Cabinet table saw – a smart investment
Why get a cabinet table saw over another, often less expensive style of table saw? There are a huge number of advantages to cabinet table saws that make them a great investment for the hobbyist and professional woodworker alike.
First, cabinet table saws are absolutely unmatched in the power of the saw. Compared to significantly smaller portable table saws, cabinet saws typically provide between two and five horsepower motors. That means that you attach large blades with significant cutting depths to the saw to cut through even the hardest, knottiest woods and difficult composite materials with ease – and you won’t have to worry about making multiple cuts to slice through a thick board. Plus, cabinet saws are much better at dissipating heat than smaller contractor and portable table saws, which means you won’t burn wood when making cuts and be left with useless pieces of wood. These heavier blades are also advantageous in that they tend to last longer and produce significantly smoother cuts than small, thin blades, which means you’ll spend less money on saw blades in the long run and save yourself hours of sanding with each project.
Despite what the size of these saws may have you thinking, they’re also much quieter and cleaner than their smaller counterparts. The secret to the reduced noise is that the motor is enclosed in the cabinet base of these table saws in contrast to the exposed motor on portable saws. The cabinet also houses massive dust collection ports that do a much better job of capturing sawdust than the typical portable saw.
Of course, one of the major advantages to a cabinet table saw is the table. Few worktables can match the surface area provided by a large cabinet saw, which in turn makes it significantly easier to make accurate cuts and work with large pieces of wood. The controls are easier to handle and the weight of the table itself helps to dampen vibrations that can otherwise throw off the accuracy of your cuts.
Finally, cabinet table saws are much more durable than their portable counterparts. Part of the reason for this is that they’re easier to maintain since the motor and belts are housed within the cabinet, which can be opened up when you need to make sure everything is running smoothly or when you want to make fine-scale adjustments to the saw. As you might expect, housing the motor and belts in the cabinet also gives them some measure of protection from damage.
How to maintain your cabinet table saw
A well-cared for cabinet table saw can last a lifetime even with heavy use – one of the secrets that separates professional woodworkers from amateurs who are constantly going through tools. The key to maintaining your table saw is to base your maintenance schedule off of the hours that the saw has been used, rather than off a standard monthly schedule. When determining how often to perform maintenance on your cabinet table saw, remember that it is better to err on the side of too much maintenance than too little.
There are a couple basic things you can do to maintain your saw after every use:
- Unplug the table saw for safety, then clean out all of the sawdust on the table, inside the saw cabinet, and inside your dust bags or vacuum outlets. Once all other sawdust is removed, clean any remaining sawdust from the motor and belts.
- Keep your saw table clean and polished by rubbing it with car wax or a similar metal polish. A polished table will allow your work pieces to slide freely when making cuts.
- Clean your saw blades with pitch and gum remover to keep them sharp and lubricated when slicing through wood.
There are a number of additional cleaning tasks that can be performed every several hours of use, or as needed if you are consistently giving the table saw a visual inspection.
- Replace the power cord if you see and wear and tear in the cord insulation.
- Clean any plastic parts on the exterior of the saw with soap and water, then dry them completely with a clean towel.
- Check the blade raising and tilting mechanisms for any unexpected looseness in the housings. This can usually be fixed by tightening a few bearings under the cabinet.
- Check your saw’s alignment. This involves attaching your straightest blade to the saw, then ensuring that all of the fencing and miter slots line up flush against the blade.
- Every now and then, place a small volume of dry lubricant on the bevel gear to keep it turning loosely.
Of course, even the best maintenance schedules can’t cover everything. If your saw begins to make strange noises or vibrate during use, turn it off immediately and get under the cabinet to find the source of the problem – which may involve replacing worn out parts in the guts of the saw.
Features to consider while choosing a cabinet table saw
Although cabinet table saws are hugely different from portable table saws and contractor saws, cabinet table saws themselves also have some distinctive features that you need to know about when choosing the saw that’s right for you. Here, we’ll cover some of the most important features to look for in a cabinet table saw.
Where to place the unit
The decision of where to place your cabinet table saw is an important one, especially since it takes up a significant amount of space and is extremely difficult to move once situated. You want the tabletop to be as accessible as possible, with open runout space in at least one axis so that you have the option to work with longer boards. The more space you can provide around the table, the more efficiently, productively, and accurately you’ll be able to work.
