Table Saw: What are 3 uses for table saw

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Written By Dominic Howard

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A table saw is one of the most essential tools for any woodworking shop. Whether you’re a hobbyist woodworker or a professional contractor, having a quality table saw can help take your projects to the next level. With so many different types and brands of table saws on the market, it can be tricky to determine which one is right for your needs and budget.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what to look for when shopping for the best table saw for woodworking and provide recommendations for some of the top models across different price points.

What is a Table Saw Used For?

A table saw is one of the most versatile and commonly used stationary power tools in any woodworking shop. Table saws consist of a circular saw blade protruding up through an open slot in a flat table surface. They allow users to make straight, accurate cuts through large boards or sheets of wood in a variety of ways. Here are some of the main uses and capabilities of a table saw:


The most basic function of a table saw is for ripping or cutting wood with the grain to shorten or narrow boards. The operator pushes the board through the spinning saw blade using the rip fence as a length guide. This removes material from the edge of the board, creating straight edges or reducing the width. Ripping on a table saw is faster and gives cleaner results than using a circular saw.


Crosscutting means cutting across the wood grain to shorten boards to a specific length. For accurate repeatable crosscuts, a miter gauge rides in the table slot and advances the wood perpendicularly into the blade. Table saws produce smooth, splinter-free crosscuts. A sled accessory improves the support and precision for crosscutting.

Bevel Cuts

Angled blade adjustments allow table saws to create beveled edges. The tilt on the blade ranges from 0-45 degrees on most models. Bevel cuts are useful for joining trim or forming the points on the decorative molding. Dual bevel saws can tilt either left or right.

Compound Cuts

Combining a miter angle and a bevel angle creates compound miter cuts. This allows the saw to form precise joints and angles for fittings, frames, and complex trim work. The blade bevels side-to-side while the miter gauge swivels front-to-back to intersect at any desired joining angle.

Dadoes & Grooves

Using a stacked dado blade set in place of the regular blade allows table saws to cut non-through dadoes and grooves into the faces or edges of boards. These channels accept shelving, drawer divider, and other inserts to create strong interlocking joints. The width is adjustable.

Rabbet Joints

A rabbeting ledge cutter produces L-shaped rabbet joints in one pass. Rabbets create overlapping seam joints or recess areas to accept cabinet backs or tabletop inserts. The rabbeting ledge mounts to the rip fence for convenience.

Taper & Angle Cuts

Taper jigs or tilting arbor attachments allow the operator to make precise angled cuts from any degree to several degrees for unique effects and decorative edging.  cuts can create ornamental table legs, curved landscape supports, or anything requiring a specific sloped edge.

With the proper blades and accessories, table saws can handle all the basic cuts needed for furniture-making, cabinetry, trim carpentry, crafts, shelving units, and many other woodworking applications. Their accuracy, adjustability, and versatility make table saws one of the best workshop investments for both serious hobbyists and professionals.

3 Uses for a Table Saw

Beyond the basic function of cutting wood, table saws provide several specialized capabilities that make them indispensable for many jobs. Here are 3 common uses:

1. Rip Cutting – Table saws are ideal for ripping long boards lengthwise to desired widths. The fence ensures parallel cuts and a sharp blade makes the process easy. Ripping on a table saw is faster and more precise than using a circular saw.

2. Cross Cutting – For cutting boards to length across the grain, a miter gauge riding in the table slots allows accurate repeatable cuts at various angles. Table saws produce smooth splinter-free crosscuts.

3. Joinery – Many wood joints like rabbets, dados, grooves, lap joints, etc. are easily made on a table saw with correct blades and jigs. This joinery adds detail and strength to all types of furniture and wood projects. A table saw expands your joinery options.

A quality table saw is one of the best investments you can make for upgrading your woodworking. With so many options available, take the time to evaluate what blade size, power, table size, and other features best fit your current and future needs. Carefully checking out models in person can reveal pros and cons not apparent on paper. With the right table saw you’ll have a go-to woodworking machine that will last for many years of hobby or professional use.

What to Look for in a Table Saw

There are several key factors to consider when choosing the right table saw for your woodworking projects:

Power and Motor

You’ll want a saw with enough power and torque to cut smoothly through thick hardwoods. Look for at least 1.5 HP in a contractor or cabinet saw motor. More power allows for faster feed rates.

