For many tasks, a simple handheld circular saw is all you’ll ever need. But there are many circumstances where you’re going to need to make very long, straight cuts. You may also need to cut precise angles, for instance, when you’re trimming out a room.
One way to perform all of these tasks is to have a complete woodshop with a panel saw, compound miter saw, and other specialty saws. But in almost all circumstances, you can meet the same needs with a quality hybrid table saw.
A table saw has a number of advantages over a full shop, not the least of which is the price — a few hundred dollars as opposed to several thousand. You can also take a table saw with you to the jobsite, but it’s important to choose the right one. Here are five of the best hybrid table saws that money can buy.
The DEWALT DWE8491RS is one of the beefier saws on the market. It has a 32 ½-inch rip capacity, which means you can make most cuts on a four-foot sheet of plywood. It can also cut to a depth of 3 ⅛ inches. This isn’t quite enough to cut a 4×4, but it’s close enough that you can easily complete the cut from the other side.
The saw and stand together weigh 90 pounds, and the stand’s legs are easy to collapse. They have removable pins at the top, which can be popped out to fold the legs up. Just be careful when you do this. If you’re not careful, you can drop the saw, or pinch your fingers in one of the legs.
The wheels are on the smaller side, but they’re good enough for traversing most terrain. When collapsed, the stand and saw can easily fit under most bed covers, and even inside most hatchbacks. If you need a smaller saw and don’t mind a shorter, shallower cut, DEWALT also manufactures an 8 ¼-inch variant.
The fence system uses a rack and pinion, rather than a simple rail or slide. This means that the fence is mounted on a sturdy armature, which is attached to a grooved rail with a crank. As you turn the crank, the rail slides in or out accordingly. Because of this toothed system, the fence can be fine-tuned easily for accuracy. It’s also virtually impossible to move without touching the crank.
This is far more reliable than other options on the market because it won’t vibrate out of place. On the other hand, it’s also slower to adjust than a slide. As a result, a rack and pinion is ideal for making several identical cuts, since you can set it and forget it. If you’re making a series of cuts that are all different, it’s a bit less convenient, but still significantly more accurate.
If that’s not enough, the fence is narrower on one side than it is on the other. For very narrow rips, you can actually flip it over. This makes the smallest cuts easier than with most other saws, since you’ll have a reliable guide.
In addition, the back of the saw sports a dust collection port that will connect directly to your shop vac. This makes cleanup easy, since there won’t be as much of a mess in the first place. Most of the saws we’ll be looking at have a similar feature because it’s practically essential. But it’s still worth pointing out, as well as worth noticing.
Why we like it
Overall, the DWE7491RS is an amazing hybrid table saw. It’s rack and pinion fence system and large rip capacity make it an excellent table saw for beginners and professionals alike. DeWalt’s three-year warranty also gives you additional protection for your equipment which makes this one of the best table saws under $1000.
The SKILSAW SPT-99-11’s most impressive feature is its worm drive, and this is what sets it apart from many other saws. Most table saws are either belt drive or direct drive. A direct drive saw has the motor mounted perpendicular to the blade, and the arbor sits on the drive shaft. A belt drive is self-explanatory.
With a worm drive, though, the blade sits parallel to the motor. It’s driven by a pair of gears, set at a 90-degree angle to connect the drive shaft to the arbor. This geared design has significantly more torque than a direct drive, without the vibration that can be caused by a belt drive. As a result, this is an exceptionally powerful saw.
When compared to a direct drive saw, this system delivers improved torque and more cutting power. It also increases the weight of the saw by a few pounds. But since this is a table saw and not a handheld saw, that’s not much of a concern.
The frame is constructed from durable stainless steel, with a powder-coated finish and a sturdy handle for rolling the saw around. There’s a pair of rubber feet towards the back, with two adjustable risers. These can be used to ensure the saw is completely level, so you won’t have your wood going through at an angle.
The SPT99-10 has a moderate, 30 ½-inch rip capacity that should be sufficient for most people to perform most tasks. It also has an impressive, 3 ⅝-inch cutting depth. This makes it large enough to chop through a 4×4 without needing to flip the board over. All in all, you’ll have enough capacity for almost any project.
The portable table saw stand rolls on a pair of 16-inch wheels, which are capable of traveling across rough lawns, stone, mud, and other places where smaller wheels might get stuck. By the same token, these wheels make it easier to load into a truck bed by yourself. They give you just enough added height to let you tilt the saw forward onto most tailgates.
