3HP Table Saw Vs. 5HP

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Forum topic by Coz posted 12-14-2010 07:21 PM 7129 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3153 days

12-14-2010 07:21 PM

I’m a hobbyist woodworker. But, I tend to work with hardwoods mostly. I am about to purchase a table saw and was told by a friend that I should absolutely get a 5HP motor. I’m not certain I want to spend the additional money. Any advice would be appreciated.

15 replies so far

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5590 posts in 2656 days

#1 posted 12-14-2010 07:36 PM

For what it’s worth, I have a 1.5 HP motor in my saw, and I have never been left wanting for power. A good blade that is sharp, and clean does the trick. I work with a LOT of walnut, oak, mesquite and pecan and am happy with it.

I know there are those out there that will say get the biggest, baddest you can afford, and personally I would love a nice 3HP cabinet saw, mostly for the mass. Look at old Unisaws, most of them were 1HP… I think that 5HP is for the hobbyist serious overkill.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

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209 posts in 2429 days

#2 posted 12-14-2010 07:41 PM

For most hobbyist the 3hp is all you will ever need. 5hp is a bit overkill. Cutting 16/4 stock is just not that common and if ever you had too just use a band saw (if you have one) or just take it slower on the TS. Other then that, 3hp is more than ample. BTW…what kind of TS? Hope it is a SawStop.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

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5 posts in 3153 days

#3 posted 12-14-2010 07:50 PM

You’re not going to believe this, but due to some unfornutate circumstances, someone GAVE me brand new, still in the crate, 5HP Unisaw with 52” Biesmeiyer fence. However, for a couple of reasons, specifically, my shop size and safety, I am considering trading it for a 3HP professional SawStop. I am sure many of you will think I am insane – I can already hear the replies: “just set up the unisaw and go”. But, frankly, if the 3HP will do, I’m fairly convinced the safety advantage the SawStop offers is more important to me than having the beatiful Delta behemoth in my basement. I consider myself fortunate as I guess this is a nice problem to have.

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5839 posts in 3010 days

#4 posted 12-14-2010 07:52 PM

Three is plenty for a twelve inch blade if you go to sixteen inch or more I would go for five horse.In other words it depends on the depth of cut.For most of us hobby jock’s we need three or even less.I have three in a sliding panel saw and it always works great (WITH A SHARP BLADE OF COURSE) he shouted.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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141 posts in 2746 days

#5 posted 12-14-2010 10:15 PM

To reiterate what others have said a good clean blade will make all the cuts a hobbyist would need. Also, using a thin kerf blade helps. I don’t know what you cut, but another option could be the new 1.75 horse saw stop. You could get some extra cash on the trade to buy new blades or extra tools.

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2539 posts in 3382 days

#6 posted 12-14-2010 10:48 PM

My 3HP 220V Unisaw will cut through anything. You have to make sure it is set up properly, and your blades are sharp….I routinely cut 8/4 hard maple, cherry,walnut, and oak..never had a problem. I moved up from a BOSCH 4000..great little saw but it just didn’t have the nut to cut the maple well.


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983 posts in 2434 days

#7 posted 12-14-2010 11:02 PM

I have a 3hp Sawstop. I cannot imagine ever wanting or needing more power. The safety feature of the SS would be a lot more useful to me than an extra 2hp, which is probably overkill anyways, but that’s just me. Now if we were talking about a 1hp vs. 3hp saw…

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

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1473 posts in 2233 days

#8 posted 12-14-2010 11:52 PM

Coz, I gotta vote for the uni, I m kinda partial to gray (grey?). But the five horse will tax your electrical service a little more for sure. Three hp would likely be all you ll need and if you ve been swayed by the big table saw scare then by all means go with what makes you comfortable. You typically will experiance cleaner cuts with more power as your not as often rpm starved.All things considered: sharp blade, proper alighnment,product knowledge,etc. Most would be happy with either. If your not brand partial I would go with the largest cast iron top.(you ll come to appreciate that, every inch counts.) That is the only thing I never liked about the unisaw, the cast iron was only 27 inches front to back. I think the sawstop is a bit deeper. Good luck with your plight and dealing with all this stress. JB

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5 posts in 3153 days

#9 posted 12-15-2010 12:01 AM

Thanks so much for this feedback guys. I very much appreciate all your kind advice – it has been very helpful.

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Steve Peterson

317 posts in 2507 days

#10 posted 12-15-2010 12:34 AM

I have a 5HP PM66, but I am sure that I have never needed anything more than 3HP. However, the extra HP does not really cost anything other than the slightly higher purchase price. If you are cutting thin stock that only requires 1HP, then the motor will only consume 1HP worth of electricity. It doesn’t hurt to have the extra HP available if you need it.

-- Steve

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7147 posts in 2800 days

#11 posted 12-15-2010 01:18 AM

I have yet to even remotely slow my 3hp saw. I did have to feed a little slower with my 1-3/4hp saw, but it was still capable of cutting nearly anything with decent alignment and blade selection. It’s hard for me to imagine a hobbyist needing 5hp….not that it’s a bad thing, but there will likely be higher costs for both the saw and possibly the electrical requirements.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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182 posts in 2554 days

#12 posted 12-15-2010 03:06 AM

My Dad had the many table saws in his cabinet shop, including a 1 HP Unisaw through a 5 HP saw. The 1 HP Unisaw was our lumber ripping work horse. We ran that saw day in and day out, and it cut everything we needed.

When my Dad retired and closed his shop, he kept the Unisaw. He rewired the saw to 120 V, but hated what it did to the feed rate. He rewired the garage, the saw back to 240 V and had the saw back to a production unit.

IMO, 5 HP is overkill, unless you plan to get a power feed because you need to push a lot of wood. But a 3 HP would do most of that work too. I think 3 HP will give you all the power, if not more than you ever need.

I have the 1.75 HP SawStop running at 120 V, and it has cut everything I’ve needed (8/4 red oak, a lot of 5/4 QSWO). I will convert the saw to 240 V when we move to a new house that has the breaker space.

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

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12 posts in 2825 days

#13 posted 12-15-2010 03:11 AM

I have a 5hp. At the time I bought my saw the difference between 3hp and 5hp was $200 so I opted for the bigger motor.

-- Don aka Basset Hound,

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13495 posts in 3198 days

#14 posted 12-15-2010 03:46 AM

When in business, I had a 5hp saw for 9 years till I sold it. When I set up my new shop after retiring I bought PM 2000 with a 3hp and it works fine with hardwood. I cannot see spending the extra money for a 5hp if you are doing woodworking for a hobby.

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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9906 posts in 2267 days

#15 posted 12-15-2010 12:19 PM

I have preached and preached about my concerns with sawstop and why I don’t like the concept. However, if I could trade a free 5HP saw for a 3HP with the added safety features of the sawstop, I’d have already done it.
I don’t see no way from using the saw for hobby use that you’ll ever need more than 3HP. I have a Rigid with a 1.5HP and I have never found anything that it wouldn’t cut. My motor did get pretty hot one time. My brother used my shop, and my saw, to cut some wood for some benches he was building. He doesn construction work professionally. He ran 80 green 2×12s through it without stopping. We’re talking heavy, wet, just opened a new bundle at Home Depot 2×12s at a fast speed since he was in a tight time constraint. The 1.5HP got a little warmer than I would have liked, but it never stopped cutting.
By the way, when he was through cutting the board, I let the saw run without a load on it for about three minutes and it was cooled right back down. Just in case anyone was wondering.


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