What Is The Best Table Saw For A Beginner Woodworker?

What Is The Best Table Saw For A Beginner Woodworker?

Table saws come in different shapes and sizes, but the most important thing when thinking about buying your first table saw is its effectiveness for the price.

You need to know if the table saw you’re buying is the best one to help you learn all the tips and tricks in woodworking. Also, you don’t want to spend a fortune on something you don’t even know how to use (or barely know it).

Since you’ll find table saws from $150 to $2000 and even $3000, it’s hard to make a good choice, especially if you’re a beginner in woodworking. But don’t worry, that’s why I’m here – to help you make the right decision and get the best table saw for the bucks.

Now, before revealing you the best table saw for beginners, I will share with you the things you need to pay attention to when buying a new table saw.

What To Look For In A New Table Saw?

Here is a checklist with the things you need to verify when picking a table saw:

1. The Type Of The Table Saw

Before heading to the store, you need to know that there is more than one type of table saws, and each of them has different functions and usabilities. Let me clear things out here for you and make a brief classification of the table saws:

  1. Cabinet – it’s big, heavy, durable, very expensive, but very accurate too. It’s mostly used by professionals and can be found in most commercial and industrial sites. It’s the best type of table saw, but not for a beginner (unless you want to make a living out of woodworking).
  2. Contractor – it’s smaller than the cabinet, it may have wheels for transportation, it’s durable, affordable, and accurate. It’s a perfect table saw for a beginner woodworker.
  3. Hybrid – it’s a combination between a cabinet and a contractor. Think about it as a premium contractor saw or a light cabinet, where you get most of the features of a cabinet saw at a better price. This is a great option for both beginners and professionals.
  4. Benchtop – it’s compact, lightweight (can be easily moved by one person), usually cheap, and pretty accurate table saw. It’s used in industrial and construction sites where you need a table saw at the job location. It’s also a good option for beginners.
  5. Mini and Micro – are portable table saws with small blades (4″ or less) usually used to cut small pieces of wood, flooring, or PVCs, etc. As the name already says it, these are table saws in miniature.

These are the five main table saw types. As a woodworker beginner, you want to aim for a contractor saw, or even a hybrid if you have the budget. These two types of table saw are more than enough for beginners.

Types Of Table Saws

There are 5 types of table saws.

2. The Features Of The Table Saw

Now that you know what type of table saw you need, it’s time to focus on the features various table saws have to offer. What you’ll observe is that the more features a table saw has, the more money you’ll pay for it.

All table saws come with a rip fence, a miter gauge, and a decent blade. I’m not gonna focus on these features because they can easily be replaced with better aftermarket versions once you learn the basics of using a table saw.

But if you’re thinking about making a living on woodworking, then, by all means, pay attention to the quality of these standard features too. Any table saw needs a stable rip fence, a perfectly aligned miter gauge, and at least a ten-inch blade.

So let’s focus on all the important and necessary extra features of a table saw:

  1. Safety features: You want your table saw to be equipped with a blade guard, a riving knife, and, if possible, an automatic blade brake (it stops the blade instantly when it touches your skin).
  2. Anti-dust features: The dust collector is like a vacuum that collects all the dust you’re producing when cutting with the table saw. It’s a great feature if you’ll be using your table saw inside (which will probably happen). As a cheaper alternative (but less effective), you can always opt for a dust collection bag and an anti-dust mask.
  3. Table extensions: The bigger the table is, the better for your projects. So look for an extensible table or one that can easily support side wing additions. You can also build wooden table additions later, such as an outfeed table, infeed table, and even auxiliary side wings.
  4. Blade features: I believe all the table saws nowadays support dado blades, but you never know. So you need to check this out because you will need to make grooved cuts sometimes.

The most important table saw features for a beginner woodworker are the safety features. If the table saw is not equipped with a riving knife and a blade guard, then it is not designed with the user safety in mind.

As a beginner, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your hobby. So you can cut corners by giving up to features that are not really necessary, such as the dust collector or the table extensions.

The Features Of The Table Saw

The features of the table saw.

3. The Power Of The Table Saw

You want the power, I get it. But the more power the table saw has, the more costly it and its maintenance is.

This is exactly like in the case when you buy a new car. You want more horsepowers, but this comes with a bigger price, more fuel consumption, a louder engine, and a shorter life of the components.

