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 don't receive as many reviews as portable saws, but in the few we found, two names come up repeatedly: the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw PCS31230-TGP236 (Est. $3,150) and the Delta Unisaw 36-L352 ($2,650). These two saws share top honors in a comparison test of nine 3-horsepower cabinet saws at Wood Magazine, with each one standing out in specific areas. The SawStop has the same flesh-sensing safety brake found on the SawStop Contractor Saw CNS175-TGP36 (Est. $1,950), our Best Reviewed contractor table saw – a feature not currently available on any other cabinet saw. It also has superior dust collection and an extremely accurate rip fence. The Delta, on the other hand, has the best blade guard assembly, along with convenient controls and a "stellar" miter gauge. It's also hundreds of dollars cheaper.
The SawStop cabinet saw comes in several configurations. The one covered most often in reviews is the PCS31230-TGP236, which has a 3-horsepower motor and a 36-inch T-Glide fence. You can also choose a smaller 30-inch aluminum extrusion fence or a larger 52-inch T-Glide, and you can pair any of these with a smaller 1.75-hp motor. Other upgrades, such as the Integrated Mobile Base MB-PCS-000 (Est. $200) and the Overarm Dust Collection TSA-ODC (Est. $200), also add to the price tag of this already-expensive saw.
Professional reviewers say the SawStop blade brake is highly effective. They also say its blade guard and riving knife assembly is easy to use and easy to change. Dust management is outstanding – Glen Huey of Popular Woodworking calls it "99-percent efficient" – thanks to a dust-collecting blade guard that's standard on the 3-hp saw and available as an option for the 1.75-hp version. This saw also earns a perfect 5-star rating from about 25 users at Amazon.com, who praise its outstanding fit and finish, effortless cutting, and out-of-the-box accuracy. Many reviewers add that setting up this saw is a joy thanks to superior packaging and excellent instructions. And the few who had difficulties report that SawStop's customer service is excellent.
In addition to its shared laurels in Wood Magazine, the Delta Unisaw 36-L352 is named as an Editors' Choice for 2009 in Tools of the Trade, which calls it "the standard-bearer for stationary table saws." Editors in both publications particularly like its dual front cranks for controlling the blade height and bevel adjustment, conveniently located on the front of the cabinet for ease of access. They also praise its miter gauge, which Wood Magazine calls "stellar," and its large-dial, easy-to-read bevel gauge.
The Delta Unisaw earns a good-but-not-great 4 stars out of 5 at Amazon.com. Owners say this saw is very heavy, sturdy, and powerful, and they like its storage drawer for blades and parts. They also note that the blade it comes with is much better than the usual stock blade. However, they're less impressed with details such as the fence, which some users found impossible to align properly, and the table surface, which some users said wasn't quite flat. And while the SawStop won raves from being easy to assemble and accurate out of the box, Delta users complained that the saw took a very long time to configure accurately. It's these details, rather than the safety brake, that give the SawStop the edge over the Unisaw for our Best Reviewed pick.
For those who are on a tighter budget but still want the power, capacity, and features of a cabinet saw, the Grizzly G0691 (Est. $1,700) is named as the Top Value in Wood Magazine. Editors say it's a lot of saw for the money, with plenty of power and an easy-to-use riving knife assembly. The dozen or so reviews for this saw at Amazon.com are mostly positive; users say it's powerful, accurate, solidly built, and easy to adjust. However, there are an assortment of complaints about quality control for the Grizzly saw, including flaking paint, missing parts, and tables that aren't flat. Its 6-foot power cord is also too short for many users. Customer service gets mixed reviews; some say their experience was great, while others said they couldn't get through or had trouble getting repairs.