View Poll Results: Which Cabinet Table Saw should Cynthia upgrade to?

37. You may not vote on this poll
  • She should get a SawStop for $2800 base, there is no 2nd choice.

    18 48.65%
  • She should spend around $1500 and get some other things that she needs

    10 27.03%
  • She should suck it up and use her contractor's saw

    4 10.81%
  • She should ask the question after we have judged photos of 3 finished projects.

    0 0%
  • She should give me an all-expense paid trip to visit her and evaluate her woodworking first hand

    5 13.51%
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Thread: Cabinet Table Saw Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Vancouver Island, Courtenay/Comox Valley, British Columbia

    Cabinet Table Saw Question

    I'd like to ask a question, but I don't want to start an argument over safety issues, so please let's not get ugly.

    It's very clear to me that after I finish these bookcases, I'd like to move to a bigger "cabinet" table saw. I find it really hard to work with big pieces on a "contractor's saw". I know it's a common mistake of beginners not to realize that the table saw is super important and is like the center of your shop.

    Up here in western Canada, a Sawstop (the middle model) is about $2800 base price. For that money, it seems to me I could get a really good cabinet saw that doesn't have the Sawstop safety equipment *and* a bunch of other stuff......So I'd like to know what people think......Right now I have the Bosch contractor's saw.

    Now I'm all for safety, don't get me wrong, but I'm a) just a "hobby" woodworker, not a professional so b) I don't log nearly as many hours as some and c) I'm SUPER safety conscious and don't get my hands ANYWHERE NEAR the blade. I probably am a foot from the blade at all times. So I suspect I'm not as at risk as lots of others.

    Anyway, I'd like to hear what people think is the best decision for me, and I'm going to put up a poll if I can remember how to do that....
    Last edited by Cynthia White; 02-17-2011 at 05:17 PM.
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Your Bosch saw, although at the top of the heap for its class, is a portable job-site saw. Your recent project involves large pieces of sheet goods which are a challenge on any saw not properly equipped but, really awkward on a smaller, lighter machine.

    The reason I point this out is to make sure you are not making a long term decision on your most recent experiences. My dad spent a load of dough outfitting his shop and it turns out he slipped into lathe land. Tools we both have that I use so much that I have upgraded them, he will hardly use.


    First an opinion; I would not "upgrade" to anything in a contractor format so, if the Saw Stop you are talking about is not a cabinet saw format, I'd pass.

    - Build you current saw into a base to compensate for the lack of stability and capacity. This could be a fun project, be tailored to your space but would surely involve throwing a couple hundred bucks or so at a decent fence.

    - Buy a better quality hybrid or lower cost cabinet saw (with a riving knife) for around $1000 - $1500. There will still be some outfeed requirements but that is true for all saws dealing with large or long material. You will not build built-ins forever, sooner or later you'll need a dresser, a table, a desk.

    - Assuming it is a cabinet saw format, buy the Saw Stop and have the advantages of a cabinet saw plus the "flesh seeking saw blade" control technology.

    None of this rambling really tells you what to do but, from my travels through different saws I can say that I learned:

    - I don't use sheet goods near as much as I thought I would and am glad I did not outfit my shop like I built kitchens for a living; it wouldn't suit what I have grown to do.

    - despite throwing every improvement and after-market add-on I needed to add to my contractor saw, I still needed to move on.

    - I bought one of the best rated hybrid saws of the time and it has served me very well (cabinet saws of the time started at about double the cost).

    - If I were to choose from saws available today I would spend an extra $200 - $300 and get a 3HP cabinet saw with a riving knife.

    That's my contribution.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 02-17-2011 at 12:47 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  3. #3
    Chris Hatfield is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    I feel that you and I are in similar situations in regard to equipment and experience, if I remember correctly.

    You have to ask yourself what about the saw makes it awkward to saw large items - is it because it's not heavy, or is it because it's not heavy duty. If it's because it's not heavy duty, then there's no getting around the fact that you need a more powerful saw. And if you're going to spend the money, a hybrid or a cabinet saw is definitely the answer here.

    As for the non-SawStop vs SawStop argument, I will say my opinion may be a bit colored. I don't particular care for the inventor, or the added expense of additional cartridges (above the one that would get replaced for free) or ruining blades, but by all accounts they made a hell of a saw, and would do anything you asked it to do. If money isn't an object, then do it. I would, if I had the money, even though I think the technology may be a bit superfluous and there may be additional choices in a few years.

    However I know money doesn't flow that freely for most of us, so if I had to get a more powerful saw I'd probably spend less than half of that and get something that will work just as well without the built-in technology.

    Now, if the problem is that the saw isn't heavy enough, then that's easily fixed and for a LOT less money. If you've got the room, make a saw station. Sure you'll lose the convenience of your gravity rise stand, but you'll gain so much more versatility. Something like this would probably be right up your alley. I've been considering something similar with my Craftsman 21829 (link, for reference), but room really says I can't do that. So I make do with my saw, which is slightly heavier, but probably a bit more underpowered than yours.

