Gwen Page Table Saw August 03rd, 2018 - 10:02:50
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.
Most table saws - other than small bench top models - are equipped with induction type motors in the 1 - 5 HP range. On larger saws, you'll most often find a "totally enclosed, fan cooled" (TEFC) induction motor. A TEFC motor is designed for continuous duty and is sealed against dust and other contaminants - a significant advantage in a woodshop.
If you consider that a sheet of plywood measures 48" in width, I would think that you might want to opt for a 50-inch rip as opposed to the slightly less expensive 30" rip capacity. You might want to rip off only one inch from that sheet of plywood and, while doing that, you will want the plywood to be fully supported. You might want to crosscut a sheet of plywood into two 48" pieces. You also should consider the rip space to the left of the blade: The wider, the better. Sometimes, you might want to accomplish tasks that require the fence to be put over to the left side of the blade.
The saw should come with a Biesemeyer or similar type fence included in the purchase price. This type of fence locks and aligns itself to a rectangular tube attached to the front of the saw table when you press down on a handle. Fence accuracy and ease of operation will be important every time you touch your table saw and so a cheap fence is no bargain. The fence will probably read measurements along a stick-on measuring tape on the top of the front fence rail tube. You will need to carefully adjust the fence for accuracy. Instructions of how to do this should come with the set-up instructions for the saw.
The quality and accuracy of fence systems, however, varies greatly across the spectrum. The quality of a table saw's fence system is an extremely important consideration: A poorly designed or inaccurate fence greatly diminishes the quality and accuracy of the cut, and can be a source of significant frustration. For saws in the price range of most hobbyists, the famous Biesemeyer T-square fence design sets the standard. Fortunately, many smaller, more affordable saws come standard with a reasonably accurate system patterned after the tried and true Biesemeyer design.