The portable job site table saw is the workhorse of any homebuilder. It makes an appearance on nearly every job, and the entire crew continuously uses it.
Speed and accuracy matter, but so does the saw’s ability to hold up to years of punishing use.
At ToolTally, I try to dive into the nitty-gritty on each of these tools. Keep in mind that my team and I are scouring the internet for every mention of these models that we can find so you can have the broadest swatch of real-life test cases at which to look.
We then distill it down into the key points, with extra weight given to our own experiences with these tools.
Over time, this list is updated and changed (Last Updated April 2019). If you disagree with one of our summaries, don’t hesitate to speak up! We want to be fair to each brand while helping you get the tool that we think is best.
This post starts with a pretty in-depth specification table for those of you who like data. I then summarize the top pick and go tool-by-tool discussing the pros and cons of each.
There are over 5,000 words, here, so use as much or as little of our research as you need to to make a buying decision that is going to hold up to the daily abuse you have planned.Summary: Hands down, the Dewalt delivers that consistent performance that contractors around the world have come to expect out of the best portable table saw. I’m a Makita fan, but the Jet seems to offer the anti-kickback benefits of the Makita with the addition of the soft-start motor, which makes it one of the best all-around saws on this list.
Rounding out my preferences is the Hitachi which can offer a lot of value for the DIYer who needs a saw for their garage.
#1 SawStop Table Saw
The Sawstop might be one of the most expensive ones on our list. But there is a good reason it is so near the top. The Sawstop was designed to deliver power and accuracy whenever you need it.
But, before we talk about any of that, let’s talk about how it is going to keep you from losing a finger.
The Sawstop saw blades have a small electrical current. If that blade contacts the body, that electrical current changes since the human body is conductive. Instantly a brake drops against the blade to stop, and power to the motor is instantaneously cut. The blade then falls into the table, ensuring that any remaining momentum is worn off safely below the surface.
When you contemplate that most of us work in the thankless heat of the day for $18-$35 per hour, it suddenly makes you wonder why any of us would agree to give up an appendage for such a small amount. According to a Consumer Products Safety Commission statistic that is repeated by Sawstop, there is a table saw injury every 9 minutes. With the Sawstop’s protection system, you are likely only going to need a band-aid.
That’s a better track safety record than just about any power tools system.
This one feature suddenly puts this saw solidly in the lead. Price doesn’t matter. How much money can this saw save in avoiding workmen compensation claims and downtime? All you do is reset the blade, insert a new brake cartridge, and you are back in work 90 seconds later – not 90 days.
Now, if that were the only feature that this saw offered, it would be worth the money. But Sawstop brought a few other great features to their design.
For one, you have a one-turn elevation that raises or lowers the blade in a single turn of the handwheel — less time cranking and more time cutting. The quick tilt is also extremely fast to work with and offers one-degree increments for faster (yet accurate) deployment.
The drawback of this saw also centers around the new safety technology. No one has worked with technology like this, and so you have to learn to “test” your wood before cutting. Whenever you start for the day – or start working from a new delivery of wood – you will want to touch wood to the blade just barely. The lights will blink if it is too wet. From there you can activate the “bypass mode.
Now, this removes the safety features, but it does allow you to work with extremely wet wood.
Where the saw loses out is that the blade is closer to the front of the table then you are probably used to seeing with other saws. The plastic fence and miter gauge also seem to have some flexibility in them. You may choose to go with an aftermarket fence.
At 130 pounds, this unit is no lightweight, and a lot of you might prefer a saw that doesn’t have safety features that are going to be constantly tripping. I can respect that.
Weirdly enough, I think this saw is probably best for those DIY handymen like myself who does something unrelated to woodworking for their day job but don’t want to lose their fingers on the weekend when they are tooling around the shop.
- Doesn’t Cut Humans
- Powerful Saw
- Fast Adjustments
- Safety Has Higher Costs
- Safety Requires Added weight
- Plastic Fence and Miter Gauge have some Flex.
- May have false-positive trips that require costly brake replacements.
#2 Dewalt DWE7491RS
The Dewalt DWE7491RS is one of those tools that you see on almost every job site around here. There are a lot of reasons the Dewalt is so popular.