    My saw will cut through 8/4 purpleheart without bogging down, albeit with a bit of burning on the wood - which I'm in the process of fixing with a more appropriate blade and better technique. Sheet goods shouldn't be a problem for you, so I'm guessing it's the weight and bulk that makes you feel uncomfortable.

    I use a couple of different techniques to help with sheet stock. First, I have a very nice guide clamp (the 50", seen here) that I use to cut all my crosscuts first with my circular saw (and it's an underpowered, undersized cordless). Once I have those done, I do my rip cuts. For those times where a 8' long rip cut just has to be done, there's no way I'd do it on a table saw unless I had a full cabinet saw and someone to help. Alone? I'll buy the 8' version of that clamp first and do it on the ground or on a set of 4-5 sawhorses.

    To do that currently I have something similar to this, which I can't really recommend. Alone, the pieces work as they are supposed to. Together, there's a lot of flex in the middle which can't guarantee you get a straight cut. It's what I had to use for my pantry, and I can tell you I see I got what I paid for.

    You've got a good saw, with some good safety features already built-in (riving knife, Smart Guard, pawls). If your fence works well, the saw is powerful enough, and you're comfortable with your technique in regards to being safe, I don't see a reason to spend the huge amount on a cabinet saw right now be it a Steel City or a SawStop. Get yourself a nice 8' clamping guide, build a nice sturdy mobile base for your saw, and enjoy the savings.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Decatur, Alabama
    If the money isn't a priority and you're sure you'll be woodworking for a while, I'd go with the sawstop, or even the 3hp sawstop. If the money is a driving factor, grizzly makes some nice cabinet saws around $1300 now, my brother just got one. It's a nice saw, I wish I had the money for it when I bought my craftsman.

    A 50" cut cabinet saw doesn't by itself make 3/4" sheets of plywood easy to cut. They're still a pain to move around and cut. Good infeed/outfeed tables make more of a difference imho. I have a 450 lb hybrid saw, but choose not to cut full sheets on the table saw because I feel I have more control with a skill saw breaking it down.

    I agree with everything glenn said there too

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    if money is not the main deciding factor, buy the sawstop. Youll be happier in 20 years from now when youre still banging out furniture and can cook butt chili and have all your fingers to help open the jars.
    dont let 1200 dollars stand in the way of your safety.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I chose the last option. An all expense-paid trip is a no-brainer.

    I can't help you with your question but I will be watching this thread with great interest.
    Chinese Proverb: Man who eats many prunes gets good run for the money.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    You're putting enough money into getting your shop setup now. I say get what you want and pay the extra 1200.

    Think about that would only be 3 sheets of plywood a month for the next 12 months...
    Last edited by Brent Dowell; 02-17-2011 at 01:44 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State
    Great advice and opinions already expressed.

    I recommend you go ahead and buy the Sawstop cab saw. I have been through 4 saws already, and am still working towards a Sawstop cab saw. My last purchase was about 15 years ago, at the time I chose between a Powermatic 66, which sold new for $1600, and a PM 63 Artisan [contractor's] saw which sold for $700. I cheaped out. For 15 years I have regretted not buying the better saw, though at the time of the purchase I convinced myself that I was only a hobbyist, not a pro. I think a cab saw - of whichever brand you choose - is simply a better tool than a contractors saw. Like a good plane, I think there is satisfaction in its use. Adjusting the blade with a smooth and accurate mechanism provides more enjoyment than dealing with a balky one. And we are woodworking for pleasure, not occupation right?

    Then there is safety. I have seen many injuries on tablesaws. Most happen in a fraction of a second. Some are life altering. And yes, good technique and safety consciousness does a lot to prevent accidents. But humans make mistakes, and accidents do sometimes happen, under the best of circumstances. If one can afford the additional safety, then why not have it. Depending on your financial situation, cost may be the final arbiter of your choice. I know I'd gladly plunk down $1.5K to keep a finger or more, and though the chance of such severe injury is little, isn't the extra cost worth the extra protection?

    I keep telling myself it's time to buy a SS, and I keep delaying, more than anything because the nearest dealer is over 2 hours away; so bear in mind that some of my thinking may be biased because I am telling you to do what I want to do for myself....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    You're putting enough money into getting your shop setup now. I say get what you want and pay the extra 1200.

    Think about that would only be 3 sheets of plywood a month for the next 12 months...
    Quote Originally Posted by ken werner View Post
    I know I'd gladly plunk down $1.5K to keep a finger or more, and though the chance of such severe injury is little, isn't the extra cost worth the extra protection?
    One little accident or moment of inattention could cost way more than the extra cost of the saw and a pile of extra cartridges and blades for the saw as well...

    I bought a Grizz 1023Z several years ago and while I like it just fine, if I was in the market, I'd probably go for the SS now.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    if the difference in cost is only 1200 dollars for the saw stop then i to feel that my fingers or some else's after i am done with it is more valuable. if your set on a cab saw and then go for saw stop.. the riving knife and the dust collection can add a big plus to the saw and to get those additions on a existing saw or lesser model will be added cost that may not be reflected in the price tag there are posting..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

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