(Continued from parts 1 & 2)
Industrial Style Cabinet Saws:
Industrial cabinet saws are at the top of the food chain in this article, though there are high volume modern specialty saws available commercially that won’t be covered here. Industrial cabinet saws are the true workhorses found in many cabinet shops, factory shops, commercial shops, schools, and serious hobby shops across the country. The vast majority retain the same standard table dimensions mentioned for other full size stationary saws, so from the top, they can look a great deal like a contractor saw or a hybrid saw. Most can even accept many of the same standard accessories, but aside from that, the similarities under the hood end there. The underpinnings of an industrial cabinet saw are much heavier duty than those of any other type of table saw mentioned here, making them very accurate, heavy, stable, and durable. The mechanisms and adjustments tend to operate as they should, making them a pleasure to use. They also tend to have more horsepower, with most falling into the 3hp to 5hp range, and requiring 240v electrical circuits. There are some exceptions that actually have smaller motors and will run on standard 120v residential circuits, as well as some larger 3 phase motors that won't run on any single phase residential circuits without the help of a converter of some sort.
There are few standard cuts that these saws struggle with. Most come with a high quality fence, and solid cast iron wings...steel wings are rarely found on this level of saw. All of the modern designs that I’m aware of feature cabinet mounted trunnions, which are easier to align than table mounted trunnions. Most have the large yoke style trunnions that span from corner to corner of the cabinet. Weighing in excess of 500# makes these saws very stable, but not very portable. However, when placed on a good mobile base, most can be easily wheeled around the shop. The venerable Delta Unisaw was one of the earliest, most popular, and most copied of this type of saw. There are now excellent examples from Delta, Powermatic, Grizzly, Shop Fox, Jet, Saw Stop, Rikon, Laguna, Woodtek, General, General International, Craftsman, and Steel City, among others. Starting prices tend to be in the $1300 range, topping out over $4000. Some would consider a saw of this caliber overkill for a hobbyist, but they can be fairly affordable considering what you get for $1300.
(The following is a revision that is too large to add to any other segment of the article, so here is!
Riving knife vs traditional splitter
All modern table saws are required by law to have some sort of a blade guard that includes a splitter or riving knife. A splitter is a safety device that's mounted just behind the blade, that's intended to keep the kerf of the board from closing in on the back of the blade and causing kickback. In order to achieve UL 987 approval, new saws designed and manufactured after Jan 1, 2008 are required to offer a riving knife as part of the blade guard system. Models marketed prior to that date can still sold through 2014.
A riving knife and a splitter perform the same task, but have distinct differences. A riving knife is fixed just behind the blade and moves in unison with the blade when raised and lowered, and also when tilted. A traditional splitter stays at a fixed height...some are capable of tilting with the blade, some are not, but none of them raise and lower with the blade. A riving knife has some advantages...for starters they tend to be located in closer proximity to the blade, which aids in their main function of keeping the kerf from closing in. Since a riving knife can raise and lower with the blade, they're less likely to interfere with the operation of the saw, so are more likely to be left in place to perform it's job. Traditional splitters are more likely to get in the way of non-through cuts, so need to be removed for those operations, which makes them inherently easier to forget to replace. It's my opinion that a riving knife is a more elegant solution overall, but there are excellent and poor examples of each device available.
There is currently only one retrofittable aftermarket riving knife device available for existing older saws that weren't originally designed with a true riving knife. It's called the Bolt On Ripping Knife (BORK), and is available at the BORKstore.com from Walnutacres Woodworking. Their website has a list of saws that the BORK and BORK Blade Guard will fit.
Bonus link - Some basics of buying a saw