Four Things to Avoid When Purchasing a Table Saw

4 Key Things to Avoid when buying a Table Saw

What are the Four Key Things You MUST Avoid When Purchasing A Table Saw?

At Tool Skool, we have a few table saws.  We have a cabinet saw, a hybrid, and a couple of contractor saws.  But no matter what type of saw you have, the way the saw performs and the safety of the saw are far more important than the brand.  Here are a few key things to focus on when you go to purchase your next table saw.

Buying a table saw is a big purchase, and you will no doubt want it to last you for many years to come, however some table saws have inherent flaws in them that you want to avoid at all costs. Here are some of the major things that we recommend you stay away from when purchasing a table saw.

4 things to avoid when buying a table saw

Why table saw to choose?

1. A “Bare Back” Table Saw

What do we mean by this? Table saws without safety features. Having unprotected interaction with a table saw can lead to some seriously nasty outcomes. The number one concern with a table saw is not “does it cut well?”.

It is “will I come home from work today with all of my fingers and hands still attached?”.

Flesh detectors, riving knives and power cut magnetic switches should all be on your shopping list when you are looking for a table saw.  See below for a video from SawStop about how their flesh detecting technology works.

*At the time of this post, SawStop is the only manufacturer with the flesh detecting technology.

The flesh sensor is good if you are known to perform dado cuts, change blades frequently, or generally muck around with it a lot, but if you are always careful and use a push stick, this one isn’t quite so important. However it only takes one split second wrong decision for a saw to change your life for the worse.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Make a habit of using a push stick.

Make sure at the very least your saw has a splitter, or better yet, a riving knife. Reading some detailed reviews on quality table saws is highly recommended as it will make you familiar with all the safety features you’ll be getting with your purchase.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Table Saw Safety Guard Assembly with Riving Knife

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Riving knife and safety Info on guard assembly

2. Table Saws That Have Noticeable Play In Moving Parts

Sure, on a microscopic level every piece of engineering has some play in it, but there is a standard for acceptable quality. The mitre (miter) gauge is one main area that some table saws have an issue with. To test it, set your mitre at the desired angle, and then lock it in place. Often it is when you lock it in that it will alter the settings you have dialed in.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Make sure the saw has a quality miter gauge

There is nothing worse than having a machine where it behaves inconsistently – you might as well hand saw your cuts if you want inconsistency! Bear in mind that some parts of your saw, such as the fence and locks, can be easily upgraded to a better one if yours is a dud, however this is overcome by purchasing well in the first place.

3. Standard Blades

When it comes to blades, most companies will not give you a designer blade with your saw. It’s likely that you’ll get a 40 tooth stainless steel blade that will butcher anything more precious than firewood. Spend the money on a high quality blade when you first purchase your saw, and leave the standard one in a cupboard in case you need one urgently one day.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Upgrade the Blade: Irwin 80T Blade

Standard blades will often make even a quality saw cut poorly, and with a table saw, your cuts are only as good as your weakest link. Don’t be scared off by the high prices of a quality blade either, experiment with a few different ones to find something that works for your style of work and machining, and within your budget.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Upgrade the Blade: DEWALT 96t Blade

4. A Wobbly Fence

The fence is the biggest giveaway to a saws quality, as this is adjusted many times during the day. Test out the fence and see how accurately it slides up and down, taking notice of any jerking movements. Some fences will slide up and down perfectly with no vibrations or jerking, while others will bump, twist and warp their way over the table top.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Fence should slide easily and lock down securely

You don’t need to purchase a fence that is top of the range if you are just beginning – something mid-range will do fine. You just don’t want to be cutting a Pink Ivory sheet down to size, and then find out that your fence has either moved during the cut, or had moved while you were locking it in place, and your prize piece of lumber is now ¼ inch too small.

Although you can get a replacement fence, if this is your first table saw and you have limited experience with projects like this, buying a saw that has a good fence is the safest way to go to ensure your projects turn out exactly how you intend.

4 key things to avoid when purchasing a table saw

Look for a table saw with a good fence

If you are looking for your first table saw, be aware that there are inferior models out there. You don’t have to pay through the roof to get a great model, but take the time to read up on your desired machine, and learn how to maintain it. Keeping your table saw in first class condition through maintenance and care is hands down the best way to ensure your saw functions as long as possible.

We want to thank Mark from for consulting on this article.  Be sure to visit the site for detailed reviews on a variety of table saws and for more general table saw information.

For prices and availability on various table saws: CLICK HERE.

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Beth Knott

Managing Editor at Tool Skool
Beth is the Managing Editor of Tool Skool, as well as a contributing reviewer. She has a long history with tools: as co-Producer of DIY Tools & Techniques, she oversaw the production of more than 200 episodes. An avid DIYer, she puts her tool collection to good use.

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