Kerri Delaney Table Saw August 24th, 2018 - 15:00:46
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.
The smallest motor I would even consider for a 10-inch saw would be 3 horsepower. For a 12" to 14" saw it would be 5HP and for a 14" to 16" saw, I'd like 7.5 HP. You will also need to consider if the saw motor is single or three phase. Three phase motors use electricity a bit more efficiently. If you don't have three phase power at your location, however, you will either have to buy single phase or purchase and install a phase converter large enough for your saw motor. Most saw motors use 230 or 460 VAC power, so make sure you have available in your shop the voltage your saw will require. Three phase motors can run on 208 to 220 volts or higher, depending on the motor.
The trunnion determines the accuracy of your cuts so you want to be sure that it is well built and accurately machined. The saw blade must always be exactly where you need it to be. Furthermore, the trunnion must be easy to operate. It should not require Superman to raise or tilt the blade. As time goes on, you may find that it is harder to turn the wheels or cranks that operate the trunnion. This is usually because of sawdust contamination of the gears and/or lack of lubrication. Some better saws have ways of eliminating sawdust from the cabinet into an external dust port before it can get into the gears. Other saws come with self-cleaning gear teeth.
One of the more useful add-ons for just about any table saw is either an upgraded system offered by the manufacturer, or an aftermarket miter gauge or crosscutting sled. These tools provide, in various combinations, repeatable incremental angle positioning, longer fences, stop blocks and other advanced features that can come in handy in projects that call for precision crosscutting.
Also known as the open-stand saw, the contractor saw is heavier and more durable than the bench top saw. Its circular saw is mounted on a heavy table with an open set of legs. This type of saw is usually preferred for those who have a tool shed at home since it is moderately-priced and does not require any extra voltage than is provided in a regular outlet. While this model is heavier and less portable than the bench top model, the contractor table saw is still usually moved from job to job (most contractor saws come with wheel attachments to make this easier).