It’s been seven years since we last reviewed 10″ cabinet saws, so when editor in chief Rob Johnstone suggested we put them under the microscope again, I jumped at the chance. That’s because so many good changes have taken place in this saw category since then: new Underwriters Laboratories (UL) requirements for riving knife guard systems, SawStop’s remarkable blade brake that’s keeping fingers where they belong and lots of other features that will make sawing more convenient and enjoyable. So, it’s high time for us to bring you up to speed on some of the latest and greatest models. Generally speaking, these shop mainstays have never been better.
Choosing the Test Group
I’ve been using various 3hp cabinet saws for years in my shop, and that motor size has been sufficient for any ripping or dadoing operation that has come my way. For that reason, I requested 3hp models from all the participating companies. Additionally, I’ve found 50″ or 52″ fence systems to be quite useful for ripping wide sheet goods down to size, and their long extension tables double as a handy extra worktable or stationary router table. So, I asked for long fence systems, too (most saws are also available with shorter 36″ rails if your budget or space prohibits the biggies). Aside from these two stipulations, I let the manufacturers select the specific model for me to test, which explains the broad price spread of $1,299 to $3,299, as of 2010. Still, this group of 10 represents a good cross-section of the market. Incidentally, we invited Steel City Tool Works to participate, but they didn’t provide a saw in time for testing.
I ran these saws through a variety of cutting tests on thick hardwood, then looked closely at their individual features.
Craftsman 22805 Left-Tilting Arbor Saw
General International 650R-T50 Cabinet Saw
General International 50-300M1 Cabinet Saw
Delta Unisaw Cabinet Saw
Rikon 10-050 Cabinet Saw
Grizzly Tools G0691 Cabinet Saw
JET Xacta Saw Deluxe Cabinet Saw
Laguna Tools Dovetail Cabinet Saw
Powermatic PM2000 Cabinet Saw
SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw
Choosing a Winner
In our strained economy, the “value” tension between price and features has never been greater, so picking a “best” saw is really tough. If cost is critical, Grizzly’s G0691 puts a very solid cabinet saw within easier reach. If you want a premium saw with today’s finest advancements, the Unisaw, PM2000 and SawStop deserve top billing. Still, we award only one winner. So, given its safety benefits and superior dust control, I think SawStop’s Professional Cabinet Saw edges ahead of the other two competitors as my “Best Best” here.