The basic table saw has grown up of late, with the addition of options such as sliding tables, digital fences and scoring blades. They have also become safer with inventions such as riving knives and braking technology. While carpenters and installers tend to like contractor and portable units, small- and medium-sized woodshops tend to prefer cabinet and sliding table saws. There are also larger units such as beam saws with CNC controls, but here we’re looking at traditional table saws, and what a shop owner might like to know about the latest capabilities.
A cabinet saw is defined as one where the motor is attached to the base, rather than to the underside of the table (like a contractor or hybrid saw). That makes achieving perfect alignment between the fence and blade a lot easier, as just the table needs to be tweaked. Cabinet saws also tend to have larger motors, tables and blades. The diameters start at 10” and go up from there.
Saw manufacturers are constantly upgrading the options on table saws. Take Jet’s (jettools.com) top-of-the-line Deluxe Xacta saw, which is a 3-hp, single-phase 230-volt, left-tilt machine with a 10” diameter blade. The manufacturer has taken that standard configuration and added wings that give it the ability to rip stock up to 50” wide (more than half the length of a full sheet of plywood). That’s really handy in a one-man shop. The saw also has a quick release riving knife, which can be popped out if necessary. A riving knife is a splitter that rides up and down with the blade, and tilts as the blade does. It is no higher than the top tip of the blade, so it doesn’t get in the way when making partial cuts such as nibbling a notch while using a miter gauge. That encourages woodworkers to leave it in place and run a safer saw.
Jet’s Xacta also has another new feature, an integrated push-button arbor lock that makes blade changes safer and easier. The saw also has a built-in downdraft table (optional) that helps draw dust away from the user without obstructing movement or productivity.
Grizzly Industrial (grizzly.com) has developed an unusual and very affordable hybrid of the standard cabinet saw and a small industrial sliding saw. Offered at about the cost of a serious 10” table saw ($3,600), the G0623X3 is a 3-phase, 7.5-hp machine with a small footprint that’s designed to handle large panels. It comes with a scoring blade, which is an extra small blade before the main blade that cuts lightly into the bottom face of a veneered panel and prevents tear-out on cross-grain cuts. It has a riving knife and flip stops for repeat cuts.
SawStop’s (sawstop.com) flagship saw, the 52” version of its Industrial Cabinet Saw, is well suited to the needs of small- or medium-sized shops. Aside from its proprietary safety feature (it drops the blade if a finger comes in contact with it, preventing injury), it is available with a single- or 3-phase motor, an optional mobile base and floating dust collection guard. The brake cartridge is available for s standard 10” blade and 8” and dado set versions.
Powermatic (powermatic.com) offers 18 different cabinet saw configurations that carry the celebrated AccuFence system. They cover the gamut from the PM1000 which has a single-phase 1.75-hp motor and 30” rip capacity to the musclebound 3000B with a 3-phase, 7.5-hp motor, 14” blade, and a quick release riving knife. What’s new on the 3000B is a push-button arbor lock that is accessible from above the table. This eliminates the need for two wrenches to change blades. Another feature that doesn’t sound like much until you need it are the matching beveled edges between the table and the extension wings, and that saves both knuckles and fine veneers. The AccuFence has recently been updated, too, and the miter gauge is micro-adjustable.
Baileigh Industrial (baileigh.com) has developed the TS-1020WS work station to complement its full line of table saws. This is a space-saving, three-in-one table saw station that combines a 10” sliding cabinet saw with a built-in router table. It comes with a heavy steel base, a finished cast-iron table, and a riving knife. It has a 3-hp, single-phase motor and a sliding rip fence made of UHMW plastic that makes it easier to move heavy material or awkward, long pieces. The company’s TS-1248P-52 offers 52” right-side rip capacity. It has a 5-hp, single-phase motor, a riving knife and a 12” blade. And it comes with a digital readout (DRO) on the rip fence for making very accurate and repeatable cuts.
Delta (deltamachinery.com) has redesigned the Unisaw (model 36-L552) to include a push-button arbor lock, riving knife, a new trunnion design that increases vibration control, and improved dust control. The saw still comes with the Biesemeyer fence.
Convert to a slider
There are some fairly affordable, high quality, entry-level sliding table saws available, such as the Minimax sc 2c from SCM Group (scmgroup.com) that features a single-phase, 3.4-hp motor and a 12” blade. This is a native sliding saw (not a table saw with a sliding accessory), and it has a scoring blade plus a massive 65” crosscut capacity.
Shop Fox (woodstockint.com) offers a 5-hp, 10” sliding table saw, the W1811, that has a scoring blade, 63” crosscut, riving knife and large blade guard with integral dust port. Grizzly industrial has a whole family of sliding table saws.
Shops that already own a decent table saw may want to consider an aftermarket device that converts that into a sliding unit. These usually replace the left-hand wing, and while they certainly make it a lot easier to handle and break down large panels, there are a couple of things to think about before buying. First off, they take up a lot of extra floor space, pretty much doubling the footprint of the table saw. And second, it can be a real pain to have to disengage and remove the long miter fence when you want to use the saw without the sliding feature.
Among the units available are four sizes from Exaktor (exaktortools.com). King Canada (kingcanada.com) offers a sliding table attachment that fits most table saws with a 27” deep table. Powermatic offers a unit for its saws. The SawStop Sliding Crosscut Table (TSA-SA48) is specifically designed for that company’s saws, but it could probably be adapted to fit other brands with a little ingenuity.
Grizzly Industrial offers the T10223 sliding table, and Shop Fox/Woodstock makes two attachments that fit the company’s W1819 and W1820 10” table saws, as well as most other 10” cabinet table saws with some minor modifications.
As Woodshop News reported in March, Grizzly has introduced a new variable-speed portable table saw for jobsite work. Available with or without a stand, the saw has a 2-hp household current motor but it’s most interesting feature is that the speed can be adjusted from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm with a turn of the dial, depending on the density and thickness of the material being cut. The saw’s fence also has a novel feature – a flip-down, narrow-tip attachment for ripping workpieces narrower than 1” with the blade guard installed. And for trim carpenters, it has an outfeed table extension that helps support longer workpieces.
Other portable saws worth researching are the new corded DW745S and cordless DCS7485T1 from DeWalt (dewalt.com); the 10” worm drive table saw from Skilsaw (skilsaw.com); Makita’s (makitatools.com) 2705X1 that comes with a collapsing stand; and two units from Bosch (boschtools.com), the 4100-10 that has a wheeled stand, and the GTS1031 that weighs in at just 52 lbs. Delta Machinery offers the 36-6022 and the S36-290, among other portable saws.
Woodshops that only occasionally need to break down large panels might want to consider updating their equipment by looking at a track saw. This tool, which marries a circular saw to a guidance system, has come a long way over the last few years. It’s especially appealing to one-man shops, where the large and cumbersome material stays still while the tool moves. That’s infinitely preferable to maneuvering a full sheet of plywood across a contractor or cabinet saw without help. It’s a lot less expensive than a new sliding table saw, usually has better dust collection, and is definitely easier to use when making angled cuts.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue.