Do You Really Need A Table Saw?

Do you really need a table saw

When it comes to woodworking, your options are excellent. Choosing a tool largely comes down to the type of work you will be doing but there are a few other minor factors such as what you work well with and ultimately, what you have space for.

A table saw is one of the most common types of cutting equipment and they are often hailed as the most important. But the question that still hangs on everybody’s lips is ‘do you really need a table saw?’

In short, no, you don’t need one, you may get along fine with other equipment. But again, your need for a table saw will be based on what you are doing and in some cases, you may find that other cutting equipment will serve you better. Let’s explore this a little more.

What Is A Table Saw Used For?

As far as saws go, the table saw is widely considered to be one of the most versatile. It is able to do a variety of cutting tasks and is often the go-to tool for professional and novice woodworkers alike.

These powerful tools are typically made for long cuts. Using a table saw will allow you to do all of the following types of cut:

  • Rabbeting
  • Dado
  • Crosscut
  • Mitre cut
  • Rip
  • Edging
  • Square cuts

A lot of people also install a table saw into a much larger surface so that they have a 2 in 1 work area where they can also prep and finish projects as well as use the saw.

Table saws have many benefits but most obviously they are a great type of saw for improved accuracy and they indeed shave a lot of time of what may otherwise be a lengthy job. They are also adept at cutting through a variety of materials, not only wood but plastics too which further adds to the versatile nature of these tools.

Comparing Similar tools

Sometimes you can perform a similar task in many different ways using different tools. Therefore, here is a list of tools that can perform similar tasks:

Table Saw Or Circular Saw?

If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter, a table saw will manage anything that a circular saw will manage. It is for this very reason that so many people invest in a table saw and nothing else. However, with that in mind, it might not always be best to use a table saw over your circular saw and knowing when to switch it up can make a huge difference to your projects.

The most important thing to consider is that when doing jobs with a circular saw, you really do need to know what you are doing and things may not go as smoothly as when you are using a table saw.

The key difference with a circular saw is that in order to get things right, you need a lot of add-ons such as a shooting board or speed square. This can quickly become confusing for someone who is new to using woodworking tools. Furthermore, when you are using a circular saw, you are relying more on your own skill whereas a table saw will do most of the hard work for you.

For this reason, we would always recommend using a table saw over a circular saw if you are just starting out. Conversely, if you have been using a table saw for a while and want to move to something more advanced that can handle the same jobs, a circular saw is a natural progression.

Table Saw Or Band Saw?

When it comes to choosing between a bandsaw and a table saw, you will need to think about the type of cut you will be making. Whereas a table saw is typically used for making longer cuts, a bandsaw is used for more intricate work and for cutting into thicker pieces of material. That being said, you could use your bandsaw for long cuts.

When it comes to deciding between the two, we have to touch back on the point that a table saw is the most versatile piece of cutting equipment. For anyone who is just setting up a workshop, a table saw should always be your go-to first investment.

For most woodworking jobs including bevels, mitres, rabbets, rips and much more your table saw will serve you well. The only times that this equipment may not be your best choice is when you are making curved cuts, in this instance, a bandsaw will work well. Furthermore, if the wood is more than 3 ½” in thickness, you may need a bandsaw to be able to tackle this.

Table Saw or Track Saw?

While a table saw will deliver in a lot of areas, there may be times that a track saw will be a better option. In the main, a track saw is better for those who do not have space for a table saw since they are far more compact and can be stored away between uses. Perhaps if you are on the road with your equipment, it would be easier to transport a track saw.

However, while practicality is one thing, the most important factor is whether the saw will manage the workload and in the case of the track saw, you can expect better performance when you need:

  • A cleaner cut
  • Angled cuts that are anything other then 90º
  • Rip cuts or long cuts in thicker materials
  • A saw that can be operated by a single user for larger pieces of material
  • A saw that will collect dust and save on mess

What’s more, a track saw tends to be much safer to use than a table saw and we see far fewer accidents as a result of this. This is because these saws tend to have a covered blade that is not usually as easily exposed to the users’ hands.

Table Saw Versus Mitre Saw

When choosing between a table saw and a mitre saw, there are four main things to consider before you can make an effective decision. You need to think about the size of the project, whether you will need to make more detailed cuts, how much power you require and the size of your workspace.

As a general rule, table saws will take up more room but typically give a greater degree of power. However, if you need to make more precise and angle cuts then a mitre saw might be your go-to option.

When thinking about your project, you will far much better using a mitre saw for more intricate pieces of work, for example, things like picture frames and angled cuts. In contrast, use a table saw when you need to cut down larger pieces of timber.

What Can I Use Instead Of A Table Saw?

There may be times when you cannot access a table saw. For some people, having one in the workshop is not an option owing to a lack of space. A good example of this would be someone doing hobby woodworking out of a small garden shed.

In this instance, there is no need to down tools and submit to the idea that you cannot do woodworking at all. There are options for tools in place of a table saw. However, you should keep in mind that while some of these tools could be used instead, a table saw will typically be your best option in most situations.

The best alternative, however, would be a circular saw as these are able to perform many of the same tasks. That being said, they may require a little more knowledge and experience to operate.

If you do not have access to a circular saw, a jigsaw would be the next best thing. These are great for longer cuts and while the edges may not be as smooth, you can use a hand plane to finish the job.

Finally, an excellent alternative to the table saw would be a wood router. These allow you to set up a guide and can often be preferable to a table saw, depending on the situation. One of the huge benefits of using a router is that there are many more options and ways that you can customise each cut, making this a very diverse piece of equipment.


Table saws are one of the most versatile and useful pieces of cutting equipment and almost anyone starting a workshop would do well to invest in one as their first cutting tool. However, there may be times that other tools will work better, particularly if you are looking to make angled or more intricate, curved cuts.

Do You Really Need A Table Saw?

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