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How To Choose A Table Saw

Feb 29, 2008
Selecting your first table saw can be very frustrating due to the huge selection available to the consumer today. Table Saws come in all shapes, sizes and are designed for a variety of applications. Buying your first table saw can be a nail biting experience, with a few tips, anyone can choose a table saw that will give them many years of reliable service.

Here are some tips on choosing your first table saw.

Fence: The fence is the sliding component of the table saw. The fence is used when you feed the wood onto the table and into the saw. The quality of the fence will factor in on the final cost of the table saw. The better quality of the fence that comes with the saw, the higher the price. Most contractor saws have fair quality fences, but not all. For normal applications, a fair quality fence will be more than enough for most applications and certainly good enough for the occasional user. Average quality fences are okay for beginners and weekend handy men, but will lack the quality that a cabinet maker needs. You have plenty of choices in third party fences so don't loose sleep if your saw comes with an average fence.

Tilt: Most saws tilt for precision cutting. Table saws tilt right or left. Many years ago, table saws only came with a right tilt with the exception of some professional cabinet models. These days, you can get right or left tilting table saws. Right tilts are easier cutting precision angles and preferred by many. Right tilt saws are the most popular and come with more accessories than left tilt table saws.

Miter gauge: Table saws come with something called mitre gauges. There are two slots that are machined into the cast iron tabletop where the mitre gauge is inserted. This is where you guide the wood. Just as with the the tabletop, the mitre gauge that comes with the saw are of average quality. You can buy better mitre gauges than what come with the table saw. Try inserting the mitre gauge into the slots and check to see how snug they fit. Do not choose one with a loose fit. You want one that fits snug.

Size Matters: The most common table saw motor is either a 1 1/2 or 2 horsepower motor in the contractors models. The professional cabinet saws use a 3 to 5 horsepowered motor. For most applications, the 1 1/2 or 2 horsepower motor on the contractor saw has enough power for any cutting application. Just remember to take it slow and easy and let the saw blade do the cutting.

Saw blade: 10 inch blade models are the most popular, however, many of the most expensive cabinet saws have a 12-inch blade. The type of blade is more important than the size. Table saw blades come in a variety shape and types. Combination blades are the most popular and the ones you should use until you become more experienced in the operation of the table saw with different types of wood and cuts. It's very important that you keep your blades clean and replace or sharpen them when dull.

Tabletop: The tabletop is the most component part of the saw. You'll find a wide difference of quality among tabletops. Don't scrimp on the table top, it pays to buy a high quality tabletop. Make sure the tabletop is as flat as possible if you want trouble free operation. Not all tabletops are flat and the ones that aren't make it difficult to make precision cuts. You can reduce your chances of future problems by going with a tabletop from a reputable table saw manufacturer.

With these tips, a consumer should be more than able to choose the correct table saw for nearly any application you can think of. Just be sure to study the owners manual and any related documentation that comes with your new table saw.
About the Author
Bill Miller is an expert in the Construction industry and writes how-to articles for many publications. Tony has is a self confessed power tools addict and often says the only reason he went into construction is so he could use power tools. This is his current how-to articl on how to choose your first table saw.
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