If you need a table saw that stows and goes, one of these five portable saws could be a great fit. About three paces from where I tested these portable table saws sits my late-model cabinet saw. No matter the model or price, a table saw should cut a range of material thicknesses and hold its settings accurately. While DeWALT’s DW744X is the only model here without wheels, the saw is otherwise well appointed.
Portable table saws enable you to carry out sawing tasks wherever they’re most convenient: on the deck, in the basement or out in the yard. The guard is a clear plastic split configuration that offers good visibility of the cutting area. DeWALT’s soft-start motor was powerful, and feedback circuitry keeps it cutting with consistent torque under load. Changing rip fence settings on the DW744X involves unlocking the fence rails and rolling them in or out on rack-and-pinion gears — the fence moves with the rails. Rockwell is the “freshman” brand among the other longer-standing benchtop power tool companies represented here, and its table saw revealed some “first rodeo” shortcomings.
Rockwell’s RK7241S has extra-long rails that provide 30″ of ripping capacity — helpful for splitting full-size sheet goods. Rockwell provides both a splitter and a riving knife to help prevent kickbacks, but the smoky-colored plastic guard isn’t as easy to see through as other clear guards.
While the blade tilt scale on this machine is easy to read, the tilt lock lever is small and could be hard to lock or loosen for people with limited hand strength. The RK7241S has two sturdy tubular legsets that fold down and lock, and one becomes a convenient handle for transport.
Dust collection is passive on this tool: it simply falls down through a circular grate and into a cinched fabric bag.
It’s easy to raise or lower the saw’s riving knife for making either through or non-through (dadoes, rabbets, etc.) cuts, and blade changes are simple with one wrench and an arbor lock lever — the only saw here that doesn’t make this a two-wrench job.
I’m not crazy about one feature, and it’s common to three of these five saws: to tip the blade, you unlock a lever behind the blade height hand wheel, then swing the undercarriage up to the angle you need before re-locking the lever. After a couple of hours of cutting, very little sawdust was left on the floor — it routed neatly through a shroud that surrounds the blade and on into my shop vac. Bosch engineers deserve kudos for the Gravity-Rise stand, and it’s a design some other manufacturers should emulate.
These jobsite-ready table saws should have sturdy mobile bases, and Bosch’s Gravity-Rise design is an exceptional example.
All in all, Bosch packages convenience, capability and woodworking “chops” into this machine. Setting up or taking down Craftsman’s spring-assisted stand is a six-step process, involving various release latches.
Four of these five test saws, including Craftsman, have 2-1?2″-diameter dust ports that enable shop vac-assisted dust collection.
At day’s end, I think this little machine is what it is: a portable, light-duty table saw for occasional work. RIDGID provides a robust rip fence with T-slots for featherboards, plus a microadjuster for nudging it to a final setting.
I like the saw’s blade height wheel: it has a separate outer geared rim that tips the blade.
RIDGID provides geared control on the blade height handwheel for setting and locking bevel angles.
To set up or store RIDGID’s rolling base, step on a foot release and pivot the handles up or down. When I switched blades, I did find the locking lever for the riving knife very stiff … not sure why.
Just to let you know, Ive had a rigid table saw for 10 yrs now and I’m still trying to burn out the motor. Track saws are ideal for slicing up sheet materials cleanly and accurately, and they’ll cut lumber and other materials, too. Track saws may look similar to a circular saw you can buy for a fraction of the price, but that’s where the common ground ends. Most of the motors on these saws have soft start, variable speed and electronic feedback circuitry like a good router, and a dust port on the blade guard whisks away debris before it has a chance to escape.
I use my track saw almost exclusively for sizing down expensive and cumbersome sheet goods, because it’s easier to feed over 4x8s instead of wrestling the sheets across my table saw. Five years ago, when I tested track saws last, there were only three contenders, but the category has grown to six options now for the U.S.
For testing, I connected these saws to a premium dust extractor and put them to work, slicing up 100 lineal feat of chip-prone melamine board, then cut across the grain of another 100 ft. If you’ve spent some time with other DeWALT saws, you’ll feel right at home with the robust build quality of this DWS520K track saw. The only feature that isn’t as user-friendly is the blade-changing system: it involves an eight-step process of locking and unlocking levers that makes the job fussy. Once set up for cutting, there’s a parallel linkage on this saw that requires you to push the saw carriage forward slightly on the base before plunging it down at an angle.