At only 90 pounds, this is one of the lighter saws on our list. The wheels and handles make it easy to move around the job site, even on those days when the rest of your crew calls in late with hangovers.
The motor one of those table saw features that put this model above the others on the list. It is only a 15 amp draw which means that you can use any 110v outlets in the house without worrying about tripping a circuit breaker. The motor uses high-torque gearing which makes it suitable for cutting pressure-treated lumber and hardwoods.
The ability to handle the most robust pieces of lumber is what makes this saw such a heavy-duty winner. You aren’t going to have to baby this saw through a deck build. They also upgraded the RPMs to 4,800 which means that you are likely going to feel like you work more quickly than you do with the other saws on this list.
While this saw is undoubtedly a favorite among contractors, it also holds its own in the workshop. Go ahead and upgrade to a better fence so you can get that precision that you are looking for out of a cabinet saw, but the fence that comes with it has a track record that shouldn’t disappoint.
Keep in mind that you need to buy the Dewalt Dado throat plate if you are going to be using a Dado blade on this one. It is only suitable for Dado’s up to 8 inches. (All of these saws need you to purchase the throat plate separately)
The one thing I would keep in mind is that this saw (and all the saws on this list except the Jet reviewed below) is going to make a mess. The dust collector does what it cans with the rear exhaust, but you are likely going to have chips and dust everywhere. Once a month, it would be good to drop the blade down and vacuum out that slot. A lot of sawdust builds up there and tries to work its way into the motor. Never seen a problem with it ruining a motor, but a little proactivity never hurts, right?
Finally, you get the 3-year Dewalt warranty. It’s pretty much win-win-win all the way around, and the reason most people consider this to be the best table saw.
- Dewalt Brand Name
- Decent Fence
- Strong Motor
- 3 Year Warranty
- Makes a Mess
#3 Makita 2705×1
Here we are to the revered Makita. This one is a little closer to the Dewalt in terms of specifications and performance then the Bosch is below. It has the 15 amp draw, so you are fine to plug it into any circuit without fear of overload but still offers high-torque power.
This one also spins at 4800 RPMs and does an excellent job of handling hardwoods and engineered lumber. The performance seems to be on par with the Dewalt, and it slices these woods with ease. With the Bosch below, you might want to slow down slightly when working with hardwoods, but the Makita seems to cut them like butter.
As with the Sawstop, this one offers greater safety. It doesn’t offer quite the technology of the Sawstop, but they do make an effort to deliver more safety mechanisms than the other portable table saws.
The significant safety measures with this one are the riving knife and the two, independent, anti-kickback pawls. The riving knife helps to separate the wood as you cut to prevent pressure on the blade that would create a kickback. The pawls act to physically help stop the wood from flying back towards the operator.
The riving knife is adjustable, so it works with non-through cuts and dado work.
The other handy upgrade with the Makita is the tool-less blade changes. There is a cam lock that holds the blade in place. Tool-less blade changes mean that you can easily swap blades without hunting for tools to make the changes.
For me, the added anti-kickback features are worth it. However, it only offers a one year manufacturer’s warranty which puts it in the second spot behind the Dewalt.
The Makita (or the Jet reviewed below… I’m quite torn between the two) is the saw I would keep for my use. I prefer how the tabletop feels compared to the Sawstop. I love that it has a power that is on par if not better than the Dewalt, and I like how stable the stand is.
Most of my readers are going to dislike the shorter warranty and that this saw is 145 pounds to the Dewalt’s 130 pounds (safety has weight!)
As with the Dewalt, it has the full, 25-inch rip capacity, so you can cut a 4’x8’ piece of plywood in half whenever you need to.
As with the Bosch and the Sawstop, this one has a few scattered complaints about the rip fence not staying in place, but it seems to be less of a problem than most saws (i.e., there are fewer forums devoted to owners complaining about this problem). If you have an issue with your fence, try wiping down the front and rear rails.
Sometimes they are over-greased, and it causes the fence to move more than it should.
- Plenty of Power
- Riving knife For Anti-Kickback
- Pawls for Anti-Kickback
- 1 year warranty
#4 Jet JBTS-10MJS
Jet is well-known in the Cabinet saw industry. They make some of the best cabinet saws and are well-represented in workshops across America.
