In today’s show, we’ll be looking at what many believe is THE most important tool you will ever buy for your shop. The Table Saw. And this week, we’ll talk about How To Choose A Table Saw for your small shop. I can’t wait to this on with you! So be sure to join us for all that and more, right here, on Everyday Woodworking.
Everyday Woodworking Podcast Ep 11
Setting Up A Small Shop – How To Choose A Table Saw
Hey everyone. I’m Ricky Fitzpatrick with Everyday Woodworking, your Podcast Home for tips, tricks and information on how to make the most of your woodworking time and money, every day.
Well welcome back my little woodworking partners! And Partner…ettes. You know what I mean.
We are about to swim on over to the deep end of the pool today. We’ve been wading around about knee-deep in our series on Setting Up A Small Shop, but today we’re jumping in with some talk about How To Choose A Table Saw.
Even for a small shop, you cannot underestimate the value of the table saw. Even with the love affair with CNCs, the table saw is still the rock-steady, centerpiece of the average American woodworker’s workflow.
And if you’re setting up a small shop, then a discussion about table saws isn’t a matter of if, but when. It’s a must-have. And for many of us, it might be the first big tool investment we’ll make. For some of us, it may be our only major tool purchase.
So we want to approach the subject with its proper weight and break it, break it down into some logical nuggets of info as we start exploring this very important segment of the shop-iverse.
But before we do, let’s take a quick peek at what’s been happening here in our little corner of things.
Aside from woodworking stuff, Springtime is here, Jack. And as I mentioned last week, we’re getting our garden beds ready to rock. This week, I got a ton…like, literally a ton…of mulch, and spread it around the garden areas.
You may not know this, but most area landfills process a mountain of mulch on site. They just grind up yard waste and wood products, and that stuff gets mixed in with soil and God only knows what else. But it actually makes some pretty decent mulch.
Jackson County (where we live) does this. And they just give it away for free. All you have to do is come get it. So I took my little trailer up there and they dumped about three scoop fulls on me and it was awesome. Way more than I needed.
Next, I need some “cleaner” mulch for garden paths and edging and areas around trees. For that, the landfill mulch is just too…let’s say “funky”. It’s a great ground cover and weed suppressor. But it doesn’t look very nice.
So next, we called some of our friends in the Tree Service business. Tree guys always have mulch! Some of them sell it on the side, but frankly, most of them are so busy with their tree removal, they don’t have time to fool with mulch. So if you tell them you want it, they’ll usually give it to you for free. And if you’re near a job, they’ll even dump it in your yard. Now that’s easy.
So we’re in the mulch, baby! It’s a lot of work to put it out, shovel by shovelful, but when it’s free, you can’t complain!
How To Choose A Table Saw
Alright, let’s get into it. How to choose a table saw! As always, we’re going to breeze through this pretty fast, but of course, you can always ask me if you have questions and we’ll go back over something in more detail.
Um, FYI, we are not going to suggest a specific table saw. And you’ll see why in a minute. The variables are just too…vaired…for me to tell you what the best saw is for you. You’ll have to weigh everything out and make your own decision.
I will however, leave a few links at the end of this to some of our favorites. I’ll just go ahead and say, we’ve had the Ryobi 10 inch Benchtop Table Saw for years and we love it. Is it the best saw on the market? No. But for (at the time) less than $100, it’s hard to beat.
We also like Ridgid. Dewalt is always a solid choice. A good used Craftsman is hard to top. And the Warrior or Chicago Electric at Harbor Freight…always an affordable contender. So there’s a few to get you started.
To help you choose the best table saw for your small shop, we’re going to break this down into Five General Areas.
How Will It Be Used?
How accurate do you really need it to be?
How thick will the material be?
Mostly softwoods or hardwoods?
Will you want to break down a lot of plywood panels?
How often will you use it?
Indoors or outdoors?
Buy for the most complex operation you will be using it for.
