Expert Answers: What is a Hybrid Saw?Comments (0)
This article is from Issue 94 of Woodcraft Magazine.
Q. I’ve been leaning toward buying a “hybrid” model table saw, but I’m not really sure what that means. I want something for my small shop rather than job-site work, and can’t afford to spend a ton of money. So what is a hybrid saw, and should I consider one?
St. Charles, MO
A. A hybrid table saw refers to a design that combines features from typical cabinet saws and traditional contractor saws. A cabinet saw is designed to stand up to the rigors of professional use. Its heavy-duty blade carriage, which connects to the cabinet with substantial trunnions and supports a powerful 3- or 5-hp motor, sits entirely within the cabinet, giving the saw its name. This configuration of totally enclosed internal mechanisms results in an efficient transfer of power and decent dust collection. The fact that the blade carriage connects to the cabinet also facilitates squaring the independently mounted table to the blade, which is an essential adjustment for accurate cutting. A cabinet saw is generally considered a “stationary” machine due to its heft, and requires a 240-volt circuit.
A traditional contractor saw—so-named because it was designed for jobsite use—is a more economical, somewhat lighter-weight machine with less-hefty internals. Its motor hangs from a mounting that projects from the base’s open back (which thwarts dust collection). This arrangement allows easy removal of the heavy motor for machine transport to a jobsite, but the long drive belt that extends from the motor to the blade carriage compromises power transmission and can induce vibration. On the plus side, the 11⁄2- to 2-hp dual-voltage motor requires only a ubiquitous 120-volt outlet. However, because the blade carriage bolts to the underside of the table, the table-to-blade adjustment can be problematic.
A hybrid saw is basically a contractor saw wrapped in an enclosed cabinet. Because its 11⁄2- to 2-hp motor is inside the cabinet, the shorter drive belt makes for more efficient power transmission and less vibration than a traditional contractor saw while still plugging into a 120-volt outlet. The enclosed cabinet also aids dust collection, while the contractor-saw-grade motor and (typically table-mounted) internals are perfectly capable of handling all but the heaviest table saw tasks. Although you wouldn’t call it “portable,” a hybrid is light enough to muscle around without too much trouble, and some models even come equipped with casters. All of this adds up to an affordable saw that’s well-suited to most small shops. It might be just what you need.
Author of Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Tablesaws
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