Portable table saws are popular partly because they cost less than bigger models, making them a good choice for occasional use or as a starter saw. They're also ideal for use on jobsites or for easier storage in a small workshop. Portable table saws include benchtop models that are light enough to carry and jobsite saws equipped with a folding stand, which is often wheeled. The main drawback is that these saws' small tables make it difficult to cut sheets of plywood. You can add various extensions to cope with this, but that means more to transport and set up.
Among portable table saws, we saw the best feedback for the Bosch 4100-09 (Est. $560). This table saw is among the top performers in three separate professional tests and also earns strong feedback from owners. Professional reviewers consistently say it's powerful, accurate, and easy to set up and use. One feature they particularly like is the arbor lock, which allows you change the blade with just one wrench while most saws require two. Editors at Popular Mechanics consider this feature "so handy it ought to be an industry standard." Reviewers also like the well-positioned handle that unlocks the rails on the sliding table.
Owners at Amazon.com, who give this saw an overall score of 4.6 stars across roughly 385 reviews, are particularly impressed with the Bosch's easy-to use blade guard and other safety features, including the riving knife and anti-kickback pawls. They also note that the miter gauge, a feature that often gets complaints on other table saws, is accurate and easy to use. Reviewers are mixed on the issue of dust collection; Amazon reviewers complain that the saw produces a lot of dust, but Woodworkers' Journal reports that most of the dust "routed neatly through a shroud that surrounds the blade" and out to a vacuum cleaner.
Another feature reviewers particularly like on the Bosch 4100-09 is its gravity rise stand, which lets users roll the saw around in both its folded and unfolded positions. Owners and professionals alike say this stand is very easy to set up and rolls smoothly. For those who don't need a stand, the benchtop Bosch 4100 (Est. $570) is essentially the same saw without the stand. This older version earns top ranking in Popular Woodworking's October 2009 comparison test of portable table saws, but given the relative prices of the two saws, the Bosch 4100-09 looks to clearly be the better buy.
Another saw that earns good marks from both professionals and users is the DeWalt DWE7491RS (Est. $580). Todd Fratzel of ToolBoxBuzz.com, who says he's normally a "huge fan" of Bosch table saws, nonetheless declares this DeWalt "the best overall job site + mobile stand option out there." He praises the power and accuracy of the table saw, adding that it had no trouble dealing with various materials he tested (3/4-inch plywood, 2x framing material, and 1x maple lumber). He also notes that its rip capacity of 32-1/2 inches is bigger than any other portable saw's – a full 7-1/2 inches bigger than the Bosch 4100-09's. Fratzel loves the wheeled mobile stand, which makes it easy for one person to move this fairly heavy saw (roughly 90 pounds). He says the stand is very easy to set up and allows for the saw to be stored on end without being removed from the stand.
In a video review at Tools of the Trade, finish carpenter Jesse Wright finds few negatives and a lot of positives for the DWE7491RS. Wright says this table saw is larger than he normally likes for a portable saw, but its size allows it to tackle tasks that would otherwise be out of reach of a jobsite saw and also makes it very solid and stable. User reviews at Amazon.com are also very positive, with 4.7 stars overall from more than 340 owners. Multiple users say the saw cuts "like butter," and they praise its easy setup, accurate rack-and-pinion fence, and good dust control. Another advantage is DeWalt's 3-year warranty, which bests Bosch's by 2 years. The one feature users dislike is the miter gauge, which many reviewers say they replaced.
If you don't need a stand, a benchtop table saw can be an economical and practical choice. The DeWalt DW745 (Est. $300) earns a solid four stars in Popular Mechanics. They say its small size is somewhat limiting, as it has only a 20-inch rip capacity and can't make dado cuts. However, they also found it surprisingly powerful and very accurate right out of the box, saying it produced "a straight and smooth edge on a piece of 3/4-inch oak" with no adjustments. They give much of the credit for this accuracy to the excellent rack-and-pinion fence, the same design found on the larger DeWalt.
Users at Amazon.com and HomeDepot.com also give this DeWalt benchtop saw very high ratings. Across both sites, it has roughly 900 reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars. Owners praise its accuracy, easy-to-adjust fence, durable construction, and light, portable size (just 45 pounds). However, like the other DeWalt DWE7491RS, it gets a thumbs-down for its flimsy, awkward miter gauge. Also, while it has the same 3-year warranty as the other DeWalt saw, a few users found it difficult to get repairs.
Elsewhere in this Report: