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Cabinet saws are expensive, take up a lot of space, and are generally sturdy enough that they’ll outlive the person who buys them. To get the one that is right for you, it’s understandable that you want to read a lot of reviews to make the right choice. We looked at a handful to draw some general conclusions and assembled our insights into a buyers’ guide so that you can make the best possible purchase decision. We hope that you find something of value in our reviews.
|SawStop PCS31230TGP252 |
|Powermatic PM1000 1791000K||418 lbs||4.8/5|
(Best for the Money)
|Jet 708674PK XACTASAW Deluxe||490 lbs||4.3/5|
|Delta 36-L552 5 HP Unisaw||650 lbs||4.2/5|
We gave the SawStop PCS31230TGP252 our top rank because of its extras. It comes with a 3 hp motor, which is about mid-range as far as motors go.
The things that set this saw apart start with its accuracy. You’re paying a lot of money for a cabinet saw, so you have a right to expect it to cut true. The SawStop exceeded our expectations.
It also comes with some other features that left us a little blown away. First, its autostop safety feature is designed around the current your body conducts. If the blade senses that it is cutting flesh, it shuts down in a matter of milliseconds.
At least that’s the way it’s marketed. We didn’t have cause to test this out in real-time, but it felt like having insurance against serious injury.
Lots of manufacturers overpromise and underdeliver on dust removal. Not the SawStop. It does a great job of keeping your workspace clean and free of debris.
You will pay for this, of course. It’s the most expensive model we reviewed.
We were sorely tempted to give the Powermatic PM1000 our top ranking. It’s perhaps the most accurate saw we’ve ever used. It stood out among saws that stand out for accuracy.
But what we really liked about it is that it’s designed to work on standard wall current. Competing models all require that you have your shop wired to accommodate 220V power. If you don’t already have a lot of 220 plugs in your shop, this saves a little money in wiring the place to accommodate this saw’s power needs. It’s also solidly constructed, which means it stays in place once assembled and won’t let the blade move all over the place while you’re trying to cut wood.
Ultimately, we dropped it to the runner-up spot because while it’s a great saw, the 1.75 hp motor Is just a little underpowered compared to competing models. It can cut most wood with very little trouble. The SawStop, on the other hand, can cut any wood with very little trouble.
Cabinet saws aren’t something you buy on a budget, so when we give the Grizzly G0690 our Best for the Money rank, it’s not because it’s some kind of cut-rate budget saw. It’s a good, powerful saw that simply costs less and delivers. If there is such a thing when it comes to a tool as expensive as a cabinet saw, it’s a great starter piece. It comes with a 3 hp motor that is powerful enough to cut through anything.
But it’s also got some downsides. It can be a chore putting it together, especially if you’re new to cabinet saws. Other models we looked at were a little more intuitive and had better instructions. This one felt like it was hazing new users.
It was also a little less accurate than we would have liked it to be for the price. It wasn’t portable miter saw accurate, but you’re still shelling out a mighty nice pile of coins for this, and we thought it could have been more accurate. It also didn’t come with leveling feet, and we had to use a homemade wedge to get it to stay in place. This potentially means stability issues when stability is something you’re counting on.
The Jet 708674PK got dropped to our fourth-place ranking, not because of what it does but because of what it doesn’t do. What it doesn’t do is wow its users. It’s a great saw with a powerful motor, and it is pretty accurate. It’s well constructed and, like a lot of cabinet saws, will probably outlive the person who buys it.
If it excelled at anything, it was its solid construction. That’s true of most cabinet saws, however, and this one is on the expensive side. It’s an important feature, but not one that warrants the price. So it’s not a great value.
We also found it to be trouble to assemble. You need both metric and SAE tools to put it together. This means a constant headache just to get it up and running.
It’s not going to wow you with its performance or features, and it’s kind of irritating to assemble. It’s also pricey. What it will do is outlive you, because this one is well built.
The best thing about the Delta 36-L552 is its motor. At 5 hp, it’s the most powerful cabinet saw we looked at. There isn’t a wood on this planet that it won’t be able to cut through.
That was about it in terms of what it does well compared to other models. It’s on the expensive side, so you’re going to pay for that power.
But it’s really in getting support for the saw that the Delta’s drawbacks show themselves. It doesn’t always ship with a complete set of parts, and getting customer service to handle this is, to put it mildly, a pain in the neck. You might get your saw and be excited to start cutting wood, and yet have to wait a few weeks if it shipped missing a part or two. For something that costs what this saw does, that’s simply unacceptable.
It’s also why we dropped it to last in our rankings. Cabinet saws are big investments. They cost a lot of money and take up a lot of space. People who buy them ought to enjoy top-notch customer service instead of what Delta offers.
If you’re buying a cabinet saw, you have some serious woodworking needs. These saws are designed for power and stability, not for the weekend warrior.
Based on that alone, they are not an investment to take lightly. These saws are expensive, with costs running to thousands of dollars. They are also built to last. Long after your cordless drill winds down and stops working, your cabinet saw will still work. Your cabinet saw could very well figure in prominently into your last will and testament. That’s what kind of purchase you’re embarking on.
We don’t blame you for not wanting to make this decision lightly. We also don’t blame you if you’re more interested in learning how to make the right purchase decision than which model you should buy. So, we’ve put together some handy tips to help guide your purchase. We used them as a guide to review the models we looked at, and hope you find them useful, too.
The primary job of a cabinet saw is to cut through thick, dense wood. You need two things to do this: a sharp blade and a powerful motor. The blades are bought separately, so your first consideration in buying a cabinet saw is how powerful it is. What’s going to shape your needs is the kind of cutting you’re going to do.