Similarly, a table saw with more than two horsepowers can be very expensive and loud, and need a more costly maintenance. Usually, cabinet saws have the most powerful motors.

Also, let’s not forget about the safety. Because if a kickback occurs and the wood piece hits you, you’ll want your table saw to be less powerful. And since this is more probably to happen to a beginner than to an experienced woodworker, the power of the table saw should be taken into consideration when choosing your first table saw.

For a beginner in woodworking, a contractor saw with one to two horsepowers is just enough. You can cut wood boards of about two inches thick with such a table saw. For thicker boards, you definitely need a more powerful table saw.

4. The Electrical Wiring

One of the most important things you need to consider when buying your first table saw is the electrical wiring. You don’t want to get your table saw and find out that it runs on 240V and all the sockets in your workshop are for 120V.

Usually, a motor with less than three horsepowers runs on 120V, so this one would be a great option for a beginner. Just make sure to check this out before you buy it.

Of course, you can also get a table saw that runs on 240V, but this means you need special wiring, and you might need to hire an electrician to do it for you.

So stay in the safe zone, and opt for a table saw with a motor that runs on 120V.

5. The Drive Type

There are two drive types for a table saw:

  • Direct drive – The motor is mounted under the table and is connected directly to the blade.
  • Belt drive – The motor is mounted at the base of the table saw and is connected to the blade through a belt and a pulley system.

Both of these drive types have advantages and disadvantages, but what you should remember is that a direct drive table saw is much better for a beginner because:

  • It’s smaller and lighter;
  • Usually, it doesn’t have a powerful motor;
  • Also, it doesn’t produce much vibration, which means it’s pretty silent;
  • It has very little power loss because there are no belts involved in the transmission of the power from the motor to the blade;
  • And it requires less maintenance since you don’t have to change the belt periodically.

So for beginners in woodworking, a direct drive table saw would be just perfect.

Table Saw Motor Drive Type

Table daw motor drive types: direct drive and belt drive.

6. The Price

The best table saws are expensive, but what makes most of them expensive is not the built quality, but the safety features they have to offer. You can find really high-quality table saws at just $300, but they’re not as safe as a $3000 saw is.

So if you’re ready to let go to some of the cool (and extremely effective) features such as the automatic brake system and the dust collector, then you can get a decent table saw under $300. And it should be a great option for a beginner.

Now if you have a bigger budget, or you want to make a living out of woodworking, then make sure you get these safety features. They will help you avoid dangerous kickbacks, breathing problems caused by the dust inhaling, and even dangerous cuts.

Cabinets usually cost over $1000 and can go up to $5000, depending on the features they are equipped with.

Contractor saws cost under $1000 and can go down to even $100. And this is the price category where a beginner woodworker should look for his first table saw.

7. What Do You Plan To Do With The Table Saw?

Before you buy your first table saw you need to know how you’ll actually use it. Because if you plan to make some quality furniture with your table saw and sell it, then you might want to get a high-quality, fully-equipped cabinet saw.

But if you want to focus on small DIY projects around the house, such as building a tool cabinet, a dog house, or a wooden fence, then you’ll probably need a semi-professional table saw, such as a good-quality contractor saw.

Or maybe woodworking is your new hobby and you don’t plan on leaving your current well-payed job. In this case, where you make just basic cuts from time to time, almost any kind of cabinet saw will do the work.

So as you can see, I like to categorize table saws in three types when it comes to their purpose:

  1. Hobbyist table saw – rarely used around the house.
  2. Semi-professional table saw – frequently used around the house.
  3. Professional table saw – used for commercial purposes.

Make sure to buy a table saw that is adequate for the most complex operation you plan to perform.

The Best Table Saw

Now that you know what to look for when buying a table saw, let’s put all the knowledge together and describe the best table saw for any woodworker level.

Here is what the best table saw must look like:

  1. A cabinet type;
  2. At least 3 horsepowers;
  3. Wiring to 220-240V;
  4. Belt drive motor;
  5. It has a large, flat table;
  6. Also, it’s equipped with high-quality accessories, such as a solid rip fence, a precise miter gauge, an easy-to-use blade fence, and a riving knife.
  7. It has a very effective dust collector so the workshop stays clean all the time.
  8. The automatic blade brake system is present to prevent injuries.
  9. It should be heavy to avoid vibration.

