Tool Test: Cabinet Saws for the Home Shop
Compact models give you the power and accuracy of a full-size saw for less
Synopsis: There’s a new style of tablesaw that’s the right size for most home shops. Compact in size, these saws give you all the power, dust collection, mass, and ease of adjustment you’d find in a full-size cabinet saw, for less money. They also can run on an 110-volt circuit. Tool guru Roland Johnson put these saws through their paces, checking them to see how they measured up to the tasks of a modern woodship. He found some real winners in the pack.
Models tested include the SawStop PCS175, Grizzly G0751, Baileigh TS-1044H, General International 50-200R M1, Laguna Fusion, and Powermatic PM1000.
It would be nice to have a full-size cabinet saw in your home shop. But there are roadblocks to purchasing one. Because they can cost more than $3,000, it can be difficult to fit one in your tool budget. They also require a 240-volt circuit, which many of us don’t have in our garage and basement shops. Finally, they can take up a lot of space.
Not too long ago, the only alternative to a full-size cabinet saw was a contractor saw, but they are fussy to adjust, have poor dust collection, and can be underpowered for furniture making. Now there’s a new style of saw that will fit the bill for most home shops. These compact saws give you all of the benefits of a cabinet saw— power, good dust collection, vibrationdampening mass, and easy adjustments— for less money. And they all can run on a 110-volt circuit.
Fine Woodworking asked me to compare these saws head to head. I checked them for accuracy, including arbor flange runout, and whether the blade was parallel to the miter slot. I also looked at the sturdiness and accuracy of the rip fence, the saw’s ability to hold settings for tilt and elevation, power switch placement, and the ease of changing blades. To gauge their power, I ripped 8/4 hard maple and timed each rip. I repeated the process numerous times for each saw, using both a standardkerf and a thin-kerf blade.
After the tests, it was clear that the Sawstop PCS175 was the Best Overall. It was dead accurate, has a top-quality fit and finish, is the most user-friendly saw, and has SawStop’s flesh-sensing technology and blade brake. The Best Value among the saws is the Grizzly G0715P. It’s heavy, accurate, has good power, and costs just $825.
Even without its well-known blade brake, the SawStop is a great saw. It has very good ripping power. The dust collection was good, especially considering that the blade is enclosed only on one side to make room for the blade-brake cartridge. A 4-in. hose connects the blade shroud to a port in the cabinet. Everything else about the PCS175 is smooth. The fence locked tightly and glided like skates on ice, at least in part due to two small wheels on the underside of the fence at the end opposite the handle. You can move the fence with one finger.
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