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Choosing a Hybrid Table Saw
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hybrid table sawBuying a first decent table saw is one of the biggest leaps that most woodworkers ever make. Unfortunately, over the years the process has involved countless souls in an agonizing decision, and often a major compromise.  Naturally, everyone wants the best tools on the market, but as we all know, the best costs more – sometimes a lot more. That’s especially true when it comes to table saws: Even when you rule out top of the line European-style saws, the price range in table saws tops out well beyond the reach of many hobbyists.

Until a few years ago, the problem was a matter of selection. In the past, the average woodworker had really only two types of saw to consider: "contractor" style saws and “cabinet” saws.  The choice between the two was always an obvious one - if you take money and the ability to transport heavy equipment out of the question. Cabinet saws - with their larger motors, fully enclosed bases, and huskier, better quality moving parts - are easier to use, easier to hook up to a dust collector, generally more accurate, and certainly more powerful.  But on the down side, cabinet saws typically fetch twice as much as the less advantageous contractor style. Along with that, they’re so heavy that moving one without help - or a forklift - is out of the question. Consequently, many woodworkers have ultimately “settled” for the less expensive option, ending up with a saw that’s arguably a huge step down from the most affordable in the cabinet saw class.

In recent years, however, manufacturers have taken notice of this gulf and formulated an admirable response:  the “hybrid” saw.  An entirely new category of saw, hybrid table saws capture some of the most valuable features of the cabinet saw at a price that's still in range for the hobbyist.  They're lighter weight, and they’re equipped with motors in the 1-1/2 - 1-3/4 HP range (which means that they can be used with standard 110 volt service). For many, hybrid saws represent the wave of the future for home shops. And while they're not in quite the same class as their larger cousins, hybrid saws are sturdy and well constructed, and offer many advantages for the serious hobbyist.

Some hybrid saws have a cabinet type of base and others have a shorter base and legs, but in either case, the base is fully enclosed, with the motor mounted inside the base, instead of on the back of the saw, as with a contractor saw. Hybrid saws are equipped with more substantial trunnions and arbor bearings, often a more advanced drive belt system, and better gearing than most contractor saws. In addition, the trunnions of many hybrid saws are mounted to the base of the saw, making precision alignment of the blade with the miter slot and the blade much easier.

The hybrid saw concept is such a good one, in fact, that in only a few short years the selection has grown to the point where choosing the best one could constitute a sizeable research challenge.  But right this minute, if you’re sold on the idea and just need a little help making a decision, help isn’t far away. There’s an excellent head-to-head comparison of six front runners in the November issue of Popular Woodworking. In “Compromise or Cure-All”, Troy Sexton covers all the important points at which a hybrid saw should do a decent job of emulating the cabinet saw design, including power, operating smoothness, the fence system, dust collect-ability, the guard system, and general usability features.

jet proshop sawThe article's worth the read, especially if you’re on the cusp of buying a new saw - so, we won’t spoil it for you. But we can tell you this: Jet Tools’ new Proshop (708482K) tied for first place as “Editor’s Choice”, with top scores in two of the most important table saw considerations: motor power and fence performance. And if you’re looking for a tie-breaker between the Proshop and the other top choice - Steel City’s 35601 - it isn’t hard to spot. The Jet lists for $200 less.

posted on November 9, 2007 by Rockler
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14 thoughts on “Choosing a Hybrid Table Saw”

  • I would dearly love to have one of the new table saws that have recently come out. One that truly has me slavering over is the new Steel City saw. But the cost is too prohibitive, at least for me. So I make do every day with my old Craftsman 10" that I bought new in 1980 at Sears in Billings, MT. It has paid for itself many times over and has cost me virtually nothing, save for several carbide tip blades and an Incra miter gauge. It still has the original motor and drive belt. And it has survived many moves, from Billings to Wyoming to Utah and out here to Vancouver, USA. It is like an old friend, at least to me.

  • Blog Editor

    True enough - a new saw isn't in the current budget for many of us. There's no shortage of Craftsman devotees, either. Glad to hear yours has served you so well.

  • Question for anyone out there... I have been trying to decide which table saw to purchase and have decided on the JET Proshop with the 52" fence. My shop is in a walk-in basement. My concern is whether or not I can get the saw into the door. The door opening is around 30" wide, but the width of the saw is 35" (based on the specs). <br /><br />My question is does anyone know the dimensions of saw parts as they are shipped? I want to make sure I can actually get this thing into my shop before i drop almost a grand on it.<br /><br />Thanks,<br />Matt

  • Blog Editor

    Matt,<br /><br />Jet saws come partially disassembled, and are packaged to fit through most doors. It would be very unusual if you couldn't get the Proshop saw you are considering through your door.<br /><br />The saws are shipped directly from the factory, so unfortunately, we can't simply measure one for you. If you want to be certain, the best thing to do would be to call Jet Tech. Support at: 1-800-274-6846.

