There are two Bosch table saw models currently available, the GTS1031 and the 4100. Bosch is known for producing high quality, professional grade tools, and their table saws are no exception. Both are portable table saws aimed primarily at professional contractors who need to take their tools from jobsite to jobsite.
Both models get great reviews overall. The 4100 series is considered by many to be the benchmark in portable table saws, and has won comparison tests and awards in several different woodworking magazines. Although no portable table saw will give you the same accuracy and precision as a cabinet saw, both Bosch table saws do as well as can be expected from a portable model.
The Bosch GTS1031 is designed for ultimate portability. It only weighs 52 lbs. and has an integrated "roll cage" with a one-handed carry handle. All of the accessories that come with the little Bosch table saw can be stored under the table, and the saw itself can be stored on its side to take up less space in your vehicle or shop.
The GTS1031 has an 18" rip capacity with the right side of the table extended, and has a 3-1/8" maximum depth of cut. The 15 amp 120V motor spins at 5000 RPM, and it will accept a 1/2" dado blade which is rare in a compact table saw. The GTS1031 also has a tool-less modular blade guard system with a riving knife and anti-kickback pawls.
Most owners love how easy this machine is to carry and set up. There are many comments that the motor has lots of power, and a number of owners found the alignment and other adjustments to be spot-on right out of the box.
The Bosch GTS1031 is designed to compete with the Dewalt DW745, and has several advantages over the Dewalt. The Bosch table saw has 2" more rip capacity, the ability to use a 1/2" dado blade set, and the ability to store it on its side. Popular Mechanics magazine did a comparison test between the two and called it a tie in the end.
Since it was just introduced in early 2011, there aren't a ton of ratings out there yet, but overall the Bosch GTS1031 reviews I found are pretty good:
Here are a few comments I found for the compact Bosch table saw on the woodworking forums and other reviews:
- I have owned 12 different table saws, ranging from $100 to $7000, and the Bosch GTS1031 is a great value in its price range.
I like the idea of the riving knife, and that the saw can be stored and carried like a suitcase. This is the first tablesaw where I've considered keeping the blade guard. I don't care for the quality of the supplied miter gauge, but it looks like my Incra will fit. - Craig, Sawmill Creek forum
- Everything considered, the Bosch GTS1031 represents the best compromise between performance and portability that I've found so far. It is a nice change to use a tablesaw that neatly stores all the accessories and doesn't take up too much space in a pickup truck. And as a veteran of too many close encounters with a spinning saw blade, I was happy to find an effective blade guard system and an extra-large push stick that's always in reach. - Tom, Journal of Light Construction
- If you're in the market for a compact table saw, there are many reasons to recommend the Bosch GTS1031: lots of power, improved safety, ease of transport, and an excellent (optional) stand. - Kit, FineHomebuilding.com
There are a few minor complaints, but these are actually somewhat typical in the benchtop table saw class. The motor on the small Bosch table saw does not have a soft-start feature, so it turns on rather abruptly. The quality of the supplied blade and the miter gauge could be better. Some owners said the throat plate was rather thin and flimsy. A few folks commented that the machine was loud, while others commented that it was quieter than some other brands.
Although the Bosch GTS1031 reviews aren't quite as good overall as the Dewalt DW745, the Bosch does offer a wider rip capacity and will accept a dado blade. If those two features are important to you, the compact Bosch table saw is a great choice. If you don't need the extra 2" and you don't foresee ever needing to use a dado, you ought to also take a look at the Dewalt DW745.
However, if you need a larger table saw that is still portable, it is hard to beat the Bosch 4100 series. As I mentioned earlier, the Bosch 4100 table saw is regarded by many as the best portable table saw out there. It only weighs 8 lbs. more than the GTS1031, but has a larger table and provides a 25" rip capacity with the table extended. It uses a 15 amp, 120V motor that has Soft Start and Constant Response Circuitry to maintain speed under load. The 4100 series will also accept up to a 13/16" dado blade set, and offers a 3-1/8" maximum cut depth.
The "big" Bosch table saw has the same tool-less modular blade guard system as its little brother, with a riving knife and anti-kickback pawls. And of course, it has on-board storage for all of the included attachments and tools. It also has an arbor lock so blades can be swapped out using only one wrench.
There are three different model numbers available in the Bosch 4100 series. The 4100 is the benchtop saw by itself. The 4100-09 is the same machine with a rolling, folding stand, and it is the most popular model. The 4100DG-09 has the same stand, plus a fence with an electronic digital readout.
The Bosch 4100 table saw won the Editor's Choice Award in a comparison test between five benchtop table saws in the October 2009 issue of Popular woodworking magazine. The 4100-09 won the Editors Choice - Best Overall and the Reader's Choice awards in a comparison test of six portable table saws in Taunton's 2011 Tool Guide. The 4100DG-09 came in second place (behind the Dewalt DW744) in a comparison test of eight portable table saws in the November 2008 issue of Tools of the Trade magazine, and also won an Editors Choice award from the same magazine in 2007.
