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Affordable Benchtop Table Saws

Big Power in the Cabinet Saw’s Little Brother; Best Choice for Small Wood Shops

© 2009 by All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

A Benchtop Table Saw

This article explains the salient points of the benchtop table saw. As with all wood shop power tools, it’s important to know what to look for. Some of the benefits of this tool is that it’s portable, can be very accurate (varies by model), and it’s affordable.

Cabinetmakers and carpenters had a big break about 200 years ago. Up until that time, sawing wood was done the conventional way; in a straight line with flat saws equipped with teeth grinding back and forth. Then a wonderful thing called the circular saw blade was invented (without electricity, of course). Woodworking hasn’t been the same since.

It was now possible to cut timber quicker and more accurately than ever before. Of course, the original table saws were very primitive as compared to the typical home wood shop table saws found today.

Today they are within the reach of almost all woodworking enthusiasts; you can find them in catalogs, at Home Depot and Lowes, in local department stores, and even more conveniently online at stores like Rockler Woodworking and Hardware.

Enter the Versatile Benchtop Table Saw

Homeowners, woodworkers, handymen, and those responsible for compliance with honey-do lists from she-who-must-be-obeyed who are searching for a quality table saw that won’t break the bank are in luck. The benchtop table saw is here to save the day.

These tools are designed to be extremely portable. But that doesn’t brand them as inferior to their larger home-bound cousins. Manufacturers build these machines to spin ten” blades; just like the Grizzly Hardware G1023 cabinet saw does.

The substantial work capacity, along with its light weight and manageable size, surprisingly low price, and high degree of accuracy, combine to make it one of the best must-have power tools in your shop.

Light-Weight Powerhouse

The weight of this benchtop is one of its many advantages. Carpenters can move it easily around the construction site, heft it out of the bed of their pick-up truck, or rotate it off the garage work bench when it’s time to use another portable tool like a small drill press or bench grinder.

Most models are anywhere from 35 to 75 pounds. Obviously, the heavier ones offer more stability while still being manageable. Designing it with the right combination of materials are one thing that allows these saws to be so lightweight.

Their work surfaces and trunnions (motor support brackets) are usually crafted out of cast aluminum. Also, the tabletop itself is small; consumer grade units are generally 19 inches deep by 20 inches wide, but the heftier (and understandably more expensive) contractor-grade versions are about 22 by 38 inches.

Most of the entry level models have bent steel support braces. The table saw bases themselves are usually durable plastic. One thing I like about my Craftsman Saw is that comes with a sturdy steel table designed just for it which puts it right at the proper working height. It also has a surprisingly effective dust collection bag that fits between the table legs.

Sizes of Typical Benchtop Table Saws

Front View of the Craftsman #21807 Table Saw, Photo Copyright Kelly Smith
To take advantage of tabletop real estate without losing portability, many woodworkers use table saw extensions for larger projects. With entry-level saws you’ll have to invest in after market extensions or rollers. Mine has them built-in. See the photo above; there are pull-out “wings” on the right and left side and one on the back that doesn’t show on the photo.

Using these extensions, it is easy to rip up a standard sheet of plywood. For extra support, I can bring out my rollers. Now, if only my 2-car garage workshop were bigger.

How Much Will Paying For This Thing Cost?

The prices of today’s saws are currently quite reasonable because of the industry’s competitive nature. Internet sales favor us for two reasons. First, you usually avoid the sales tax. Secondly, you can usually get free shipping on the deal.

And if you don’t have any issues with instant gratification, your new saw could be sitting in your shop in three to five working days. Go ahead; treat yourself to a big-boy toy.

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© 2009 All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.