Not every woodworker needs (or can afford) a powerful, feature-packed cabinet-style tablesaw with a 3-hp or larger motor. But we all need a machine with enough moxie to rip thick hardwoods without stalling, cut sheet goods without wobble and worry, and do all that with precision. The saws in this test all measure up to those standards thanks to motors rated at 11⁄2 hp or more, heavy-duty tabletops and built-in stands, and beefy rip fences. But that's not to say they're all equal. Our tests reveal differences you won't read about in their online specs.
How we chose the field
In order to be included in our test group, each tablesaw had to meet the following criteria:
■ Designed to stand on its own legs or cabinet
■ Prewired for 110 volts (some models can be rewired for 220-volt service)
■ Cast-iron table (cast-iron extensions are a bonus)
■ Approximately 30–36" of rip capacity.
Six key features tell a tablesaw's worth
■ Cutting clout. In our testing, each saw proved capable of ripping 13⁄4 "-thick red oak—using a new rip blade—without stalling, overloading, or tripping a breaker. You can cut stock faster than on a benchtop/job-site saw, but you'll have to feed stock slower than you might on a more powerful saw.
■ A reliable rip fence. The best fences glide easily along their rails and lock solidly. Seven of the saws come with a T-square-style fence, which locks only at the operator end of the saw and can deflect slightly as you apply side ways force during a ripcut. However, in our tests, none of these fences deflected more than .011"—an amount virtually undetectable as an end result in wood. The fences on the other four saws (Delta 36-725T2, Ridgid R4512, Rikon 10-205, and SawStop CNS175-SFA30) lock at both ends, eliminating even the possibility of deflection. We had no issues with the accuracy of any of the rip-fence scales that indicate cutting width, but we found those on the Ridgid and Rikon more difficult to read reliably (photos, below).
■ An accurate miter gauge. The miter gauges that come with these saws are functional, if not fancy, most with angle stops at only 90° and 45° (although not all are adjustable). The Delta, Grizzly G0771Z, and Shop Fox W1837 step up the game with nine adjustable stops. The Powermatic PM1000's miter gauge also includes a fence with flip-stop, but we found too much play in the 90° and 45° stops to be confident in the accuracy.
■ A user-friendly blade guard. Unlike the antiquated blade guard on your daddy's tablesaw that got sidelined because it got in the way more than it helped, the guard, splitters, and antikickback pawls of modern guards remove—and, more importantly, reinstall—easily. Some models even come with a separate riving knife that you can swap with the splitter for non-through cuts or narrow rips. The splitters (and riving knives) on the tested saws work well with full-kerf (1⁄8 "-thick) blades, but may cause workpiece binding if used with a thin-kerf blade. (Powermatic offers an optional thin-kerf riving knife.)
If you must regularly remove your dust-collection hose from a saw with a difficult-to-reach bottom-mounted port, simply attach an elbow to the port permanently. Then install and remove the flex hose as needed from the elbow.
■ Efficient dust collection. All of the saws shroud the lower half of the blade with a dust hood to capture debris as it comes off the blade (when attached to a vacuum or dust collector). Dust ports on most of the tested saws' enclosed cabinets also help evacuate dust that escapes the blade shroud.
In addition, blade-guard-mounted dust ports on the Harvey and Laguna saws effectively capture dust from above the blade.
■ Throat insert versatility. Each saw comes with a throat insert plate to tighten the gap around the blade, but only the Grizzly, Harvey, and Shop Fox saws also include a wide-opening insert for use with a dado set. We like the SawStop plates (shown below) best because they have a lever lock and the 3⁄16 "-wide blade slot works, essentially, as a zero-clearance plate. Most saws offer dado and/or zero-clearance plates as optional accessories. The 1⁄8 "-thick steel plates (shown below) on the Grizzly, Harvey, Rikon, and Shop Fox saws were not flat out of the box. We were able to flatten all but the Harvey, which has stamped reinforcing ribs running the length of it that prevented flattening.
Invest your tablesaw dollars in these proven models
Perhaps not surprisingly, the SawStop PCS175-TGP236 stood out from this group of tablesaws after extensive testing. This saw excelled in nearly every category we evaluated, and its flesh-detecting safety feature vaults it to the head of the class. It earns our Top Tool award.
We also recognize the Delta 36-725T2 as a Top Value. It performs well, and at $600 is the lowest-priced model in the test, making it a great entry-level tablesaw.
(Price reflects 36" T-Glide fence and integrated mobile base. Buy this saw with basic rip fence and no mobile base for $2,450.)
■ Rip fence: This exceptional fence glides smoothly, locks solidly, adjusts easily, and tied for the least amount of deflection among the T-square-style fences. Its 36" rip capacity was widest among the tested saws, and the scale and hairline cursor prove easy to read and accurate.
