If you’re looking to progress from amateur woodworking enthusiast to professional woodworking jobs, the cabinet saw is one of the most important tools you can invest money in. As a table saw is the most common tool in woodworking jobs, it pays to remember that these saws are capable of more than a benchtop saw, so think about which tool is most likely to get you the most precise cuts.
Cabinet saws are built with longevity and reliability in mind, enabling you to cut the thickest pieces of material quickly and with minimal vibration, making your work as accurate as possible day after day for years to come.
In the article below, we’ll look at some of the key things to consider when buying a cabinet table saw.
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What Safety Features Should You Be Looking For?
Table saws are the number one cause of injury in a woodworking workshop and so as standard have very stringent safety precautions in place. Blade covers, riving blades emergency stop buttons are all common on cabinet saws these days, so look to make sure all of your safety requirements are met when purchasing a saw.
What Blades Do You Require?
These days, a lot of the best table saws on the market come with high-quality blades already with the saw, negating the need for extensive research and spending more money than necessary. However, you may need a more specialised blade for certain projects and most manufacturers have taken into account you may have to buy additional blades.
Looking for table saws that can accommodate various blades will be essential, as well as how much time it takes to change the blade as this will save you time in the long run.
How Accurate is a Cabinet Saw?
Power saws are incredibly useful tools for any woodworker to have, giving you the best possible output of speed and accuracy. These saws then are manufactured to give the best accuracy possible. Their combination of wide base, larger table and solid rip fence means that the blade should experience less vibration and it should be excellently balanced.
How Stable Are They?
The more stable a table saw is the safer it is to use, meaning you can work on larger products without putting yourself at risk. The sheer weight of a cabinet saw means that not only will it not topple under the weight of your material, but once it is set up you have no worries of it moving without warning.
This extra weight is what causes the increased stability in the cabinet table saw so if you are looking for a saw with some manoeuvrability then these are not the tool for you.
Weight distribution is also key to consider as this, combined with the weight, is what gives the cabinet saw its stability. Ideally, the saw should be well balanced with a low centre of gravity as a poorly balanced saw will topple just as easily as a lighter model.
How Powerful Are They?
How much power you need will change depending on the job you are carrying out and the material you are cutting. Cabinet saws are powered by electric motors and measured in horsepower, so when comparing different models it is essential you look at the power rating of each and understand how it compares to other models you are considering.
If the saw comes with 1.5 – 2 horsepower will often run without issue off of a standard 120-volt household circuit. More powerful motors, those in the range of 3-5 horsepower, will often require you to have a 240-volt circuit to power the saw properly and get the most from your tool.
What Torque Can You Expect From a Cabinet Saw?
Many people confuse power and torque. Torque, in short, can be described as a rotational force that harnesses the power being put into it. Without torque, that power gets wasted. Because of the incredibly good level of torque in a cabinet saw, you can be confident in its ability to cut through even the sturdiest of materials at a low speed.
Is Table Size Important?
Table size is very important in the use of this power tool as it determines how much material you can support when in use. Luckily, a lot of cabinet saws available on the market today have the adaptability to add extensions, meaning that even if you start small initially nothing is stopping you from taking on those larger jobs further down the line. A rip fence of around 50 inches on a large table is essential for breaking down those larger pieces of material for carrying out jobs.
Ideally, the bench of your cabinet saw will be made of durable material to reduce the possibility of bending or damage as time goes by.
How Big Should the Arbor Shaft Be?
When initially purchasing a cabinet saw, it is always good practice to check the arbor shaft to ensure your saw blades fit. The most widely used shaft size of ⅝ of an inch will fit the majority of 10-inch saw blades. Depending on your country of residence, you may also need to look at the spacings for dado blades but these blades are illegal in some countries.
Should You Be Looking For a Mitre Slot?
Commonly used in conjunction with a table saw is a tool called a mitre gauge. The mitre gauge helps to feed your materials across your table at the angle you choose and allows you to create a contact point that is both safe and stable. For this to work, however, there should be a mitre slot in the tabletop, ideally on either side of the blade so you can get the best use from it.
Is Dust Collection Important?
As with any other power saw, using your cabinet saw will generate dust and debris as you cut through your materials. Loose debris can increase the risk of damage to your equipment and injury to the operator. On these saws, there is a sloped shelf that feeds the dust down through a 4-inch duct. Attach a vacuum to this and dangerous dust and debris will be kept to a minimum.
Now that we have addressed some of the things you need to consider before purchasing a cabinet table saw, we will discuss a few aspects that, while important, do not need to necessarily be worried about before purchasing as these can all be changed no matter the saw you buy.
With most saws on the market, the blade guard will be sufficient to do the job but is far from the best quality you could buy. Luckily, there is an abundance of good quality products on the market for you to replace this with after your initial purchase.
The table leaves surrounding the table itself do not need looking at in too much detail. The material they are made of will not affect the overall performance of your cabinet table saw, they just need to be able to provide good support for the tabletop.
The Saw Blade
While the saw blades that come with your cabinet table saw will be of good quality, they can’t compare to the higher quality of the blades that you can purchase elsewhere after you have bought your saw, and you are likely to upgrade this anyway.
Now that we’ve covered off what is important to look for in your new tool, it’s important that we now cover the safety aspects of using one of these impressive pieces of equipment.
Always wear safety equipment and appropriate clothing when operating machinery. No loose clothing or jewellery should be present. Table saws are among the most common woodworking tools but also account for the majority of injuries in the woodworking workspace. Statistically, more serious injuries happen when using a cabinet bench saw than with any other woodworking tool.
Before you start to use a table saw always check that the blade guard, riving knife and anti-kickback pawls are working correctly to minimise the chance of injury.
Never start the cabinet saw with the blade still engaged in the stock.
Keep your work area tidy. Excess cut-offs, dust and debris will make it more likely that you or those around you will have an accident and cause injury.
Do not forget to disconnect from the power supply before changing saw blades or making adjustments to the internal workings of the saw.
Never stand directly in front of the saws blade. This will help you avoid any potential kickbacks. Furthermore, always find a position to stand in that offers you the most balance before engaging the saw.
Never make adjustments to the fence or blade whilst the blade is still in motion. Always wait until the blade is at a complete standstill before adjusting anything.
Correct sawblades should be used to avoid creating projectiles.
Never attempt free-hand cuts whilst the saw is in operation. You should instead use the mitre gauge or fence to guide your cut, but never together.
Always check your materials for anything embedded in them such as screws, nails or staples before using the table saw.