It only makes sense that they should begin producing a job site table saw.
As with the others, we have a 15-amp motor. I think this is the first saw on the list that offers “soft-start.” Soft start motors are pretty conventional on cabinet models, so it is nice to see them bring this feature to their job site model. The soft-start takes a couple of seconds to get the blade up to speed, but that slower start reduces the load on the circuits, which guarantees that you will never trip a breaker. It also means that if you are working with a longer extension cord (that never happens!), you aren’t as likely to burn out the motor.
You have gearing that spins at 4,000 RPMs which is on par with these other top models on the list.
Setting the saw up is super easy. You just flip a lever to unlock it, and then it has a large handle on the side that you squeeze to release the stand for setup. Overall, its wheels to the location very quickly and then can be set up in seconds by one individual.
Even though this saw is light enough for a single person to pick it up and load it into the truck, it still has enough metal in the right places to make this an excellent machine. When it is running, this saw feels like a lot bigger saw than it is.
The Jet has a reasonably large aluminum table surface to work on. This larger surface gives you the stability that you need to work on larger pieces of OSB or plywood. The fence moves out to the side to give you even more space to work with. You also have rear support that slides out the back for more outfeed support.
The fence has a large lever to squeeze to adjust it. And it seems very straight and to hold its position well. You can cut as narrow as about an inch and a quarter and up to a 25-inch rip cut capacity.
The Jet also has one of the better dust collection systems than most. There is a plastic shroud that encases the motor and seems to actually gather the dust and exhaust it properly through the dust collection port. If you are looking for one to use in your garage, this saw might be the best one as it seems to offer some level of effective dust collection.
This model also has the security features that the Makita offers. There is the riving knife (splitter) and anti-kickback pawls to keep the wood from kicking back on the user. These are great features and another reason why this saw is so high on my preference list.
The adjustments on the blade are super easy. Everything has super large knobs and offers some of the best ease of use. Both the angle and the elevation of the blade require a simple system of unlocking the lever, turn the knob to dial in the correct measurement, and relock the knob.
For some reason, this table saw has gotten a bad rap online. Perhaps the poor reviews are from their existing cabinet-model owners who expect a higher-quality of work from their table saws and aren’t willing to give this model a fair comparison to other benchtop models.
With their 5 year warranty for personal use (2-year warranty if used commercially) and their longstanding reputation in woodworking shops around the country, this is a saw that deserves a closer look. I think we might have a hidden gem on our hands that the internet has not given a fair shake to. With the soft start, plus all of the features that the Makita has, this is a saw that deserves to be in every home.
- Strong Fence With Quick-Adjust Lever
- Large Table
- Riving knife for anti-kickback
- Pawls for anti-kickback
- Soft Start motor protects circuits and motor
- Better Dust Collection
- Easy to Move
- 5 Year Warranty
- Strong brand name
- High-Quality Price
#5 Bosch 4100-09
These four: the Dewalt, the Jet, the Bosch, and the Makita are all pretty close, in my opinion.
But I’m trying to make your job easier, so I’m assigning some rankings to them. But it could almost be something like 2.1, 2.2, 2.3… They are that close.
The Bosch claims a mere 60 pounds, proudly beating Dewalt out in the weight competition. However, the base uses an aluminum base that crosses the weight distribution into a tiny, concentrated area in the middle. So not sure if that is going to cause problems or not.
With a 15 amp draw on the motor, you have the same advantage of being able to plug it in without blowing a breaker. Bosch provides their motor rating a 4.0 horsepower which is more than enough for cutting hardwoods (most of these saws don’t provide a horsepower rating in their marketing material). Make sure to use a high-quality blade and go a little slower, but the saw is geared perfectly for these bigger tasks.
The saw has a little lower RPM rating at 3650. Honestly, that is still plenty fast, and I’m not sure most of us would be able to tell the difference in speed between this and a 4800 RPM blade. It does boast the ability to be one of the quieter saws. If you are working around the home-owner, they are less likely to hear you kick the saw on.