Buy the best you can afford at the moment.
Then make it last.
Pick A Size
120V power requirement.
Can be loud.
Lightweight at less than 100 pounds.
Prob brushless motor.
Smoother operation and cuts.
More durable. More accurate.
Usually a single-belt drive
Cast Iron top (likely)
Prob weighs around 200 pounds.
Large table with options for extensions and extra outfeed.
Beefy cast iron trunnions and bearings for durability and longevity.
Incredibly accurate and smooth in operation.
Locking, accurate fence is critical.
Upgrade the fence if you can.
Stop points at 90 and 45.
Dust Collection Port
1-2 HP motor is good for most of us.
Lots of 8/4 and up hardwoods may require more.
120V plug in is all most of us have.
240V can get expensive.
Blade Options and Changing Ease
Easy and Accurate.
Locking points if possible.
Blade Brakes are not standard.
A Great feature to have.
Be wary of retail seller reviews. They can be skewed.
Friends and other woodworkers know what works.
Buy what you can afford.
Benchtop Saw - $100 and up
Contractor’s Saw - $350 and up
Cabinet Saw is going to be $1,500 minimum.
Don’t go crazy.
Pay for important features. Pass on extras that you can’t afford.
Name doesn’t always matter…but, sometimes it does.
Listen to our podcast on Budgeting and sources of money for outfitting your small shop.
Alright. That’s it for “How To Choose A Table Saw”. A super quick look at one of the most important tools you will ever buy for your small shop.
And with that in mind, there are undoubtedly things that I overlooked or forgot. Or maybe I said something that you disagree with. If so, let me know. We want to get this right!
And, be sure to come back next week where we’ll be taking a break from the Setting Up A Small Shop series to answer woodworking and small shop related questions from you guys and do a Listener Q&A. This is going to be a blast and I know you’re going to want to be here for that.
One last thing…if you enjoyed this episode, please take a second and leave us a great review. And, wherever you’re listening, we would love it if you subscribed to our podcast and became a regular listener.
Also, if you’re watching us on YouTube, then obviously we post a video of each Podcast Episode on our Apple Valley Farm (our woodworking business) YouTube Channel. Definitely like, comment and subscribe to us there as well.
And finally, if you’d like to learn even more about us, you can check out the show notes and head over to www.applevalleyfarmga.com for things like our store, our woodworking projects and lots, lots more.
That’s it. Have a great day. Thanks again. And I’ll see you next time…on Everyday Woodworking.
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Ryobi 10-Inch Table Saw at Home Depot - https://www.homedepot.com/p/RYOBI-15-Amp-10-in-Table-Saw-with-Folding-Stand-RTS12/309412842
Ridgid 10-Inch Table Saw at Home Depot - https://www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-10-in-Pro-Jobsite-Table-Saw-with-Stand-R4514/309415135
DeWalt 10-Inch Table Saw at Home Depot - https://www.homedepot.com/p/DEWALT-15-Amp-Corded-10-in-Job-Site-Table-Saw-with-Rolling-Stand-DWE7491RS/204512007
Warrior Table Saw from Harbor Freight - https://www.harborfreight.com/10-in-15-amp-table-saw-57342.html
Chicago Electric Table Saw from Harbor Freight - https://www.harborfreight.com/merchandising-promotions/clearance/10-in-15-amp-benchtop-table-saw-63118.html
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Thanks to the folks at https://www.online-convert.com/ for helping us convert our files into the formats we need.
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A few helpful articles that we used in our research:
Rockler - https://www.rockler.com/learn/the-right-table-saw-for-your-shop
Woodcraft - https://www.woodcraft.com/blog_entries/choosing-a-table-saw
Acme Tools - https://www.acmetools.com/blog/how-to-determine-what-table-saw-is-best-for-you/
Popular Mechanics - https://www.popularmechanics.com/about/a35698152/top-portable-table-saws/