What Table Saw Should I Buy?

Video - December 1, 2015

Trying something new here. It’s a mini-series I’m calling Shop Talk. Project videos are awesome but with so much time between videos I sometimes feel a little out of touch. These periodic short format videos give me an opportunity to talk shop while also answering a specific viewer question, hopefully passing on some useful information in the process.

Updates & Thanks

Want to send me a sticker (and get one in return)? Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to PO Box 8203 Surprise, AZ 85374

  • Sean Rubino sent in a beautiful gilded/patinad board which you’ll soon see adorning my shop wall. Check Sean out: SpunjinWorks.com and YouTube/SeanRubino
  • Just completed the Gaming Dining Table which is available in the Guild. A short video will be available soon on the free site.

What Table Saw Should I Buy?

Skip sent in an email asking for advice on a table saw purchase. He was considering SawStop, Powermatic, and Jet. Ultimately, he decided to go with Jet for the sake of affording more tools to complete his shop setup.

What to Look For

  • Flat Table – The area around the blade should be reasonably flat. The rest of the table is less important since the primary reference surface exists around the blade.
  • Zero Clearance Inserts – Make sure the table takes either shop-made or commercially-available zero clearance inserts.
  • Splitter or Riving Knife – A splitter or riving knife is required equipment as far as I’m concerned. The best option is an easily-removable riving knife.
  • Reliable Fence – The fence should be nice and straight with no flex and should lock down reliably each and every time it’s put into position. It should also be easy to adjust.
  • Standard Miter Slot – Avoid proprietary or oddball miter slots. A standard miter slot is easy to build for and just about every after-market accessory that uses a miter slot will be at your disposal.
  • Takes a Dado Stack – Dado stacks really multiply the versatility of a table saw so make sure your arbor is long enough to take a stack safely.

What Not to Worry About

  • Blade Guard – Blade guards are important but if the saw doesn’t come with one, don’t fret. You can always add an aftermarket guard.
  • Extension Wings – If the saw has cheap plastic extension wings, that’s not all that big of a deal. Remember, the primary reference surface for the saw is around the blade. Everything is there to support the work so if it isn’t dead flat, it’s not a deal breaker.
  • Stock Blade – Most stock blades are fairly low quality and have a limited life. You’ll want to upgrade anyway so don’t let a crappy blade dissuade a saw purchase.

This advice really just scratches the surface but should give you a starting point for your table saw search. If you have any other tips for buying a table saw, feel free to leave a comment below!


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