Honestly, I think it would be fairer to compare this one to something like the Dewalt DW745 than it is to compare it to the DWE7491RS
As with the Dewalt, it makes a mess with the sawdust. That’s kind of par for the course with these contractor saws. You have to give up something, and dust management is what most of these saws chose to sacrifice.
From digging around, I could find some sporadic complaints about the rip fence quality. It seems that the best system is to go to the back of the fence and look for that rubber foot that engages with the track. Loosen those Phillips head screws holding it in, and square it with a T and then retighten it in place. That should fix any slop you are dealing with.
One of the significant advantages of this saw is upgradeable outfeed support. The outfeed is super affordable and easily added to the saw. A handy upgrade. Another feature that is fun is the gravity-rise stand that is available to come with this saw. It is probably one of the most effortless rolling stands to deploy — right up there with the Jet.
- Strong 4.0 HP Motor
- Gravity-Rise Portable Stand
- Accuracy Right Out Of The Box
- Lower RPMS
#6 Hitachi C10RJ
The Hitachi line is one of my favorite brands for affordable tools. They make a good-quality product that is enjoyable to use in the field, and they stand behind their work with a 2-year warranty.
A quick note is that the Hitachi brand name is starting to fade. They are rebranding as Metabo, so expect to start seeing these brands discussed interchangeably. For the period of the transition, however, there might be some opportunities to save money by shopping for the old Hitachi tools. It’s worth keeping your eyes open, at least.
This saw brings a lot of power. It’s a 15 amp motor like the other saws are, and it spins at 4500 RPMs like the Makita and the Dewalt. So you are getting that power you need for all-day performance. It works well with hardwoods and pressurized lumber.
The adjustments are all located on the front and are very easy to perform. There is a plastic miter jig included (it has its storage spot), but it is relatively flimsy. The fence, however, is better received than some of the others. It is a rack and pinion fence, which might take a little bit to get used to the first two or three times that you mess with it. But after that, it is easy to use, and the rack and pinion design offer more stability than the friction systems.
The other cool thing is the four independent legs on the rack. This gives you four stable points and an uninterrupted working space for running your boards across.
Almost none of these contractor saws offer a soft start or electronic braking.
This one offers both. The advantage of a soft start is that it pulls less electricity and is less likely to trip a breaker. The soft-start also protects the motor as the most prominent reason these table saw motors fail is from being starved by too little electricity (i.e., Using a table saw with too long of an extension cord).
The electronic braking stops the blade right away, increasing the safety and ensuring that the blade has stopped spinning by the time you walk away. That’s a handy feature if you live in a house with kids.
All of these saws are great, but you need to pay extra for the stand that they sit on. The Hitachi includes the stand, offers some added features and is an overall excellent saw. It’s suited for the hard life of a contractor saw but will be equally at home in your garage.
If you are tired of not having a table saw around the house, then the Hitachi is an excellent way to end your excuses and make an impulse buy you won’t regret.
- 4500 RPMS
- 2-year Warranty
- Soft Start Motor
- Electric Brake
- Stand included
- Rack and Pinion Fence May require more adjustment
#7 Skilsaw SPT70WT-01
The Skilsaw is one of those brands that has been around since before the Great Depression. The company has helped build some of America’s finest chapters, and they continue to provide a top-quality tool that has a cult following.
Skilsaw seems very concerned that they can deliver a more robust tool than the competition. You’ll notice that while they use a 15-amp draw motor like everyone else, theirs use dual field coils. With 40% more copper than a standard single-coil motor, theirs is designed to run cooler. Now, on our next field test, I think we’ll specifically test motor heat. But it makes sense to minimize heat since we all know that overheating any tool is the fastest way to an expensive replacement.
The other neat feature that they have is their all-brass worm drive. The added brass is to prevent unnecessary wear of the drive system and ensure that no matter how tough the job, you can always get it done. Spinning at 5300 RPMs, this saw distances itself from even the Dewalt.
Adjusting the saw for a bevel cut is super easy with the sliding mechanism. And the same thing with the fence. You have a quick release to slide the fence out, and it locks solidly in place.
You are going to need to invest in a stand for this saw, so look into a Rousseau table saw stand for the best support.
The miter gauge seems to be better than most of the other saws on this list, so you can make angled cuts with ease. Like the other saws on this list so far, it also takes a Dado blade.
