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Choosing a table saw
Table saw types
Portable or jobsite: Smaller saws that can be moved easily from one location to another. They typically employ a direct-drive mechanism in which the motor is connected directly to the blade arbor. Some use blades smaller than the 10" blades standard on most table saws.
Contractor: Slightly larger saws that have an open stand and a larger motor that is connected to the arbor with a belt-drive system. These motors, typically 1-1/2 to 2 hp, tend to deliver more power and run quieter, as well. Cut capacity also tends to be greater on contractor saws than on portable saws. They usually can be plugged in to standard 110-volt residential outlets.
Cabinet: With an enclosed cabinet, increased weight and increased motor size, these saws typically offer the greatest power and cutting capacity with less vibration. They typically have 3 hp or 5 hp motors that can require 230-volt outlets.
Factors to consider
Blade tilt: Does the blade tilt to the right or to the left? Offcuts are less likely to get trapped against the fence – and potentially kick back – on left-tilt saws.
Rip capacity: How far to the right of the blade can you set the fence? This determines the maximum width you can rip. If you need to cut panels wider than your saw's rip capacity, you'll have to use a handheld circular saw.
Fence: How substantial is the fence? Does it move smoothly but also lock down tightly? Is it rigid, or does it deflect easily? Is it well-marked for easy adjustment? How difficult is it to fine-tune so that it's parallel to the blade?
Power: What kind of woodworking will you do, how often will you do it and what kind of materials will you use? If portability is important, you'll want a jobsite saw. If you're a hobbyist and want a saw that can handle most home shop requirements, a contractor saw might be right for you. If you run a professional shop, you might want the power and durability of a cabinet saw.
Voltage: What voltage does the saw require – 110 or 230? What's the capacity of the wiring where you intend to use the saw?
Dust collection: How easy or difficult will it be to connect a dust collection system? Cabinet saws, for example, often have built-in dust ports.
Safety features: Does the saw have a good blade guard and splitter or riving knife to minimize the risk of kickback? Do you want the added protection of instant braking technology available in the SawStop?
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