When was the last time you browsed YouTube for some fun DIY project involving wood crafting or cutting other materials and there wasn’t a saw involved? Exactly. Table saws are becoming a major part of every woodworker’s arsenal of tools and with each year companies are trying to come up with the best portable table saw. Portability is a great feature to have in a heavy-duty tool which can speed up your project significantly. In this guide, I will go through some of the top models on this year’s market, show you their features, and discuss some of the table saw’s most important features.
When looking for your new portable table saw you will need to take a number of things into consideration. Some of the more important ones are the saw blade, its motor, whether there are any safety features, the fence and miter gauge properties, additional accessories, and overall dimensions. None of these should be overlooked as it can prove crucial to your final project goal. One more thing that you should take into account is the price, as an expensive table saw can easily set your project’s budget aflame.
Below you will find some of the best models for this year and some of their most important features compared to one another.
Portable Saws Comparison Chart
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Now, let’s take a look at each of those saws individually and give them all an individual rating based on their features…
Top Rated Models
Bosch 4100-09 10-Inch Worksite Portable Table Saw
There is no wonder a Bosch or a DeWalt model starts off this list. This is because these companies are just very good and highly specialized in making good tools. The Bosch 4100-09 Worksite portable table saw is one of the better deals out there currently. It has a 4HP, 3650RPM motor which is powerful enough to make most cuts and to make them clean. The stand it comes with is really easy to deploy and work with, thanks to their new GravityStand technology. In terms of weight, this table saw is somewhat on the light side of things weighing at a little less than forty pounds which shouldn’t be confused with a bad construction quality. This thing is build to last you some good years before it is time for a new saw. Check out my full review for more on this model.
Dewalt DW745 Portable Table Saw
The DW745 by DeWalt is not going to be by everyone’s budget but it sure makes up for the steep price by having a lot of functionality to its name. It packs a 10 inch blade and a 15 Amp motor that will go straight through any type of wooden material. It also has a 20 inch rip that is equally potent. The overall size of the saw is substantial, compared to other smaller models, and weighs 45 pounds which isn’t exactly lightweight. Still, all that is thanks to its robust nature and solid structure. If you want to read my full review and see which are the pros and cons of this model, head over to my full review by clicking the button below.
SKIL 3410-02 Portable Table Saw
The Skil 3410-02 is every DIYer’s dream. It is cheap, easy to work with and extremely practical. Its key feature is the 20×26 inches cast aluminum table which can extend to 20×32 inches to accommodate bigger pieces. It has a 3 1/2 inch maximum cut height which is good if you are working with thicker materials. The construction is held up by a heavy-duty steel stand. There are a ton of other features like the self-aligning rip fence, but most importantly this model stands out due to its low price. It is less than half the price of some other models on this list without sacrificing too much power or practicality. For more of my thoughts, visit my full review!
Bosch GTS1031 Portable Table Saw
The Bosch GTS1031 brings a familiar quality to the table, both literally and figuratively. One of its main attributes is that it is very portable and lightweight compared to other models in this price range. Thanks to its carry-handle you can move it around your workshop or from one work site to another without too much effort. It is fairly cheap, extremely durable, and comes with a variety of accessories making the final deal that much more appealing. If you want to learn more about its quirks and features, click the button below!
Dewalt DW744X Portable Table Saw
The DW744X by DeWalt is yet another brilliant product from the company. Despite its high price, it comes with a myriad of features that will make your life easier. It has an easily adjustable rip fence, a transparent saw guard, magnetic on/off switch, and is quite compact even though it isn’t exactly light in terms of weight. If you want to learn more about its advantages and see where it falls short compared to its competition, click the button below to see my full review!
Rockwell RK7240.1 Shop Series Portable Table Saw
This is the only table saw out of the bunch that doesn’t have a 15 amp motor. Still, the Rockwell RK7240.1 Shop Series is one tough cookie. It is robust, very sturdy, and can cut through anything you throw at it, despite that slightly weaker motor. It has a durable tungsten-carbide blade which can bevel to 45 degrees and a die-cast aluminum table which has more than 400 sq. inches of space you can work on. It also packs some handy features like the quick-release rip fence, the easily adjustable miter gauge, and even a push stick to help beginners.
Rockwell RK7241S Portable Table Saw
The Rockwell RK7241S is the rockstar of their line-up. It is a heavy-duty table saw which combines a lightweight design with a durable structure. It is suitable for any job site, cabinet shop, or a small backyard work shop. It has a 3 and 9/16 cutting depth at 90 degrees which is one of the highest among other products in this price bracket. It also has a laser indicator to help you adjust the blade’s tilt better. These features really make it stand out, especially considering it isn’t as expensive as some other Bosch or DeWalt models.
