In all my years working as a home depot sales associate, I have gotten very familiar with power tools of all kinds. I’m proud to be a specialist in the power tools department, which means I help people find their new saws and drills and so forth. I know quite a bit about all the different companies and models that are out there, from Dewalt to Bosch, and all the other ones.
I really like advising people on power tools because it is something big that they will use often, and really have a personal relationship with. So it is on me to help them find something that actually suits their needs and their preferences. I have also had a lot of experience as someone who works in retail of people who are unhappy with tools they buy and come back in to return them, so I feel like I know better than most people which ones are actually good tools to buy and are more than just a nice package on the shelf.
Today, I want to talk about saws, specifically table saws, which you use to make rip cuts and big sheet cuts as a contractor, or anytime you’re working with bigger lumber at your home workshop.
If you’re starting to learn how to make your own furniture, a table saw is probably the most important tool in your shop. You need accurate edges when you’re cutting boards down to size, otherwise they’re not going to line up right when you go to put your cabinet or your shelf together. They’re basically the only saw you can use for big long rip cuts and trimming sheet material down to size with any kind of precision
The best table saws are cabinet style ones, which are those big iron beasts you probably used in shop class. But most people can’t afford something like that, which is why we mostly sell less expensive ones at Home Depot, like contractor table saws and portable ones that are the cheapest. Most people who come through my department end up going with a portable table saw, whether or not they’re professional woodworkers.
Now, when you’re looking at table saws, the key things you want to look at are the table itself, the fence, and the motor. The table’s going to determine just about everything on the woodworking you do with the saw. If it’s close to perfect, so will your projects. If it’s warped or tilted slightly, so will every board you cut with it. It’s that simple. With your fence, you’re basically looking for straightness again, so a fence that stays in place well once you’ve got it fastened down, and as wide a rip capacity as you can get in your saw. The motor’s simple, just look for the most power you can find. I’d also suggest taking a look at how you’re going to move your saw around, since you need to figure out some sort of cart or wheelbase for any table saw that’s not tiny.
In my experience Dewalt have the best ones in the portable category, and the people who go home with those don’t tend to come back in as much (because they’re happy with their saws). They have molded tops that are generally pretty close to perfect, with the occasional wonky one, but I always check the ones I sell before they leave the store to make sure they’re up to scratch. Dewalt also make a lot of their table saws (or at least put them together) here in the States, now, so their quality control has actually gotten better even though most brands are on the downhill slope.
Anyway, if you’re going the portable route, I’d go for a Dewalt. But if you need a bit more power and stability, and don’t care so much about being super portable, there’s a cool new category out there, which is the hybrid table saw. They have a closed-up cabinet like a cabinet saw, but they’re scaled down a bit and they’re meant to be moved around on a cart. They’re definitely worth investigating, and some of my clients have told me some great things about theirs. As far as I know, SawStop makes the best hybrid table saw, but I’m also biased because I’ve seen someone use a finger and now I’m super concerned about safety whenever I buy a cutting tool. You can check out the SawStop I’m talking about over on bestsaws.reviews, which also has a more in-depth review for the Dewalt table saw I’ve recommended. It’s my favorite place to read about saws and tool reviews, since they have really nice reviews that sound like they’re from people who actually know what they’re doing with a saw. I also send shoppers there if they need to know about a tool I haven’t personally seen.
Well, that’s my two cents worth, I hope you find it helpful! I’ll be back soon with some more insider hardware tips. Thanks for reading!