DeWalt Compact Table Saw
The DW745 10-inch table saw transports easily and gets the job done.
When I started in the trades, contractor saws were heavy and required two people to tote around. Whoever introduced the small, portable table saw certainly made jobsite ripping easier. Because of the need for accuracy, production, and performance, a good portion of our work is pre-cut in the shop on a cabinet saw, but there are many instances where jobsite cutting is mandatory. Just as I was starting to look for a replacement for my old, small bench-top saw, hoping to find something smaller, lighter, and easier to transport, I got the opportunity to test the new DeWalt DW745 10-inch portable table saw, and I'm glad I did.
Setup & Power
We took the DW745 out to a job where we were building a fence and arbor, and while the soft Western cedar didn't really test the power of the motor, it was a chance to check out the saw's features, performance, and portability.
Setup was simple. Right out of the box I plugged it in and started cutting. The only thing I really checked was the accuracy of the measuring scale, which was close enough for the work we were doing.
Curious about the power under the hood, I took the DW745 into my shop for a day of cutting tougher materials, including 4/4 ipe decking and 8/4 maple. I figured these hardwoods would show me what this saw is capable of. With a good blade, the saw cut fairly well, but the motor bogged down a bit, not unusual given the materials. But when put onto a jobsite with its easy portability and setup, to rip into framing lumber and trim materials, this saw fit right in.
Because of its smaller size, DeWalt markets the DW745 primarily to flooring installers and trim carpenters. It has a 15-amp motor, which DeWalt told me is approximately 3.6 hp (portable tools typically are not given a horsepower rating because they use universal rather than induction motors). DeWalt says they ship the saws with a thin-kerf blade because they are inexpensive and readily available. I find that cheaper thin-kerf blades like to wander in the cut, especially when cutting thicker hardwoods, so do yourself a favor and put a standard 10-inch blade on the saw; you'll sacrifice a little speed, but you'll gain some accuracy.
The DW745 has a rack-and-pinion fence with an adjustable scale that allows 16-inch rips to the right of the blade and 12-inch rips to the left. The rack-and-pinion system is nice because the fence is attached to the rails at the front and back of the table, which aids in keeping the fence parallel to the blade. I liked the way the fence was tight to the table, which enabled me to cut 1/8-inch hardboard without it binding.
Another unique feature on the fence is a flip-down material support for cutting beyond the table's capacity. It creates a small shelf for the material next to the fence. I tested this on wider rips and it worked great, but found most materials didn't really need it.
Like its competitors, DeWalt's saw has a plastic body. The DW745 has a steel roll cage that protects the saw body from jobsite exposure, a feature I really liked. In addition, it has two rubber feet in the front and two levelers in the back that allowed me to secure the saw on uneven surfaces.
The tabletop is cast aluminum with a coating that is designed to minimize friction and help eliminate glare. Material slid over the saw just fine, but I really did not notice a difference compared to standard aluminum tops. I suppose the real test would be after a couple years when the table has been scratched and dinged.
A token miter gauge for cross-cutting is included in the package, but this saw does not excel at that type of cutting. Though the DW745 does not have a storage slot for the miter gauge, it does have a space to wrap the cord, wrench storage, and an onboard push-stick.
The saw weighs 45 pounds and has large, very comfortable handholds on both sides of the table, making it easy to carry. I could fit through most doorways holding both handles, but the saw is light enough that I could have carried it holding just one if necessary. I also was pleased to discover how well it fit behind the seat in the truck cab with the fence removed.
There's a large on/off switch that pulls to turn on and pushes to turn off–a nice safety feature. The hand crank to raise the blade worked smoothly; a quick-release clamp allows adjustment for right-tilt angles by manually pushing the lever connected to the motor assembly up to the desired angle. Changing blades is simple: A quick turn of a Phillips-head screw releases the throat plate.
For dust collection, there is a metal shroud that houses the saw blade and a 2-1/4-inch port on the back of the saw designed to accept standard vacuum hoses. Without a vacuum attached, however, I noticed that the housing clogged when cutting wet wood.
I can only say good things about the DW745's overall performance. It's small in size, but not in features or convenience. For companies like mine that do a wide variety of jobs, both in size and location, you can't beat the portability, accuracy, and price of the DW745 table saw. Now if they would just come out with the stand...
DeWalt DW745 compact table saw: $369. 800-433-9258. www.dewalt.com.
–David Getts is an architectural woodworker, remodeler, and author. He owns David Getts Design in Seattle.