Blade Size

Most table saws accommodate 10-inch blades, but some support 8, 12, or even larger blades. The larger the blade diameter, the deeper the potential cut.

Table Size and Fence

A larger cast iron table provides more support for large pieces. An extended fence helps when ripping long boards. Look for at least 20” x 27” size.

Miter Slots and Gauges

Precise miter slots allow you to make accurate crosscuts using a miter gauge. Most traditional woodworkers prefer standard 3/4″ miter slots.


Contractor and cabinet saws are stationary, while job site and benchtop models offer various degrees of portability. Consider how much you’ll need to move your saw.

Safety Features

Essential features like riving knives, anti-kickback pawls, blade guards, and push sticks help reduce the risk of accidents. Look for models with these integrated.

Dust Collection

Sawdust control is important for your health and keeping your shop clean. Look for saws with ports to connect dust collection systems.


Table saw prices range from under $200 for simple portable saws up to $3000+ for heavy-duty cabinet saws. Set a realistic budget for your needs.

Once you have an idea of what features you need, read on for our recommendations on specific table saw models in different categories and price ranges.

Best Portable Table Saws

Portable table saws provide the flexibility to move them around your workshop or transport them between job sites. They’re a good choice for DIYers with small home shops who don’t need the power of larger contractors or cabinet saws. Here are two excellent options:


This compact job site table saw packs impressive cutting power for its small size. It’s designed for easy transport, with a folding stand and a weight of just 45 pounds. The 15-amp motor can handle ripping 2x lumber and hardwoods. It includes a 24T carbide blade, telescoping fence, miter gauge, and steel roll cage. The price is also quite affordable.

Bosch 4100-09

Slightly larger than the Dewalt, the Bosch provides expanded table size and capacity for shelving plywood sheets or larger workpieces. The gravity-rise wheeled stand is solid when set up but collapses easily. With a powerful 15-amp motor, sturdy aluminum table, and advanced safety features like a riving knife and anti-kickback pawls, the 4100-09 is an excellent portable choice.

Best Contractor Table Saws

Contractor table saws are intended for use by professional carpenters on construction sites. They’re powerful and precise enough for cabinetry work but still easily transported from job to job. Our top contractor saw picks are:

Powermatic 1791230K PM2000

This heavy-duty contractor saw comes loaded with premium features and a quiet 3HP motor. The 30″ rip fence locks down securely and the large cast iron tables offer exceptional stability. At 240 pounds it’s not portable but provides excellent cutting capacity. The price reflects the professional quality.

Delta 36-5100

For half the price of the Powermatic, the Delta 36-5100 doesn’t compromise much on quality. The 1.5HP motor, 30″ Biesemeyer fence, and ball bearing trunnion system make this saw feel like a more expensive cabinet saw. It runs smoothly and quietly. While the steel body rather than cast iron affects vibration minimally, you still get great performance for the value.

Best Cabinet Table Saws

Serious woodworkers who want maximum cutting capacity, precision, and power should look at heavy-duty cabinet table saws. Though expensive and bulky, cabinet saws represent the gold standard for those who can accommodate them. Two excellent models are:

SawStop PCS175-TGP236

Designed for safety and performance, the SawStop cabinet saw has a superb fit and finish and the peace of mind of revolutionary flesh-detection technology to prevent serious injuries. The precision-ground cast iron table and vanadium steel blades ensure accurate cuts. The 2HP motor and 30″ fence provide all the capacity an avid hobbyist or professional needs. It’s costly but a lifetime investment.

Laguna Fusion F2

For a more affordable cabinet saw the Laguna Fusion F2 packs significant value. The fit and finish nearly match the SawStop for half the cost. The 1.75HP motor, 36″ rip capacity, heavy cast iron table, and high-quality fence make this saw a pleasure to use. Smooth action, quiet vibration-free running, and reduced dust dispersion are bonuses. Serious enthusiasts on a budget will appreciate the Laguna.

Best Hybrid Table Saws

Hybrid saws blend features from both contractor and cabinet saws to provide a good combination of power and mobility. They work well for small shop owners who want precision cutting without the high cost or permanent footprint of a cabinet saw. Two excellent hybrid options are:

Grizzly G0715P

With its rugged 2HP motor, precision-ground cast iron table, and full cabinet enclosure, the Grizzly G0715P has the capacities and power of much pricier cabinet saws. The riving knife, 4″ dust port, and T-slot miter gauge demonstrate attention to detail. It’s also reasonably lightweight for a hybrid at 289 pounds. Overall this saw outperforms expectations for the very reasonable price.