The reason this saw is so far down my list is that it seems that some folks have challenges with adjusting the blade up and down. Sometimes the blade levitation jams, and other times it doesn’t stay in a place as it should, or it rattles.
So this could be one of those saws where it works great, but then when you go to raise the blade all of the ways, you find out that it is broken.
They do offer one of the most extended warranties in the industry at 5 years (Important note: they only honor the warranty if you register the item within 30 days of purchase!), and a 180-day satisfaction money-back guarantee.
With that kind of protection, it makes sense to give this saw a whirl. After all, SkilSaw didn’t stay in business for nearly 100 years by making crappy products.
- 4500 RPMS
- 2-year Warranty
- Soft Start Motor
- Electric Brake
- Stand included
- Rack and Pinion Fence May require more adjustment
#8 Delta 36-6020
I’ve probably mentioned this elsewhere on my site, but Delta is a brand I was introduced to at a very young age. I’ve always wanted to own more of their tools, but it seems like when the time comes to buy, I pick a different brand (typically Makita).
Delta has shifted its focus from providing tools for the contractor to providing tools for the enthusiast. Accordingly, you see some nice features, such as all-metal construction. You also see some annoying things, such as the metal being thinner and more prone to damage than you would like.
The stand is included with this saw, and while it might remind you of the Bosch stand, it is a lighter weight setup. But the entire setup (with the stand) is under 90 pounds, so it’s not like you are dealing with the same load that the other saws handle.
The Delta has a wider rip fence width of 30-inches than pretty much any saw on this list. That is handy for folks who might load their piece of wood onto the saw the wrong way and can appreciate not having to take it off and turn it around.
It also has the levitation adjustments on it and the angle adjustments for cutting bevels. The Miter Gauge and Fence system aren’t anything to write home about, but they’ll get the job done.
Overall, this isn’t a saw that you are going to write home about. You also might need to spend a little more time getting the blade lined up and everything set to run straight and true. But it could walk most DIYers through their first home remodel. And that is a bigger goal than I think Delta set out to do.
- 30-inch wide rip fence
- 5-year warranty
- Lightduty Rack
- Lightduty metal construction
#9 Ridgid R4513 Portable Table Saw
The Ridgid is one of those that you often see contractors talking about in forums and comparing as the standard to which their “new saw” must achieve.
While they say it requires a 15 amp draw, this motor might not be as robust as some of the others on the list. You’re better off avoiding this saw if you need it for a lot of pressurized lumber or hardwood work.
It is a little lighter saw at only 90 pounds, but that also means that you’ll have a lot of plastic parts. With those plastic parts, you can run into problems like the saw height not adjusting up and down properly and the constant need to lube the gears after each use to keep it working right.
Overall, this saw seems not to give the same, positive experience that some of the other tools on our list provide.
As you sort through my opinion on tools, it helps to know what perspective I’m coming from. What are the important things to look at? If you find a tool on sale at your local hardware store, how do you decide if it is a good deal?
The job site table saw gets a little more abuse than a lot of the other tools. They are a larger tool, so they don’t fit inside a padded case. This awkward sizing means that they are likely to get jostled more in the back of your truck. Will it hold up?
Here are some clues you can use to find the best option.
Jobsite Saw Vs. Benchtop saw.
Most of the saws in this list would, technically, be considered benchtop table saws. In years past, there was also a commonly referred to “contractor” model of table saw. These Contractor table saws offer a more stable, non-folding base and larger table-top. They typically rode around in the back of the trailer and were a little more cumbersome to set up than today’s portable worksite table saws.
Sometimes the lines between “contractor saws” and “hybrid cabinet table saws” get blurred. After all, the competition is fierce, and each brand wants to offer the best balance between features and price.
If you are not going to be moving the saw frequently, then there is little reason to get one of these portable saws. You can step on up to the contractor model that offers more power, accuracy, and stability. Or, you can get one of these portable saws and mount it to a benchtop or build a work table that the saw will fit into nicely.
The bottom line is, the saws in the list are the most “entry-level” in terms of stability and precision. They would be considered both “job site” or “benchtop.”
