Choosing the Right Saw for Your Shop
The type of saw to consider for your shop depends on the type of woodworking you do, the amount of time you spend woodworking, your budget and, in part, the space and type of access your shop affords (you should think twice, for example, before committing yourself to moving a full scale cabinet saw into a small basement shop).
The Powermatic PM2000B Table Saw - a top performer and a top choice of professionals and dedicated hobbyists for years.
If you spend only a few hours a week in your shop, mostly making small cabinetry and craft projects, a cabinet saw might be nice to have, but a little more than you need. On the other hand, if you operate a small professional shop, and are looking for a saw that you can comfortably and reliably run for hours at a time, a low end contractor model will probably slow you down and end up being a disappointment. Hybrid saws offer a good middle ground for serious hobbyists, and will even prove suitable for certain small-scale professional operations. Jet Tools offers a surprising breadth of advanced features in its line of affordable "Supersaws."
Jet and Powermatic Contractor Saws - affordable and lightweight without sacrificing accuracy and durability.
As important as the type of saw you choose are the individual features of the saw. Some affordable contractor model saws offer many of the same features that you'd expect to find on a top-quality cabinet saw, such as the widely respected Accu-Fence system and precision ground cast iron table tops and extension wings you'll find on Powermatic contractor models. By the same token, while saws in the cabinet saw class all share certain features - a 3HP or larger motor, trunnions that attach to the base, and heavier construction - they are not all manufactured to the same standards. Take a close look at the quality of all of the saw's components, including the quality of the fence system, the mass and stance of the trunnions, the grind and finish of the top and extension wings, and features that make power transmission to the blade more efficient.
Buying a table saw is a big investment, and worth careful consideration. You may not be able to "test drive" every table saw on your list, but you can read reviews, compare specs and features, and it doesn't hurt to take the manufacturers reputation into account. When you're ready to buy your new dream table saw, Rockler offers a wide variety of contractor saws, hybrid saws and cabinet saws from Jet and Powermatic, two of the most trusted names in the business.