A Table Saw Buying Guide: Benchtop vs Contractor vs Cabinet vs Hybrid

With so many types and models of table saws out there, it can be hard to find the right one for you. When choosing a table saw, whether it’s a benchtop, a contractor, a cabinet or a hybrid, we have to take a look at price, safety and usage before we decide what to buy. However, if you follow this buying guide, I assure you we’ll find the best saw for your needs and for your price range.

What’s the difference?

benchtop-contractor-cabinet-portable-table-sawFirst of all you need to know what the differences between a benchtop, a contractor, a cabinet and a hybrid table saw are. A cabinet saw is designed to be a beast. They are large, and usually have three horsepower or more. Often weighing somewhere between 400 and 600 pounds, they’re not made to be moved around.

The contractor saw isn’t super portable either, but it’s more portable than the cabinet. It’s built light so that it’s possible to move around, and can have anywhere from 1/3 of a horsepower up until 4 horsepower.

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The hybrid saws are as the name implies a hybrid. Being a hybrid between cabinet and contractor, they usually have the same type of motor as the contractor saws. They have a kind of cabinet containing the motor, which helps a lot when it comes to noise. They are easy to move around because of their lightness.

A benchtop table saw is super lightweight, and is designed to be placed on a table. They’re lifetable for a single person, so there’s no problem actually taking the saw to the work place. They’re not expensive, and are capable of doing a good job. However, they commonly have a universal motor which isn’t as durable or as quiet as the motors used on the three other types of table saws.

The price

dewalt-table-sawThe cabinet saws, having large motors and being large in general, do cost more than any of the other models. They’re usually high-end and will practically run forever. The price might be a little steep however, if you’re not working at a wood shop and making a good profit out of it.

The contractor saws are usually the ones most expensive when looking at contractors and hybrids. They’re a tad bit smaller than the cabinet saws, with the biggest difference being they have no cabinet.

The hybrid saws, being a hybrid between a cabinet and contractor, is usually cheaper then both of them. If you need a saw that can do a lot, and you have the money to spend, it’s a good alternative.

The benchtop table saws are the cheapest. They’re small, light built, easy to move around, but usually don’t hold as well and last as long as the other three types of table saws.

What will it be used for?

If you’re a serious DIYer or work as a contractor, a contractor table saw is great if you like using the saw on the work site. If you don’t need a lot of power to rip through dense woods or anything of such density, then you should seriously consider buying a contractor saw.

Being a middle ground between a contractor and a cabinet, the hybrid saw gives you better accuracy and power for a good price, as well as it not being super heavy. If you need a light, strong and accurate table saw, considering the hybrid isn’t such a bad idea.

You won’t find any type of tree that can’t be cut smoothly with a cabinet table saw. However, if you have room for it, the need for it, and enough money, you’ve most likely pinned a contractor saw high up on your wish-list. The great thing about the cabinet saws are that they make dust control super easy, so if that’s something you want, a cabinet saw could work for you.

The benchtop table saw is just a very mild step up from a normal circular saw. They’re light and portable but do have better accuracy then a normal circular saw. As long as you’re not ripping through large pieces of wood, the benchtop saw will work well. It’s important to remember that it’s not a heavy weight saw. It’s now strong, and not extremely accurate.

What’s the right one for you?

If you’re looking for the cheapest alternative, the benchtop table saw is the way to go. However, if you need power, you have the space, and you have the money, you should really consider any of the three other types.