Portable table saws -- often called benchtop saws or jobsite 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 are either light enough to carry or come with a 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. $570). Popular Woodworking calls the blade guard assembly on the Bosch saws "the most user-friendly system I have seen." Wood Magazine gives it a 5-star rating overall and a Top Tool award, saying: "Power, performance, portability -- this saw's got it all." The editors add that it uses their "favorite blade-guard system" and that it "powered through all the tough jobs we could throw at it, including 8/4 white oak, without bogging down." The table saw also earns top ranking in Fine Woodworking's comparison tests, where editors report that it easily cuts through 1.75-inch hard maple.
The Bosch 4100-09 uses a Gravity Rise stand that both professional and owner-written reviews praise as very easy to use. The stand lets users roll the saw around whether it's folded or unfolded, so it's convenient for jobsites and small workshops. The main drawback to the Gravity Rise stand is that it puts the saw table at 38 inches -- too high to be comfortable for some users. The benchtop Bosch 4100 (Est. $550) doesn't come with a stand, but earns top ranking in Popular Woodworking's October 2009 comparison test of portable table saws. The stand is the only difference between it and the Bosch 4100-09. Given the small price difference, we think that the Bosch 4100-09 is the better buy.
The DeWalt DW744X (Est. $490) scores well in expert reviews at sites like Tools of the Trade and elsewhere. Owners reviewing this saw at retail sites are enthusiastic about it, too; the DeWalt rack-and-pinion fence earns special praise for precision and ease of use. Editors at Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding gave a different (and now discontinued) table saw the nod in their 2011 Tool Guide, but readers of those publications favored the DeWalt DW744X. This table saw ships with folding stand. Popular Woodworking says that the stand sets up fast and stays in place. However, the DeWalt DW744X is large and heavy compared to the Bosch 4100-09 and the DeWalt DW745 (reviewed below) -- making it a great choice if you need to cut larger lumber, but more of a chore to lug around. The DeWalt DW744XRS (Est. $560) is the same saw, but with a wheeled stand.
DeWalt also offers a few newer portable table saws that have drawn some attention. Among those is the DeWalt DWE7491RS (Est. $580). It draws raves in a review at ToolBoxBuzz.com where Todd Fratzel calls it "the best job site table saw I've ever used." 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 especially likes the mobile stand. Wheeled on one end, it lets this fairly heavy saw (roughly 90 pounds) be moved around and set up by one person, 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. Size is something that swings both ways. Wright notes that the DWE7491RS is one of the larger portable table saw he's worked with -- and larger than he normally would like to use -- but that size allows the table saw to tackle tasks that would otherwise be out of reach of a jobsite saw and results in an extremely solid and stable tool. User reviews are starting to accumulate at user review sites, like Amazon.com, and are largely positive to date.
If you don't need a stand, a benchtop table saw can be an economical and practical choice. The DeWalt DW745 (Est. $300) and the Bosch GTS1031 (Est. $400) face off against each other in comparison tests at Popular Mechanics, Tools of the Trade and ThisIsCarpentry.com. Reviewers like both saws and say they're equal in power, but DeWalt maintains a slight edge for durability, its well-regarded rack-and-pinion fence, miter gauge and lighter weight -- and it carries a three-year warranty. The Bosch can bevel past 45 degrees (useful for remodeling projects where corners might not be square), and can accept a dado for cutting grooves. Both saws weigh under 55 pounds and can be folded up to become quite compact, letting you move them nearly at will between a workshop and a job site.
For even less, the Ryobi RTS30 (Est. $250) comes with a stand that can fold to allow wheeling around. This saw earns some praise in 2012 comparison tests at Popular Mechanics for its sliding outfeed extension table. Editors judge the power on this no-frills table saw as adequate, but find the fence movement "a bit on the sloppy side" so extra care is needed when adjusting it. At HomeDepot.com, owners give this saw mediocre reviews, with just over 60 percent saying they'd recommend it to a friend. Quite a few owners report small but crucial parts breaking -- a plastic gear, for example.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Reviewed Table Saws
Editors discuss the different types of table saws and how table saws have become safer than ever. Top choices, top values, and some alternate choices are named.
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.
If woodworking is your profession, you need a professional grade cabinet saws. We look into the details and make our recommendations.
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.
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.