Table of Contents
- Best Contractor Table Saw Reviews 2020
- Powermatic PM1000 1791001K Table Saw 50-Inch Fence – Top Pick
- Best Contractor Table Saw Buying Guide 2020
Best Contractor Table Saw Reviews 2020
There is a wide range of different types of table saws on the market, each with their own particular niche, but sometimes you need something substantial for an important project. Unless you are willing to go all-in for a cabinet table saw, an excellent alternative is the slightly smaller but still impressive contractor table saw. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best contractor table saw reviews of 2020. We also provide a helpful buyer’s guide and FAQ, so you can easily navigate this far-reaching market. We found the SawStop and Powermatic to be the best-performing options, but you have to keep reading to see what is our best value.
SawStop CNS175-TGP36 1.75Hp Contractor Saw 36″ Prof T-Glide Fence SYS – Best Seller
- SAWSTOP PATENTED SAFETY SYSTEM: Stops a spinning blade on contact with skin. The blade stops in less than 5 milliseconds, and drops below...
- UNMATCHED QUALITY: The trunnion and arbor are built for precision, strength and stability. Poly v-ribbed belts reduce vibration and help...
- RELIABILITY: The Control Box houses the on-off switch, power paddle, and on-board computer, and constantly checks that all systems are...
SawStop is easily one of the newest and least experienced companies on our list with its founding in 1999. However, the company has quickly risen in prominence due to nearly unparalleled attention to detail and dedication to their product. Granted, every company makes this claim, but few can truly compare to the amount of time and money that SawStop invests in their products. Of course, one of the biggest investments that SawStop makes is in the safety of their users and this shows in a feature that is likely largely responsible for their position as our best seller contractor table saw. To be fair, that is also likely the reason that this is one of the more expensive contractor table saws that we reviewed as well.
Safety is Key
By far the biggest selling point of the SawStop contractor table saw is their patented safety system. While there are a couple of other table saws on the market with similar systems, none of them can claim to be the innovator of the technology like SawStop can. On top of that, few other manufacturers include the safety feature on nearly every saw that they make either. Basically, the SawStop safety system runs a minor electrical current through the blade while in use. If the saw blade detects a change in conductivity that resembles skin, the safety system engages. First, the SawStop table saw will engage an aluminum safety brake that stops the blade’s rotation cold in 5 milliseconds. Then, the blade will be lowered into the table, just to make sure that you suffer even less risk of injury. Finally, the power to the motor is automatically shut off to prevent any damage to the machine as well. Altogether, this system is extremely effective and is perhaps the safest table saw brake on the market.
It is worth noting that the safety system does not come without some drawbacks, though they are fairly limited. First, once the safety brake engages, stopping the blade in its tracks, it is possible for the brake to damage or break some of the teeth off of the blade. Still, that is a small price to pay to ensure that you do not lose a finger or worse. Second, the safety system can be a bit finicky since the conductivity receptor can be fooled by wood with a higher than average moisture content. The additional protection systems will also take a bit longer to assemble than some of the other table saws on our list– again, another small price to pay for peace of mind.
While the SawStop safety system is definitely the headline stealing feature of the SawStop contractor saw, the company is not satisfied with simply making one of, if not, the safest table saws on the market. They also put their engineering and quality control into the general functioning and build of the SawStop TGP36 contractor table saw too. For instance, this contractor saw uses cast iron for the three leaves of the table, though the extensions are made of steel. That said, these steel extensions are noted for being better quality than some, having less give or flex than others. On top of that, the SawStop table saw also comes with the second-largest maximum rip capacity on our list at 36”.
While not massively larger than some of the other contractor table saws reviewed, it can be easily extended to up to 52”. In fact, the SawStop contractor saw may be one of the more easily and broadly upgradable table saws that we found. To be fair, this will increase the price further on one of the more expensive contractor table saws that we reviewed, but all of the additional accessories are noted for the same level of quality that the base saw provides. For instance, you do not have to pay anything extra to get the included T-Glide fence system which is noted for being exceptionally easy to adjust as well as more accurate than some others.