Beyond that, the SPT99-11 has many of the features of the DEWALT table saw we started out with. These include a rack and pinion fence system, and the availability of an 8 ¼-inch variant. The only drawback is a slightly-reduced 30 ½-inch rip capacity, which still isn’t half bad.
Why we like it
The SKILSAW SPT99-11’s worm drive system helps it get the maximum possible power from a 15-amp motor which will help cut through materials with ease. Additionally, the mobility of the hybrid table saw setup makes it easy to transport from one jobsite to another.
The Metabo HPT Jobsite Table Saw is another stand-mounted saw that has wheels for easy transportation. If you’re hesitant to consider a saw from a brand you’ve never heard of, don’t be. Metabo is just the new name for Hitachi, a manufacturer you’re probably already familiar with.
This saw has a couple of notable advantages that are worth pointing out. For one thing, it has an impressive rip capacity of up to 35 inches. This is possible due to extended supports that can be pulled out from the main body of the machine. When collapsed, they take up no more space than the width of the existing frame.
This makes it possible to perform virtually any cut on virtually any board. The only thing you won’t be able to do is cut off a 12-inch or smaller strip of plywood. Even then, you could always cut off a 13-inch strip, then perform a second pass to shave it down. Regardless, you’re getting a wider rip capacity than almost any hybrid table saw around.
Another useful feature is the electric braking system. When the saw is deactivated, the blade stops spinning immediately. This makes it safer to use than many saws, since it can be instantly deactivated in an emergency. If you get a glove caught in the blade, for instance, you can smash the stop button and it will jerk to a halt.
The upper frame is constructed from steel, with a green finish. The base is black in color, with grey legs that fold down like the Dewalt’s, rather than a hydraulic stand. The wheels are positioned to the left, and are somewhat on the smaller side. However, they’re textured and heavy enough to navigate most terrain.
The fence system has a sliding rail design which means you release a locking switch, and it moves freely in and out from the side of the machine. This makes adjusting the rail a breeze. You can quickly switch between different cutting widths without a lot of fuss and bother. On the downside, this type of fence is also prone to getting knocked out of place easily. You should be careful when making a series of identical cuts.
Why we like it
This Metabo saw’s 35-inch rip capacity is as long as you’ll find on anything short of a dedicated panel saw which makes it the best choice if you’re concerned with making very wide cuts. The emergency power switch adds another level of safety to this piece of equipment.
The Delta 36-6013 is different from the other saws we’ve looked at so far. Instead of coming on a large, rolling stand, this is a housing-only unit, designed for tabletop and floor use. It’s also a bit more compact. The frame is made of black steel, with wide feet and rubber pads for safety.
This can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the small size means you can put this saw in the back seat of most passenger cars. On the other hand, the rip capacity is only 25 inches, barely more than enough to rip a sheet of plywood in half. Still, if you want a tabletop-sized table saw, you’ve found one.
We should point out that the feet on this saw are pre-drilled, so they can be screwed down to a flat surface. This means you can attach it to a workbench if you want to install it permanently. Alternatively, you can leave it freestanding for portable use. It all depends on what you need.
Another noteworthy feature is the three-tab fence system. These tabs can be easily snapped open and shut, to move the fence and lock it in place respectively. It’s not quite as sturdy as a rack and pinion system, but it’s more reliable than most rail-mounted fence systems.
Adjusting the blade angle and depth is similarly easy. There’s a crank on the front, just like you’ll find on most larger table saws. There’s also a locking lever, which keeps the blade from moving vertically or laterally when you don’t want it to. Basically, this is everything you want from a full-sized hybrid table saw, but in a smaller package.
Despite its small size, the Delta 36-6013 is one of the tougher saws on the market. It’s protected by an impressive five-year manufacturer’s warranty. This ensures you’re protected from any defects in materials or workmanship.
Why we like it
The Delta 36-6013 doesn’t have the same size and capacity as our other choices. However, on the other hand, its lightweight and compact size make it ideal for transport in a car as opposed to a work truck which makes this one of the best table saws under $500.
The BOSCH 10 In. Worksite Table Saw, model 4100XC-10, is a bit of an oddball. Like the Delta, it’s compact in size. But like the other saws, it comes mounted on a stand — in this case, a hydraulic gravity-rise stand that takes only seconds to fully assemble. Collapsing it requires a bit of pressure, though. Don’t be afraid to press down hard if necessary to collapse the stand.
This saw is suitable for most applications, except for wide rips. Because of its small size, its rip capacity is limited to 25 inches. This is no more than the Delta, which is a much smaller tabletop unit. But a lot depends on what you need. If you only need to rip larger sheets in half, you’ll have all the capacity you need.
