Choosing a table saw – diy – mother earth news
If you haven’t yet realized that there’s never enough room in a workshop, you probably will someday. That’s why a portable saw is ideal in many situations. It frees up floor space between uses and al lows you to take cutting capabilities on the road. Many companies now offer excellent, professional-grade table saws (weighing from 75 to 150 pounds) that are fairly affordable.
The issue of size and weight brings you to the first pre-purchase question: Will your saw be used most frequently in a workshop, or will it always be on the move to different areas of building activity? If stationary use will be the norm, consider buying a heavyweight, contractor table saw. These semi-portable machines usually come with a stand or casters. They weigh about 100 to 150 pounds, include cast-iron work surfaces and offer a heft that ensures a stable work platform.
The latest breed of contractor saws do a great job with routine homestead projects and fine woodworking. A growing number of models include the same kind of rip fence and work surface normally found on the best 500-pound, stationary, cabinetmaker table saws.
For the nomad sawyer, working in the shop one day, in the back yard the next, and at a buddy’s place on the weekend, a lightweight, bench-top table saw is an ideal choice. These smaller contractor saws are designed to operate on top of an existing bench or the tailgate of your pickup. Typically weighing in at about 75 pounds, bench-top saws pack a lot of cutting power into a compact machine, and that’s their biggest virtue.
Table Saw PerformanceDon’t let their small size confuse you. Although high quality bench-top table saws look similar to those cheap models destined to disappoint, they are different. And price is a powerful clue to what’s inside the shipping carton.
Choose a saw with a 10-inch-diameter blade, a sliding guide (called a “fence”) that’s capable of guiding cuts to the center of a 48-inch-wide sheet of plywood or particleboard, and enough power to handle a full range of cutting challenges. Saws with motors drawing 12 to 15 amps of current, and spinning a full-size, 10-inch blade offer the zest to slice through 2-inch-thick hardwood in a single pass.
Optional accessories worth considering are a folding support stand, enhanced cutting jigs and fixtures.
Table Saws and Dust ControlMost wood gives off a pleasant aroma when it’s cut, but wood dust is more than just fragrant – it’s also hazardous to your health. Invisible, ultra-fine dust particles generated by power tools like table saws are especially hazardous.
Unless you’re using a table saw outdoors, you need some kind of dust control or personal dust protection. At a minimum don a dust mask in addition to the eye and ear protection you need to operate a table saw safely. A mask will protect your lungs, though your workshop still will get coated in fine dust. To avoid this, you need some additional equipment. Manufacturers sell dust collection bags that attach directly to the table saw. As the wood is cut, the heaviest sawdust is sucked down into the small bag.