Carla Cain Table Saw August 28th, 2018 - 09:41:54
If you're in the market for a table saw, you'll have a number of options and features to consider. To make the best decision, a basic understanding of the "inner workings" of this woodshop standard is essential. Below, I'll describe the primary table saw components, what makes them important, and what to look for when it comes time to buy.
The size of the cast iron table saw top is also important: the larger the better. When you are sawing large objects, you want as much flat table surface as you need to support the work piece flat to the blade for accuracy. Larger table size is usually accomplished by attaching cast-iron table wings to the edge of the main table. These wings must be as flat as the table and the seam they create must be aligned so that the top of the wing is flush to the table saw table along its entire length.
Most table saw trunnions are made to tilt either left or right (but not both) to a maximum of 45 degrees from vertical. If you have a choice, and you usually do, never buy a right-tilt saw for the following reason. A right-tilt saw tilts the blade towards the fence and can pinch a work piece into the fence, causing a jam or, worse, a kickback just as the cut is finishing. Further, on a right-tilt saw, the blade is tilting towards the fence and could cut into and ruin it if the fence were to be inadvertently moved too close to the spinning blade. A left-tilt saw tilts away from the fence and instead of pinching the work piece, allows it to rise vertically slightly, if need be.
The quality of the table saw surface (or "bed") is extremely important to the overall performance of the machine. The table surface needs to be reliably flat and rigid to properly support the workpiece during a cut. As one of the most massive parts of the saw, the table surface also plays a major role in absorbing vibration. Because of the need for mass, rigidity and flatness, cast iron is the material of choice for the top of a table saw. On a quality saw, the table is made using a hefty quantity of cast iron and state-of-the-art foundry methods. The end result of the casting process is then precision ground to flatness in the .0005'' tolerance range.
A few recent additions to the table saw market combine features of cabinet-base saws and open-base saws. These "hybrid" saws have both a completely enclosed base and legs. The small, enclosed base of the hybrid saw promotes dust collection and limits noise. A popular choice for hobbyist and small professional shops, hybrid table saws are also lighter and more affordable than traditional cabinet table saws.
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