Portable table saws are also called “bench-top table saws” or “jobsite saws” because they are small, light, and are designed to be moved around a worksite. As a bit of a home improvement junkie, I’ve tried out plenty of them over the years and researched even more. I’ve come across some duds as well as a few excellent tools along the way.
If you’re on the hunt for the best portable table saw, I’ve got your back. In this article, I’m going to go over some of my favorite portable table saws that allow for mobility and maneuverability while still providing an accurate cut.
Why Go Portable?
You might be asking yourself whether it’s worth investing in a portable table saw as opposed to a contractor or cabinet table saw. As the name suggests, portability and maneuverability are the main selling features of a portable table saw.
These saws have wheeled stands that allow them to be transported around a job site or a shop. Contrast that with conventional table saws which are unwheeled and weigh up to 300 pounds or even more.
There’s also a noticeable cost savings that comes into play when going with a portable table saw.
If you want a full run-down of the pros and cons of different kinds of table saws, check out our full guide to choosing a table saw!
Portable Table Saws: The Basics
As far as the anatomy of the portable table saw goes, it’s not much different than any other table saw. Below, I’ve listed a few of the main components of the saw and how they differ.
- Motor: The motor on these saws use a direct-drive system to turn the blade, meaning the arbor that holds the blade is connected directly to the motor. These are simpler to maintain than systems that rely on belts to turn the blade, but they have less power. The universal motors used on these saws also tend to be louder than the induction motors on larger saws. All these motors can be powered by a standard residential 15-amp 120-volt circuit.
- Blades: Most jobsite table saws come with a saw blade bundled, but it’s often not of high quality or suitable for work more precise than ripping framing lumber or sheet goods. If you need to make clean cuts, especially crosscuts, you’ll want to also check out our list of the best blades to replace the one that comes with the saw. All of the saws reviewed here take a 10” saw blade.
- Rip fence: The rip fence the saw guides the wood past the blade when making rip cuts (with the grain of the wood). The quality of the fence system determines the precision of the cut. Since these saws are smaller, the fences won’t extend as far from the blade as on larger stationary saws. This limited capacity can be a hindrance when cutting large sheet goods like plywood.
- Miter gauge: The miter gauge lets you safely push material past the blade at angles up to 45 degrees or even more. The quality of miter gauges on portable saws can vary a lot, so pay attention to the reviews below if this matters to you.
- Stand: Portable saws often have wheels on their stands to make them easier to maneuver. Aside from portability, the stand is what gives the saw its stability, which is especially important when sawing large material. Some portable saws are meant to be used on a table or benchtop and don’t come with stands, although these are usually available as an accessory.
- Extension wings: The table and its extensions provide the flat and stable surface used to cut wood. Extendable wings can increase the rip capacity of the saw and make it easier to accommodate larger plywoods and wide stock.
The Drawbacks of Using Portable Table Saws
Life is full of tradeoffs, and portable table saws are no exception. Since these saws are compact in size, they tend to have some limitations in rip capacity. This refers to the maximum distance the rip fence can be extended from the blade—in other words, the widest wood that can be cut when using the fence. The small table and rip capacity might be an issue when cutting large plywood sheets, for instance.
A second disadvantage of using a portable table saw is that some units tend to vibrate more than others. Not only does this lead to imprecise cuts, but it can pose a safety hazard for woodworkers. Make sure to keep firm control of the piece you’re cutting. If you need to make precise cuts for fine woodworking, you might consider a contractor or cabinet saw, as discussed in our complete guide to choosing a table saw.
Last, I should note that portable saws tend to be louder than contractor saws as a result of their universal motors. This could create problems if you have sensitive ears or if your neighbors live close by.
Are Portable Table Saws Worth the Money?
In my opinion, they’re the perfect addition to any DIYer’s garage, and they eliminate a lot of hassle if you’ve got to move your saw from one location to another. If you have a large shop space you might look at dedicating some space permanently to a contractor or cabinet table saw. But for the rest of us, where space is at a premium, the portable table saw is the way to go.
Although they tend to lack rip capacity, in my experience there’s still virtually no project you can’t do with a portable table saw. If you do need to rip full plywood sheets occasionally, a circular saw will do the trick in place of a larger table saw.
The best portable table saws are absolutely worth considering and are a great investment for any DIYer or aspiring woodworker.
My Top-Rated Portable Table Saws
Now that we know about portable table saws, their benefits, and their terminology, let’s take a look at a few of my favorite picks on the market.
The Bosch Power Tools 4100-10 is an affordable, lightweight solution for DIYers who don’t need anything fancy for their job. This 10-inch table saw is powered by a strong motor that gets the job done. It should not have problems cutting material up to 2” thick. And it can handle dado stacks up to 13/16”, a nice feature for anyone doing woodworking.
One of the biggest advantages of this saw is its folding wheeled stand. This Bosch table saw is lightweight but tough, and the design lets you unfold and raise the saw with a minimum of effort. If you’re on the small side, or physical strength can be an issue, this alone might set it apart from its competition.
Read our full review of the Bosch 4100-10.
- Best-in-class portable stand is easy to move and operate
- Durable construction of saw, stand, and wheels
- On-board storage for all accessories including fence and miter gauge
- Rip capacity is adequate for cutting 4’ wide sheet goods in half
- Miter gauge can have sloppy fit
- Coating on aluminum table might wear off over extended uses
- Design allows sawdust to accumulate in case and motor if no vacuum attached
The DWE7491RS is one of the best lightweight table saws for DIYers and contractors who need something they can lug around the shop or job site with minimal effort. This device is small, make no mistake, but it might seem larger with its 32 1/2” rip capacity!