Woodworking is in the core of any type of project you want to take on. There are a ton of cuts that table saws can help you do, such as cross, miter, rip, compound, and bevel cuts. These saws are very flexible in their abilities and nowadays there are more models than you can think of with each having its own pros and cons. That is why you need to know exactly what you are looking for when getting your new portable saw.
Table saws are far more accurate and precise in their cuts since the material is moving towards the blade unlike regular saws where you have to do everything. There are items like the miter gauge and the fence which will help you along your cuts.
I’ve tried to combine all the useful information regarding portable saw features in as compact guide as possible. So, without further ado, let’s jump straight into it.
First, let’s start with the main types of portable saws that you can get on the market today.
Types Of Portable Saws
There are four main types of saws that all have their distinctive traits. Those types are:
- Bench Top
The first two are portable, while the contractor, hybrid, and cabinet saws are meant to be stationary.
The jobsite models (or compact) come mounted on top of a stand. The stand usually has wheels to improve portability. Another aspect of these saws that helps with practicality is the fact that they can fold. This makes transport easy as well, hence the name “jobsite”.
Bench top saws don’t have a stand to them, as they are entirely reliant on a table to be put on in order to work. That creates some certain issues when working with them, since you will need a steady surface to put them on. Still, they are fairly lightweight and easy to carry around. They are also quite compact dimensions-wise.
The contractor table saw, again as the name suggests, are quite rugged in terms of construction and you will have a hard time moving them around. They are expensive and are meant to stay at one place. Some people mistakenly use the term “contractor saw” for the jobsite saws which is incorrect.
Hybrid table saws are very similar to the contractor ones but have certain traits taken from the cabinet saws and that is why most people confuse them with contractor saws.
Full-on cabinet saws are large in size, very heavy, powerful, and quite robust. Moving them will be hard and they are meant to work most of the day in a place which has constant sawing needs.
If you are a beginner and want to know which woodworking tools you need for your projects, head over my full article on the topic!
Features To Look For In Your Portable Saw
There are a number of things you will need to consider before getting a table saw. Those features are:
- The saw blade
- Fence and miter gauge
- Safety features
Now, let’s take a look at each of those features individually…
The saw blade
Usually, saw blades are categorized based on their arbor size, diameter, teeth, kerf size, rotation speed, materials, and the targeted application. Most portable table saws have 10 or 12 inch blades, even though you can easily find models with blades smaller than 10 inches (or bigger than a foot).
The number of teeth varies a lot. Usually, it is anywhere between 22 and 80. Nowadays, saw blades are designed to not only cut through wood but through various other materials. That requires them to be made out of stronger materials such as carbon, carbide. For the ones on a loose budget, there are saw blades with diamond tips which are quite expensive but can cut through virtually anything.
Another thing that has the world of woodworkers divided in two groups is the blade tilt. It can be either right or left and both have their pros and cons.
Another factor that sets table saws apart from each other is the motor of the saw. Typically, stationary saws get more powerful motors than portable ones. Still, there are some portable table saws out there that can put out around 2hp worth of power. They all run on a 120V current. That amount of output is enough for those saws to cut through thin sheets of various materials or thicker wooden planks.
Power can also be measure in amps where most models have 10-15 amp motors.
Stationary saws can have up to 5-6hp thanks to their belt-driven structure (a belt drive transfers the whole power from the motor to the saw’s blade). These typically work on a 240V current.
Fence and miter gauge
The fence of the saw is one of its most essential parts. It actually is the part that gives table saws such a great advantage over regular hand-held ones. One of the most common fence types out there is the T-square one. Without these fences, a rip cut will be virtually impossible.
If you want to make a cross cut, then you will also need a miter gauge. These gauges are essentially guiding devices that move along the miter slot on your saw. Their key feature is the fact that they can pivot around to an angle between -45 and 45 degrees allowing you to make any type of angled cut you want.
While the fence allows you to make rip cuts, the miter gauge will give you a number of additional options. With it, you can make angled cross cuts, special cuts, and square cuts.
Square cuts are fairly common and easy to do. When doing it just set your miter gauge at 90 degrees and push the material towards the blade. The markings on the gauge can also be 0 depending on your specific model. The end result will be a square cut on your board. Angled cuts follow the same process with a different angle set on the gauge.
Pro Tip: When working with a miter gauge, remember to move the material slowly, since the gauge can displace it if you are going too fast. That will result in an imperfect cut. Another way to make sure that this doesn’t happen is by using a clamp.
Thanks to those miter gauges you can make compound cuts as well. They are done by adjusting the gauge angle and the bevel of your saw blade at the same time.
