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 sheet stock. For fine woodworking, even by amateurs, a cabinet saw usually takes center stage in the workshop.
Three cabinet saws made by Delta, Powermatic and SawStop vie for top ranking, while Grizzly retains its position as the best budget pick. All four companies make powerful cabinet saws (available with 3-horsepower or 5-horsepower motors) 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 3-horsepower SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw (*Est. $3,000) comes with a blade guard that collects dust above the table, a big improvement over collecting just the dust that falls below. This blade guard also has sides that move independently for extra safety protection. The package price includes a 52-inch rail and extension table; a mobile base costs extra (*Est. $200), and using a dado (for cutting grooves) requires an extra blade brake system (*Est. $90).
The original 3-horsepower 52-inch SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw (*Est. $4,040) is still available and now comes with the same dust-collection blade guard as on the newer Pro model. 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 Pro, also makes the Industrial Cabinet Saw a good choice for professional woodworkers.
Reviews also recommend the Powermatic PM2000 (*Est. $3,000) and the redesigned Delta Unisaw (*Est. $2950) for equally excellent performance. Both cabinet saws are priced competitively with the SawStop Professional (*Est. $3,000) , and all three saws have earned top marks in reviews for accuracy, power and low vibration. Reviews agree that the SawStop offers the best safety, while the Delta Unisaw excels in convenience, edging out the Powermatic.
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. The latest 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 well-reviewed Grizzly G1023SL has been upgraded -- through the addition of a riving knife -- to the new Grizzly G1023RL (*Est. $1,250) . Wood Magazine praises the Grizzly's square flat extension table and its precise, adjustable-width miter gauge. Workbench magazine gives the cabinet saw high marks as a budget choice for fit, finish, power and smooth adjustments.
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.