Without the tilting arbor, your table saw would not be able to make bevel cuts which, along with angled cuts, are essential for joint and furniture making. Having a saw without a tilting blade wouldn’t make those things impossible, but it would make them pretty difficult to pull off. Most cuts are made at a right angle, but there are a lot of times when tilting the blade just does the trick.
The big question is though, does it matter which way the blade tilts? Let’s check out both, and you can decide for yourself.
One of the many choices you will have to make when getting a table saw for your workshop is the tilt of the arbor, which effectively means the tilt of the blade. Arbors on table saws are made to tilt either to the left or right. I, personally, don’t think there are any crucial differences between the two tilt configurations. There are some minor differences when it comes to mechanics, but I cannot say either one is better than the other, and it may simply be a matter of personal preference.
If you plan on getting a left-tilting cabinet or a hybrid table saw, you’ll need to consider a few things. The motor on these is placed to the left of the operator, as is its cover. This might not matter much, until you want some accessories such as a sliding table. This is because the motor cover on a left-tilting saw will get in the way of the sliding table brackets which connect a sliding table to the table saw. Also, you might face some difficulties when attaching a router table extension.
Router table extensions come in many different designs, but the ones made to be used with left-tilting saws will not be compatible, because the motor gets in the way of the router. Router tables which are meant to go on the right will create enough of a gap between the right edge of the saw, or the left edge, so the motor of the right-tilting saw will not get in the way of the extension.
Left-tilt table saws usually have the tilt hand wheel mounted on the right side of the saw. If you are right-handed, this is obviously an advantage. The same goes for right-tilt table saws if you are left-handed, and use the tilt hand wheel which is placed on the left. Ultimately, if you wind up with a saw that doesn’t fit you in that aspect, it won’t be the end of the world because you probably won’t be tilting the blade very often anyway.
Fences are usually mounted to the right of the blade. There are designs which allow the fence to be used on both sides, with or without some degree of re-configuration. There are also fences which can only be used on one side of the blade, and that’s it. Fence placement is not much of an issue until you enter a sliding table into the equation. A sliding table will not allow the fence to operate left of the table saw blade.
If you are using dado blades on a left-tilting table saw, dado blades will take up space on the right side of the arbor, which means you will have to re-adjust the fence for new measurements. This happens every time you swap the blade for one with a different kerf size.
This is also the case for right-tilting saws, but there is a significant difference in how much the blade will throw off the actual measurement. For instance, when using a dado blade on a left-tilting table saw, the difference could be as much as a whole inch, but when using a dado blade on a right-tilting saw, the difference is less than 1/16th of an inch, which is still a bit off, but can be easily adjusted.
As you can see, choosing between a left-tilting and a right-tilting saw is something you can do relatively painlessly, because even if you eventually find it doesn’t suit your workflow perfectly, you can still re-adjust the saw with little effort. It is pretty much just a matter of personal preference.