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Table Saw, A Vital Construction Tool

Perhaps the most vital woodworking tool ever designed, the table saw has been around for more than two centuries. Debuting in England in 1777, the table saw was first powered by a floor treadle. Its next evolution included a radial and circular arm. Eventually portable table saws made carpentry even easier.

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This handy tool is easy and safe for even the novice do it yourself homeowner or budding woodworker. At its most basic, the table saw is used for cutting wood. There are many facets of that, however. One of its most common functions is to rip boards to their needed width. The saw also cuts plywood sheets, does bevel and miter cutting, and makes crosscuts as well.   With the addition of a jig to control its location and motion, the saw can crosscut exceptionally long or wide pieces of lumber, make tenons, cut slots, make grooves, cut molding and even a raised panel or two.

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For those who primarily have small, light or sporadic home improvement projects, the best choice is a bench table saw. While these pieces of equipment can be quite noisy, they are small and light weight, and easy to transport and set up. Most bench saws weigh less than 60 pounds. Contractor saws, in contrast, weigh well over 200 pounds, require a much larger and stronger table to work and are therefore far less portable. They are far less noisy, however, and accomplish far bigger construction tasks. They are generally used for homeowners who know how to take on the big tasks, or professional trades people just starting out and trying to work within a tight budget.

For the serious contractor or construction worker, the high-end cabinet saw does it all. So named because its motor is enclosed in a cabinet, this hefty tool weighs more than 400 pounds but can get the job done for a woodworker or professional contractor for decades. A trade person can buy his or her first cabinet table saw knowing that the money spent need only be spent once.

No one can really take on a meaningful woodworking or construction job start to finish without a table saw. Important items to include with a radial saw purchase are a flat table, extensions that fit tight and flat to the table, and a guard that allows for a clear view of the saw and its action. Ideally, the best and safest table saw is one with a miter gauge T slot.