That said, it’s very well-designed for narrow cuts, with a mitered pusher plate that sits just a couple of inches from the blade. For the tightest cuts, a separate plastic table saw push block is provided to keep your fingers safe. You can make tiny, ½ or even ¼-inch shave cuts without putting any part of your body next to the blade.
The main housing is made of blue plastic and is attached to the frame with four bolts. Removing it will require a ratchet set and a wrench. However, it only takes a couple of minutes to set the BOSCH saw in tabletop mode. In another couple of minutes, it can be easily re-mounted on the aluminum stand. The aluminum stand has small wheels on the right and adjustable feet to the left. This helps you keep it level when you’re cutting.
The rip fence has a single release, which makes it easy to remove. It’s also self-aligning, so 90-degree cuts will be accurate and precise. Just clamp it in place, and it instantly assumes the correct angle. On the downside, the single release is inherently not as strong as other types of fence systems. If you’re making several cuts, you’ll need to periodically reposition the fence.
Most impressively, the BOSCH 4100XC-10 utilizes soft-start circuitry. This circuitry reduces the peak voltage drawn by the motor during startup. Instead of a sudden, violent spike, the starting voltage assumes a gentler, curve-shaped profile. It’s designed to prevent circuit breakers from tripping when exposed to a spike in voltage. This feature isn’t magical, but it makes a big difference in certain projects and situations.
Why we like it
The BOSCH 4100XC-10 is ideal if you often work in buildings with older wiring. Its soft-start circuitry is far less likely to stress the system and trip a circuit breaker.
Hybrid Table Saw Buyer’s Guide
Now that we know what separates these five table saws, let’s talk about table saws and hybrid table saws in general. What features should you be looking for? What should you avoid? Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about table saws.
Table Saw Basics
If you need to build furniture, cabinets, or perform any type of complex woodworking, a table saw is an essential tool. These tools are powerful enough to cut through even heavy pieces of lumber. They’re easy to use, they’re versatile, and they can make a variety of cuts.
At its most basic, a table saw is exactly what it sounds like: a table with a saw blade protruding in the middle. But most modern table saws will do more than make a simple 90-degree cut. Typically, there’s a mitering crank that can be used for angled cuts. There’s usually a vertical adjustment as well. The blade can be high or low as needed, and can even be adjusted to cut shallow slots in a board. These modern, versatile versions are referred to as hybrid table saws.
The saw itself is a circular saw and can have either a direct drive, a belt-drive, or a worm drive. The saw motor is mounted under the table, with the blade perpendicular to the table’s surface. It can then be cranked up and down to protrude through a slot in the table. Over the top of this slot, you’ll find a blade guard, riving knife, and other safety features.
Table saws come in a variety of types, sizes, and powers. Some are engineered for professionals, while others are better-suited to do-it-yourselfers. That said, table saws are divided into two broad categories: portable and stationary. Let’s take a closer look at each variety.
Portable Table Saw Types
Portable table saws, as you might expect, are designed to be easy to move from place to place. They are generally smaller and lighter than their stationary counterparts. That said, if they are mounted on a cart, they can implement heavier — and heavier-duty — materials in their construction.
In most cases, portable table saws will use a 15-amp, 120-volt motor that can run on a standard household outlet. There are three types of portable saw: benchtop, compact, and jobsite. Here’s a little more info.
Bench Top Table Saws
Benchtop table saws are the smallest, lightest, and most affordable variety. They’re designed primarily for homeowners who have to complete a small household project. As their name implies, they’re sized to sit on a bench, either in your garage or in your workshop. For this reason, they don’t come with stands or wheels. Even so, they’re generally easy to move around, since they’re typically made from plastic or aluminum.
Bench top saws generally have narrow tables, so their capacity will be limited. If you can rip anything wider than 24 inches, you’ll be very fortunate. On the other hand, unless you need to rip a full sheet of plywood, you’ll be able to complete just about any other project.
Compact Table Saws
Despite their name, compact table saws are actually larger than bench top table saws. They have a number of similar features to keep them lightweight; for instance, they almost universally use direct drive motors.
On the other hand, they will often include extra features and a sturdier build. They may come with stands, or with iron or steel construction instead of aluminum. However, they still maintain the narrow table of a bench top saw.
Jobsite Table Saws
Jobsite table saws are the larger variety of portable saw, and they’re more powerful in just about every respect. This makes them the preferred choice for contractors who need a saw on the job — hence the name. Confusingly, for this same reason, many people erroneously refer to them as “contractor table saws.” Even some manufacturers make this mistake, which can lead to some confusion.
