter gauge, steel wings and two-piece rails aren't going to be perfect -- and say the saw still performs well for making cabinets and other fine woodworking. The Craftsman Professional 21833 table saw (Est. $550) is similar, but with a 15 amp motor. Both are made by Dayton, but the Craftsman has only a one-year warranty (versus three years for the Ridgid) and more reports of quality control issues.

Est. $550 Estimated Price
Craftsman 21807
Craftsman 21807

Cheap contractor saw

Reviews say this budget contractor saw is a bargain for homeowner projects and rough construction, but it lacks the accuracy needed for making furniture. It has some nice features, though, including a riving knife to help prevent kickback, plus a laser guide and bag for catching sawdust. The base has two wheels but also detaches easily so the saw can be loaded separately -- a plus for a contractor saw. A noisy motor and somewhat inconvenient blade guard are drawbacks, but the biggest negative is a non-standard miter slot that won't accept aftermarket accessories.

Skil 3310
Skil 3310

Cheap table saw for homeowners

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. The small size makes it nice for tight spaces.

Est. $160 Estimated Price
Bosch 4100-09
Bosch 4100-09

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 4100-09 is praised 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.
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DeWalt DW745
DeWalt DW745

Cheap portable 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 this portable table saw 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.
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Bosch GTS1031
Bosch GTS1031

Portable table saw

The Bosch GTS1031 is a well-reviewed small table saw designed for portability and small workshops. The saw can be stored or transported on edge; handles are supplied for both one-handed and two-handed carrying. Reviewers recommend the folding stand as sturdy and convenient; the saw clips on securely without tools. It's the better choice if you need the capability of using dado blades or prize the on-edge storage, but reviews are a little stronger for the similar DeWalt DW745 (Est. $300), which offers lighter weight, smoother cuts, easier adjustments and a three-year warranty.

DeWalt DW744X
DeWalt DW744X

Portable table saw

The DeWalt DW744X is a medium-size portable table saw with telescoping rails that provide enough capacity to rip a 4-foot panel in half. It's larger than many portable table saws, but takes up less space than a contractor saw. The saw comes with a folding stand. Reviews praise the rack-and-pinion fence on the DeWalt DW744X, and say the miter gauge and tool-free blade guard (with riving knife) are also quite good. The saw is also available with a folding stand with wheels as the DeWalt DW744XRS (Est. $560). Both carry three-year warranties. For the most convenient rolling stand, though, consider the Bosch 4100-09 (above) which comes with a Gravity-Rise stand and also bevels past 45 degrees.

SawStop PCS31230-PFA30 Professional Cabinet Saw
SawStop PCS31230-PFA30 Professional Cabinet Saw

Best cabinet table 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. Less-expensive versions with 1.75 HP motors are also available (Est. $2,300 and up). The warranty is for two years.
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Delta Unisaw 36-L352
Delta Unisaw 36-L352

Cabinet saw

The Delta Unisaw earns top ranking in reviews for convenience, power and accuracy. It's assembled in the U.S. and earns high marks for build quality. Reviewers praise the convenience of all adjustments, from blade bevel and height to riving knife and blade guard. Onboard storage includes a drawer designed to hold extra blades and accessories; additional drawers are available, as is a mobile base. It includes a blade guard and riving knife for safety, but not a blade-brake system as featured on the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw.

Est. $3,300 Estimated Price
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Table saws make the most accurate cuts

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. Most table saws use a circular blade 10 inches in diameter that cuts as the blade spins. This is not unlike the way a handheld circular saw slices through wood. The difference here is that the blade spins in one place, sticking up through a gap in the table. The operator moves the wood against the blade instead of moving the saw.

Table saws range from small portable saws that move with ease from the jobsite to the workshop and start at less than $200, to contractor saws that aren't as portable but that more easily handle larger lumber and sheet material such as plywood, to precision cabinet saws with price tags of $2,300 and up found in woodworking and cabinet making shops. The main differences lie in the saws' power and accuracy. More powerful saws can handle thicker or denser wood, cut faster and run all day without wearing out the motor. Accuracy depends on a variety of factors: low vibration, precise build and an accurate fence and miter gauge that are easy to set.

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 voluntary safety standards formulated by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), most table saws now come with blade guards that minimize the risk. 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, however, 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. $570), can't prevent serious cuts from contact with the blade, but the Power Tools Institute (PTI), a trade group representing most power tool makers, counter-claims that there are no reports of contact injuries for current-model table saws with UL-compliant blade guards installed.

Technology that senses the presence of tissue, such as a finger or forearm, and stops the spinning blade exists, but there is controversy over whether it could be or even should be made mandatory. A company called SawStop holds the patents for that technology, and currently makes some well-rated table saws and cabinet saws that include it. There are indications that the CPSC would like to make this system mandatory, and it is preparing a user survey to learn more about the frequency of contact injuries, but industry and contractor opposition has been strong. Worry from the PTI comes from the virtual monopoly that SawStop would enjoy if its technology became mandatory, and it estimates that it could add $100 or possibly much more to the cost of even basic table saws. As detailed at Tools of the Trade, adding to the controversy are charges by the PTI that alternate and less-expensive technologies than the one offered by SawStop have been developed, but have not been offered to the public over fears of patent infringement suits by SawStop.

Finding the best table saw reviews

It's been a few years since we've seen much in the way of comparative reviews of table saws, but older reports remain relevant as many of the models tested remain current. To make our recommendations for the best table saws, and the best table saw bargains, we consulted reports and reviews at Popular Mechanics, WoodWorker's Journal, This is Carpentry.com, Fine Homebuilding, Tools of the Trade and elsewhere. Owner-written reviews are also useful in evaluating portable and contractor table saws, often over longer periods of time, and we looked to Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com and Sears.com for those.

Elsewhere in this Report:

Portable Table Saws
Need a table saw that's light weight and low cost? These portable table saws are easy to lug from your workshop to your job site.

Contractor Table Saws
Contractors saws -- including saws that are mainly best for homeowners -- are bulkier than portable table saws but are better able to handle large lumber and sheet material. Top choices and top bargains are discussed.

Cabinet Saws
If woodworking is your profession, you need a professional grade cabinet saws. We look into the details and make our recommendations.

Buying Guide
Not sure what you need to consider before buying a table saw? This guide will help you cut through the details to find the best choice for your needs and budget.

Our Sources
These are the expert and user reviews we used to find the best portable, contractor and cabinet table saws. We rank them in order of helpfulness.

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Bosch 4100-09 10-Inch Worksite Table Saw with Gravity-Rise Stand
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