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Our concept of a table saw is changing. Even before sliders, it used to be the central hub in a woodshop, around which all other workstations revolved. Today, much of its work in larger shops is automated on CNC routers and beam saws. And where many basic table saws have grown heavier and more stable, others have gone in the other direction and grown wings. Smaller and portable, that new type of table saw has become indispensable on the jobsite, with some models even powered by batteries. It has also become a lot safer with finger-saving sensors, riving knives on even the smallest saws, and better dust collection.

There are still plenty of those shop-centric floor models in use, but the family of table saws has certainly grown – and its offspring are taking off in many new directions.

Oliver’s 10” jobsite table saw, model 10010.

Oliver’s 10” jobsite table saw, model 10010.

Cordless crusade

Providing the ultimate in convenience on a jobsite that has limited utilities, the battery-powered table saw is ideal for trim work, cabinet parts and other small tasks. These little saws can also be surprisingly robust when paired with the right rolling stands, and they can handle large jobs if the work is supported properly. Among the innovators in this sector are familiar brands such as DeWalt, Milwaukee, Metabo and Ryobi.

The DeWalt entry (DCS7485T1) is part of the company’s FlexVolt Max battery platform. The 8-1/4” model (as defined by the blade diameter) features a brushless motor and a rack-and-pinion telescoping fence, plus an optional rolling stand that converts what might be considered a benchtop tool into a floor model table saw. The FlexVolt system is quite clever: it lets a woodworker use a single battery that automatically switches voltage as it is inserted into different tools. There is also a 15-amp corded version of this saw, the DWE7485.

Ryobi is introducing the PBLTS01B this spring, an 8-1/4” model that runs on two 18-volt batteries. Designed for jobsites, it has a 12” rip capacity and rack-and-pinion blade height adjustment.

The Metabo C3610DRJQ4 is a 10” table saw that operates with batteries or an AC adapter. It’s got a large table (28-3/4” x 22”) and weighs about 67 lbs. Features include a 36-volt brushless motor, 35” rip capacity, soft start and, again, the option to plug it in for all-day use.

Milwaukee Tool offers the 2736-20 cordless model, part of the company’s extensive M18 Fuel battery platform. The 8-1/4” saw features a rack-and-pinion fence system, 24-1/2” rip capacity, and wirelessly connects through One-Key to a smart phone to track and manage its performance and location. It also has a tool lockout that renders the saw useless via a remote command.

HiKoki Power Tools offers the C3610DRJ H4Z, a 36-volt saw that also runs with an AC adapter. It rips to 35”, has soft start and an electric brake.

Skil recently introduced the SPT99T-01, a portable plug-in saw with a worm drive for extra torque.

Altendorf has developed Hand Guard technology, which triggers a safety device with cameras and software.

Altendorf has developed Hand Guard technology, which triggers a safety device with cameras and software.

Finger savers

Beyond batteries, another prominent table saw trend is increased safety. It began with the SawStop device that dropped a blade into an aluminum block when it sensed a finger in the danger zone. SawStop was purchased by TTS in 2017, the parent company of Festool, which has incorporated the device into its TKS 80 table saw.

Altendorf’s Hand Guard technology relies on cameras and software to trigger a safety device that instantly drops the blade below the table and stops it. The blade drops in about a quarter of a second and can be reset just ten seconds after the safety device has been activated. It protects fingers without destroying the blade, or requiring a new block of aluminum, or incurring expensive downtime to replace the block and the blade. That makes it a lot less expensive to operate, although it is initially more expensive because it’s designed for larger, more expensive sliding table saws. The safety system also works with gloves, can handle nearly every type of saw blade and is designed for virtually any material. And the system just swings out of the way when it’s not needed.

Felder Group says that its PCS system is “currently the fastest non-contact triggering safety device worldwide”. PCS stands for Preventative Contact System and is based on the electro-magnetic repulsion system (as in, when magnets push away from each other). It drops the blade in a few milliseconds and is immediately ready for use again. The PCS is available as an option with the Format4 Kappa 550 sliding table panel saw.

The Fusion 3 table saw from Laguna Tools.

The Fusion 3 table saw from Laguna Tools.

Digital readouts and other steps toward computer controls are becoming increasingly common among new table saw models. For example, the new SB1111 table saw from South Bend has a digital readout on the fence for the width of the cut, and two digital readouts on the control panel for blade height and tilt.

General Tool USA has introduced a range of 10” left-tilt table saws that have an automated system to control the blade height and tilt, plus the location of the fence. There’s a very intuitive touch pad on the fence that makes everything happen automatically.

The new G0941 from Grizzly Industrial has an interchangeable riving knife (it can be swapped out for the quick-release blade guard and splitter), and a digital readout for the blade angle when setting bevels. That’s a treat when setting repeat angles, especially if the saw has been reset to a different angle between cuts.

Retractable casters (available on Rikon’s 10-205) are trendy right now, but these are more common on contractor saws rather than cabinet saws.

Better dust collection is a long-awaited trend that finally seems to be gaining some ground. For example, Harvey Woodworking has introduced a new overhead guard called the Shark that fits most 10” and 12” table saws. It grabs the dust topside instead of letting it collect in the body of the machine. The Fusion Series from Laguna Tools also features topside dust collection.

Several smaller saws, such as Oliver’s 10” jobsite saw (10010), come with fences that incorporate an L-shaped attachment for use with thinner stock. That saw also has an overload light to prevent motor damage, and the blade can be replaced with an included 10” sanding disc. Such versatility seems destined to become more commonplace as table saws evolve to solve ever-changing challenges in the woodshop. 

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue.

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