With so many styles and configurations of table saws available, how do you choose the one that’s right for you? Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, so as you are reviewing the styles and options, ask yourself the following questions
1. What are my operational requirements?
This may require looking into a crystal ball, but think about what you want to do with the saw. It is best to engage in wishful thinking during this process because the last thing you want is to get your brand-new saw set up and ready to go, only to realize that it can’t handle the project that your spouse just asked you to make. Ask yourself questions like;
a. What is the level of accuracy I expect from my saw? This may help you determine the style of table saw you may need.
b. What thickness of raw materials will I most likely be cutting (4/4, 8/4 or even 12/4)? This will help determine the thickness capacity of the saw you may need.
c. Will I need to cut full 4' x 8' plywood panels? This will help determine the size fence you may need.
d. How often will I be using the saw and what type of materials (hardwoods or softwoods) will I be cutting most? This will help determine the horsepower of table saw you may need.
2. Do I have any space limitations?
With multiple fence configurations as well as the add-on accessories available (outfeed tables or sliding tables), a table saw can take up a significant amount of floor space in your workshop or garage. Make sure you calculate enough room to safely maneuver your work around the saw. If your space does not allow the saw to remain in a central location, a quality mobile base should be considered. It should go without saying, but make sure the saw you want to buy will fit through the door into your shop.
3. What are the available electrical connections in my shop?
Table saws are available in a wide variety of motor and electrical configurations, so you should review the wiring configurations available in your shop. Essentially, your shop could have either 110V or 220V outlets. In addition to the voltage of your outlets, you will need to know how many amps you have available at each outlet. Please consult with a certified electrician if you have any questions.
4. What is my budget?
Keep in mind the old adage – “You get what you pay for” – when shopping for table saws that have price tags ranging from $400 to over $5,000. Just like shopping for a car, have a price range in mind before you start your search.