This saw’s aluminum guide rail features two rubber edge strips — one on each side — enabling you to cut along the rail with the saw facing either direction. When put to work, the DWS520K’s motor never flagged on either melamine or birch ply, although the blade did leave tiny chips and splinters on the rail side of the cut. This saw is one of only a few with a spring-loaded riving knife and an anti-kickback stop in the base. A centered channel and two rubber edges on DeWALT’s track allow the saw to cut on either side for added convenience. I’m no newbie to Festool’s TS 55 track saw; it’s been a reliable companion in my shop for years, and it has a proven pedigree of success with both pro woodworkers and tradespeople. When put to task, Festool’s motor electronics kept blade speed consistent, regardless of the cutting load. This particular test saw left very tiny chips along the rail side when cutting melamine, even with the splinterguard in place.
For $615, you get the saw, a Systainer® carry case, a pair of clamps to anchor the rail to a workpiece, a stop block and a 55″ guide rail.
Festool’s unique green plastic splinter- guard helps minimize cutting defects by supporting stock right where the blade exits up and out of the cut. I like the overmolded primary grip and spacious trigger, but the plunge release above the grip is too far up and back to reach easily.
The saw’s depth-of-cut control sets solidly, and you’ll read it in inches rather than millimeters. When I switched to birch plywood and made my through cuts on cross-grain veneer, splintering was evident along the top and bottom edges as well. Dust collection was somewhat effective, but the saw blew debris forward during cutting and left more of a trail behind it than the other saws. All in all, will this saw make cuts that are straighter and cleaner than a hand-guided circular saw?
Three triangle indicators on Grizzly’s blade guard show you its blade limits when making full-depth plunge cuts.
Mafell, like Festool, is made in Germany, and it quickly became clear during testing that its engineers have left no stones unturned when designing a premium plunge-cut saw. One bevel-tilt knob, rather than two on other saws, controls tilt settings, and the saw tips from -1° up to 48°, then holds the angle securely.


Changing blades on the Mafell couldn’t be easier: push one button, flip a lever, and the guard’s outer half flips open like a car hood.
The only downside to this top-shelf saw is its price: $802 for the saw and a Systainer-style case, or add the aluminum guide rail for another $143.
Blade changes on the MT 55 cc are simple: flip open the hinged guard and loosen the arbor bolt. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s fun when, in a tool review, a dark horse emerges from the herd. It did a good job on splintery birch veneer, too: the rail-side edges had a light fuzz, and the waste side results were better than most. There was some dust left on the table and workpiece after cutting, but overall efficiency was above average. Makita provides a full bevel tilt range from -1° to 48°, as well as a separate knob with preset stops at 22.5° and 45°. All of these track saws have dust ports on their guard assemblies that accept 35mm dust extractor nozzles. Like DeWALT, there’s a spring-loaded pawl in the base to stop the saw on the track in the event of kickback. Under power, Triton’s 12-amp motor seemed to strain more noticeably under heavy load than others. Once score-cut, the TTS 1400 sliced melamine cleanly, with just a few chipouts here and there. The author found that shallow scoring cuts improved the cutting performance of most of these track saws. Rails for all of these test saws can be joined end-to-end with connector rods to extend their length. The other is the Makita has a lip on the top side slot as an anti-tip device when doing bevel cuts. I use the Festool F-clamps and track connectors without a hitch because it’s easier for me to get Festool accessories.
I really hope I can use the Seneca Woodworking parallel guide system fits the Makita track since that’s better designed and costs about half what the Festool unit does. You don’t get no clamp with the Festool TS55 REQ if you do then Festool owe me 3 pair . I know that Chris is sort of a light weight guy but, is kneeling on the track while your cutting a recommended practice? I wound up buying the Mafell MT-55cc and the superior track connector and splinter guard design are worth the extra dollars for my application. I just finished reading a compound miter saw comparison test and the first thing they did was to put in a good Freud blade in each of the saws.
And that’s why we’ve rounded up these five premium portables to pick a “Best Bet” for woodworking. So, after installing a new Freud hi-ATB thin-kerf blade in each saw, I made repeated rip cuts on MDF, resetting the fence each time to check for consistently thick offcuts. It’s got a unique rip fence design: instead of sliding along front and back rails, the fence is fixed to them.
Like Bosch, this saw also has a good vac-assisted dust shroud to help keep your cutting area tidy, plus a cleanout access door. The right half of the rail assembly folds out so the saw can achieve its full 30″ of rip capacity — wider than any other model here — but the fence would not slide smoothly over the rails without catching on the hinge joint.
