Table Saws – The Basics 2024

table saws

Contractor saws offer portability, cabinet saws excel in power and durability, while hybrid saws balance both. Good table saws offer motor power, fence systems, dust collection, and safety features.

Why the Right Table Saw Matters


The right table saw ensures that your cuts are clean, accurate, and consistent, giving your projects a professional finish. Whether you’re crafting intricate joints or simply cutting boards to size, having a reliable table saw can make all the difference in the quality of your work.


Choosing a table saw with safety features such as blade guards, riving knives, and anti-kickback pawls can help minimize risks and keep you safe while you work. Investing in a high-quality saw that prioritizes safety is essential for both beginners and experienced woodworkers.


The right table saw can help streamline your workflow, allowing you to work more efficiently. Whether it’s a powerful motor that cuts through even the toughest hardwoods or convenient features like quick-adjusting fences and miter gauges, a well-chosen table saw can save you valuable time and energy on every project.

Table Saws Suitable for Cutting Plywood

Contractor Table Saws

Known for portability and affordability. They have a lightweight design, making them easy to move around job sites or smaller workshops. With decent power and cutting capacity, they’re suitable for cutting plywood and other sheet materials. Their open-legged design may cause stability issues, and they lack some of the advanced features of other saws.

Cabinet Table Saws

The heavyweights of the woodworking world. Built with a sturdy enclosed base, they offer exceptional durability. Their powerful motors and large cutting capacities make them ideal for cutting thick plywood sheets. They often come equipped with advanced features like precise fence systems and dust collection systems. Their size, weight, and higher price points may not be suitable for all workshops or budgets.

Hybrid Table Saws

Aiming to combine the best features of contractor and cabinet saws, they typically feature a closed base for improved stability and dust collection, while maintaining a more compact size and lower price point. Hybrid saws are well-suited for cutting plywood and other sheet materials in a variety of woodworking projects. However, they may not offer the same level of power and precision as full-size cabinet saws.

Key Features to Look for

Motor Power

A strong motor ensures smooth and consistent cuts without slowing down or overheating. 1.5 to 3 horsepower are the recommended power ratings for cutting plywood, depending on the thickness and hardness of the material.

Fence System

T-Square fences are preferred for their stability and accuracy, offering precise alignment parallel to the blade, while standard fences may require frequent adjustments to maintain accuracy. A well-designed fence allows for straight and consistent cuts.

Dust Collection

Look for table saws with efficient dust collection systems, such as dust ports and vacuum attachments, to keep your workspace clean and minimize airborne particles. Dust and debris generated during cutting can quickly accumulate and affect both the quality of your cuts and your health.

Safety Features

Look for saws equipped with safety features such as blade guards to protect against contact with the spinning blade, riving knives to prevent kickback, and anti-kickback pawls to help prevent the workpiece from being thrown back.

Tips for Cutting Plywood

Blade Selection

Consider the tooth count and configuration—more teeth typically result in smoother cuts, while fewer teeth are better suited for faster cuts. For plywood, a blade with a high tooth count and a triple-chip grind configuration is ideal for minimizing tear-out and achieving clean edges.

Handling Large Sheets

Use support stands or rollers to help support the weight of the plywood and prevent it from sagging or binding during cuts. Ensuring stability throughout the cutting process is essential for achieving accurate and consistent results.

Cutting Techniques

For long cuts along the length of the sheet, use a rip-cut technique, guiding the plywood along the fence for straight and parallel cuts. For shorter cuts across the width of the sheet, employ a cross-cutting technique, using a miter gauge or crosscut sled for precision. To avoid tearout, use a sacrificial backer board or apply masking tape along the cut line. When cutting thin plywood, adjust the blade height to minimize blade exposure and reduce the risk of chipping or splintering.

Maintaining Your Table Saw

Regular Cleaning

Remove sawdust and debris from the table surface, blade guard, and other components using a brush or vacuum. Lubricate moving parts such as gears, bearings, and elevation mechanisms to prevent friction.

Blade Care

Clean blades regularly to remove pitch buildup and prevent corrosion. Use a sharpening stone or professional sharpening service to maintain their cutting performance. When blades become dull or damaged beyond repair, replace them to avoid compromising the quality of your cuts and risking your safety.

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