What should I look for when buying a table saw?
There are four main things to look at when buying a table saw:
- Micro-adjust rip fence
- Extendable rip fence
Amps is used by power tool manufacturers to indicate how much power a table saw has.
The amp rating of a saw tells you how much power it can draw from it’s power source.
Now that should be a good indicator of how much power a saw has, right? Because a 15 amp saw is pulling 50% more power than a 10 amp saw so the 15 amp saw should be 50% more powerful, right?
Well it’s up to the manufacturer to make sure that the motor in the saw uses all the power available to it as efficiently as possible. Which ensures that the saw is as powerful as possible.
And in general, power tool manufacturers try to do that because they want their tools to be as powerful as possible. But some manufacturers are better at it than others.
And generating as much power as possible means that manufacturers have to use more expensive components in the saw. That makes the saw more expensive, which is OK if you’re trying to build an expensive saw.
But if the manufacturer wants to sell a budget saw, they’ll use budget components to make the saw profitable. And that means the budget saw will have less power.
So generally speaking, the more amps a saw has, the more power it has.
And as a general rule, if two saws use the same amps – the more expensive one will probably have more power. There might be exceptions to this but that’s why it’s a general rule and not an absolute law 🙂
Micro-adjust rip fence
The rip fence is the little “wall” you see on the table of a table saw.
In the picture below, the blue arrow shows where the rip fence is.
The rip fence keeps the piece of wood in place while you push it through the saw blade. This makes sure that you have a nice, straight cut (which is what table saws are designed for).
The rip fence moves from left to right, which let’s you adjust the width of the cut you are making.
If a rip fence is micro-adjustable, you can move it in tiny increments. This is awesome because it lets you cut the wood exactly where you need it, which gives you a professional looking result.
Now if a table saw doesn’t have a micro-adjust rip fence, it can be used to make cuts where absolute precision isn’t needed. So it would be fine for cutting framing lumber. Or projects where having a slight mismatch in cuts isn’t a big deal like building a barn – cows don’t care if your cuts are off by a little bit 🙂
But if you want to work on projects where precision is essential, a micro-adjust rip fence is essential. So for example, if I was working on a carpentry project for my house and was going to use a table saw – I’d have to use one with a micro-adjust rip fence because the slightest misalignment of cuts would annoy me every time I saw it 🙁
Extendable rip fence
Normally, the width of the wood you can cut on a table saw is controlled by the size of its table.
(Because of the wood is wider than the table, the rip fence has to be taken off to cut the wood. And that makes it difficult to make a straight cut – which is the whole point of a table saw)
Then someone said, well why don’t we just make the rip fence extendable? That way we can cut pieces of wood that are wider than the table and still get a straight cut.
And that’s how extendable rip fences were born 🙂
Here’s a picture of a DEWALT DWE7491RS with its rip fence extended.
Now you won’t always need an extendable rip fence. Really you only need them if you are cutting something wider than your table. (And even then, there’s ways around the problem with enough time and sweat).
But, an extendable rip fence is great if you regularly need to cut pieces of wood that are wider than your table. Or want that option to be easily available when you need it.
So it’s not something that you absolutely need in a table, but it is a great feature that can make your life easier.
As the name suggests, table saws were designed to be used on a table.
But sometimes you don’t have free space on a table to set up your saw. Or you might be on a jobsite with no tables.
So what do you do then?
Well, you have three choices.
The first is to make sure that you always have free space available on a table for when you need to use your table saw.
The second choice is to get a saw with a static stand. These don’t collapse and are designed to act as a permanent replacement for table space in your workshop. So your saw sits on the stand waiting for you to use it.
For example, the Craftsman Evolv 28461 comes with a static stand made from steel pieces that you bolt together. Then you sit the saw on top of the stand.
The third option is a collapsible stand. These let you work anywhere. You just collapse the stand, with the saw on it, and throw it in the back of your truck. Then when you get to your jobsite, you pull the saw off the back of your truck, extend the stand and you’re good to go.
A great example of a collapsible stand is the Bosch 4100-09.
The stand collapses so that the saw sits on its side.
Then when you’re ready to use it, the stand expands and the saw sits upright.
Ready to look for a saw?
Now that you’ve learned what to look for in a saw, which are the best tables saws for you?
Well don’t worry – we’ve got you covered 🙂
The Best Table Saws – 2017 buyers guide is a guide that I wrote that reviews the five best table saws on the market in 2017.
In the guide, I review everything you would want to know about the saws. And you can easily compare all the tools side-by-side to find the perfect saw for you.