The problem is that true “contractor saws” are a different type of machine altogether, albeit a less common variety than they used to be. We’ll talk about those more in a second. For now, suffice it to say that if you see a “contractor saw” or “contractor table saw” for sale, do a little more research and see if you’re dealing with a jobsite saw or a true contractor saw.
An actual jobsite table saw, unlike a contractor saw, is relatively portable, just with a heavier design than a bench top or compact table saw. They also usually have more accuracy. Fences are more reliable, and mitering is tighter. You may also see larger rip capacities, over 30 inches in some cases.
In addition, jobsite saws will usually offer a number of quality of life upgrades you won’t find on smaller table saws. This is where you’ll start to see features like dust collection ports, on-board accessory storage, and extension frames. One near-universal feature is a collapsible stand, usually with transport wheels attached.
Like other portable table saws, jobsite saws almost universally use a direct drive system. This keeps the overall weight as low as possible, while still allowing sufficient power for most tasks.
Stationary Table Saw Types
Stationary table saws are typically heavier and tougher to move around than portable saws. The exception to this rule is a hybrid saw, which we’ll discuss at the end of this section. However, the other two types, contractor saws and cabinet saws, are typically only used in place in the context of a shop.
Stationary table saws utilize heavier-duty parts and are often made of steel or cast iron. This makes them more durable, so they can stand up to the abuse of a professional jobsite. They also have more powerful belt-drive motors in most cases. This allows for superior power at the expense of heavier weight.
Stationary saws are typically designed to cut full sheets of plywood. This is accomplished through a combination of larger tables and extensions. You may also see extended rails, router tables, and other advanced features on some of the pricier stationary saws.
Contractor saws are hard to find these days, having mostly been supplanted by hybrid table saws. However, they used to be the industry standard for construction professionals. With large outboard motors and belt drives, they’re capable of cutting heavy-duty plywood and hardwoods like oak or hickory.
However, contractor saws’ strength and power came to be their undoing. Earlier contractor saws were heavy, but light enough to be moved from jobsite to jobsite without too much headache. Manufacturers began packing in heavier and heavier motors until the weight could approach 300 pounds. At that point, you’re not really talking about a portable saw — you’re talking about a stationary one. You may as well own a cabinet saw.
That said, there’s still one good reason to buy a contractor saw: price. Since they’re old-school technology, you can oftentimes find a used model for relatively cheap. This makes them a solid choice if you’re on a budget, but still need a powerful table saw.
The first thing you’ll notice about a cabinet saw is that they’re large — often very large. They’re designed to accommodate full plywood sheets, sometimes in both directions.
Cabinet saws get their name from the way they’re constructed. Rather than sitting on a rolling platform or lightweight stand, they’re built onto a large cabinet. This allows for storage under the saw. For instance, you can often position a dust vacuum inside the cabinet, keeping the system dust-free and reducing clutter at the same time.
This type of saw is built to take a beating and to last for years of heavy use. The saw, the armature, and the frame will all be built from heavy-duty steel or cast iron. Even tougher metals like magnesium and zinc alloys are often included to further improve durability. If your high school had a woodshop, the table saw was probably of this variety.
Other components such as fences are similarly robust. You’ll also find larger motors, which will usually require a 240-volt outlet. These saws can cut through pressure-treated lumber, melamine, MDF, HDF, and other dense materials. With the right blades, they can even cut through nail-embedded wood, so you can build new constructions from scrap material.
The downside of a cabinet saw is that it’s most certainly not portable. With the large table, cabinet, and heavier materials, a mid-sized cabinet saw can easily exceed 500 pounds in weight. If you want to move one from place to place, you’ll need an entire truck bed and a team of workers.
Hybrid Table Saws
Hybrid table saws are a combination of different varieties. Like old-school contractor saws, they’re meant for cutting plywood and hardwood, up to a full-sized sheet. However, they’re equipped with direct drive, worm drive, or onboard belt-drive motors instead of outboard motors. This significantly reduces the size and weight without negatively impacting their performance.
Hybrid saws are generally attached to a base, which can be rolled from place to place, or collapsed for transport. That said, some hybrid saws are mounted on smaller tabletop bases, and have a lower capacity. Conversely, others are more like cabinet saws, requiring more-or-less permanent installation.
As you can see, “hybrid table saws” is a bit of a catch-all category. But in general, you’re looking at a portable saw with the power you’d normally expect from a stationary saw.
