Thinking about upgrading from your contractor-style tablesaw
to the king of the beasts—a 3-hp cabinet-style saw? It’s every
woodworker’s dream. And why not? These durable machines are built
to serve for a lifetime, with powerful 220-volt motors and hefty cast-iron
internal components that dampen vibration to virtually nil. And, once
aligned, a cabinet saw may never require adjustment again.
To help you move from being a dreamer to a doer, we gathered
seven 3-hp saws, each equipped with 49"-plus fences, and put them
to the test. In checking the drive-train components, we found
that none of the saws exceeded a stellar .001" arbor-flange runout,
and all vibrated less than .001" in any direction.
4 Things That Matter
Most In A Cabinet-Style Saw
• Power and cut quality. When it comes to raw cutting power, these
machines have it in spades. All of the tested models ripped through 2"-thick
red oak at about 12' per minute without batting an eye. However, we found
noticeable differences in the quality of the cut left behind.
Fences. Most of the saws come with so-called "Biesemeyer clone" fences
in homage to the much-revered T-square style fence. (Delta offers a true
Biesemeyer as an option.) Unfortunately, only one of the six clones we
tested lives up to the reputation of the original.
Tables and extension tables. At these prices, you’d expect to get
dead-flat cast-iron tables with super-smooth grinding, and these saws
Dust collection. All of the tested saws come equipped with built-in
4" dust-collection ports, but that doesn’t mean they all do
a good job evacuating dust and chips. In fact one saw held about
70% of the debris.
Learn the results of our testing of the Craftsman 22964N,
Delta 36-L31X-U50, General 650-T50-M2M, Grizzly G1023SLX, Jet JTAS-10XL50-1,
Powermatic Model 66, and Shop Fox W1677EXT2, when you pick
up the October 2003 issue of WOOD magazine and turn to page 74.