How to Choose the Best Beginner Table Saw

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At most wood shops the action centers around the table saw. More often than now every single woodworking project will pass over the table saw at least once. Choosing the best beginner table saw is crucial to setting up a safe and efficient shop if you’re a new woodworker.

When I first started building out my woodworking shop 5 years ago the table saw was the first major tool I purchased. And for quite a while it was the only large power tool that I owned. I was able to do a ton of projects using the saw along with smaller tools like a miter saw, orbital sander and drill.

What to Consider with a Beginner Table Saw

Before choosing the saw I did A TON of research to find the beginner table saw that best fit my space and budget. Ultimately I settled on a hybrid saw from Grizzly. Note that this is an upgraded version of the saw I initially purchased. This saw features a huge upgrade to its fence over what I have! It offered a lot of the features of a full cabinet saw yet was light and small enough to put on casters so I could move it around the shop as needed.

The price was also great at under $1,000!

Safety First!

If you are a new woodworker then safety should be your #1 priority with a beginner table saw!

Table saws are incredibly powerful and potentially dangerous tools that can instantly derail your woodworker career when handled incorrectly.

Luckily, virtually all table saws sold today include safety features like blade guards and riving knives.

Blade Guards

Blade guards sit overtop of the blade and allow your work to pass beneath them. In the event the wood binds or kicks back the guard will help to prevent your hands from coming into contact with the blade.

They also often include anti kickback components which will grab into the wood in the event of a kickback.

As someone who has experienced kickback once it is not something you want to be messing with!

Riving Knives

Riving knives are a thin piece of metal that sits behind the blade. They prevent the wood from binding on the blade which can also lead to kickback. Many older table saws do not include riving knives and they can be tempting to remove but I absolutely do not recommend doing so.

Sawstop Safety Technology

You may have heard of Sawstop table saws but if you haven’t here is a quick refresher.

Sawstop is a brand of table saws that include technology that can sense if your finger or hand comes in contact with the blade. In the event of contact with the blade, the saw instantly shuts down and drops the blade below the table. This typically results in nothing more than a small knick on the user’s finger.

The backstory goes that when Sawstop first developed the technology they tried to convince other brands to use it. When they refused Sawstop developed their own line of saws. This means that Sawstop is the only table saw that has this technology available.

While Sawstop table saws are an expensive beginner table saw I fully believe that this safety feature makes then 100% worthwhile.

They also make an incredibly capable table saw, so you’re still getting top of the line level features on the rest of the saw as well!

Power and Size

Table saws come in a huge variety of power and size options. From the smallest job site saws to immovable commercial level saws and everything in between.

Job Site Table Saws

Job site style saws are a great option for people on a budget, with a small shop space, or who will be using the saw more for breaking down materials than making precise, finishing cuts. Their small size means they can be stowed away under a workbench when not in use or even integrated into a workbench tabletop.

Saws in this category can typically be had for under $700

Contractor Table Saws

Contractor style saws are going to be your entry level saws that have a built in base. These feature open stands, larger tables and larger motors.

These saws are still lightweight and easy to maneuver around the shop without sacrificing all of the power and size you lose by going down to a jobsite style table saw.

Contractor style table saws can range anywhere from $700 – $1,700.

Hybrid Table Saws

Meanwhile, hybrid style table saws typically fall into the middle ground on size and power. I use a hybrid style saw in the shop and it has been a great investment.

These saws have plenty of power to rip through thicker hardwoods and are large enough to handle large sheet goods or longer pieces of wood. There are times though when I can bog the motor down if I’m trying to rip 6/4 or thicker exotic hardwoods.

They are still light enough that they can be put on a mobile base and easily moved around the shop. In my current shop space I don’t have room for a permanent table saw station so this option is crucial.

The prices for hybrid table saws are typically between $1,000 – $2,000.

Cabinet Table Saws

Cabinet style table saws are going to be your largest and most powerful saws. These saws often have motors up to 7.5hp which is large enough to cut through any wood thrown at it. They also feature massive footprints and cutting capacities.

One of the great options with these saws is their large wings make perfect spots for installing additional features like a router table or a sliding table.

Prices on cabinet style table saws often start at $2,000 and can be as high as $10,000!

The Best Beginner Table Saws

Here are our favorite beginner table saws for any shop size or budget.

Our #1 Choice – Sawstop

For the beginner woodworker, there is just no better option than a Sawstop. Its safety features dwarf the price advantages of other brands.

Their contractor style saw features a large enough table and motor that can accommodate a wide range of products. Yet its price (under $2,000) and smaller size make it perfect for the perfect table saw for beginners.

The Best Jobsite Table Saw – Dewalt 10″ Table Saw

DeWalt is well known in the woodworking for making affordable tools that just work. Their 13-inch planer has been owned by almost every woodworker at some point in their woodworking journey.

The 10-inch table saw is a great tool for those tight on money and space. It is big enough that when paired with a larger work surface can easily offer almost all the features of a larger contractor style saw yet small enough to be easily portable.

The Best Hybrid Table Saw – Grizzly G0771z

I have owned the earlier iteration of this saw for 5 years now and the combination of price and performance is tough to beat. You can typically find this saw delivered to your door for under $1,000.

The hybrid style means it has an enclosed cabinet and beefier trunnions. This leads to a smoother operations and excellent dust collection capabilities.

The Best Cabinet Table Saw – Sawstop Cabinet Saw

Once again it is tough to beat the Sawstop when it comes to the their top of the line saw’s capabilities and safety. If you’re outfitting a large shop and money is no object then this should be the first tool you purchase. Pair this saw with a large outfeed table and you’ll have the perfet base to build the rest of your shop around.

Final Thoughts on the Best Beginner Table Saws

Making that first big power tool purchase is an exciting time for new woodworkers. Suddenly a whole new world of woodworking is possible. Especially when you add on some accessories to the saw like a cross cut sled and dado stack!

Take your space and budget into consideration but we always recommend going for the best saw you can get. As your woodworking skills progress it is always better to be able to grow into your saw’s capabilities rather than having to upgrade within a year or two.

Luckily, most power tools hold their value well on the used market so reselling and putting that money into an upgraded saw usually is a pretty easy process.

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