When you run your own woodworking business or have a woodworking “hobby shop” set up in your garage, you need to strike the right balance when selecting what level of woodworking saw to equip yourself with.
Below, we survey some of your main options to help you get all you need but not buy more than you will ever use.
1. The Portable Table Saw
Easy to move due to their light weight, but not as heavy duty as a contractor-level saw, portable table saws are excellent when you need to work at different job sites or when you only need to make a few basic cuts. The motor is not as “hefty” as other models, and these saws can be a bit noisy, but they get the job done for smaller projects.
2. The Contractor Table Saw
This is the classic saw option for the home woodworking shop and is also useful on the jobsite. It is still relatively portable (at 250 to 350 pounds) and has a simple design. These saws are also affordable to non-professionals, while offering cast iron table tops and tougher build than the portable table saws mentioned above. Add in a high-quality saw blade or a special-use blade, and your cuts can be exceptional. To find a contractor table saw on Toolnerds.com that fits your needs, preferences, and budget, click on the link.
3. Cabinet Saws
Cabinet saws are called that because they are fully enclosed. These are the high-performance, stationary workshop type saws that pro woodworkers use. Cast iron, steel, and heavy duty motors and gears make these saws very powerful and very durable.
With a cabinet saw, you can cut through extremely thick wood with ease, even the tougher hardwoods. There will be very little noise or vibrations, and the accuracy is precise. For some, the extra complexity of operation and the extra cost make a contractor table saw a better option, but cabinet saws also have their place.
4. Hybrid Saws
Due to the big difference between traditional contractor table saws and cabinet style saws, a whole new “in between” class of saw has arisen: the “hybrid saw.” Hybrids add certain cabinet saw features to the average contractor saw. It might be the base, the legs, the drive-belt, the gears, or other features. It varies. But they all enclose the base and mount the motor inside. Hybrids will improve precision cuts and increase power, while lowering weight as compared to contractor saws. But they aren’t as portable as contractor saws either and will cost you a bit more, check the comparison on Sawinery.
Making Your Woodworking Saw Decision
Given all that we have said above of your major woodworking saw options, we can bring it all together here in the form of a list of “saw-shopping tips:”
- Don’t under-buy. You will deeply regret it if you buy the minimum saw and later discover it only makes your work harder and less perfect than you had hoped. Your projects are too important for you to doom them to mediocrity by buying a low-level saw. And all your work will be harder if you don’t have the right tools.
- Don’t over-buy. Regret can also sink in fast if you spend lots of money on, say, a cabinet saw only to barely ever use it. It will be like the proverbial fishing boat that sits in the garage all year collecting dust but costs you a hefty payment every month. Buy at or slightly above your current or projected future needs.
- Research the specific saw. If you decide to buy a portable table saw, a contractor saw, or a cabinet saw, your research has only just begun. You need to compare and contrast the detailed features of the major options within each class. Don’t just buy the cheapest or the first saw you see within a class; read reviews and carefully think out which features are most important to you.
The decision on which saw to buy for your workshop is a difficult one. It involves a balancing of performance, portability, affordability, and other important factors. And with so many brands and models of each saw type out there, you should spend some time reading reviews, checking specs, and getting advice from a trusted and knowledgeable friend.
In general, a portable table saw is for light and infrequent work, a contractor saw for a small-scale woodworking operation, a cabinet saw for high-volume work professionals, and a hybrid saw for “somewhere in between” the small home shop and the busy, professional woodworker.