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©Types of


Cabinet Saws

Features to Consider

A Good Table

Cast iron remains the first choice for table material; cast aluminum is second. Use a straightedge to check for table flatness. Table extensions are a plus because they increase your working surface.

Rip Fence and Rails

Look for a rip fence that slides smoothly, locks parallel to the blade, and adjusts easily if it goes out of square. Guide rails should be rigid and straight. A fence that locks at both ends is more rigid than one that locks at only one end.

Miter Gauge

This should slide freely in the table slots without side-to-side play. A finely calibrated scale with stops at 90" and 45' is an asset. The gauge should also have holes to screw on a wooden auxiliary fence.

Shop workhorse. A tablesaw is the primary woodworking tool in many shops. No other machine can do so many jobs, from sizing material to cutting joints.


^Jo woodworking machine can do more than the tablesaw. It can rip, crosscut, rabbet, dado, miter, groove, mold and bevel, as well as cut tenons, lap joints, box joints and even dovetails. Because this tool is so versatile, it's important to pick one that will suit both your present and future needs. Don't skimp on quality if you expect to do serious woodworking.

Two basic (actors define a saw: size and type. A saw's size is designated by the diameter of the largest blade it will handle. Tablesaw types arc explained at right above.

Designed for the professional cabinet shop, a cabinet saw has an enclosed base, a powerful motor (2, 3, or 5 HP), and a multiple V-belt drive to minimize slippage between arbor and motor.

The 10-in. saw is the most popular, but 12-in. and 14-in. models are also available.

Contractors' Saws

Offering a compromise between price and performance, these saws 3 meet most shops' demands for accuracy and versatility.

The typical contractor's saw has a cast-iron or cast-aluminum top, bolt-on table extensions and a belt-driven induction motor that hangs out the back. (Some lower-priced models have direct-drive motors.)

On the minus side, the open base and back make dust collection difficult on a contractor's saw. And this type of saw doesn't have the power you'll find in a cabinet saw.

Benchtop Saws

If you do small-scale work, or if you need a portable jobsite saw, a benchtop saw may be just the ticket. These models are inexpensive and portable.

But benchtop tablesaws have serious limitations. Small tops limit rip capacity, and a stable bench or base is a necessity. Motors are noisy and underpowered. And don't expect great precision from the rip fence or miter gauge.

A notable exception in this tablesaw category is the Ryobi BT3000—it has a sliding table and a belt-driven arbor.

Options Worth Having

Dado-blade set. Multiple-blade, carbide tipped dado sets are the best. (See AW #42 tor a review of dado blades.)

Aftermarket rip fence. This is probably the best accessory you can buy for your saw. A good fence will boost your accuracy and efficiency.

Outfeed tables. If you don't have enough room in your shop for permanent outfeed tables, consider buying or making portable outfeed rollers.

Sliding tables. Available for cabinet and contractors' saws, these make crosscutting easier and more accurate.

Tenoning jig. You can use this jig to cut tenons, lap joints, bridle joints and spline joints.

Dust collection. Hooking up to a dust collector will save cleanup time.

Aftermarket blade guards. These are better than most standard guards.


Impressive power ratings on some home-shop tablesaws often misleadingly refer to "peak" HP. A more useful measurement is a motor's "rated" or "continuous" HP. Pick the most powerful motor you can afford—preferably one with built-in overload protection.

Rip fence and miter gauge. The fence should lock square to the blade and slide easily on sturdy rails. The miter gauge should be sturdy and slide easily without play.

Safety Features

A large, easy-to-reach "off" switch is important. The blade guard should swing out of the way during blade changing.

Because the guard must be removed for some woodworking operations, look for one that's easy to remove and reinstall.

Controls and Mechanisms

Handwheels, knobs and locking devices should be sturdy and operate easily. The blade should adjust without any play, and there should be a lock to hold the blade setting. Degree scales should be easy to read, and there should bo adjustable stops at 45* and 90'. Make sure the arbor is long enough to accept a dado head.

Sturdy, smooth-operating mechanisms. Look for well-made controls that move easily and lock adjustments firmly.

For More Info

Check out the detailed test results in our "Cabinet Saw Showdown," AW #49 (December 1995).

Ryobi BT3000

Skil 3400

Craftsman 29931

Delta 36-630

Craftsman 29931

Delta 36-630

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