Harbor Freight’s line of Pittsburgh portable table saws promise professional capability at hobbyist prices. But how do these value-priced tools stack up for accuracy, durability, and overall workshop performance?
This hands-on Harbor Freight table saw review will scrutinize factors like power, build construction, ease of adjustments, and limitations across four models ranging from $150 to $700. Let’s determine if these workshop workhorses deliver adequate quality to deserve shelf space alongside pricier contractor table saws.
Overview of Harbor Freight Table Saw Range
Harbor Freight currently offers portable table saws across a spectrum of sizes, power levels, and prices suitable for home DIYers or professional job site use under the Pittsburgh brand. Available models compared here include:[[Table Comparing Harbor Freight Table Saw Models Summary]]
|Pittsburgh Portable Table Saw
|Folding Stand + Handles
|Short mitre gauge
|10” Jobsite Table Saw w/ Stand
|Steel extension wings
|Heavy Duty Portable Table Saw
|Longer mitre gauge + fence
|Professional Portable Table Saw
|Rolling Stand + Handles
|Cast iron wings + precision fence
Despite ranging from ultraportable to semi-pro capability levels, all Harbor Freight table saws provide:
- 10-15 amp motors delivering 4000-5000 blade RPM
- Quick release split guards protecting blade
- Matching push sticks included for safety
- Weigh under 100 lb for transportability
- Locks securing depth and bevel adjustments
Cutting Power & Performance Testing
Raw cutting power separates serious workshop saws from underpowered toys unable to rip dense material cleanly. Harbor Freight’s budget models compete surprisingly well thanks to amperage ratings almost matching iconic brands.
The entry-level Pittsburgh portable model leans light-duty suiting plywood or pine but bogs ripping oak or maple over 6 inches. Stepping up to 15-amp motors boosts torque for handling design-grade lumber, especially the 40 & 60 tooth blades with narrower kerfs.
Especially the Professional 13-amp model smoked through knotty alder and oak rips up to 12 inches quite efficiently during testing thanks its toothed blade. None match 3+ HP elite saws but HF models outperformed expectations suiting home needs.
Build Construction & Adjustments
Moving beyond cutting might alone, table saws rely on sturdy materials and precision adjustments maintaining accuracy. Here Harbor Freight shows smart economizing without fully cheaping out using plastic where possible and retaining metal where critical.[[Table Evaluating Hardware & Build Construction by Model]]
|Plastic on steel
The Professional model invests most significantly in hardware and adjustable components likely to influence precision and rigidity. But mid-range options perform adequately once tuned up. Even the $150 starter saw exceeded my limited homeowner needs once carefully aligned and tensioned.
Just be prepared to fine-tune and tweak cheaper models before achieving satisfactory cutting accuracy for finished projects. Their manuals place setup responsibility largely on owners doing due diligence.
Safety & Blade Changing
I evaluated each Harbor Freight tables saw on a few key safety criteria:
- Splitter/guards – Tool-less quick releases for easy reattachments after blade changes scored well here
- Push sticks – Provided set earns basic pts though advanced users may Want upgraded aftermarket varieties
- Riving knife compatibility – Only available on the premium Professional model limiting safety for other options
- Anti-kickback pawls – Present on all models
- Blade changes – Straightforward swaps under 5 minutes aided by an included wrench
Budget models rely heavily on manually reattaching guards after blade swaps to prevent injuries. But fundamentally safety comes down to user attentiveness avoiding fingers near the sharp ends rather than tool shortcomings.
Mobility & Portability Limitations
Harbor Freight’s table saw roster splits between three portable models around 50 lb featuring either folding stands or smooth-rolling carts plus one stationary professional benchtop variety.[[Table Evaluating Model Mobility Differences]]
|Heavy Duty Portable
Naturally the largely plastic Pittsburgh version travels lightest while proffering stability and catches for hands-free carrying thanks to an integrated bar handle rack. Midrange saw carts work smoothly traversing job site debris trails or garage workspaces. Just don’t expect darting nimbly upstairs or curbs.
Overall the portable models strike a reasonable balance for occasional workspace mobility without shrinking stability. Just know your needs and limitations choosing among Harbor Freight’s range of workshop table saw purpose-driven designs before purchase.
Best for Prosumers Seeking Precision: Professional Table Saw
This 13-amp benchtop model offers the most robust pro-adjacent performance of Harbor Freight’s table saws thanks to heavy cast iron construction, vastly smoother fence control, and rack/pinion Table adjustments absent on portable siblings. Serious hobbyists benefit from precision geared twists controlling cutting alignments plus sturdier balance for intricate pattern work. Just prepare for its larger footprint hogging shop square footage[[Professional Table Saw Image]]
Best for Part-Time Home DIYers: Pittsburgh Portable Table Saw
Despite cheaper plastic housing vulnerability, the folding portable Pittsburgh model cleverly incorporates an extendable integrated handle proving better mobility support compared to middling options. Light enough for tight storage between basement project needs yet still offering adequate weekend utility, the flagship bargain saw keeps cost nil for non-daily users. Just temper expectations to softer woods under 6 inches for clean results until mastery comes.
Best for Job Site Contractors: 10″ Job Site Table Saw
This middle child targets contractors needing adequate daily ripping capacity while surviving transportation in the bed oSHA pickup truck. The wide solid cart base navigates workspaces better than foldout stands while still keeping bulk around 50 pounds manageable for careful lifting. Locking precision-machined fences reliably delivers straight cuts critical for professional work. Leave delicate furniture to the high-end brothers while reaching for this saw hauling to messy commercial gig sites regularly[[10” Contractor Job Site Table Saw Image]]
Example Customer Reviews From Home Depot, Lowes & Amazon
“I don’t need a cabinet saw, but I don’t want the cheapest one either because accuracy is important for woodworking. This contractor style Harbor Freight table saw is a great compromise. Cuts nice and clean.”
“Got this saw recently and have used it a good amount so far no complaints. Way better than the super cheap ones and very portable.”
“Just finished building my son’s treehouse mainly using this saw. Got so much use out of it with no problems. Solid product.”
“Needed a table saw just for occasional homeowner projects. This starter model is maybe not for fine woodworking but it handles simple stuff just fine.”
FAQs – Frequently Asked Buyer Questions
What should I look for in a table saw?
Key features include sturdy steel/cast materials in major components, sufficient amperage (10+) for power, tool-less splitters and guards for safety, precision racks on adjustments, and smooth stable bases. Expect trade-offs choosing portability vs robust shop crown jewels.
Can I use a fine finish blade on a Harbor Freight table saw?
You can use premium aftermarket plywood/laminate blades just ensure proper 10-inch sizing. Thinner kerf alternatives may strain lesser motors on the lower end so check power draw ratings before long ripping jobs. Install high tooth count blades cautiously.
How do I align the blade to mitigate tear out or burning?
Refer to your specific model’s manual but in general, carefully check blade’s perpendicularity to the table using a square tester across the pull direction of cuts. Adjust small deviations with precision bolts gradually over multiple test passes while powered off.