- Uses the patented SawStop safety system
- Has a maximum rip capacity of 36”
- Has professional T-Glide fence system
- Can be expanded
- Has solid dust collection
- Uses excellent materials
Powermatic PM1000 1791001K Table Saw 50-Inch Fence – Top Pick
- PRECISION-GROUND CAST IRON WORK SURFACE: Features a beveled edge for smoother operation.
- POLY-V BELT DRIVE SYSTEM: Reduces vibration and maximizes efficiency.
- MITER GAUGE PIVOTS 60° LEFT/RIGHT: Allows easy adjustment for a full range of cuts.
Powermatic is by far one of the most well-respected and prestigious power tool manufacturers on the planet. Part of this is due to their founder who in 1921 developed his custom planer that would launch an empire. Since that time, Powermatic continues to innovate and identify features left on the table by other manufacturers to provide high-end products that are difficult to match. To be fair, Powermatic is well aware of their standing and quality and is not afraid to let their price tag shows it. Still, the Powermatic PM1000 contractor table takes our top pick spot due to the potentially unrivaled quality and precision that goes into this machine.
To be clear from the start, just because we think this might be the best cutting contractor table saw on our list does not mean it can handle any situation. This is still a professional-grade table saw and should not be confused for a commercial-grade product that would otherwise be used in dedicated, industrial workshop. That said, anyone looking for a top-tier contractor table saw will find a lot to like about the Powermatic. For one, while the motor is not the most powerful on our list, it still puts out a solid 1 ¾ hp which is good for most purposes. However, Powermatic redoubles their sheer cutting capability by also topping our list with the fastest blade speed reviewed at 4200 rpms. On top of that, the Powermatic’s motor also puts out 20-amps which is another spec topping our list. This means that the PM1000 contractor table saw can handle incredibly dense hardwoods without the risk of burning the cut face.
With such a powerful motor, it is important that the table saw does not transfer vibration throughout the frame or implements. To ensure its stability, the Powermatic contractor saw employs a poly-v belt drive system, making for one of the smoothest operations we encountered. This is especially important considering that the Powermatic PM1000 contractor saw also provides the largest maximum rip cut capacity we reviewed at 50”. Of course, Powermatic uses solid cast iron in its manufacturing to further dampen vibrations, but it even goes a step further in this regard as well.
While the raw power of the Powermatic contractor saw is great, it pales in comparison to the sheer level of precision that this table saw affords. While the PM1000 contractor saw follows suit with many of the top manufacturers in using cast iron for their tables, they have a built-in advantage that others do not. Specifically, Powermatic has its own foundry to ensure that their manufacturing process remains at the highest levels of quality. This quality is guaranteed by Powermatic’s use of the trademarked manufacturing process Meehanite. This process is extremely precise, a necessity for the best quality cast iron components, and verified internationally. To be fair, this high-end cast-iron system carries with it weight to a degree that we did not find with many other competitors– even in a market noted for heavier tools. This can make maneuvering the disassembled Powermatic difficult without help and proper equipment.
Beyond the sheer quality of the materials and manufacturing, the Powermatic contractor saw goes the extra mile with additional features as well. For instance, this is one of the easiest table saws to adjust with 7” handwheels to change the bevel or adjust the blade height. Beyond that, the exclusive AccuFence is both a breeze to adjust while providing excellent stability and accuracy. However, their other guides are just as impressive with the miter gauge standing out well above most of its peers. Aside from the fact that it is heavy-duty, it also features one of the largest ranges we found with a 60-degree stop in both directions.