You might think that power is the most important feature. On these saws, you are mostly going to have a 1 to 1.5 horsepower motor. Power gives you enough power to get the job done without requiring so much electricity that you have to rewire an outlet for it.
Because of the power draw limitations, all of these saws are going to have a similar power rating. Where they distance themselves is in their ability to offer better gear ratios, better materials and a better warranty should something go wrong.
You also find that there is very little complaint in the power of these devices. All of them tend to match up fairly evenly. Shoddy design, either in the mounting mechanism or in the quality of the motor can cause excessive slop in the blade, and that is something frustrating to deal with.
Accuracy is the category that is the absolute most important. And there are about three factors that are important to consider. While these saws are not held to the same accuracy of a Cabinet saw, you do need them to make accurate cuts that don’t waste material. Typically .1 of an inch is close enough to get the job done
Out Of The Box Accuracy
All of these saws have little screws that be used to adjust the blade and dial in the cut. If the brand does not have good quality control in the factory, you may need to spend extra time adjusting these settings. For example, it could be that when you think it is set up for a 90-degree crosscut, that in actuality the blade is set at 92-degrees.
Most old-timers spend some time measuring and cutting on cheap scrap lumber to check accuracy before using it on performing cuts that would be costly if they were used on high-quality wood.
One of the problems that are mostly relegated to cheaper saws is when the blade is mounted crookedly in the box. This crookedness can cause the saw to make a needless wide and rough cut. Thankfully, only the cheapest saws seem to have any level of problems with crooked blades or needless blade wobble caused by weak motor bearings.
Ability to Hold Settings
The jostling of your work truck can jiggle lose these delicate settings. The ability of a saw to hold those settings for weeks and months without needing to be re-adjusted is key to a positive experience.
From what we could find, the Dewalt, Makita, Bosch, and Jet all seemed to perform well in this category. If you are planning on using the saw mostly in one place, then you could probably buy a cheaper model. If you are going to be bouncing from job to job, you will likely want to spend a little more for quality construction that can hold the settings.
All of these saws come with a Miter Gauge that is used to cut angles. Typically this is a mostly plastic or plastic and lightweight aluminum tool. The downside is that these are notorious for not holding a consistent angle. They flex when you are trying to feed the wood through, creating an uneven cut and increasing your risk of kickback.
It so prevalent, that buying an aftermarket miter saw is one of those things that you probably just want to plan on investing in.
The other accessory problem that a lot of folks run into is with the fence. The fence that large bar that you see to the right of the saw blade. It guides the wood as you feed it through and guarantees that you get a straight cut every time.
A rip fence that does not grip well is worthless and renders the saw as useless. If you constantly have to fight with the fence to get it to hold, you are in for a world of frustration.
The top few saws on the list seem to do pretty well with their fence stability, but it becomes more of a problem on cheaper saws with thinner metal. Honestly, the Dewalt and the Jet might be the portable table saws with the best fence system (and the Jet’s had really good adjustability).
If you are inspecting a table saw in person, try adjusting the fence to a wider position, and then locking it in place. Wiggle the front and the rear and look for play. If you get much play, that is probably a saw you want to skip on
All of the saws have a blade guard. These guards need to be removed if you are doing Dado work, but, otherwise, they offer a minimum level of safety against flying wood chips.
There are two large safety issues. One is in the risks to your fingers from a spinning blade. The second is from the kickback that can occur when the blade binds against the lumber.
For the first risk, there is only one saw on the market that offers a safety defense. The Sawstop with its unique electrical detection has a lot of great success stories from contractors who would have otherwise become another amputee statistic.
The other risk is from the kickback. Saws like the Makita and the Jet offer a riving knife which is an effective device for spreading the wood as it is being cut and keeping it from binding. These two saws also have anti-kickback pawls that work pretty well, also.
This is where brand recognition probably plays an overly significant role in the buying decision. If this saw is going to spend every day running around from job site to job site, you will want a rugged saw.
Unfortunately, without setting each of these saws and running down our gravel roads at 45 miles per hour, it is hard to test how well they will hold up. Thankfully, Table saws are a straightforward design ( a motor and a blade), so it is hard to mess them up too much.
A bulletproof warranty is one of your best defenses against the hazards of regular use.