Clearly, the magazine editors like the 4100 Bosch table saw, but how does it rate with owners out there in the field? Quite well. With all three models combined, I found nearly three hundred different owner reviews across the different forums and retail websites. The overall average for all models from all the different sources comes out to 4.5 stars.
The design of the blade guard and riving knife assembly on the Bosch table saw gets lots of praise. A number of owners made comments that it doesn't get in the way like many other designs, and it is so easy to install and remove that you might actually use it instead of just tossing it to the side like with most other safety guards. The gravity-rise stand also gets a lot of positive remarks. In both magazine comparison tests that measured sound output, the Bosch 4100 was the quietest of the bunch.
Here are some of the comments from the various woodworking forums:
- The 4100 is nothing short of a beast. I've milled 100 year old 12/4 white oak in one pass with ease. As far as benchtop or portable table saws, the 4100 is in a class of its own. - Peter
- I agree that this is a great tool. I use it all the time in my business. I specialize in kitchens and finish carpentry... The Bosch 4100 allows me to do predictable, accurate and safe work. I highly recommend it. The gravity rise stand is sheer genius. - Bill
- I worked in the field installing cabinets for 13 years. I have used Delta, Makita, you name it! I have burned out more light duty saws than most people have owned. The Bosch table saw was the best. Best fence, best motor, best mobile stand. I used that saw for three years and about 5 hi rises and 100 single family homes. - Chip
- Have a 4100DG-09... for my money, the improved guard/pawls/riving knife are worth it because you might actually use them rather than take them off and lose them... I'm quite pleased with my 4100. The stand, by the way, is ingenious. - John N.
- The Bosch table saw does everything I need it to do. I find the fence to be solid and accurate, and I do not have to worry about alignment when it's locked down. Some of the advantages of this model are the built-in and easy to use safety features (including the riving knife) that encourages them to stay on the machine, instead of being removed and eventually lost.
The gravity rise stand is the best in the field - no other stand offers the same portability, ease of use, and stability once set up. My workshop is also our two car garage, which is used to park two cars. So when I am done "playing", my toys must be put away. This saw is ideal for my situation, and I have never regretted owning it. - John W.
Take a look at this quick video of the Bosch 4100-09 in action:
There are a few complaints that show up more than once in the reviews. The most common complaint on the Bosch table saw is that the miter gauge is loose in the slots, which typical of many portable table saws. I don't know why the tool manufacturers can't make the miter gauge fit better, but the cure is to get a good-quality aftermarket miter gauge.
As I have mentioned elsewhere on this website, one of the most common complaints on woodworking saws in general, no matter what brand or type of saw, is that the blade that comes with it is junk. The blade supplied with the Bosch 4100 table saw doesn't get as many negative comments as some others, but there are still a fair number of owners that weren't happy with the quality of the supplied blade.
My suggestion is to get over it and buy a few good quality blades - you need different blades for different purposes anyway. If they supplied a great quality general-purpose blade, they would probably still get complaints because the "general purpose" blade would not be right for all users.
There are a few complaints that the finish on the table wears off too quickly. The Bosch table saw also does not have a blade height lock, which could allow the blade to drop slightly during use, although I did not find any reports of this actually happening.
The riving knife will not work with thin-kerf blades, but it can easily be temporarily removed when necessary. There were a few motor failures (which can be expected with nearly 300 reviews - the stats work out to a very low percentage of the owners reporting, and I believe a couple of those may have had the previous version of the saw).
The final complaint would be that the gravity-rise stand, as great as it works, is too bulky for some owners. It is bigger than the stand for the previous version of the Bosch table saw, and also bigger than the stand on some competitive models.
Overall, the "big" Bosch table saw gets more recommendations from users than any other portable table saw. Yes, it is at or near the top of the heap price-wise, but it is a high quality, professional grade machine that does everything well and doesn't have any major flaws.
However, no matter how badly you want it to, a portable table saw will never be able to compete with a full-size contractor saw, hybrid, or cabinet saw in accuracy, precision or stability. They are designed for portability - light weight in a small package.
The Bosch 4100 is about as good as it gets in a portable table saw, but it will never be a cabinet saw. Period. If you are expecting cabinet saw precision you will likely be disappointed. If you need what is possibly the best PORTABLE table saw out there, the 4100 Bosch table saw fits the bill. You can get more details about Bosch table saws at BoschTools.com.
Note: If you are buying your first table saw, or need help tuning up one you already own, I would recommend getting a good book on the subject. The two that seem to be recommended most often on the woodworking forums are Jim Tolpin's Table Saw Magic and Kelly Mehler's The Table Saw Book. Both have good ratings on Amazon, and they cover all the basic operations, as well as safety, maintenance, and accessories.