Table saws are by far the most common types of saws because they are comprehensive i.e., they can be used to make different types of cuts.
These include rip, angled, and even crosscuts, provided you use guiding rails and sleds.
The tool comprises a wide table, a depth adjustable circular blade at the middle, and a motor for spinning the blade.
With this basic design, the table saw is available in different designs that are majorly categorized as portable and stationary.
Portable Table Saw Types
Benchtop table saws are the smallest types of table saws and as the name suggests, they are designed to be used while placed on a bench.
They have the best portability because apart from being compact, they are built using light materials such as plastic, composites, or aluminum.
This makes them lightweight and very affordable. However, with such construction, benchtop saws are not very durable.
They also have smaller tables that limit the rip cutting capacity and are run using less powerful direct-drive motors.
Due to this, they are ideal for light-duty work such as cutting small boards for coffee tables, chairs and reducing stock for small construction projects like when building doghouses.
- Not very powerful
- Not highly durable
Contrary to its name, a compact table saw is not the most compact. It is larger than the benchtop type because it comes with a stand.
This raises the working surface to a comfortable non-bending level. The stand also stabilizes the working surface so that you can make the cuts more precisely.
The tabletop is made using tougher materials such as cast iron and some units feature sliding miters with sleds to help in making angled cuts.
However, the table’s surface is not as large as the one on a full-size table saw, which limits its cutting capacity. It has a direct drive universal motor that is not very powerful and is similar to the one in a benchtop table saw.
Therefore, this saw is ideal for light-duty work that might require angled cuts such as when making picture frames.
- Includes a stand
- Tough table surface
- Includes sliding miters and sleds for making angled cuts
- Relatively small table surface
As the name suggests, this portable table saw is designed to be used by professionals as they work on different work sites.
To achieve this, they have a more heavy-duty design as compared to compact and benchtop saws, and this is supported using a folding stand on wheels for easy movement.
They are still run using direct drive motors, but these are stronger and are ideal for heavy-duty use.
They have larger table surfaces that increase their rip cutting capacity and contain features such as sleds, stronger fences, and dust collection ports.
The saws are mostly used by contractors when making pieces of furniture such as cabinets.
- Strong, heavy-duty design
- Mounted on a folding stand with wheels
- Relatively large table surfaces
- Quite heavy
Stationary Table Saw Types
Stationary table saws are generally larger, heavier, and more precise than their portable counterparts. They include the following:
Contractor table saws are upgraded versions of Jobsite table saws because they are run using larger and more powerful induction motors via a belt drive system.
This makes them suitable for heavier duty use such as in construction work, carpentry, and furniture making.
On top of that, the saws are equipped with large and durable cast iron table surfaces that increase their rip cutting capacity.
On this surface, you get larger fences to match the table’s size, and these offer better guidance when cutting thick and wide stock.
However, all this hardware makes the saw weigh a bit more, coming in at about 250-300 pounds.
The tool also has an outboard rear hanging motor, which makes dust collection a bit difficult.
Recommend: DeWalt DWE7491RS
- Powered by a strong motor
- Large and durable table surface
- Taller and longer fences
- Difficult dust collection
Hybrid table saws are at the middle ground between contractor and cabinet table saws. They are larger, heavier, and have stronger motors with better belt drive systems as compared to the contractor type.
However, they are smaller, lighter, and less powerful than cabinet saws.
At times it can be a bit difficult to categorize this table saw because some have fully enclosed cabinet stands while others have open leg stands.
Additionally, all of their other features are slightly better than the ones in contractor table saws but not as good as the ones in cabinet units. No clear lines of demarcation exist to clearly define a hybrid table saw.
As such, it has better fences, a larger table surface, a better dust collection system, and costs more than a contractor table saw but is inferior and costs less than a cabinet table saw.
This tool is therefore ideal for carpentry and construction work for those professionals that are a bit short on cash.
Recommend: Bosch 4100-10
- Relatively powerful
- Better features than a contractor table saw
- Quite heavy
Cabinet table saws get their names from having a fully enclosed cabinet body. They sit at the top of the pile because they have the best of everything.
That said, they usually have very powerful motors that can produce up to 5 horsepower and have large table surfaces that increase the rip cutting capacity to allow you to reduce large and dense boards.
On the downside, due to all this hardware, these saws are pricey and very heavy; they can weigh up to 500 pounds.
Therefore, they are usually permanently mounted in workshops and can be used to cut through any piece of wood for any type of project.
Recommend: Jet 708675PK
- Powerful motor
- Large table surface
As you can see, the different table saw types are defined by their features and they rank from the least powerful with limited features to the most powerful with the best features.
The less powerful ones are cheaper and should be bought when working on DIY or smaller projects. For heavy-duty commercial use, the more expensive stationary types are better off.