■ Miter gauge: It has a single T-slot washer and three spring-loaded ball bearings in the side of the bar to maintain a perfect fit in the miter slots.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: One of the best blade guards, providing great blade visibility. The antikickback pawls mount permanently to the splitter, but the included riving knife swaps out easily when needed.
■ Dust collection: The blade shroud with 4" port helps to collect most dust, but there's no provision for collecting dust that falls to the cabinet bottom.
■ Also worth noting: This machine's flesh-detection system (below) prevents serious injuries like no other tablesaw can. Exceptional owner's manual and clearly sorted and labeled hardware made assembly a breeze. The top needed only a few thousandths of an inch of adjustment to align with the blade. Although it has the preferred cabinet-mounted trunnions, setscrew adjusters required for making this adjustment proved more difficult than it would be without them. It tied for having the best handwheels that turn smoothly and with authority. The widest throat opening (41⁄2 ") and space beyond the end of the arbor (15⁄8 "), coupled with beefy, angled wrenches, make blade changes easiest among the test group. The included lock-down phenolic throat insert plate has a 3⁄16 "-wide blade slot, providing nearly zero clearance—best among the standard plates in this test. The four-caster mobile base works well without being in the way. All included accessories except the blade guard store on the saw. The optional dado blade brake works only with an 8" dado set.
SawStop's safety system keeps your hands safe
All SawStop tablesaws use a proprietary flesh-detection system to prevent serious operator injuries. Here's how it works: The system sends a safe, low-voltage electrical current through the blade, and if a finger (or any other highly conductive material, such as metal or wet pressure-treated lumber) should touch the blade, the device triggers, thrusting an aluminum brake pawl into the blade to stop it almost instantly and drop it safely below the table. It happens so fast you won't see it, but should you trigger it with your finger, you'll likely get only a small nick in the skin. After an activation, you'll need to replace the brake cartridge ($80 for a 10"; $100 for an 8" dado unit) and your blade. Watch a video demonstration.
■ Rip fence: We could not get both of the aluminum faces perpendicular to the tabletop. When we calibrated one, the other moved out of square. But since we rarely use the right fence face, we set the left one square and lived with the right being off. A flip-down auxiliary fence extends under the blade guard to assist with narrow or thin ripcuts—but it works only with the fence on the left side of the blade.
■ Miter gauge: With nine positive stops—all adjustable—and two T-slot washers, this is one of the better miter gauges in the test. Setscrews on the bar let you snug up the fit in the miter slots, but ours needed frequent readjusting.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The blade guard and antikickback pawls remove easily from the splitter, which then can be lowered to serve as a riving knife.
■ Dust collection: The 21⁄2 " dust port should connect easily to most shop vacuums. With an open cabinet bottom, any dust that escapes the plastic-and-fabric shroud around the blade simply falls to the floor.
■ Also worth noting: You can adjust the blade-tilt stops easily via setscrews in the cast-iron top. We found the power switch difficult to locate without looking. Two fixed casters and a single swiveling caster make this saw easily maneuverable. All the included accessories store easily on the saw.
■ Rip fence: T-slots on the aluminum fence faces are great for accessorizing with jigs and featherboards, but access to them is blocked on the ends by plastic caps. You'll need to remove these caps to use the slots, which exposes sharp edges on the ends of the aluminum extrusion. The faces could not both be made perpendicular to the tabletop, so we squared the left face because we use it almost exclusively.
■ Miter gauge: It's nearly identical to the Delta's, but with a single T-slot washer at the end of the bar.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The blade guard can be removed, but the antikickback pawls mount permanently to the splitter, so when you don't want to use them, you'll have to remove the splitter. When ripping 11⁄2 "-thick stock, the blade-guard pivoting arms lift the antikickback pawls off the wood, negating their effectiveness. A narrow window in the top of the guard distorts the overhead view. A separate riving knife can be swapped out for non-through cuts.
■ Dust collection: The 4" dust port is located on the right of the cabinet, making an attached hose less of a trip hazard.
■ Also worth noting: This saw needed no blade-to-tabletop alignment out of the box. The blade-tilt indicator is too far out from the scale, creating parallax error that makes it difficult to read reliably. The narrow throat opening (only 33⁄4 " wide) proved tight for blade changes. Only the blade wrenches store on the saw.
■ Rip fence: The fence glides smoothly along its rail and locks solidly. Its aluminum fence can be used in two configurations on either side of the fence, but there is no scale for using the fence to the left of the blade. The front rail attaches to the tabletop via slotted holes, and the owner's manual gives no instruction on how to align it (up and down). Through trial and error, we eventually got it right.
■ Miter gauge: Expanding-bar adjustments make it easy to tighten the fit in the miter slots. It has stops only for 90° and 45° left and right.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: Channels inside the blade guard help capture dust at the front and rear of the blade, resulting in nearly total dust collection. However, these channels obscure your view when crosscutting.