When it comes to cabinet table saws, bigger is typically better – as long as you have the workshop space to accommodate the table you choose. Oversized cabinet saws like the model JET 708675PK XACTASAW Deluxe is perfect if you are working in an open warehouse-style space, while woodworkers working out of their garage may be better off opting for the smaller table saw from Powermatic PM1000 1791001K so that they have room to move around the table and feed longer boards.
Cabinet table saws are universally so heavy that portability is out the window, so the main consideration when it comes to weight is vibration dampening.
Heavier cabinet tables will typically provide better vibration dampening.
Although this also depends to some extent on the construction of the table and cabinet.
Cabinet table saws are vastly more powerful than contractor table saws, but power is still an important consideration when choosing a table saw since it affects the types of materials you’ll be able to cut through and the ease with which you’ll cut through them. Powerful saws like the 5-horsepower Baileigh TS-1248P-36 model, for example, will be able to cut through the most difficult composite materials with relative ease and increased smoothness.
Blade speed, like motor power, affects the ease of cutting through difficult materials. All of the cabinet table saws that we reviewed have roughly similar blade speeds, ranging from 3,600-4,300 rpm.
Types of blade
Cabinet table saws differ in the types of blades that they come standard with, although these blades are easily replaced for woodworkers looking to upgrade or in need of a replacement blade. These blades can differ in the material they are made from, the number of teeth they have, or the configuration of the teeth. Since they are easily replaced, blade type is often not a critical consideration when choosing a cabinet table saw.
Blade size and material
Cabinet table saws do differ in the sizes of blades they accept. Most table saws use 10-inch blades, while the more powerful Baileigh saw uses a 12-inch blade, for example. This gives it a slightly deeper maximum cut depth than comparable table saws. The material of the blade varies and can be upgraded after-market, but is an important consideration for the overall durability of the blade.
Depth of cut
The depth of cut describes the maximum thickness of board that can be cut through smoothly without making multiple cuts. This is directly related to the diameter of the blade, such that most cabinet table saws with 10-inch blades have a maximum cut depth of 3-3.125 inches, while the 12-inch diameter blade saw from Baileigh TS-1248P-36 has a maximum cut depth of four inches.
The rip fence should unfailingly line up parallel with the blade and should be easy to move into your desired distance from the blade so you get a perfect cut every time. Although this is the case on most cabinet table saws, keep an eye out for saws users note have sticky fences or fences that come out of alignment.
The miter is another important component for guiding your wood into the blade for the most precise cuts every time. When choosing a saw, look for a miter that is well-aligned and durable since this piece will see use every time you use the saw. Miter saw stands help making miter cutting a bit more portable.
The bevel is a piece of the table saw that allows you to make angled cuts in your wood. While most cabinet table saws are capable of cutting bevels, be sure to check user reviews to see how easy or difficult this is on the saw that you are interested in. Having a digital tilt meter, such as on the Baileigh TS-1248P-36 saw, can be quite useful when making bevel cuts.
Safety is an important concern whenever working with a cabinet table saw since they have an exposed blade. For the highest safety, look for saws like that from Shop Fox W1819 that feature a magnetic off switch that ensures that the saw won’t automatically restart after a power glitch, which could be quite dangerous.
The rip capacity describes the maximum distance that the rip fence can be moved from the blade, which determines what width of wood you’ll be able to cut. If you are normally working with moderately-sized boards, a 36-inch rip capacity like found on the Baileigh TS-1248P-36 saw might be sufficient. However, if you work with massive wood sections, you may want to opt for the 52-inch rip capacity found on the Powermatic PM1000 1791001K saw.
Cabinet table saws produce much less sawdust than portable and contractor saws, in part because they house sizable dust ports within the cabinet. All of the saws that we reviewed feature four-inch dust ports to keep your mess to a minimum.
A cabinet table saw is a significant investment, so even though they rarely break having a manufacturer’s warranty can make a big difference to your peace of mind. Warranties range from only one year on the Baileigh TS-1248P-36 saw to up to five years on the JET 708675PK XACTASAW Deluxe and Powermatic PM1000 1791001K table saws.