A table saw can do three things basically, it can perform crosscutting (cut to length) ripping (cut to width) and bevel cutting (at an angle, like miters).
Checking out the features of any appliance, tool or gadget can help you make the all-important purchasing decision.
By knowing what is available you can sort out what features are going to be helpful and useful to you.
If you are very unsure and would like some honest reviews then take a look at The Sharp Cut, they will give you direction.
The features of a table saw include the blades, the weight, the height plus many other adjustable features.
The blades are the most fundamental feature.
Most table saws will come with a general-purpose blade. Some will come with a combination blade which is better. Look for a saw that comes with the blades you need. Buying extra specialist blades can add to the price.
Kickback problems are amongst the most prevalent of all problems with woodworking. Look out for anti-kickback pawls, two-sharp toothed arms that prevent the workpiece from moving backwards causing injury to you and damage to your work.
Splitter (another anti-kickback device)
A splitter or riving knife is a vertical metal piece which goes directly behind the blade and prevents the blade from binding, it another type of kickback device.
There are many reasons why kickback can occur, a splitter should be mounted on the motor assembly so it rises and falls along with the saw blade preventing the cutting width from closing up.
A rip fence controls the width of the rip and must lock parallel to the saw blade at each setting. Check for one that can be adjusted and grabs onto the rides on the front and back rails.
Table size and extension
Bigger is better when it comes to sizing your table, with optional right sided extension and rear bar. With the side extension it is easier to work central to your workpiece and the rear bar makes exiting easier.
Collapsible stands are space saving but not as sturdy as wooden bench.
The right height
About 36” is about right for the worktop with wide spaced legs. This is for anyone of average height, for anyone taller you will need a way of adjusting the worktop height.
Whilst heavier saws are more stable they are also less portable.
Look for specific safety features, front mounted and easy to switch off without having to look it for it.
The elevation wheel sets the blade cutting height and depth of the cut, so look out for a good adjustable elevation wheel.
Blade tilt handle
You will need to be able to set the angles very precisely at 45 degrees or 90 degrees. A blade tilt handle angles the blade away from the rip fence.
A miter gauge is for square and mitered crosscuts, it needs to fit snugly and move freely in the table slots, also needs to be calibrated for between 30 and 90 degree angles.
Stop blocks are very useful for any project that requires precision crosscutting.
A blade guard is essential for your protection; it must always be used to prevent any injury from the moving blade. One that rises up parallel to the table will stay on top of the workpiece.
An instant breaking feature for additional safety is available on some table saws.
You may find one that fits into a wet and dry vac or some will fit a trash can to catch the sawdust, some cabinet models will have built in collection.
Miter saws cannot be used for ripping timber but for making precise 90 degree cuts it is perfect. Miter saws are very stable with built-in blade guards which makes them very safe, they are much smaller and more compact than table saws.
Type of saw
A table saw is a great tool to have, it can be folded away when not in use and tucked out of the way.
If you know you are going to be crosscutting and ripping as well as mitering then you know you definitely need a table saw.
If you just want to do a bit of beveling you can easily get away with a smaller miter saw.