■ Dust collection: Without a bottom panel, this saw's dust collection becomes less effective when not using the blade guard. The 4" dust port is located on the right of the cabinet, making an attached hose less of a trip hazard.
■ Also worth noting: The Harvey is one of three saws with a magnetic power switch, preventing accidental start-ups after a power interruption. When changing blades, the shouldered arbor nut must fit into the hole of its mating washer, a clumsy process. Harvey's dado insert (an optional accessory) has a rear tab that tucks under the top, but ours had to be trimmed to fit. The owner's manual lacks some key instructions, and some assembly steps are present
Jet ProShop JPS-10
■ Rip fence: The aluminum fence faces arrived perfectly flat, straight, and square to the table, and the fence glides nicely along the rails. There is no scale for using the fence to the left of the blade.
■ Miter gauge: Rather than a T-washer, the entire bar is T-shaped to match the miter slots, and screw expanders in the bar snug up the fit if needed. It has stops only for 90° and 45° left and right. Although there's a storage slot on the cabinet for the miter gauge, the front fence rail impedes access to it.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The blade guard and antikickback pawls mount separately to the splitter and work well. However, the guard's narrow overhead view window restricts the sight line to the blade. A separate riving knife can be swapped out for cuts when you don't need the guard assembly.
■ Dust collection: Despite a shroud around the blade, dust built up a bit inside the cabinet, probably because the flat cabinet bottom couldn't direct errant dust to the center-mounted 4" port.
■ Also worth noting: One of three saws with a magnetic power switch, preventing accidental start-ups after a power interruption. The blade-tilt lock, separate from the handwheel, provides a more solid locking action than those in the center of handwheels. The open-ended throat plate slides into place after installing the blade guard/splitter, but this design allows the plate to flex, making it difficult to level the loose ends with the table surface. When changing blades, we found it clumsy to fit the triangular-holed arbor-nut wrench onto the hex nut.
Laguna Fusion F1
(Price includes optional mobility kit.)
■ Rip fence: It has an aluminum face only on the left side, so the fence cannot be used as easily to the left of the blade, and there is no scale there if you wanted to.
■ Miter gauge: Like the Jet JPS-10, it has a T-flange bar, but lacks adjusters to eliminate a slightly sloppy fit in the miter slot without peening. It has stops only for 90° and 45° left and right.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The antikickback pawls are permanently mounted to the splitter, but the blade guard can be removed. The dust-collection port on the guard greatly enhanced dust removal.
■ Dust collection: The 3" hose connecting the blade shroud to the external dust port does not have a clamp and it came off several times in testing. We added one (access to put one on is tight) and then the dust collection was excellent.
■ Also worth noting: Its thin, flexible stamped-steel extension wings seem inadequate for a saw at this price. Like the Jet, its throat plate is open-ended and shares the same problems. The triangular-holed arbor-nut wrench proves difficult to get onto the hex nut. With two fixed casters, you lift this saw by its fence rails and move it like a wheelbarrow. It works okay, but if you're shorter than about 6', you may find it difficult to lift high enough to move it. We found the owner's manual difficult to follow because of its small text, tiny illustrations, and parts numbered without regard to order of assembly. All included accessories store on the saw.
■ Rip fence: The UHMW-plastic faces on this hefty fence arrived flat and square, and the fence slides nicely along the rail. It tied for the least amount of deflection among the T-square-style fences. There is no scale for using the fence to the left of the blade.
■ Miter gauge: This is the beefiest unit among the test group, and the only one that comes with a fence and flip-stop. It has bar-fitting adjusters and five stops. Unfortunately, the stops have too much slop in them with no way to adjust.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: One of our favorite blade guards, with great visibility of the blade. The saw comes with a separate riving knife for when you can't use the guard. Powermatic also sells an optional thin-kerf riving knife.
■ Dust collection: A blade shroud and hose connect directly to the 4" port for great dust collection. The cabinet bottom panel slopes toward the port, but because there's no port opening into the cabinet's interior, the dust cannot get sucked out with the shroud hose connected—a missed opportunity.
■ Also worth noting: One of three saws with a magnetic power switch, preventing accidental start-ups. Beefy handwheels for tilt and blade-height adjustments turn smoothly and with authority. This saw does not come with a blade. The rip fence is the only included accessory that stores on the saw.
■ Rip fence: T-slots on the aluminum fence faces and top provide a way to attach accessories, such as hold-downs. An auxiliary low-profile fence swings to either side and extends under the blade guard for thin or narrow rips. Although the front aluminum fence rail consists of two equal-length pieces, we found the fence glided as smoothly as if it were on a single rail. We struggled to align the fence with the blade. Left- and right-side pointers, rather than hairline cursors, sit high above the scale and, along with hard-to-distinguish increments on the scale, make it more difficult to use accurately.