This is what the best table saw looks like in my opinion. But one such beast costs a lot over $2500. So this is definitely not an option for a beginner.

Now let’s see what the best table saw for beginners should look like.

The Best Table Saw For Beginners

Here are the characteristics of the best table saw for a beginner in woodworking:

  1. A contractor type;
  2. Between 1 and 2 horsepowers (15 amps);
  3. Wiring to 120V;
  4. Direct drive motor;
  5. It has a large, flat table;
  6. Also, it’s equipped with high-quality accessories, such as a solid rip fence, a precise miter gauge, an easy-to-use blade fence, and a riving knife.
  7. It has a very effective dust collector so the workshop stays clean all the time.
  8. The automatic blade brake system is present to prevent injuries.

This is what the best table saw for beginners should look like. But this one is also pretty expensive (way more than $500).

So I did a detailed research where I compared more than 20 table saws under $500 to find the one that has as many useful features as possible for the price. And I found the best table saw for less than $210.

The best table saw for a beginner woodworker is SKIL 3410-02.

SKIL 3410-02

This is a benchtop saw with a 10-inch blade and an expendable, flat, die-cast aluminum table. It’s not heavy at all (one man can transport it) and can save space in your workshop because it has a folding stand.

Also, there is a 3-year warranty with registration on the manufacturer’s website.

As a beginner, you can’t go wrong with this $200 table saw!

You should check the price now because it might be a discount. Now let me tell you why I chose this particular table saw as being the best one for beginners.

Why Is SKIL 3410-02 The Best Table Saw For Beginners?

The answer to this question is pretty simple and straightforward: SKIL 3410-02 is the perfect balance between functionality, quality, and price.

Here’s why SKIL 3410-02 is the best-equipped and ready-to-use contractor saw for the price:

  1. You just buy it, set it up (which is super-easy), plug it in, and do your woodworking job.
  2. It doesn’t require any wiring knowledge since it runs at 120V. So you can use it anywhere.
  3. You can cut any kind of wood with the 15-amp motor. It’s powerful enough to cut through 3,5-inch thick wood boards.
  4.  It has a 10-inch blade, which is not the best quality, but you can easily change it if you want.
  5. The folding stand is a great extra feature. And it’s high-quality built.
  6. It’s equipped with all the accessories such as a solid rip fence with EZ view measurement system for precise cuts and a miter gauge.
  7. The table saw has built-in tool storage areas for all the accessories.
  8. Also, safety features such as the riving knife and the blade guard are present.
  9. This table saw also comes with a 3-year warranty from the manufacturer.

For all these reasons I picked SKIL 3410-02 to be the best table saw for any beginner-level woodworker. Now below are a few things I would love to find on this Skil table saw.

The Best Table Saw For A Beginner Woodworker

SKIL 3410-02 is the best table saw for a beginner woodworker.

What’s Missing On SKIL 3410-02?

Don’t get me wrong, this table saw is the best one you’ll ever find at this price point. But there are a few things I would change or need in order to make the SKIL 3410-02 the ultimate table saw:

  1. First of all, the miter gauge is not as high-quality as the rip fence. A better, more stable miter gauge would make a great addon to this already awesome table saw.
  2. Also, the miter slots are narrow and T-shaped, which makes it hard for you to make custom sleds. Also, it’s hard to find aftermarket accessories that fit this type of miter slots. Regular 3/4 x 3/8 miter slots would make things way much easier.
  3. I wish it would feature a dust collector to avoid all the mess around your workplace. Of course, you can use a dust bag, but it’s not so effective.
  4. Some of the plastic parts can be annoying and should be changed with more durable, metal parts. This would give a more premium feeling to the table saw.

Other than these, the SKIL 3410-02 is still the best option for a beginner.

Of course, woodworkers with tens of years of experience will tell you to wait until you have more money and buy a renowned cabinet saw. And I definitely agree. But if your budget is tight and you want to learn the basics of woodworking, then the SKIL 3410-02 is just enough.

With all the features it is packed with, the quality built, and the inexpensive price, I truly recommend the SKIL 3410-02 table saw for any beginner in woodworking.