Budget for the best possible table saw you can get. There are good saws available starting at $700 new. And it goes up from there. If you can't quite manage that, you can haunt weekend garage sales and watch for estate sales. You can also check ebay and other sites for used table saws. Before buying, post what you've found, with brand and model number, plus price on this Forum. You'll get lots of responses. If you must, use some credit to upgrade.
There are portable contractor saws that aren't bad at all, most noteably the Bosch 4100, that gets high marks around here. Haven't noticed many of these used because people keep them since you can move from place to place easily with a portable. Then, there are cabinet saws, usually very heavy, 500-800 lbs--often go onto the used market at good prices, often with 3hp and larger 220 motors. Real beasts, but usually priced well. You'll need a lift truck to pick it up.
My favorites are the hybrid saws, roughly the same mechanism as the cabinet saw with a cast iron table, but encased in a steel cabinet about 1/3rd the weight of a cabinet saw. Many brands are pretty good. I have a Laguna hybrid with a 1.75 hp, 110volt saw that I love. The most important thing is that the cast iron is flat.
The cast iron on used saws is often a bit rusty, which is easily removed. What you don't want is pitting. Once cleaned up, you coat it with pure paste wax, or one of the anti rust coatings.
For new hybrid saws, you'll probably have to assemble and set it up. This step is critical and you can find dozens of you tube videos and many used (amazon) books on using table saws. For a few bucks you will learn a lot from those used books, about setting up in particular.
I have a large collection of used woodworking books on topics including how tos and project books as well as tool specific books.
Get a Wixey digital angle gauge. $30 on amazon. It allows you to set your blade precisely 90 degrees to the table. A small error of less than half a degree will make assembling a project a nightmare. You set it on the table and set it to zero, then run up the blade and use the magnet to affix it to the blade. Adjust the angle until it reads 90 (or any angle you want). Do this often. Do not depend on the scales on the saw, they are never accurate.
For safety, the other must have to me is a Gripper, see pix., which allows you to press down, sideways against the fence, and forward through the blade. The economy version is about $60. The last item you'll use for setting up the saw, is a good combination square. You'll use it to be certain the blade is aligned with the miter slots and that the fence is aligned with the slots. I can't imagine doing woodworking without a combination square.
Those items with the saw will get you going and help produce pretty good projects from the start.
Pictures in order: 1) Bosch 4100 contractor type saw 2) Combination squares 6 and 12 inches. 3) Microjig Grripper with removable outrigger on the side 4) Wixey digital angle gauge set on side of blade
The more I do, the less I accomplish.
Last edited by DesertRatTom; 05-22-2019 at 10:56 AM.