- Has a maximum rip capacity of 50”
- Has a blade speed of 4200 rpms
- Uses excellent materials
- Has a solid guides
- Is a more precise contractor table saw
- Is easier to use
- Is a more expensive contractor table saw
- Is the heaviest contractor table saw reviewed
Jet 708492K JPS-10TS, 10-inch Proshop Tablesaw with 30-inch Fence, Steel Wing and With Riving Knife – Best Value
- Riving knife maintains close blade proximity to reduce chance of kickback
- Integrated arbor lock is accessed from table top for rapid blade change
- Blade guard and riving knife have quick release for tool-less mounting and removal
Jet is neither the newest nor most experienced company on our list, though they do still have a fairly good reputation. That said, the company did originate manufacturing various tools and equipment for the airline industry but easily made the transition to the power tool market. Still, it is fair to note that Jet does not specialize exclusively in woodworking products and also offers a wide range of metalworking tools too. While it is not actually the least expensive contractor table saw that we reviewed, we still feel that it provides the best value– especially if you are simply looking for a base model for hobby projects.
While the Jet may not blow you away compared to some of the options higher on our list, its value is virtually unquestioned compared to those below it. For example, it follows the trend of using a motor that puts out 1 ¾ hp, but it gives a little extra power by using 20 amps. This allows the Jet contractor table saw to accept the material without as much risk of it bogging down. To follow up with this solid motor, it also offers the second-fastest blade speed on our list of 4000 rpms. When taken together, you should have no problem cutting through dense hardwood without leaving burns on the cut face. With all of this power, the Jet contractor saw includes a cast iron table, so you do not have to worry about vibrations affecting your cut. To further increase the vibration dampening, it uses a single belt drive system which also has the benefit of easier tensioning. However, this is not the only feature that the JPS-10TS contractor table saw employs to make using it easier.
To be sure, the Jet contractor saw is a fairly convenient product that is easy to both assemble and use. For one, it has a great arbor lock that allows you to access it from the tabletop to make changing the blade much quicker than many of its competitors that require you to release the blade from underneath the table. Even better, the Jet table saw comes with a quick-release riving knife, so you only need one hand to change it if desired. In fact, both the riving knife and the blade guard use a tool-less mounting and removal system for ease and speed. That said, the Jet is definitely limited in terms of what aftermarket components it can use with riving knives being at the top of the list. Basically, the Jet JPS-10TS contractor table saw cannot handle the ultra-thin riving knives that are popular for certain projects. Still, it does come with onboard storage that is great for keeping track of the various accessories and can even hold a few relevant tools as well. Finally, the power-switch was designed to be hands-free and even includes the motor reset switch for further convenience.
- Is a less expensive contractor table saw
- Has a maximum blade speed of 4000 rpms
- Is a more precise contractor table saw
- Has a cast iron table
- Is easier to use
- Has onboard storage
- Somewhat limited options
- Not the best dust collection
Delta 36-5000 10-Inch Left Tilt Contractor Saw with 30-Inch RH Rip (Steel Wings) – Runner Up
- Unique Tubular Stand for maximum support and stability
- Heavy Duty Biesemeyer style fence with Dual rip windows
- Large, easy to access ON/OFF switch
Delta is actually the oldest and most experienced company on our list with a history that stretches back a century. At one time, they were considered on par with the very best professional and light-commercial grade power tool manufacturers. However, they have recently undergone a bit of an upheaval after being purchased by BLACK+DECKER and seem to be still catching their footing. That said, the Delta offers a solid range of uncommon features for a fairly reasonable price.
One of the more notable and surprising features of the Delta table saw is its stand which allows it to be more easily transported. It accomplishes this by attaching three wheels to its tubular stand which also helps account for any instability the mobility might introduce. On top of that, the Delta contractor saw also comes with the prized heavy-duty Beisemeyer style fence. Even better, the fence fits into a heavy-duty one-piece rail system to ensure that you do not have to worry about wiggle or flex. One thing that is a bit troubling is that the blade adjustment system is not that forgiving for dado systems. Essentially, it seems as if the adjustment makes it difficult to impossible to use a wobble blade.
While the Delta contractor table saw is more than capable of holding its own for most cutting jobs, it definitely struggles a bit once you get to the rare cases. A big part of this has to do with the fact that it comes with the least powerful motor that we reviewed, putting out only 1 hp. On top of that, the blade speed is merely adequate which means that the Delta will struggle a bit more with cuts that other contractor saws breeze through. In fact, you attempt to push the motor beyond its capabilities, it is noted for failing altogether. That said, the 36-5000 contractor table saw does offer the deepest maximum cut on our list at 3 ½”— just make sure it is not an especially hard or dense wood.