Hybrid Table Saw Considerations
There are a number of important factors to consider when you’re choosing a hybrid table saw. Here are several things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re shopping.
A lot of saws have a bunch of great features, and powerful motors, only to waste all of that quality with a cheap plastic frame or inferior table plate. What inevitably happens is that you get excellent performance for the space of a few jobs. Then, one of the cheap plastic parts fails, and you’re left with a pile of parts.
Needless to say, metal parts are superior to plastic ones. Look for a saw with a steel frame and table at a minimum. Cast iron is even more rugged, although it’s also heavier. On the other hand, while aluminum is very lightweight, it’s not as strong as either iron or steel. It’s also prone to developing stress cracks over time.
Along the same lines, a good saw should be engineered with precision and should be able to make accurate cuts. Look for a riving knife that’s difficult to bend, and a fence system that won’t easily get knocked out of alignment.
Most modern hybrid table saws have between 1.5 and 1.75 HP of motor power. With a decent blade, this is more than good enough for any carpentry-related purposes. Of course, if you happen to find a stronger saw, don’t hesitate to snatch it up!
Just be careful about power requirements. A 20-amp or 220-volt saw can cut a lot more a lot faster, but you won’t be able to plug it in on every job site.
If you want to produce any kind of quality work, you want a saw that’s accurate. It should also work well for different purposes. The blade shouldn’t start wobbling if it’s angled for a miter cut, nor should the motor bog down during deep cuts.
Some fences don’t remain securely in place, which means that even if your measurement is accurate, you can be off by fractions of an inch if you’re making a series of identical cuts. The same is true for mitering mechanisms. Look for a crank that’s finely-geared and requires several turns. A loosely-geared crank will easily slip out of place over the course of several cuts.
Adjustability and Versatility
In order to perform the maximum number of jobs, you want a saw that can be adjusted in as many ways as possible. For instance, imagine a saw without any kind of miter function. You wouldn’t be able to make any kinds of useful cuts for trim. In fact, you’d be out of luck for all but the most basic of framing jobs.
Along the same lines, you want it to be easy to adjust the same height. Imagine you want to cut a groove in a piece of wood. If the saw blade is difficult to crank up and down, you’ll have a hard time setting the groove to the correct depth. Finally, a fence should also be able to sit close or far from the blade. The closer it can sit, the more easily you’ll be able to make safe, ultra-fine cuts.
By definition, every table saw is a dangerous tool. It has a big spinning blade right in the middle! As a result, it’s important to look for a safe machine. One thing you want to watch out for is anti-kickback features. Modern US safety standards require all table saws to have a riving knife. But a sturdy pair of anti-kickback pawls also help prevent a board from shooting out at you.
Blade guards and an emergency motor shutoff, as well as a good braking system, are important for obvious reasons. But you should also keep electrical safety in mind. Look for a saw with a GFCI, which will keep you safe from electrical shocks.
Rip Capacity and Cutting Depth
Rip capacity refers to how wide of a cut a saw is capable of making. The higher the number, the wider the cut. If you want to cut full-sized sheets of plywood, you’ll want at least a 24-inch rip capacity, and even then you’ll only be able to rip them in half. Cutting depth is also a consideration. The more depth, the thicker pieces of wood you’ll be able to saw through.
Keep in mind, though, that a larger capacity means a bigger saw. If you need your saw to fit in a small space, you might need to make some compromises where capacity is concerned.
Dust Collection Options
Any good table saw should have some kind of dust collection system. There should be a tube running down near the blade. Attach a vacuum to this tube, and your sawdust will get sucked into the vac instead of building up around the motor. Make sure the tube is at least two inches in diameter. This will ensure that it fits with the majority of shop vacs and their adapters.
Any one of these hybrid table saws would be a solid choice. When you’re looking at the best of the best, it’s tough to go wrong. But for most people, the DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw, 32-1/2-Inch Rip Capacity (DWE7491RS) is the best choice. Simply put, it has the combination of features that will benefit the largest number of people.
It has a reasonably long rip length, as well as a rugged, reliable rack and pinion fence system. The cart is easy to set up and tear down, and you get on-board storage for all your accessories. And while the wheels aren’t the largest, they’re big enough to navigate most terrain. This is the complete package.
The most common objection to the DEWALT would be if you’re a homeowner who can’t fit it in your vehicle. In that case, the Delta 36-6013 10 Inch Table Saw with 25 Inch Rip Capacity can get most jobs done. And because it’s so compact, it’s easy to carry in the back of your sedan.
I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.