In my early years as a carpenter, table saws were a luxury on many job sites. Back then, saws were expensive, had cast-iron tops, and weighed upwards of 225 pounds. There was simply no such thing as a lightweight professional-grade portable. But that changed in the mid-'80s when Makita introduced its model 2708 8 1/4-inch table saw. It was light, powerful, and at about twice the price of a circular saw, very affordable. The next big change took place in the late '90s when DeWalt introduced its model DW744. Like full-size cast-iron contractor saws, this tool had a 10-inch blade and the ability to make a 24-inch rip. But unlike those machines, the DW744 was compact and light enough to be carried by one person. In addition, that saw had a very sophisticated fence mechanism.

In the last few years, a number of manufacturers have introduced portable table saws with 10-inch blades and the rip capacity of full-size contractor models. For this article, I tested 10-inch saws from Bosch, Craftsman, DeWalt, Hitachi, Makita, Porter-Cable, and Ridgid.

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