- Is a less expensive contractor table saw
- Is a more precise contractor table saw
- Has a maximum cut depth of 3 ½”
- Comes with an excellent stand
- Has solid fences and guides
- Has a cast iron table
- Is a less powerful contractor table saw
- Not great for dado cuts
Shop Fox W1837 10″ 2 hp Open-Stand Hybrid Table Saw – Also Consider
- 2 HP, 120V/240V, single-phase motor prewired to run on a 120V, 20A circuit
- Enclosed cabinet bottom with 4" dust port
- Precision-ground cast iron table with steel wings measures 401/4" x 27"
While not the youngest, Shop Fox is definitely one of the less experienced companies on our list. That said, it also holds a unique position on our list as being a house brand of the seller, Woodstock International, Inc. Even then, Shop Fox does not specialize in woodworking products alone, making metalworking power tools as well. While all of these qualities are not outright bad, they definitely provide some context as to why the Shop Fox contractor table saw is at the bottom of our list.
One thing that will likely surprise you is the fact that the Shop Fox contractor saw is able to generate the highest horsepower that we reviewed at 2 hp. While that is not an outrageous increase, it does pair nicely with a larger than average maximum cutting depth of 3 ¼”. On top of that, the Shop Fox table saw also makes sure to include a cast iron table as well as cast iron trunnions to help reduce vibration. That said, the cast iron table has a tendency to not grade flat which can mess with the precision of your cuts. To be fair, this is actually considered a hybrid table saw which seeks to offer a contractor table saw’s performance in a job site table saw’s design.
Though it may be at the bottom of our list, the Shop Fox contractor table saw is at least one of the least expensive that we saw. However, you will definitely have to give up something in order to get those savings. Aside from the fact that a number of adjustments seem to be off by more than their competitors, this is also not the easiest contractor saw to use. To be clear, it is not so much that it is actually difficult to work with, but the various functions are not quite as conveniently placed as some of the better-ranked options.
- Is a less expensive contractor table saw
- Has a maximum cut depth of 3 ¼”
- Is a more powerful contractor table saw
- Is a hybrid contractor table saw
- Has a cast iron table and trunnions
- Is easier to use
- Not the most accurate
- Not the easiest to use
Best Contractor Table Saw Buying Guide 2020
While cutting power is not always the most important quality for a power saw, a contractor table saw is definitely expected to handle jobs that smaller saw cannot. To this end, you will want to make sure that your contractor saw has the cutting power necessary to handle uncommon cutting applications. To be clear, contractor table saws are not really meant for commercial workshops that will run the saw all day, every day. Still, they do have a tendency to offer more cutting power than your average job site or benchtop table saw.
When judging the cutting power of a contractor table saw, it is often important to look at two different specs: the amps and horsepower. The amps are important because it tells you how much energy the motor can draw at a continuous rate. The more energy the motor can draw, the less likely it is to get bogged down when cutting thicker or denser wood. That said, the horsepower factors heavily into this as well, though it is better understood as the cutting torque. While not exactly the same thing, it is far more closely related and similar and provides the most readily available spec to guide you.
When dealing with smaller table saws, this is not usually a major decision, because most manufacturers use the same type of drive system: a direct drive. While a direct drive is smaller and more readily transfers the power from the motor into cutting power, it also has a tendency to introduce significant vibration into the cut. Some manufacturers try to account for this with the use of specialized components, but they cannot eliminate it entirely. That said, because contractor table saws are significantly larger than most of the types of table saw, they can afford to use the belt drive system.
Rather than having the blade spun by the motor directly, the belt drive system uses one or more belts to pull an axle that spins the blade. This provides the benefit of reducing the amount of vibration generated by the motor from transferring to the blade and impacting the precision of the cut. On the other hand, the belt drive system also has a tendency to reduce the amount of cutting power the table saw provides. While this usually does not show up as much in terms of raw cutting power, it has a noticeable effect of blade speed.