Still, I do like that Rockwell provides the only full-size handle on its miter gauge; the rest are all stubby and harder to hold. The stand stayed put during heavy ripping operations, and lawnmowerstyle wheels make the tool easy to roll.
I found it to be pretty dim under bright shop lights and not lined up correctly with the blade. I’ve used one several times to build projects for this magazine, including the Serving Tray Cart that appeared in the June issue. It has a clean-out door for when offcuts get stuck or when you drop the arbor nut down inside … and who doesn’t do that now and then? Twist one lever, and the sturdy, steel frame folds up or down fluidly to convert from sawing to transport or storage.
It delivered accurate rip cuts, kept its bevel setting for angled ripping and could handle a stacked dado blade without laboring. If you need a saw that’s made for tough, daily use, this model might not be the best choice.
R4510 might not be a saw you want to lift into a truck bed every day, but it’s bound to deliver solid cutting results once you reach your destination.
A large knob and lever lock both the height and bevel settings with little effort — a solid design. While Bosch’s 4100-09 doesn’t disappoint, and DeWALT has what seems to be a bulletproof portable, I think RIDGID’s R4510 table saw really shines.
I must say, I have been using the DeWalt DW744 for a couple years now, predominantly for interior trim work and I kinda hate the thing. Their blades retract into a shrouded guard until you thumb a release lever and pivot the motor assembly down to begin cutting. A track saw’s base fits over the channel of an aluminum guide rail and follows it for making laser-straight cuts. It features a thick magnesium base, sturdy and easy-to-adjust tilt controls and a pair of comfortable, rubberized grips. It feels a bit awkward, because the other saws pivot down into their bases with one wrist motion, but it’s easy to adjust to. Those two features make it safer for ripping solid wood, as well as making stationary plunge cuts while on the rail.
The TS 55 doesn’t lead the pack on depth capacities at either 90° or 45°, but it’s a pleasure to use. A regular pattern of chipping occurred on the top face of melamine, despite the guide rail’s rubber edge strip, and there was sporadic chipout on the bottom face, too. Then, I tried scoring both melamine and plywood first with a shallow cut, followed by the through cut.
The MT 55 cc has a powerful and smooth-running 10-amp motor with soft start, torque control and variable speed. To help you find the blade’s position when tilted, a red tracking pointer moves as you tip the machine.
Nudging it with a knuckle, I was able to score melamine, then cut it with only a scant chip lifted now and then.
And while there was splintering on the waste side of my plywood cuts, the “rail” side edges were almost splinter-free. Its powerful 3hp motor, spacious cast-iron tabletop and almost hair-splitting precision makes most other saw options pale by comparison.
After that, I raised the blade for more rip cuts on heavy, long planks of 2 x 12 Southern yellow pine, before tipping the blade to bevel-rip 2″-thick poplar.
But you won’t feel that old urge to ditch it, because it functions well without getting in the way. While the rip fence did maintain its locked settings, it lacks the heft and build quality of the competition. But, once set up, you have to drag or lift the saw to move it, unlike other portables that keep the wheels on the floor during use. Eight-inch wheels and lugged rubber tires make this base easy to steer overland or pull up steps.


At just 23?4″ wide, the saw’s narrow throatplate makes it harder to reach down inside for swapping blades or retrieving a fumbled arbor nut. And, once the stand is folded down, don’t lift the handles up too far when rolling the saw around, or the stand drags against the floor.
Scales are bright and easy to read, and a full-size miter gauge with a steel bar tops off the goodies. Bevel cuts were smooth, and the blade angle did not change when I powered through the thick poplar test lumber. I resorted to gripping the lever with a pliers to manipulate it, after nicking some skin on the blade teeth.
Its sturdy workaday features, powerful motor and well-designed stand show that portability doesn’t have to mean compromise.
It started out great for reasons that you listed, I liked how quiet it is, I love its stand, its accurate and stable. It enables these saws to either plunge into a surface — a great thing for flooring contractors or remodelers — or be fed into the edge of workpieces conventionally.
The edge or edges of the rail also have a pliable sacrificial strip that supports the workpiece where the blade teeth exit on the top side. While these saws aren’t a cheap investment, I’ll argue they’re your best solution for sheet goods, and they’ll cut lumber and other materials, too, with the correct blade. Setting depth-of-plunge on these saws is a simple matter of locking a pointer and knob on scale beside the guard, and DeWALT makes that easy to gauge, thanks to Imperial markings. In terms of features, the “55” is fully appointed: it has a riving knife, it tips to -1° or up to 47° for beveling, and the plastic green splinterguard provides a zero-clearance slot around the leading edge of the blade to help ensure clean cuts.
