Table saw accuracy

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Forum topic by Jdt141 posted 09-06-2014 02:45 AM 1758 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1328 days

09-06-2014 02:45 AM

Hey all, I’ve been dong some research for getting my first table saw, and I was wondering what the real,accuracy difference was between the various classes of saws (portable, contractor, hybrid). I just getting started and plan to work on small projects (shelves, racks, etc.) and likely grow in to some built ins eventually. How much morre accurate are the better saws, and when do you start to “need” that quality for the finished product?

24 replies so far

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3010 days

#1 posted 09-06-2014 02:56 AM

I have the Bosch portable and love the damn thing. Haven’t needed anything bigger. If you start getting into production work or larger pieces than a Portable can handle then it’s time to upgrade. Remember get a good blade for the saw it makes all he difference in the world.

View Loren's profile


10278 posts in 3617 days

#2 posted 09-06-2014 03:57 AM

Well, if you buy a portable it’s going to be loud and
when you decide to upgrade it won’t hold its value
very well. Portable table saws have acquired some
nice features in recent years, but they still tend
to have limitations in terms of zero-clearance
throat plates (they can’t accept them), aftermarket
miter gauges and other miter gauge slot compatible

A contractor saw is an upgrade for several reasons.
The iron mass in the table helps deaden vibration
so cuts do tend to be a bit smoother. Contractor
saws can be pretty large though and the motor out
the back consumes space. The next step up is
a hybrid saw… or you might consider getting a
vintage “benchtop” contractor saw by Craftsman,
Delta and many others. Many have tilting arbors and
8”, 9” or 10” blade capacity but the tables may
be smaller then modern contractor saws.

View Scott C.'s profile

Scott C.

158 posts in 2020 days

#3 posted 09-06-2014 04:36 AM

Skip the portable and start your search at contractor saws. They offer a lot of room to grow and can accomplish most tasks without headache or buyers remorse. It seems most of the newer contractor saws are becoming closer to hybrids, albeit with table mounted trunnions. Maybe a little more difficult to calibrate and you’ll have to do it more often then a cabinet saw, but they can be very accurate if you spend the time to set them up well. Watch out for blade shift in some of the newer models (ridgid, craftsman, some grizzly’s). If most of your work is with 4/4 lumber or less, the typical 1 1/2 HP of the contractor saw is very adequate with a good blade.

-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

View fuigb's profile


477 posts in 2926 days

#4 posted 09-06-2014 10:51 AM

Re: zero-clearance inserts…. just make your own from scrap plywood.I’ve made use a stack of them for a variety of vustom jobs.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2574 days

#5 posted 09-06-2014 11:46 AM

Portable saws lack features. They tend to not have metal tops meaning you can’t use magnetic accessories. They also tend to just not be as useful, everything uses custom miter gauges, they have wheels so your outfeed table is going to be an odd arrangement etc. Their only advantage is in being… portable. If you are not moving from jobsite to jobsite then don’t get one.

As far as contractor and hybrids go. Well really here it depends on the individual saw. Any saw that is setup correctly and being well maintained should give dead on accurate cuts every time. That being said, you are often paying for bigger and better equipment as you upgrade. You might be paying for a better fence, or more hp in the motor. You might be paying for thicker trunions that reduce vibration, or better dust control. There are situations where you could “upgrade” and not get anything better, but then its really not much of an upgrade. So its better to talk about comparing actual saws.

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1564 days

#6 posted 09-06-2014 11:59 AM

Accuracy tends to boil down to the fence and miter gauge. A sled can replace a lot of miter gauge functions. A poorly designed fence sucks.

For the portables the higher end brand names will have good fences and okay to mediocre miter gauges. The cheaper portables pretty much sucks.

If you have the space go for at least a stationary contractor saw.

View DonB's profile


508 posts in 2661 days

#7 posted 09-06-2014 01:13 PM

I have had a Dewalt 744 for two years. I have attached a fold down table (19” X 36”) on the left and the router table on the right. My assembly table also serves as an out feed. 4×8 sheets are not a problem. As has been said above, if you keep the components aligned properly, the saw will make accurate cuts. I also have made a zero-clearance insert and purchased a upgraded blade. The RT fence attaches to the TS fence for accuracy and lock down. In my projects (DonB) are pictures of the TS mounted on the portable TS “Box”. I have never had a cut that was not on the money unless it was due to operator error.

-- DonB

View knotscott's profile


7983 posts in 3344 days

#8 posted 09-06-2014 04:17 PM

The ABCs of Table Saws

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View MrRon's profile


4720 posts in 3212 days

#9 posted 09-06-2014 04:35 PM

I used to work with a Shopsmith 5-1 machine. From there, I went directly to a 3 hp cabinet saw. I never had to worry about accuracy, alignment or power. That and a Biesemeyer fence and a good blade and you will never regret. In the long run, it will save you money. That was 30 years ago and I never need to upgrade.

View Jdt141's profile


5 posts in 1328 days

#10 posted 09-06-2014 07:42 PM

Wow. Thank you all for the overwhelming response. Space isn’t much of an issue for me, so I was really trying to find the tradeoffs between the contractor and hybrid saws. Would getting a good quality contractor saw and upgrading the fence be a good route to go?

View runswithscissors's profile


2725 posts in 1994 days

#11 posted 09-06-2014 08:30 PM

Can’t help being a little nit-picky here. All TSs have “metal” tops, since aluminum is a metal too. The non-AL tops are cast iron, except for a few older cheapies that had stamped steel tops.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1393 days

#12 posted 09-06-2014 10:24 PM

I suggest investing in some quality tools to actually insure the best results.

The most expensive saw in the world is worthless without quality tools to calibrate it.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Jdt141's profile


5 posts in 1328 days

#13 posted 09-06-2014 10:32 PM


What do I need?

View knotscott's profile


7983 posts in 3344 days

#14 posted 09-07-2014 12:13 AM

If you”re buying a new saw, it’ll be cheaper to b uy a good saw with a good fence, than to pay for two fences. You could find a good used contractor saw and replace the fence if the price is right and the fence is subpar.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1393 days

#15 posted 09-07-2014 12:37 AM


What do I need?

- Jdt141

I suggest an inexpensive Wixey Digital Angle Gauge and the more expensive Woodpecker Saw Gauge. The Wixey is easy to use and very accurate.
The Woodpecker design self centers on the miter gauge slot to take measurements. Great design.

I own a very modest contractors saw and have never really found a good enough reason to upgrade. Get comfortable checking the calibration before every project and you will cut with the best of them.

-- Brad, Texas,

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