Most modern jobsite portable table saws, including this model made by SawStop, come with a built-in stand that quickly converts into a convenient wheeled cart.

Although lighter and more compact than other saws, portable jobsite and benchtop table saws are impressively powerful and full-featured. Most models use a standard 10 ″ saw blade and have the same depth-of-cut capacity Cordless Screwdriver as full-sized saws. To get a portable's weight down, heavy steel and iron parts are replaced by aluminum alloy castings and/or molded plastic. Weighty induction motors are replaced by the same kinds of universal motors used in portable power tools. Although noisier and not as powerful as induction motors, universal motors can handle most light- and medium-duty cutting jobs. Some portables have built-in folding stands with wheels that make them very easy to move around and stow when not in use. Benchtop models have short bases and must be mounted on a work table or stand before they're ready to run.

Selecting Blades.

General-purpose carbide-tipped saw blades (rear) are great for everyday use, but for specialized tasks, choose special blades: (left to right) crosscut, rip and melamine/plywood.

Although just about any saw blade will cut wood, you'll get better long-term performance with a good carbide-tooth combination or "general-purpose" blade, such as the Forrest Woodworker II. As their name implies, these blades can tackle most of the everyday cuts taken on a table saw. But for the best, cleanest, cuts, choose a saw blade that's specifically designed for the kind of cut you're taking.

Crosscut blades, such as Freud's D1080X Diablo, employ a high number of teeth (60 to 80 on a 10 ″ blade) with an Corded Circular Saw tooth grind to produce square- or miter-cut ends that look as though they were sanded smooth. In contrast, ripping blades have far fewer teeth: typically 24 to 30 on a 10 ″ saw blade. Each rip tooth has a flat grind and a high hook angle, allowing it to slice through wood fibers along the length of a board. Thin-kerf blades (combo, crosscut or rip) require less motor power to run and generate less sawdust, to boot.

Dado blades are used to cut grooves, dadoes and other joinery. The width of cut is determined by the number of chipper blades and shims set between a pair of outer saw blades.

For super-clean cuts in materials such as plywood, melamine, plastics and nonferrous metals, choose a saw blade specially designed for cutting that material.

Cutting wide grooves, dadoes and notches for joinery, such as box joints, calls for a dado blade. A stacking dado set sandwiches individual chipper blades between a pair of outer saw blades. You change the width of the groove/dado by using more or fewer chipper blades, with shims between them.

Table Saw Safety.

First of all: never adjust a table saw or check a saw blade without first unplugging the saw. Using safe table saw operating practices (see the "Making the Cut" section of this article for more), push sticks and featherboards can help avoid unfortunate accidents-- as can the following safety devices specifically designed for your saw:.

A table saw's blade guard, splitter and/or riving knife and anti-kickback pawls all serve to protect the user from harm during cutting.

-- Blade guard. Most stock blade guards have a hinged, clear plastic hood that surrounds the saw blade, allowing stock to be fed while preventing fingers from straying into the blade. The guard also deflects sawdust and small cutoffs from being thrown up toward the operator. Unfortunately, stock blade guards can Best Circular Saw to set up and must be removed for operations such as dadoing, box joint cutting, etc. It's best to employ shop-made guards during these special operations, or fit the saw with an over-arm-style guard: a clear box-like guard suspended above the saw blade.

-- Splitters and anti-kickback pawls. Whether built into the blade guard or mounted separately, a splitter (aka riving knife) is a thin steel vein set right behind the blade. It's designed to keep the saw kerf from closing up and binding the blade as stock exits the cut, thus preventing the saw motor from stalling and the work from being hurled back at the user. Usually mounted on either side of a blade' guard's splitter, anti-kickback pawls are spring-loaded fingers with serrated points that scrape along the top of the work as it's fed through the cut. They are "one-way" devices that further prevent stock from kicking back.

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