Barbara Hickman Table Saw August 23rd, 2018 - 10:54:53
There are many things you will want to consider before purchasing a new table saw for your shop. There are three main types of table saws: (1) the lightweight, inexpensive and portable contractor's saw, (2) the cabinet saw, so-named because it has an enclosed cabinet as opposed to open base and (3) the new breed of so-called "Hybrid" table saws which fill the price gap between contractor's saws and cabinet saws. This discussion will be only concern cabinet saws because, in my experience, nothing less will do for a shop that produces fine woodworking. Smaller saws lack both the accuracy and capacity of cabinet saws.
Cabinet table saws have the circular saw attached to a table with a cabinet. It is the largest and the heaviest of the table saws and therefore is not moved around like the other table saws. The cabinet table saw is more durable and has less vibration which makes for a smoother cut. However, the cabinet saw is more expensive than the other types of saws and usually requires the installation of a heavy circuit. The cabinet saw also has a height and tilt adjustment feature and has better dust collection than the other models.
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.
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.
Your new saw must have a rip capacity equal or wider than the widest thing you will ever want to rip. Usually, a cabinet saw will have a rip capacity of around 30 inches or 50 inches. A large rip capacity to the right of the blade will require an extension table to support work wider than the cast iron table. Many times, this extension table is included with the saw or, alternatively, you can easily build you own. The fence must have a tube or rail long enough to achieve the maximum with you want to rip.