Tammy Branch Table Saw August 28th, 2018 - 16:56:44
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.
One drawback of lighter-weight table extensions is that they have less mass, and the overall mass of the saw is what soaks up the vibration crated by the motor and other moving parts. The added mass of heavy cast iron extension wings decreases vibration, which in turn helps the saw stay in calibration, and also helps it stay planted firmly on the shop floor. On less expensive saws, extensions made of stamped metal, or ones that aren't precision ground, can also compromise the overall flatness of the table surface.
I'd like to take a minute to talk about the features that you should be looking for and what these features will mean to you after you unpack and set up your new table saw. These features include: motor horsepower, blade size, trunnion construction, tabletop flatness, tabletop size, arbor size and arbor bearings, sawdust extraction, ease of operation including raising, lowering and tilting the blade, tilt of the blade (left or right), the necessity of a magnetic switch and the importance of its location, ease of access to the interior of the cabinet, accuracy and ease of operation of the fence, the amount of rip space to the right and the left of the blade, safety features and table saw mobility around the shop. In addition to the table saw itself, you may want to construct an outfeed table around the back of the saw, if space permits. We'll talk about that, as well.
Many table saws can be purchased with optional extension wings. Table extension wings bolt on to the right and left sides of the table and increase the surface area of the saw to help support wide stock and sheet materials. On a heavy duty stationary saw, the extensions are usually cast iron, while on smaller saws, they may be made of lighter stamped steel or the lighter "webbed" style of cast iron.
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.
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