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The professional woodworker's choice

Cabinet saws are the heaviest, sturdiest and most precise type of table saw. Their powerful motors require a 220-volt power outlet, but because of their guide rails and large tables (often with extension wings), they're the best choice for cutting large items, such as plywood or sheet stock. For fine woodworking, a cabinet saw usually takes center stage in the workshop.

Cabinet saws made by Delta, Powermatic and SawStop usually bubble up in reviews. All three companies make powerful cabinet saws that come equipped with riving knives. All the safety systems work well, but when it comes to blade guard system convenience, Delta takes the lead, followed by SawStop and then Powermatic. Only SawStop, however, features a sensor and brake to stop the blade instantly if it touches human flesh. In addition to the superior safety provided by the blade sensor, the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw comes with a blade guard with sides that move independently for extra safety protection.

Most reviewers look at the 3-horsepower version of the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw; the base model is sold with a 30-inch rip fence as the PCS31230-PFA30 (Est. $2,730 and up). You can also opt for versions with 36-inch or 52-inch T-Glide fence systems at extra cost (Est. $170 and up). Experts are unanimous as to the effectiveness of the SawStop blade brake, and are also impressed with the build quality and performance of the cabinet saw, saying it is on a par with the best cabinet saws from other makers. Whether or not the extra cost of the SawStop compared to other high-quality, similarly-configured cabinet saws is a worthwhile investment gets a little debate, especially for experienced woodworkers -- though it's a slam-dunk choice where those with less experience might have occasion to use the cabinet saw. Keep in mind that the price tag climbs in a hurry if you opt for upgrades such as a higher-capacity rip fence, and outfeed table (Est.$100), a mobile base (Est. $200 and up) or the well-regarded above-table dust collection system. (Est. $200).

For less hectic workshops, the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw is also available in a 1.75 horsepower version. Reviews are equally positive, and the injury-saving blade-brake system is every bit as effective. The base version comes with a 30-inch rip fence and is sold as the SawStop PCS175-PFA30 (Est. $2,300 and up). Most of the same options available for the 3-horsepower version are offered. Those include upgrades to a 36-inch or 52-inch rip capacity with a T-Glide fence, a mobile base, and overarm dust collection.

The original 3-horsepower 52-inch SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw (Est. $3,900 and up) is still available and now comes in versions up to 7.5 horse power. Comparing these two saws for Popular Woodworking, Glen Huey notes that the extra 200 pounds on the SawStop Industrial helps minimize vibration for smoother cuts. The 30-inch table size, compared with a 27-inch table on the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw, also makes the Industrial Cabinet Saw a good choice for professional woodworkers.

We've also seen some good feedback for the Powermatic PM2000 (Est. $3,000) and the Delta Unisaw 36-L352 (Est. $3,300) for equally excellent performance. Both cabinet saws are priced competitively with the 3 horsepower versions of the SawStop Professional cabinet saw when similarly equipped, and all three saws have earned top marks in reviews for accuracy, power and low vibration.

Woodcraft magazine, comparing the Delta Unisaw with the SawStop Professional, gives Delta the edge for the quality of its fence and extension table, plus overall convenience (adjustments, storage and dust collection). SawStop, though, has the edge for mobility (with its optional mobile base) and of course, safety. The Powermatic PM2000 comes with a mobile base built in, via retractable castors, and has earned high marks in earlier reviews at Fine Woodworking and Workbench. A comparison test of safety features at Fine Woodworking, however, favors the Delta Unisaw as easiest to use.

As a budget choice, a consensus of reviews favors Grizzly cabinet saws, especially when equipped with a Biesemeyer or similar fence for improved accuracy. The once well-regarded Grizzly G1023SL has been upgraded -- through the addition of a riving knife -- to the Grizzly G1023RL (Est. $1,250). Wood Magazine praises the Grizzly's square flat extension table and its precise, adjustable-width miter gauge.

The Grizzly G1023RL doesn't run as smoothly or have dust control comparable to the SawStop, Delta and Powermatic cabinet saws discussed above. Its switch can be shut off with the operator's knee in an emergency -- a crucial safety factor -- but reviews say the blade guard isn't convenient to use. This drawback could tempt users to leave it off. If you can afford the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw -- considering it an investment to last around 24 years -- it's a lot safer.

Elsewhere in this Report:

Best Reviewed Table Saws
Editors discuss the different types of table saws and how table saws have become safer than ever. Top choices, top values, and some alternate choices are named.

Portable Table Saws
Need a table saw that's light weight and low cost? These portable table saws are easy to lug from your workshop to your job site.

Contractor Table Saws
Contractors saws -- including saws that are mainly best for homeowners -- are bulkier than portable table saws but are better able to handle large lumber and sheet material. Top choices and top bargains are discussed.

Buying Guide
Not sure what you need to consider before buying a table saw? This guide will help you cut through the details to find the best choice for your needs and budget.

Our Sources
These are the expert and user reviews we used to find the best portable, contractor and cabinet table saws. We rank them in order of helpfulness.

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