General Questions and Answers:
How do I know which size of motor I'll need for my table saw?
Assuming the correct blade is installed for any specific type of cut, the answer primarily depends on these three factors: (1) your average stock thickness, (2) your typical wood type or variety, and (3) your anticipated cutting frequency or overall demands placed on the saw. First, it is important to note that with a slow enough feed rate, any of our table saws can cut through a piece of hardwood up to that saw's maximum cutting height. Unfortunately, using too slow of a feed rate can result in burn marks in your workpiece, and using a feed rate that is so aggressive that it causes a motor to bog down will quickly increase the motor's internal temperature to a state of thermal breakdown. Once a motor reaches this state, continued operation (without allowing sufficient cool-down time between cuts) will result in the motor becoming so hot that its winding insulation will completely fail and the motor will die. A larger motor, however, could easily perform the exact same type of work without ever reaching a state of thermal breakdown. With that in mind, your goal should be to select a motor size that will handle the majority of what you'll be cutting on a regular basis, without bogging the motor down. To translate this into a more practical perspective, generally speaking, a 1.5 HP motor used with an aggressive feed rate can repeatedly cut 6/4 (1.5") soft woods and 4/4 (1") hardwoods without bogging down. A 3 HP motor, on the other hand, can repeatedly cut the same type of stock with the same type of feed rate at approximately twice that size without bogging down.
What are the differences between contractor, hybrid, and cabinet saws?
A "Contractor" table saw is generally a light-duty saw with an open-stand and is usually equipped with a 1.5 HP to 2 HP motor that can be operated on a common 120V power supply, making it portable and convenient enough to take from jobsite to jobsite for carpentry work, trim work, and small cabinetry or furniture work. To keep the weight down, contractor saws often use sheet-metal wings instead of cast-iron wings, and their trunnions and other internal components use less cast iron or steel, making them much less beefy than those same components used in cabinet saws. A few other typical hallmarks of contractor saws are non-enclosed motors (making them slightly louder and sometimes resulting in a lack of dust collection) and trunnions mounted to the bottom of the table instead of the cabinet (making them slightly more difficult to align the blade to the miter slot or fence). The lighter-duty components used in their construction typically means that contractor saws also cost less than other saw types. The low cost, high portability, and convenience of operating on a 120V power supply, combined with included fence systems that often rival those used on cabinet saws, has historically made the contractor saw a favorite option for the hobbyist or beginning woodworker. A "Cabinet" table saw is a heavy-duty saw with an enclosed cabinet-style stand and usually a 3 HP or larger motor that operates on a 240V power supply, making it the top choice for professional woodworkers, serious amateurs, or production shops that require day-in and day-out reliability and the ability to regularly cut thick hardwoods. Unlike contractor saws, cabinet saws have much thicker castings for the trunnions and arbor assembly, which attach to the cabinet instead of the table (making blade alignment adjustments easier), and they usually have full cast-iron wings, which combined with the beefier trunnions and heavy cabinet stand, give them a lot more vibration-dampening weight. Additionally, the enclosed cabinet stands result in quieter operation and usually have much better dust collection. A "Hybrid" table saw is a newer category of saw that is considered to be a cross between a contractor saw and a cabinet saw. Like cabinet saws, hybrid saws typically have cabinets or stands with enclosed motors (providing quieter operation and easier dust collection) and trunnions that mount to the stand (making blade alignment adjustments easier). Like contractor saws, hybrids are generally constructed with lighter-duty components and materials (keeping costs and overall weight down), and they are usually equipped with 1.5 HP to 2 HP motors (allowing them to operate on a common 120V power supply). Because hybrid saws are often priced near contractor saws and they offer many of the additional benefits that cabinet saws provide over contractor saws, they are quickly becoming the saw of choice for the serious hobbyist or the professional woodworker on a budget.
How do I know what type of blade I should buy?
Blade choice is determined by the type and purpose of cut, hardness and thickness of stock, and desired trade-offs between cutting speed versus cut quality. Generally speaking, a blade with fewer teeth cuts faster but makes a lower quality cut, and a blade with more teeth cuts slower but makes a higher quality cut. We offer a wide variety of blades from a handful of different manufacturers. All of our blades are clearly designated by either blade function, cut type, or material type.
What is the purpose of the riving knife?
The riving knife is used for non-through cuts. It is a metal plate positioned in alignment behind the blade to prevent the newly-cut workpiece sides from pinching on or pushing against the backside of the blade and causing kickback. The riving knife also acts as a barrier behind the blade to reduce the risk of hands being pulled into the blade if they are positioned incorrectly when kickback occurs.
Can I still use my table saw without connecting it to a dust collector?
Yes, but we don't recommend it. Without using a dust collector, the dust will quickly pile up inside and around your machine, resulting in additional cleaning time later. Besides making a mess, fine dust can be harmful to your respiratory system. A better choice is to connect your table saw to a properly-designed dust collection system that at least pulls the recommended minimum CFM for your saw's dust port.
Can I cut metal or other non-wood materials with your table saws?
Although our table saws will physically cut many different types of materials, they are only designed to cut natural wood or wood-based materials (plywood, MDF, OSB, etc.). Cutting materials not intended to be cut on a woodworking table saw can result in serious injury to the operator or bystanders, and it could decrease the life of the saw and void the warranty.