I'm in the market for a table saw to replace my aging Radial. I've had the radial (Craftsman 10") for almost 30 years and no real complaints. I'm considering a cabinet saw from GrizleyJetDeltaEtc. The brand is unimportant to me.
What is important is the direction of the tilt of the blade. A saw with a right tilting blade has a convient adjusting wheel on the left side of the cabinet. A saw with a left tilting blade has the adjusting wheel on the right side of the cabinet and under the table.
Some woodworkers are fanatical that the blade should tilt to the left while others could care less. The woodworkers that are in the right tilting camp seem to just accept a right tilt.
So the questions are, Which direction should a table saw blade should tilt? And what is the logical reason for the direction of blade tilt?
The answer is that it matters not. It's like looking in a mirror and asking which image is "correct". Both/neither. All cuts that can be made with one tilt can be made with the other, the only difference is sometimes you have to have the fence to the left of the blade. You should *never* make a "trapped" cut where the blade is tilted *toward* the fence and the stock fed between.
It's purely a matter of personal preference and what seems "correct" is usually what you learned on.
Now on my particular saw I have an Incra TS-III fence mounted to the right. This is good because my saw is left tilt. The Incra is a bit of a PITA to reverse for a single bevel cut so I'm glad that I'm not a right tilt saw.
If you don't make a lot of bevel cuts (and I don't) then you'll never notice the difference. Generally I bevel on the router. I think in the past year I've made *ONE* set of bevel cuts to make an octangonal pedistal for a table. Normally my blade is locked in at 90° and stays there so direction of tilt is moot.
You might also want to consider if you are going to have any kind of storage underneath the TS extension table. I have a small shop (12' x 22') and I'm always looking for new ways for storage. If you are planning to install a set of drawers, a scrap bin, or even wood storage for the "small stuff" under the extension table, then just make sure the hand wheel is easily accessible.
I can't speak on which way is better, because I own a Delta RAS (very nice tool when used correctly and safely). I would think with using the right kind of hold down equipment (featherboards, shop helpers, etc), either way is good.
I don't claim to be the most experienced but I have been working on a TS since I was about 16 so that makes it about 40yrs. I'm also left handed and was given a right hand tilt Sears TS by my dad who was right handed. Do we see problems here?
IMHO it doesn't make any difference which way the tilt is on the blade. I'm using a right tilting JET 3hp with a 50" X-acta fence on the right side. With my current product set, most bevels are at 30 degrees but most cuts are at 90. When I bought the saw, I asked about the tilt direction I should use but no one wanted to offer an answer. I tried to buy a left tilt but they didn't have one. I tried to get a left mounted extension table and fence but they didn't have one. Result, I bought what was available.
Trapped cuts? I have never seen a difference. I don't think kickback at Zero degrees will be any different then at 45 degrees. How much kickback have I experienced? Not much. I can probably count the number on my current 10 fingers. No, I have not been hurt and the worst case was tripping the breaker on 3HP. That happened once.
For me, kickback usually happens on 90 degree cuts on sheet stock because I let the wood get out of square. The sheet stock is usually heavy enough so the blade clears the jam before kickback occurs. Remedy, I'm building extension tables and I have learned to provide 2x4 clamped backup on my fence so it cannot move if the stock gets out of square.
On smaller cuts my push stick is always on the fence side of the cut as is the feather board for holding work down on the table. I also stand to the left of the blade for most cuts. If I'm going to get hit, it will most likely be with the stock on the left side, which in my case is the "free" side (right tilt), not the trapped piece.
Pure foolishness to me is when you run the mitre gauge and fence on the same side of the blade and do not use a gauge block to keep stock off the fence. This is just begging for trouble.
Here's something to consider. Every major saw maker offers both tilts as an option. Which is the one that is most available, right. Every major saw maker also offers a fence and extension table as an option. Which is most available, right. Either every major saw maker is ignorant of user safety and can't wait to test out the legal system or, they have data, or at least a strong opinion, which says it doesn't make any difference.
Here's and interesting comparison I heard at a session at a recent TS class in Denver. If you return a TS to the shop for repair or adjustment without a blade guard, it will be returned with one at your expense. Why? They don't want to be sued. The same is not true for a right tilt blade with a right side table extension. Why? You tell me.
The tilt of the blade is not a life or death issue, but there are a couple factors to consider:
1-A left tilt blade is somewhat safer when using the fence on the right side of the blade. There is less chance to trap a piece of wood between the fence and blade.
2-On a left tilt the tape on the fence rail telling you the distance of the space between the edge of the blade and the fence is accurate only if you always use the same width blade. If you set the fence scale using an 1/8" kerf blade, for example, and you change to a 3/32" kerf blade, the scale is now off by 1/32". On right tilt, this is not a problem.
I have a left tilt now and have owned right tilt in the past. I prefer the left tilt.
Your post really enlightened me about my Radial Saw!
> On a left tilt the tape on the fence rail telling you the
> distance of the space between the edge of the blade and the
> fence is accurate only if you always use the same width blade.
> If you set the fence scale using an 1/8" kerf blade, for
> example, and you change to a 3/32" kerf blade, the scale is
> now off by 1/32". On right tilt, this is not a problem.
To put it in PC terms, 'Now I understand HOW the RAS is "foo bar"!' I hold stock with the left hand and pull with the right. I'm ALWAYS on the wrong side of the saw kerf because the RAS is designed that way. You can't hold with the right and pull left because the RAS motor is in the way. Even when setting up a stop clamped to the fence, I'm trying to measure under the saw motor.
For 30 years I've been making exceptionally square cross cuts in the wrong place. It's amazing how one small comment can open a world of understanding!