Earlier this year I took a lot of time researching a new cabinet saw purchase. Here was my initial findings before I actually bought the Steel City Saw.
Steel City 35618 TS ($1599-$150Rebate) to the Delta x5 (on sale for around $1500).
I do prefer the Industrial Steel City over the Commercial Biesemeyer (by far actually) . The fence glides much easier on the Steel City. The Biesemeyer is also a solid fence, but I would take the Steel City any day. There is a rear glider on the Steel City that allows you to adjust the fence → table clearance thus avoiding any rubbing. The face of the fence also seems to be made of UHMW. This adds to the appeal. There are also plastic like set screws that allow the user to tweak the rigidity of the fence when sliding back and forth on the table.
One down side to the SC saw fence is that it will most likely never have the number of accessories that the Biesmeyer has.
After talking with a few people at SC, several of which were ex-Delta employees, I got the Iggy on the fence construction. For SC, the metal piece of the fence is created, then parallel machined. Each UMHW fence face is then parallel machined, attached to the metal part of the fence, and then the entire thing is parallel machined as a whole. This guarantees that once you set up one side of the fence to be parallel with the blade, the other will also be parallel.
Delta employs a guy (they own Biesmeyer) whose job it is to use double sided tape and shims to get the fence as close to parallel as possible. If the plywood bears any resemblance in quality to the wood they use for the frame of the extension table, I really don.t want any parts of it.
The SC rails are ridiculously heavy duty. The Delta looked more than sufficient as well
I like the support table just a bit more on the Steel City, They are really almost the same in construction with the main difference being that the table.s frame is made out of plywood on the SC instead of overly knotty Taiwanese pine. The surface on the Steel City also seems a little less prone to scratches. Both saws come with 2 feel for the extension tables that are adjustable along the depth of the saw so that you can get them in the correct spot for your mobile base. The Steel City plant also uses a glue that is supposed to hold up well against temperature changes.
I really had to give this one to Steel City, yet again. There are less seems on the body, and the fit and finish were much better on the SC as compared to the Delta. I was definately not a fan of the Plastic motor cover, for two reasons. First, Since there is really no air gaps to start an air flow through, I could see there being a problem with an air stream moving across the saw body. I think this would cause a problem with dust buildup on the motor side. The plastic motor cover is not very easy to remove. I could see myself making myself bleed way too often trying to get the cover off (as if I don.t bleed enough already in the shop) or just breaking the cover altogether.
The Steel City saw adjustment wheels weigh much more than the Delta counterpart. Both have locking mechanisms, but the SC seems to actually lock the blade in position a little better. The SC also has a brush-like housing around these wheels that would function to knock dust off of the wheel as they are moved back and forth and allow air to flow in while keeping what dust is in the cabinet at bay.
This is mostly a function of personal preference. The SC saw has 3 hangers in the rear of the saw for the fence while the Delta is on the side of the cabinet. My personal preference leans toward the Delta.
This is pretty much a wash. 3HP is plenty for anything I would ever do, but don.t think I didn.t look at the 5HP 12. saw just in case.
Both are cabinet mounted, this is also pretty much a wash.
The ports are both 4., standard for most true dust collector tubing. The Steel City cabinet allows for more air flow to be generated from the motor cover, adjustment wheel openings, and the ZCI insert plate. As previously mentioned, the motor cover on the Delta is pretty much sealed and there are no extra holes standard in the Delta ZCI.s that would aid in pulling air. I don.t think a 1200cfm dust collector could be fully utilized on the Delta saw.
Steel Extension Wings:
The main difference here is that the SC saw has a 45 degree bevel on the front and back of the extension wings giving your project less of a chance to .catch. at any time.
The Steel City saw has a front and two individual plastic side guards that all operate on their own as opposed to operating as one as the X5 does. There is also a window on the top of the Steel City blade guard allowing a the user to look directly down onto the blade. The guard attaches to the saw via a bolt with a plate that allows the guard to be removed and replaced rather easily. The guard can also be lifted up to a 90 degree angle with the saw surface for blade adjustment.
Take the top of the crate/box off of the cabinet saw portion and remove the 2 cast irom extensions from the top and the boxes of goodies from inside and on the side of the cabinet. This knocks about 100 lbs. off of the weight of the saw. Replace the box and then reband (you can do that with wire ties if need be).
I had a couple of light scratches on the table saw top, but they told me how to remove them and sent me a new blade for my troubles. The directions are easy to follow, but could use a little more added to them. I sent this to one of their engineers and they have acknowledged them as valid points that will make it into the next rev of the manual.
Fit and Finish:
The cast iron top arrived perfectly square to the blade, yeah! The fence was out about 90 thou out of the box without adjustment. After I bought a dial indicator, it was perfect within 5 minutes. The only paint blemishes are the ones that I caused. The saw passes the nickel test without issue.
The first time I turned on the saw, it scared me. This thing is more powerful than any saw I had used to this point. There is nothing that I have run through this saw that even made it think about slowing down at all. This is contrary to my old Craftsman that I could get to completely stop with some wood.
Things I Would Change:
See #4 above.
Pie in the sky, if there was dust collection in the blade gaurd itself, I think the dust control would be second to none.
Riving knife would always be nice, but I.m sure that will be in the next generation saw from SC.
The window on the fence that shows the distance from the blade tends to .help. crud collect on the tape measure on the rail. It is probably a function of both me not wanting to constantly clean wood off of the rail and the window being a little too close to the rail.
Steel City also has the best customer service around. I have dealt with them all and there is nothing like talking to someone who knows their product and can make things right if they are wrong.