Combine the best – benefits of hybrid table saws
Hybrid table saws are an ideal style of table saw for both professional contractors and advanced woodworking hobbyists. These table saws offer the portability of contractor table saws so that they can be moved to a field site for a big project, while retaining the look, feel, and power of a traditional cabinet saw. For contractors, having a hybrid table saw on a worksite can open up a lot of options as to what can be cut and with how much precision.
Importantly, hybrid table saws are both less bulky and less expensive than full cabinet table saws. That means that they are more affordable for hobbyists who are not yet ready to make the investment in a cabinet saw as well as easier to fit in a home shop like your garage.
Caution is everything
As any contractor or woodworker should know, table saws are powerful tools – and with that power comes danger for anyone working unsafely. Thankfully, table saws can be used without issues as long as you are prepared for your work and always keep safety in mind.
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to wear protective clothing. This includes eyewear to protect your eyes from wood or other debris flying up from the saw blade, as well as ear protection to save your hearing. Don’t wear gloves when using a table saw, though, as they can be sucked into the blade.
Before starting up your saw, it’s also important to make sure that your work area is clean and free of tripping hazards or other potentially dangerous debris. You should always ensure your saw is aligned before working as well, as this can help to prevent kickback, and to make sure that safety features like the riving knife are working properly. If you need to change the blade, unplug the table saw before doing so.
Once your saw is running, make sure that you are maintaining a good body position and good cutting form. You should never pass your hand over the blade, even if your saw has a blade cover. Additionally, you should always use the rip fence or miter gauges to help guide your wood or other material through the blade. If you have very wide or very long materials, use additional stands to help support its weight.
Finally, remember to always check your wood stock for things that can catch on the blade, such as nails or staples. If you have these metal inclusions, remove them before making a cut.
Hybrid table saws aren’t cheap, but they can be an extremely important and long-lasting investment in your business or hobby. Most hybrid table saws cost around $2,000, although you can find budget models like that from Shop Fox for under $1,000.
Features to consider while buying the best hybrid table saw
There are a huge number of features that differentiate hybrid table saw models from one another. Here, we’ll look at the most important features and explain how they can affect your work.
Power and speed
The power of your table saw is one of the most important considerations you’ll need to make because it determines what types of materials your saw will be able to cut through. A table saw using a motor with less than two horsepower can typically cut through hardwood that is two inches thick. A more powerful saw, like the three-horsepower Grizzly saw, can cut through three-inch thick hardwood.
But, there are some downsides to having more power. First, more powerful table saws tend to be more expensive – although this can vary depending on the saw’s other features. Second, a more powerful motor tends to lead to more kickback, especially if the blade does not rotate any faster than on less powerful saws. Finally, saws that offer three horsepower or more tend to require 240-volt circuits rather than standard 120-volt household outlets.
Blade speed is often, but not always, related to power. In general, a faster blade speed will reduce kickback. So, many more powerful saws typically have faster blade speeds to reduce the chance of kickback when working with thicker wood pieces.
All of the hybrid table saws that we reviewed offer dust collection ports so that you can hook up either a shop vac or a bag to collect sawdust. This is extremely important for keeping your workspace clear of dust and your table sliding smoothly.
Note also that having a cover over the blade, as all the saws we reviewed do, can prevent dust and wood chips from being thrown up towards you as you are cutting.
There are a number of safety features included on hybrid table saws to help make operating them safer.
The most prevalent concern when using a table saw is kickback, which can push a piece of wood back at you quite suddenly and with a lot of force. All of the table saws we reviewed include riving knifes directly behind the blade to help prevent kickback. Some table saws also include anti-kickback pawls, a relatively new technology that helps to pull the wood forward after it passes through the blade.
A blade guard is also an important safety mechanism found on all of the hybrid table saws we reviewed. The blade guard protects your hands from accidentally reaching over the blade, without preventing your wood from sliding into the blade.
Many table saws also measure conductivity in the blade. In this case, the blade can automatically sense when it is cutting through skin rather than wood, and will immediately turn off.
The type of drive belt
Most hybrid table saws on the market use a belt drive, which connects the blade to the motor via a belt and pulley system, as opposed to a direct drive, in which the motor is connected directly to the blade. Belt drives offer more torque and are more durable in the long term, as well as help prevent sawdust from getting into the motor. However, note that belt drive systems tend to be noisier than direct drives and require the belt to be replaced every few years.
Blade size and depth of cut
The diameter of blades used on table saws can vary, although most hybrid table saws – including the four that we reviewed – use 10-inch blades. This blade diameter offers a versatile mix of precision and cutting length, which is why it is commonly used.
The depth of cut refers to the maximum thickness that your table saw can cut through. Essentially, it is the maximum protrusion of the blade above the table. Hybrid table saws typically use a handwheel to allow you to manually adjust the depth of cut so that you can cut through a thinner piece of wood without fully exposing the blade.
Blade tilt and adjustment
Hybrid table saws allow you to adjust the tilt of your blade, although the flexibility of this tilting can vary. Some saws only allow you to lock your blade at a 45-degree angle to the table, while others give you multiple stops or the ability to set any angle and then lock it into place. These angled cuts are extremely important for making joints and other custom cuts.
Note that in general, left tilting blades are safer than right tilting blades because they create less kickback when angled. But more important, for working smoothly and efficiently, changing the tilt angle of the blade and adjusting the exact measurements of your cut should be extremely simple using the adjustment mechanisms on your saw.
Hybrid saws are designed to offer a step up in construction quality and durability from a contractor saw, so it’s important to choose a model that is truly well-built. Check customer reviews to ensure that the table is fully level whenever evaluating a table saw, and opt for cast iron tables since they are much more durable and resistant to warping. Furthermore, watch out for any plastic parts or points of weakness in a saw’s construction, as these can break long before the rest of the saw and can be quite dangerous.
Size and weight
The size and weight of your hybrid table saw is important, especially if you need to fit it in a small shop or plan to move it to a construction site. Hybrid table saws are by no means small, and some models like the Grizzly saw can weigh over 500 pounds. Alternatively, models like that from ShopFox weigh in at a moderate 260 pounds, making it a potentially better choice for contractors on the go.
Hybrid table saws are expensive investments, so you want to be sure that they will last. Manufacturer’s warranties can range widely, from just one year for the Grizzly saw to five years for the Powermatic table saw.