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Best Cabinet Saws

By: Amy Livingston on May 11, 2018

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 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. $2,720) and the Delta Unisaw 36-L336 (Est. $2,550). 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. $1,970), 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 great miter gauge. It's also more than $150 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 SawStop MB-PCS-000 Mobile Base (Est. $200) and the SawStop TSA-ODC Overarm Dust Collection Assembly (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.

Many of the roughly 35 reviews we found for the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw at Amazon give the saw a perfect 5-star rating, and it scores 4.1 stars overall. Users praise the saw's blade-stopping feature, effortless cutting, and out-of-the-box accuracy. In addition, reviewers say that setting up this saw is a joy thanks to superior packaging and excellent instructions. Their main quibble, aside from the saw's high price and heavy weight, is that dust collection can be a problem if you don't have the optional dust-collecting blade guard. A few also complain that wood with too much moisture will activate the safety features.

In addition to its shared laurels in Wood Magazine, the Delta Unisaw 36-L336 is named as an Editors' Choice for 2009 in Tools of the Trade, which calls it "the standard-bearer for stationary table saws." Editors at both publications particularly like its dual 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.

However, reviewers at Amazon give the Delta Unisaw a less impressive 3.7 stars out of 5 across more than 25 reviews. Owners say this saw is very heavy and sturdy, and they like its up-front controls and 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 several users found impossible to align properly, and the table surface, which numerous users said was flimsy and not quite flat. And while the SawStop won raves for being easy to assemble and being accurate out of the box, several 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 25 or so reviews for this saw at Amazon are almost universally positive, with no rating below three stars at the time of this review. Users say the saw is powerful, solidly built, and easy to adjust helping it to earn a 4.6 star score. There are a handful of complaints about quality control for the Grizzly saw, including bent fence rails, misaligned miter slots, and tables that aren't flat. Its 6-foot power cord is also too short for some users. On the plus side, users who reported problems to Grizzly's customer service found it very responsive.

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