Portable Table Saw – The small jobsite wonder!

A portable table saw or a saw bench is a popular working tool for any carpenter. Earlier you may have noticed carpenters or wood cutters using hand held saw and rushing for hours to cut timbers. Those cause physical stresses, wasting time. The portable table saw is here to make you (carpenters) live more hassle free.

What is it?

The portable table saw consists of the following components.

  • A circular saw blade is there and it is installed on an arbor.
  • The saw is driven with an electric motor.
  • The blade is projected on the surface of a table and it provides necessary supports to all materials.
  • As it is portable, it has the mobility options to be positioned from one place to another. Thus you won’t face trouble to move it or hire anyone else.

In these tables, the depth of the cut may vary through motions of blades up and down. The higher the blade projection above this table, the deeper is the cut in the material.

Accessories contained within portable table saw

  • Out feed tables- you’ll get the process of ripping long boards or long sheets of plywood and or related sheet materials lot easier and safer. Many shops build it of their own or you can get these commercially in the market.
  • In feed tables- this will aid you to feed those long boards or sheet of plywood. Though earlier roller stands were the only option, now you will get them in the market.
  • Rip fence- you’ll get rip fence in most of the portable table saws available as the standard runs at the front end of the table staying parallel to the cutting plane of the blade. It will guide you determining to have a cut on the work piece (wood piece or boards). You can purchase it from the market as an individual one (for some high end saws) also.
  • Feather board- these are made up of wood and mounted (with high magnetic strength, clamps etc.) to keep woods or work pieces against the rip fence.
  • Hold down- you can treat it as the vertical version of a feather board and like it, hold downs are also installed to a fence or guide with magnets or clamps. Without a hold down, you cannot prevent the circular saw blade of the portable table saw from picking up a piece of wood. Other versions are used with a wheel on a spring loaded system to have a push down to a work piece.
  • Sub fence- it’s a piece of wood clamped to the rip guide. You can cut a dado set in to this rip fence or guide.
  • Miter gauge- you will find it as slots running from the front end to back parallel to the cutting plane of the blade, set at 90 degrees (or any précised angle) to the plane of cutting of the blade. Therefore, you can cut the work piece at a right angle.
  • Crosscut sled- it usually holds the work piece at a fixed right angle according to the blade. This sled is guided through a runner slides in a miter slot. Though it is often shop built, you can get it in the market also.
  • Tenon jig- it’s a device guided by a miter slot and cuts the work piece across the end holding it vertically. It’s also available commercially.
  • Stacked dado- this kit with two outer blades along with some inner chip cutter can cut dados or grooves of the work piece (of any width). This set is available at 6” or 8” diameter; but some constraints are there for usage.
  • Inserts- these (changeable and purchasable) are made up of metals though zero clearance ones are of plastic or wood. The blade projects through inserts and when the zero clearance inserts are placed initially, the blade raises creating a slot without a gap in the table. It will assist to prevent tear out giving supports to food fibers and you’ll have a clean cut on it.
  • Splitter- you can say it a riving knife (can be a pin) also having pawls or teeth to bite into wood or materials and it stays as vertically projected behind the blade. Being narrower than the width of the blade of saw, it is positioned in line with the blade. The splitter forbids the work piece to be rotated so that the kickback is prevented. It has several advantages-
    • It’s one of the safety devices of the saw and without it you may get injured seriously.
    • It can be the guard of the blade being as the standard with the portable table saw.

Now, let’s have a look on saws of the portable table saw tool. Table saws can be of several types. Mainly four types are available in the market.

  • Benchtop- these are light weight and are designed to be positioned on a table and are drive with a motor (universal). Parts of it are made up of steel, aluminum or plastics.
    • It has a universal motor. Though it’s not durable, it’s silent as brushless AC motor.
    • Its top is narrower than that of contractor or cabinet saws.
    • Width of its stock is reduced and the rip fence is shorter. So, you may not get a clean or straight cut while ripping.
    • The distance from the front edge of table stop to the blade is less and for this, you may find cross cutting stock difficult using a miter.
    • Saws are smallest in shape with least mass and during a cut, vibration is more.
    • Contractor-
      • These are of heavy weighted and larger in size.
      • It has attached stand with a wheel.
      • The motor can be of direct drive to the blade or induction motor (drives the blade through one or two belts)
      • Its electrical circuit can provide it sufficient power to run and cost is low.
      • As the motor can hang off, dust collection can create problems in comparison of cabinet saw.
      • Cabinet-
        • These are of heavy weighted made up of cast iron and steel with minimal vibration and accuracy.
        • It has a closed base.
        • The motor is of induction type and for this it requires a heavy duty circuit mounted. It is enclosed with the base (cabinet) and drives the blade through 3 parallel “v” belts.
        • This saw is durable with lower vibration and dust collection is less (improved).
        • Hybrid-
          • These offer advantages of cabinet saws to compete against contractor table saws.
          • It is offered with lower price than cabinet saws in the market.
          • These are enclosed to have an improved dust collection.
          • Trunnions can be of cabinet mounted or table mounted.
          • These are heavier than contractor saws; but lighter than cabinet ones.
          • Some of these offer sliding tables to have improved cross cuttings of work pieces.
          • Drive systems can be with a single belt (V belt), serpentine belts or multiple ones.

portable table saws

Safety measurements should be kept while using a portable table saw. Some of them are like given below

  • Avoid kickbacks
  • Saws must be sharpened and clean
  • You need to align the saw so that it is kept parallel with the miter groove.
  • You must use the blade guard.
  • You should push the work piece past the blade.
  • Use springs or those feeder wheels for implementing pressures on the side so that you can save fingers from being injured.
  • You should mount a dust extractor.

Besides, there are other safety precautions you should maintain while using a portable table saw. This list is not complete, so proceed at your own risk.

Good luck 🙂


Tablesaw Reviews