The general rule of thumb is that if your wood is two inches or less, you can get by with a motor between 1-2 hp. Anything above that will tax even a cabinet saw, and you’ll want to get something with more muscle.
All but one of the saws we reviewed had motors of at least 3 hp in power. That’s enough to cut really anything you can throw at it. If you want to cut wood three inches or bigger, you’re going to want access to 240 volts of power, by the way. That’s less a matter of which saw to buy and more one of making sure your workshop is built to support it.
Cabinet saws are not small tools. They weigh hundreds of pounds, and if you order one from an online retailer, it will arrive on multiple pallets. You should be aware of this going in. If you need a saw that you’ll move around frequently, a cabinet saw probably isn’t the best choice for you.
That weight is actually an important part of making a cabinet saw work properly. They are designed to stay in place so they can deliver accurate cuts with confidence. You don’t necessarily want to look for the heaviest saw possible. You’ll want to find one that distributes its weight well. A lighter cabinet saw that has proper footings and is equal weight throughout is going to be better than a super-heavy saw that you just plop down on the floor.
One advantage of such a heavy, stable saw is that it can be precise in how it cuts. Since it has a powerful motor that isn’t taxed too badly by dense, thick wood, its cuts should also be predictable. When you go lighter and more portable, you are trading some accuracy for it. Bigger, heavier, and immobile means more accurate.
Beyond that, look for saws with features that reduce vibrations. The Powermatic PM1000 has a poly-v belt that reduces vibrations. Vibrations reduce accuracy and add wear and tear to the tool itself. Reduced vibrations also mean quieter operation, which is always a plus when working with saws.
You are already paying for infrastructure to support accurate cuts. You should definitely look for a saw that’s going to deliver it. If it’s a matter of a few dollars difference, keep in mind that you’re already willing to invest at least $1,000. Going a little deeper for more precise cuts is a good investment.
Table saws are inherently less safe because operating them means putting your hands close to sharp, spinning blades. There are techniques and little extra tools that users have adopted over the years to reduce accidents, but saw manufacturers have also responded by making safety a primary concern.
Being able to cut power off quickly is the first thing. If something goes haywire in your shop, cutting power is always the first thing you’ll want to do. Look for a cabinet saw that has a readily available kill switch. The PM1000 has a conveniently placed no-hands power off switch as an example.
One of the reasons we gave our top pick to the SawStop PCS31230TGP252 is because of its automatic turn-off feature in case of injury. This saw’s price is higher than other models, but it’s also like buying some additional insurance to help protect you from serious injury.
The more you use your saw, the more waste you create. Cabinet saws are designed to be rugged enough for constant, daily use, so the potential for massive amounts of sawdust is pretty high. That dust can make it harder for you to see what you’re working on. It’s also a health hazard, especially in an enclosed place like a workshop.
Most saws these days come with dust removal systems. This includes both stable table saws and portable miter saws. The trouble is that for some of these tools, dust collection is almost an afterthought, something added because the manufacturers realized that in marketing their products, they have to make it look like they’ve done something. This sometimes results in dust collection systems that don’t work very well. Bags fill quickly or don’t fit very well over collection points.
Dust collection isn’t a primary reason to pick one model over another, but it is the sort of extra that separates the merely good from the great. In addition to its safety features, we really liked the SawStop’s dust collection. Regardless, if you plan to use your cabinet saw frequently, you’ll want a dust collection port at least four inches in size. Also, plan to get an industrial-sized shop vac. That’s not a factor in buying a saw, mind you, but if you’re looking for tips in buying one, that should also mean accessories you need to purchase to complement it.
Unless you buy a cut-rate saw from a shady manufacturer, every saw you purchase will come with its own blade. Most of them, however, are not really the blades you will want to do your work with. They’re not very well manufactured, and the intention is that you’ll buy your own blades depending on what kind of work you have for your saw.
When it comes to your cabinet saw, look for saws to accommodate the right blades for your work. If you have large pieces of wood, you’ll want a saw that can hold the right size of blades. Part of that is how quickly and effortlessly you can swap out blades.
This doesn’t necessarily have much direct influence on what saw you buy. It might be a dealbreaker between two comparable saws. Like the shop vac and making sure your workshop has the right access to power, it’s part of your buying choice because it’s something that you’ll want to support such a big investment.
You aren’t just buying a saw, you are committing to a saw. That is, the space the saw you buy takes up will be occupied for decades even if you move it around your workshop from time to time. Remember, this thing is going to arrive on pallets, plural. Before you enter into this relationship, you’ll want to know how much of your shop it’s going to take up. Make sure that the saw you buy doesn’t take up more real estate than you can allow it to.
Buying a cabinet saw is kind of like buying an expensive bottle of wine. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it. It’s not a matter of how affordable a cabinet saw you buy, but how to maximize the investment of a whole lot of your dollars. We gave the Grizzly G0690 our best for the dollar not because it’s a budget model that any chump off the street can afford, but because it delivers optimum performance for the dollars.
That might be fine for you, or you could choose to spend additional money to get additional features.
It was the little extras that put the SawStop over the rest of the competition. It has great safety features and dust collection and is as accurate as you’d want it to be. It wasn’t as accurate as the Powermatic, which can operate on wall current but might be a little underpowered for hard, thick wood. The Grizzly is a great value for beginners if you can get it put together. That was also a flaw with the Jet. We hated Delta’s customer service, and for what the company asks for this saw, the people who buy it deserve better.
We hope our reviews gave you some good insights into what goes into great cabinet saws. They’re a big investment in money and space, and you need to move carefully towards the one you want. We wish you the best of luck in buying yours.