■ Miter gauge: A single T-slot washer at the end of the bar holds the gauge securely when pulling the head off the table, but the bar lacks a built-in adjuster.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The blade guard and antikickback pawls mount separately to the splitter, and when using all three they have more wobble than we'd like. Using the splitter alone alleviates much of this play.
■ Dust collection: The 4" port below the funnel-shaped bottom panel helps evacuate most of the dust.
■ Also worth noting: Although we were able to align the blade to within .002" of the miter slots, whenever we moved the saw around on its mobile base, it would get out of alignment and we'd have to realign it. The blade-tilt stops adjust via setscrews in the cast-iron top, an easy process. The throat insert plate locks in place with a twist knob; Ridgid does not offer dado or zero-clearance inserts. We found the power switch difficult to locate without looking. With two fixed casters and a single swiveling caster, this saw maneuvers easily, but the bolts connecting the assembly kept working loose (lock nuts would help) and the plastic feet tended to fall off when moving this saw around. All included accessories store on the saw.
■ Rip fence: This fence proved difficult to align parallel to the blade, and went out of alignment several times during testing. It's difficult to set rip width accurately by using the scale. Flimsy plastic connectors do little to help align and strengthen the two-part aluminum fence rails.
■ Miter gauge: The bar has a single T-slot washer, but it lacks a slot adjuster.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The blade guard and antikickback pawls mount individually to the splitter, but the splitter cannot be removed. Instead, it locks into one of three positions: high for use with guard and pawls; middle for use as a riving knife; and low for use with dado setups.
■ Dust collection: The 4" port below the funnel-shaped bottom panel helps evacuate most of the dust.
■ Also worth noting: Although it needed only .002" of adjustment, this saw proved easiest (among those models with trunnions mounted to the top rather than the cabinet) to align the blade to the top. You adjust the blade-tilt stops via setscrews in the top. Despite a reasonable 41⁄8 " throat opening, this saw has only 7⁄8 " clearance from the end of the arbor shaft to the right side of the opening, making it a knuckle-buster to change blades. With four swiveling casters and a single kickstand, this model was easiest to move around. All included accessories store on the saw.
■ Rip fence: The scale and hairline cursors make it easy to set this fence precisely. However, this fence proved difficult to align to the blade, and went out of parallel several times during testing. We recommend upgrading to the 36" T-Glide fence system (which we tested on the SawStop PCS175), a $200 upgrade.
■ Miter gauge: The bar has a single T-slot washer, but without any adjuster, we could not remove the side-to-side play in the miter slots without peening the bar.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The antikickback pawls mount permanently to the splitter, but the included riving knife swaps out easily when needed. The blade guard mounts separately to the splitter, and provides a good overhead view for lining up cuts.
■ Dust collection: The blade shroud with 4" port helps to collect most dust, but the open cabinet bottom allowed some dust to fall to the floor.
■ Also worth noting: This machine's flesh-detection system (sidebar, at left) prevents serious injuries like no other tablesaw can. Assembly of this machine proved easy thanks to an exceptional owner's manual and clearly sorted and labeled hardware. This saw's blade was aligned to the miter slots within .001" out of the box, best among the test group. You adjust the blade-tilt stops via setscrews in the top. The widest throat opening (41⁄2 ") and space beyond the end of the arbor (15⁄8 "), coupled with beefy, angled wrenches, make blade changes easiest among the test group. The included lock-down phenolic throat insert plate has a 3⁄16 "-wide blade slot, providing nearly zero clearance. All included accessories except the blade guard store on the saw. The optional dado blade brake works only with an 8" dado set.
Shop Fox W1837
■ Rip fence: Like the Grizzly fence, this fence has T-slots on both faces, but access to them is blocked by plastic end caps.
■ Miter gauge: Identical to the Grizzly model.
■ Blade guard/splitter/riving knife: The antikickback pawls mount permanently to the splitter, but the blade guard can be removed. The assembly wobbles more than those on other saws. When ripping 1 1⁄2 "-thick stock, the blade-guard pivoting arms lift the antikickback pawls off the wood, negating their effectiveness. A narrow window in the top of the guard distorts the overhead view. A separate riving knife can be swapped out for non-through cuts.
■ Dust collection: The 4" port below the funnel-shaped bottom panel helps evacuate most of the dust.
■ Also worth noting: This saw needed the most blade-to-top alignment out of the box, but its cabinet-mounted trunnions adjust easily. The blade-tilt indicator is too far out from the scale, making it difficult to use accurately; there is no adjustment for this. The 3 3⁄4 "-wide throat opening makes blade changes difficult. It has three casters for easy maneuverability, but you must step on each caster's kickstand to move the saw. Only the blade wrenches store on the saw.
Download the full comparison chart for our Mid-Range Tablesaw test