Craftsman’s 22805 Left-Tilting Arbor Saw is a fitting machine to begin this review, because it represents a good example of a basic cabinet saw. Some of its features aren’t cutting-edge, but it’s still a respectable option for a budget-driven woodworker. The saw has one of the smaller cast-iron tops of the test group, but the extension table and rails provide 50″ of ripping capacity to the right. I appreciated the cast iron throatplates included with this saw — one for standard blades and another for dadoing. They’re flat, heavy and fit precisely into the table throat opening. The arbor design on this machine places the blade flange closer to the left edge of the table opening than other saws, so you have lots of room to reach down inside for blade changes. That’s a subtle but appreciated convenience.
One unusual detail about this saw is that it comes with two interchangeable arbor spindles: a long one for stacking wide dado sets and a shorter one for regular blades. They’re not hard to switch, but it’s unnecessary to do on other saws.
Currently, this saw still has a fixed splitter and guard that bolt in place. Craftsman informs me that it will be replaced in early 2010 with a split guard and riving knife to comply with the new UL riving knife standards. That’s a welcomed step forward. The riving knife will have high and low position settings to accommodate both through and non-through cuts such as grooves and rabbets. The guard system will install or remove without tools.
Craftsman’s saw has a smaller-dimension front fence rail and rip fence spine than other saws, but they were stout enough for heavy ripping. Plus, the fence’s aluminum facings were flat — that’s important for accuracy.
Despite a somewhat thinner trunnion casting than other saws here, this saw still cut smoothly, with three drive belts spinning the blade. I wish the power switch were mounted to the fence rail like other saws and not to the cabinet; it’s harder to “knee” the kill button quickly. After cutting, I scooped 13 handfuls of debris from inside the cabinet: a pretty good result, but not on par with some competitor machines.
My verdict: the Craftsman is a decent machine for a low price.