There are a ton of accessories companies try to add to their products in order to secure the sale. Some of those are table extensions, adjustable wheels, storage compartments, special on and off switches, dust collectors, etc. If you go with a brand like DeWalt or Makita most of those accessories will come with your purchase, so it is worth considering your final cost when comparing a budget saw that won’t give you those accessories and a more expensive saw that comes with all of them.
On top of the manufacturer-provided accessories, you can create a super-table-saw by adding items like a new blade, router table, dado blade sets, a cross cut sled, different types of jigs, heads, and so forth.
One heavily overlooked aspect of portable table saws is their overall dimensions. Surely, if they are portable they can fit anywhere, right? Well, wrong. Some models despite being portable can be quite bulky so if you are dealing with tight tool shed spaces you might have trouble with those.
Pay special attention to the height, width, and length of the table both when folded and with its legs extended all the way.
You should always consider the price you are going to pay for a tool, no matter how big or small it is. When embarking on a project, you can easily lose track of your budget. A well-equipped, powerful, sturdy portable table saw can easily throw you way off your initial budget, especially if you start upgrading it or adding extra accessories. Keep those numbers in mind and always check whether you can fit in your initial budget or not.
Each year there are roughly 30,000 accidents in the USA that are related to saws. This is why more and more companies are implementing modern safety features to their models, even the budget ones. That on its own won’t guarantee that you will keep all your fingers, though. What you have to do is follow a strict table saw safety protocol every time you work.
Some of the most common safety features in today saw models are:
- Blade guard
- Anti-kickback paws
- Riving knife
- Magnetic switches
- Push sticks
Blade guards are the most important features when it comes to table saw safety. They are extremely effective at keeping your hands far from the danger zone. Many woodworkers remove the blade guard, though. That is mainly because with it installed you can’t precisely see the cut and can’t measure it properly. That is especially valid if the guard isn’t transparent. It also gets in your way when you have to change the blade or remove a stuck piece of wood. Still, if you are a beginner you shouldn’t even think about removing it.
Splitters & Anti-kickback paws
Splitters and anti-kickback paws are equally important. One of the major reasons for a saw-related accident is the kickback. It happens when the material with which you are working gets ejected at very high speeds. If you are holding that piece, your hand can easily get dangerously close to the blade. To prevent that, a lot of models have splitters which are small blades which keep the kerf you made open behind the blade.
Sometimes you can see anti-kickback paws attached to those same splitters. The idea behind this is to keep the wood from being propelled into the air by sticking the paws into it and holding it in place. This works almost every time, except if you are doing cross-cuts. Then, the paws might get in your way and you will have to remove them.
A better alternative to the splitter is the so-called riving knife. While serving the same purpose, there are noticeable differences between those two safety features. For once, the splitter has the major disadvantage of being fixed to the table and not being able to move with the blade. For that reason, you will have to remove it when making cross-cuts, or other similar cuts. Unfortunately, a lot of woodworkers forget to put it back into place when they start doing normal cuts, which can result in an accident.
Riving knives, however, are attached to the blade’s mechanism and moves along with it making the whole operation safer since you can’t come into contact with the back part of the saw blade. On top of that, the material with which you are working has less space to get caught and stuck behind the blade. One other major advantage of the riving knife is that it doesn’t get in your way when you want to have a dust collector, blade guard, and other items on the table.
Recently, SawStop developed a mechanism that revolutionized the saw industry. It involves a sensor in the blade which detects conductivity. Wood has a fairly low conductivity compared to human skin, so when the blade comes in contact with your hand it detects it immediately. In a fraction of a second (0.02 seconds), an aluminum brake jams the blade and drops it below the table. The worst case scenario is that you will end up with a cut in your fingers and will have to buy a new brake and saw blade but that is a small price to pay compared to keep your hand intact.
Another great feature that you should look for in your future table saw is the magnetic switch. It makes sure that the table saw goes to “off” in an event of a power outage and also protects the motor from an overload by switching it off if left to work for some time without you doing anything.
These are more likely to fall into the “accessories” category but are an important safety feature too. if you saw doesn’t have a SawStop system installed, you definitely have to invest in a push stick or look for a model that comes with one. It is never a good idea to have your hands anywhere near the saw and that is why most woodworkers rely on push sticks to move the material towards the blade.
So, how is the best portable table saw defined? Well, it depends on your needs. Nowadays, there are countless models out there and each of them tries competing with the rest by having the latest features and the most powerful motors. Still, it is important to keep in mind that you need a saw that will get the job done. If you want to have fun with some DIY projects, get a smaller, more practical model that is packed with safety features and is steady enough for the job. If you are more a construction work type of person, then there are larger, industrial-grade saws that can do the job for you.