Table saws are, more or less, exactly what they sound like: saws that also act as tables. The basic table saw assembly consists of a table top, where you place wood for cutting, and a power saw that sits below the level of the table top. A slit in the table allows the saw to penetrate and cut wood at your command. All table saws use circular blades, which pass in an arch through the slit in the table and move from one side of the unit to the other. A table saw equipped with a circular blade allows for continuous cutting as the blade spins.
Stationary power saws provide set areas within your workspace for cutting and shaping wood. Technically speaking, a table saw constitutes a single type of stationary saw, though the phrase often describes any type of stationary saw since they all sit on, or attach to, tables. There are three basic types of stationary saws on the market, and each of them can work with a circular saw blade. Each of these saws offers a different type of functionality.
A miter saw operates on a table top and features a circular blade that moves up and down and from side to side on a circular axis. Miter saws have a table top surface area but no legs, so you must attach them yourself to a work surface, such as a bench. Miter saws, also known as sliding saws, are generally used for making miter and bevel cuts, both types of angled cuts. Compound miter saws have the ability to make both miter and bevel cuts simultaneously in the same piece of wood.
Radial Arm Saws
Radial arm saws consist of a series of legs, a table top surface mounted onto the legs and a radial arm suspended above the table top. As with table saws, radial arm saws always use rotating blades. The point of attachment on a radial arm saw allows you to move its arm in a number of different directions to provide a wide array of functions. These saws can make miter, compound, bevel and rip cuts. According to Home Depot's saw buying guide, the multi-functionality of these saws makes them the most sought after by professional woodworkers.
Numerous types of circular saw blades exist, differentiated by the type and arrangement of their teeth. Each blade type comes in a variety of sizes so you can fit them to any type of saw. As with power saws, each type of circular saw blade serves a specific purpose. Bevel blades, for instance, have a different tooth shape than flat top blades. The former exists, somewhat obviously, for creating bevel cuts while the latter is used to rip through wood quickly and efficiently. When it comes to saw blade materials, carbide is the hardest and, therefore, longest-lasting material you can buy, followed by steel.
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