  • Joe C

    I've been looking to purchase a new table saw. I'am looking really hard at the hybrid cabinet saws. The Grizzly G0478 has got my attention. I have been doing alot of research and reading reviews on alot of the hybrids.<br /><br />Does anyone have any input? Any comments welcomed<br /><br />Thanks

  • Deborah

    My husband wants a table saw for his birthday. He plans to build floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the hall and on two walls of my study. (I own more than 10,000 books.) He also plans to build cabinets and file drawers. We're talking years of work, plus I want it to look like furniture to fit the rest of the study.<br /><br />Which table saw do I buy him? I like the idea of a hybrid, but I know absolutely nothing about any of this, so help me out, guys.

  • Blog Editor

    Deborah,<br /><br />Judging by magnitude of your library, you're no stranger to research, and that's what we suggest: lots of research. There are many things to consider: cost, power, accuracy, durability and even weight can come into the decision (most cabinet saws weigh upwards of 500 lbs.) A <a href="http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=10484" rel="nofollow">table saw book</a> can be an invaluable source of information - pre- and post-purchase.<br /><br />Matching the saw to the user is also extremely important. It's a (very, very) nice idea to surprise someone with the gift of a table saw, but for such an important buy, a discussion with the lucky recipient-to-be might be in order.<br /><br />You'll find plenty of unbiased opinion on the merits of various saws on woodworking forums. Customer reviews are also an excellent source of information. Here are few for the <a href="http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?Offerings_ID=18477&TabSelect=Reviews" rel="nofollow">Jet ProShop</a> to get you started.<br /><br />Hope this helps. <br />

  • Ed Fox

    I had aspirations for a top of the line saw table but reality (a small shop footprint) and a tight budget forced me to think otherwise. Both of those factors came together on Labor Day when I walked into Home Depot
    in north Tampa where I saw the Rigid R4511 with granite tables ( we have a lot of humidity and rust is a problem). I could not pass up their deal and brought it home. It has a lifetime warranty. The package was
    heavy, just about 500 lbs. It took me two days to assemble and set up; the plans and drawings could have been better. The mobile stand was challenging, requiring small hands to assemble (my wife got to help).
    Set up was then pretty customary and straightforward.There are some things they could have done better, but for under $600 (the HD Labor Day deal made it closer to $450) I feel very fortunate to have found this
    type of saw at an excellent price.
    AEF Lutz, FL.

  • Rockler Blog Team
    Rockler Blog Team October 13, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Hey Ed. We don't happen to sell that model, but thanks for your comments nonetheless. Always glad to hear about a major tool purchase that's really working out!

  • Rich

    I looked at the rigid and was not that impressed. A nice saw with a new way of looking at marketing it with a "rust proff idea" No cast iron. But it also inst as heavy. The model was already chipped at home depo when I lookedd at it. I have also looked at the Dewalt and the Jet. Personally I dont think it is in the same class. But then thank god for choice.

  • Jim Gabrielson

    I too looked at the Rigid saw with granite tables but wasn't sure
    about how the granite would hold up (chip if something dropped
    on it?). Well as time would have it, I went up to HD one day to
    get something else and found the store model gone. I asked one of
    the HD employees standing there about it and he told me they had
    pulled it because the mobile stand had presented too many problems
    for them so they were pulling it to redesign it with cast iron tables
    rather than granite. Sure glad I didn't pull the trigger on that one. I
    had thought long and hard about it. I am leaning very hard towards
    the Jet with all cast iron tables but currently it's on backorder due
    to ship in January.

  • Larry

    I have questions on cabinet saws. The Jet JPS proshop and the Jet 7087801C what is the difference? How good is the Jet fence. I have a Jet Contractors saw with a Besmeyer (sp) fence so I think I am spoiled. I am leaning towards the proshop or the Delta 36-717 any ideas or thoughts. Thanks for any input/

  • Rockler BLog Team
    Rockler BLog Team January 26, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Thanks for the comment, Larry. The three saws you mention (we think you mean to include the 708781K Supersaw) are probably more alike than they are different: they're all 1-3/4 HP, left-tilt saws in the "hybrid" class from reputable manufacturers. There are differences to consider, though: The Supersaw is heftier than the Proshop, and incorporates a sliding crosscut table to the left of the blade - a feature that many would consider well worth a little extra cost. The Delta has a full cabinet base like the Supersaw and comes with a fence bearing the revered Biesemeyer name. Proshop saws have earned a good reputation, especially among hobbyists, where both bulk and cost are often primary concerns. And there may be other subtle differences that could influence your decision. We urge you to continue your research, paying special attention to reviews written by people who own these saws. Hope this helps.

  • Steve

    I know this is an old post but I'm just now ready to buy a better table saw. I am interested in the Jet ProShop Hybrid saw. My dilemma is that I would like the 52" but think it might be too big for my 2-car garage shop so a 30" might be the best choice. Also, does having the cast iron wings make for a better saw? I am limited on budget but want the best I can get for my money. Your input will be appreciated.

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