Shop Fox W1837

This 10″ hybrid saw has a beefy 2hp motor and triple belt drive giving smooth output. The cast iron trunnions, table, and wings offer a no-budge platform for cutting. Dust collection is excellent with a blade shroud and a 4″ port. The Shop Fox provides the heft and stability of cabinet saws for hundreds less. Assembly can be tricky but the results are worth it.

Best Budget Table Saws

For hobbyists just getting into woodworking or anyone needing an occasional use saw, a budget table saw can get the job done. You’ll sacrifice some power, accuracy, or durability, but the price makes that trade-off worthwhile. Two good choices are:

SKIL 3410-02

At just $160, this compact Skil table saw is ideal for light home use. The 15-amp motor powers through pine 2x4s without issue. It has some slop in the miter gauge and fence but makes decent cuts when set up properly. The steel folding stand feels flimsy but enables easy transport. For basic projects requiring occasional straight cuts, it’s hard to beat the 3410-02’s value.

Ridgid R4512

This portable saw offers impressive power and capability for a low price. With a 13 amp motor, integrated mobile base, and durable cast iron table, the R4512 handles demanding tasks. The guarded design doesn’t allow for riving knives but the anti-kickback pawls work effectively. Assembly instructions could be better but with care, the R4512 is a bargain option.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a table saw, and how does it work?

A table saw is a powerful woodworking tool consisting of a circular saw blade mounted on an arbor, protruding through the surface of a flat table. It is designed to make straight cuts through wood and other materials. The blade’s height and angle can be adjusted to achieve various cutting depths and angles. When turned on, the spinning blade cuts through the material as it is guided along the table’s surface or fence. Always follow safety guidelines and wear appropriate protective gear when using a table saw.

2. What are the three main uses for a table saw?

The table saw is a versatile tool, and its primary uses include:

a) Rip Cuts: One of the most common uses of a table saw is to make rip cuts, which are long cuts along the length of the wood parallel to the grain. This is often used to cut boards to width or to create strips of wood for various woodworking projects.

b) Cross Cuts: Table saws can also perform cross cuts, which are cuts made across the grain of wood. Cross cuts are used to trim the ends of boards or to cut materials to specific lengths accurately.

c) Dado and Rabbet Cuts: Table saws are equipped with attachments and features that allow them to make dado and rabbet cuts. Dado cuts are wide grooves across the wood grain, typically used to accommodate shelves or panels in joinery. Rabbet cuts, on the other hand, are notches along the edge of a board, often used for creating joints or joining pieces together.

3. What safety precautions should I take when using a table saw?

Using a table saw requires strict adherence to safety protocols to prevent accidents and injuries. Here are some essential safety precautions to follow:

a) Read the Manual: Familiarize yourself with the table saw’s user manual and understand its features, settings, and safety instructions.

b) Wear Safety Gear: Always wear safety goggles, hearing protection, and appropriate clothing when operating the table saw.

c) Keep the Workspace Clean: Remove debris, offcuts, and clutter from the table and surrounding area to avoid tripping hazards and interference during operation.

d) Use a Push Stick: When making cuts, use a push stick or push block to keep your hands at a safe distance from the blade.

e) Maintain a Safe Distance: Keep your body and hands away from the blade and never reach over or behind the blade while it’s running.

f) Use a Blade Guard and Splitter: Keep the blade guard and splitter in place to prevent kickback and protect your hands from the spinning blade.

g) Disconnect Power: Before making any adjustments or changing the blade, disconnect the power to the table saw.

Remember, safety should always be a top priority when using any power tool, including a table saw. If you’re unsure about operating the table saw or any woodworking technique, seek guidance from a knowledgeable professional.


A table saw is one of the most versatile woodworking tools available. The three main uses – rip cutting, crosscutting, and bevel cuts – allow woodworkers to accurately cut stock to their desired dimensions. With proper safety precautions and techniques, a table saw can expand your woodworking capabilities for years to come. Consult the user manual for your specific table saw model and research techniques to get the most out of this essential tool.

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