Two textured adjuster knobs on the base control cams so you can snug the saw up on the rail’s channel for zero side-to-side play. When I switched to birch ply, the TS 55 surpassed all other saws here, cutting it with no evidence of splintering on either the rail side or waste side of the cut.
That buys you the saw, a 55″ track, two track clamps, a connector bar for securing tracks end-for-end and a rail stop for plunge-cutting.
There’s a riving knife to make ripping safer, and the 9-amp motor was powerful enough, despite its seeming lack of feedback circuitry, to help keep torque output constant. Depth-of-cut reads in metric, and the saw will handle deeper cuts than Festool, up to 21?4″ (57mm) at 90°.
There was negligible splintering on the rail side of birch plywood, too, provided it was scored first. The cuts were flawless; so sharp, in fact, that I was afraid those fresh edges might actually slice my skin. You can with DeWALT’s design; here, you have to turn and hold the knob to release the pawl whenever you set the saw on the track or want to back it up.
And for “Best Bet,” Festool wins by a nose over the more costly but equally proficient Mafell. Then I switched to a 6″ CMT dado set and made a long dado cut in MDF, so I could check for consistent cutting depth — a sign that the undercarriage is stout enough to handle a heavy blade like this. When you are done sawing, you’ll have to lift this wheel-less saw to transport it, and there are contoured grips molded into the table edges to make that easier. So, for my testing purposes I had to set the rip fence askew in order to align it parallel to the blade.
Rip cuts were on the mark, thanks to a rugged, beefy fence that stayed parallel to the blade each time I reset it. Plus, the base’s stance is wide, giving it sure footing if you are pushing long planks or heavy sheet goods through. I also appreciated the saw’s clear, split guard and a riving knife system that is easy to install and adjust up or down. While the white-on-black bevel scale display is easy to read, the thin red hairline pointer that marks tilt angles disappears over the top of it; the saw needs a larger, brighter indicator. But, on the softer side, RIDGID provides a nice complement of overmolds on the miter gauge handle and blade height handwheel knob. However, after a few hours or ripping basic hardwoods the rack and pinion fence system binds up to the point of barely any movement from sawdust. It reduces the incidence of lifted fibers or chipping where an ordinary circular saw could leave a ragged mess. I wanted to compare cutting results, overall ease of operation, dust collection efficiency and general fit and finish.
Blade changes are as easy as flipping a lever, plunging the tool and unscrewing the arbor bolt. You can also buy the saw without the track or extra accoutrements as the T10687 instead, for $179.95. I’d like to see the tool’s vac port swivel like the rest do: fixed as is, it directed the vac hose in and over the rail, where the hose’s ribbing caught the rail’s back edge occasionally. The TS 55 offers solid cutting performance and superior dust control in a user-friendly tool. The thought of moving that behemoth down the steps to a basement shop sends chills up my spine. Overall, my test criteria was stability of the stand, cutting accuracy, reasonable dust collection efficiency and all-around convenience of use.
A red hairline cursor makes fence settings easy to read, and it passed my ripping tests with flying colors. A flip of a red lever underneath unlocks the rails so they slide out and extend ripping capacity up to 25″.
There’s a geared mechanism for tilting the blade that engages when you push the blade height wheel in — a good thing — but the bevel lock lever is too short, and I would use care when bearing down on the plastic handle to tighten it.
I also found that the stand’s narrow stance and light weight couldn’t prevent it from skittering on the floor as I pushed heavy lumber across the top. All these saws come with 48- or 60-tooth high quality carbide-tooth blades, so I tested them with their standard blade in place.
Simple, and a task you may need to do in order to replace it with one of many available blade options. But, with reasonable expectations, here’s an affordable way to cut down sheet stock and lumber at a very good value.
Plus, the kerf will be different and you’ll have to replace the edge rubber at the same time. But the tradeoff for the convenience of wheels is that DeWALT can keep this setup even more compact — probably much appreciated by contractors. A word to the wise: weigh the base down for heavy-duty work or for cutting large sheet goods. It’s sturdy, well-balanced and provides a wide stance to keep the saw from shifting or tipping.
I also don’t like how tough it is to raise and lower the blade as well as the lack of brake. Large wheels and rubber tires roll the machine around easily during transport or just to reposition it when set up. I don’t know of any stationary table saw that sells for less than $700 new these days, and that can empty the coffer of a modest tool budget. The left-most tube is both a working-height handle and side support for balancing extra-long crosscuts.



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Comments to «Woodworkers journal table saw review»

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