While nearly every component of a contractor table saw is important, if not vital, few are quite as important as the table. As mentioned prior, the belt drive system is used to help reduce the amount of vibration transferred from the motor to the blade. The table is often instrumental in making sure that the same does not happen to the cutting surface. Essentially, the blade is housed in the chassis and affixed to the frame with trunnions. Depending on the material and engineering of the trunnions more or fewer vibrations will transfer to the table. In order to alleviate this as much as possible, most quality manufacturers will use cast iron for their contractor table saw’s table. Keep in mind, cast iron is extremely difficult to work with, so top-tier manufacturers will even go above and beyond this by using specialized processes to ensure the best tables possible.
Why a Contractor Table Saw?
When choosing a table saw of any type, one of the more important things to consider is what type of projects you will work on. If you are not working on anything that requires a high degree of precision, you can usually get away with a benchtop table saw. If the precision is still not the absolute concern but you need more portability, then you can use a job site table saw. However, not all tasks are able to get by the kind of play that benchtop and job site table saws can introduce into their cuts. In this instance, you likely need to opt-in for a larger, often stationary, table saw, the contractor type being one of the more affordable.
Keep in mind, contractor table saws are not generally “cheap” by any appreciable measure of that word, but they are significantly less expensive than the massive cabinet table saws. In this instance, you likely should not purchase a contractor table saw for a commercial woodworking shop. However, if you find that you regularly require workpieces be cut with exacting precision, then a contractor table saw can be an excellent investment.
What About Safety and Portability?
It is no secret that table saws in general are some of the most dangerous power tools commonly used. Their risks can range anywhere from kickback injuries, dismemberment, and occasionally even death. Most contractor table saws include a wide range of features to help keep you safe like anti-kickback guards, high-quality riving knives, and easy kill switches. That said, these features still often require you to engage them and can ultimately fail if you are not careful. To account for user error, some companies have started to employ automatic safety systems that sense when you might be injured and shut off without your input.
In regards to portability, this is a bit trickier since the more portable a table saw is, the less stable it is. This does not mean that a portable table saw will collapse, but it will often allow the transfer of vibration more than others which are bolted into the ground. Most contractor table saws are bolted into the ground both to help reduce vibration and for safety. That said, some contractor table saws actually include the ability to be moved on caster wheels. These are regularly referred to as hybrid table saws, though that designation is not truly standard and can differ depending on the manufacturer.
What to Look For?
Finding the right balance between cutting power and precision will likely be key for choosing the best contractor table saw. Too much power can make a contractor saw less precise if the requisite adjustments are not made. Unfortunately, there is only so much that you can do to reduce vibration with a powerful motor. As such, most manufacturers keep their motors somewhere around 1 to 2 hp and use heavy, cast iron table. Of course, that is just the baseline with a number of different features that can further make or break the value of a contractor table saw.
For instance, most contractor saws come with a fence system as well as a miter gauge, but these accessories will vary far more than the previous specs from one manufacturer to the next. It is worth noting that most contractor tables can accept various aftermarket fences and gauges, but that is an additional cost on top of what is likely at least a thousand dollar purchase. Some people are also willing to pay a premium for safety, but many contractor saws do come with a decent set of safety features standard.
Ultimately, you choose to buy a contractor table saw because you need something that offers a good mix of power and precision. That said, the contractor table saw market has split even further for the niche needs of professionals and hobbyists alike. Regardless, if you are looking for a contractor saw that keeps you safer than pretty much every other option, you cannot go wrong with SawStop’s patented safety system. If you would prefer the extra cost of a top-tier contractor table saw to go directly to the functioning of the saw, then Powermatic is an excellent option. Of course, if you do not have the money to spend on some of the higher-end options, the Jet provides good power with solid convenience. The Delta may not blow you away with its cutting power, but it does allow for the thickest cuts and is easy to move. That said, if portability is a key factor, few of the contractor table saws we reviewed can compare to the Shop Fox which is arguably the only hybrid table saw on our list.