The motor should handle most DIY tasks but will start to struggle on very dense hardwoods or material over 2” thick. A power-loss reset feature is a nice safety feature that won’t cause the saw to start back up unattended if power is restored after a circuit breaker trips.
The wheeled stand on this saw is heavy-duty. The stand plus saw weigh only 90 pounds which makes it fairly easy to roll around. While not getting quite as high marks as the Bosch stand, if portability is a big concern, you should take a look at this DeWalt table saw.
Read our full review of the DeWalt DWE7491RS.
- 32 1/2” rip capacity is very large for the category
- Stand is stable and easy to operate
- High-quality rack-and-pinion fence is quite precise
- Power loss reset prevents turning back on accidentally following power loss
- Imprecise miter gauge (might be rectified by now)
- Secondary dust collection port can spew sawdust if not hooked up
SawStop is known for its enhanced safety features, including a flesh detection mechanism that senses when a finger contacts the blade, triggering an automatic shut-off. If you’re a beginner DIYer or someone who needs a safe and low-risk woodworking tool, the SawStop JSS-120A60 might be the best portable table saw for your needs.
This saw boasts a number of strong safety features, but it’s also a formidably powerful tool in its own right. For instance, it features a 25 1/2” rip capacity, which is enough for many home improvement projects. Also, it’s got an active dust collection guard, which cuts down significantly on cleanup time.
- Intuitive blade elevation mechanism makes it easier to lower the blade
- Blade guard captures all table dust
- SawStop sensors protect against fingers contacting the blade
- Low-profile and lightweight design
- Pricier than other models
- The miter gauge is a bit wobbly
Formerly marketed under the Hitachi banner, the all-new Metabo HPT C10RJ is a powerhouse of a table saw. This tool features 35” of rip capacity on the right-hand side and 22 inches to the left, which provides ample space to cut just about any stock. Plus the motor is tough enough to chew through strong hardwoods such as walnut.
Unlike many similar products, this Metabo HPT table saw has a built-in soft start mechanism to help avoid tripped circuit breakers. It also reduces vibrations on startup to allow for cleaner and more precise cuts. In my opinion, there’s no going wrong with the Metabo HPT portable table saw.
The Metabo HPT C10RJS is the same table saw packaged with a rolling stand, and is probably the configuration most home shop users will want.
Read our full review of the Metabo HPT C10RJS.
- Wide stand gives good stability
- Motor is powerful enough to handle thick or dense material
- Quality miter gauge
- 35” rip width is the largest in its class
- Extremely flat table
- All-terrain tread on tires
- Blade may need aligning out of the box, a process not covered by the manual
- Miter gauge does not store tightly in storage, can fall out during transport
- Axle can bend if not careful when going over obstacles
- Assembly instructions confusing for less experienced users
The Skil SPT99-11 is one of the best portable table saws for your money if you’re looking for a saw with some serious torque. It’s unique among the models reviewed here in using a worm drive rather than a direct drive mechanism to spin the blade. The gearing mechanism in a worm drive gives it much more torque than a comparable direct-drive saw, letting it cut up to 3 5/8” stock. If you need to cut particularly hard or thick wood stock, this will let you sail through without causing as much strain on the motor.
It weighs in at about 52 pounds without its stand. And speaking of stands, it ships with a very rugged stand with 16” wheels to roll over just about any obstacle.
Woodworkers will appreciate that it can accept a dado stack up to 13/16” in width with an optional dado throat plate. And it has a very respectable 30 1/2” of rip capacity to the right of the blade.
- Very powerful worm drive cuts through thick and hard material
- 16” wheels for easy transport over uneven ground
- Solid, accurate rack-and-pinion rip fence
- Some customers report flimsy construction causes knobs, levers to break with use
- Inaccurate, sloppy miter gauge
- Riving knife is hard to remove
The DeWalt DWE7485 is a great choice for the DIYer who doesn’t need a lot of fancy features but wants a quality tool in a compact size. It uses 8 1/4” blades rather than 10” ones, so might have slightly fewer options as far as specialty blades. But for any common DIY or home improvement tasks, it is up to the task.
At less than 2’ square and 44 lbs, it won’t take up much room at all in your shop, and is easy to move around as needed. It doesn’t come with a stand, although you can buy one as a bundle. The quality rack-and-pinion rip fence makes it easy to make accurate rip cuts. But the wobbly miter gauge and lack of support for dado stacks might make it less appealing to woodworkers.
Read our full review of the DeWalt DWE7485.
- Rack-and-pinion fence is easy to operate
- Light and easy to move
- Does not support dado blades
- Included blade is construction-quality, needs upgrading for woodworking
Portable table saws sometimes get a bad rap for being underpowered. However, the six tools I’ve reviewed above are virtually guaranteed to get the job done if you need a simple and lightweight solution for home improvement projects. Plus, you won’t throw your back out if you have to move it around the shop.
It’s tough to pick a single winner out of these six. I’ve got to go with the DeWalt DWE7485 for the average DIYer or home improvement buff. For someone more interested in woodworking, I think the dado stack capacity on the Bosch 4100-10 gives it the edge.