Published: September 27, 2008
From the time I had gained enough tool knowledge to be aware of what a cabinet saw was, I've wanted one. The sheer mass, power, industrial build quality, and 220 volt electrical requirement all fascinate me. There's nothing "green" or practical about it. It's simply the culmination of years of unadulterated tool lust....just a big fat selfish want. I've known for years that I didn't need one, and I really liked my last two saws (the GI 50-185 and Craftsman 22124), yet the fascination with the construction and power of a cabinet saw remained. The deal that finally pushed me over the edge this past July was a 35% discount w/free shipping on a brand new W1677 for $903 delivered (not even sale tax!). With a growing family and a tight budget, it didn't come all that easily. Grocery money for tools is not an option and discretionary funds for such items is pretty much non-existent, so it required selling my old saw and parting with my collection of Stanley Bailey handplanes to make up the budget gap. The hand planes are very cool and useful tools in their own right, but most are easier to come by than a great deal on a new cabinet saw that's approved by the "CFO".
The W1677 is a 3hp, 10", left tilt, triple belt drive industrial cabinet saw with a Shop Fox Classic t-square style fence that offers 26" rip capacity. It's design has much in common with the Delta Unisaw, which was the original standard in cabinet saws. Others from General, Powermatic, Grizzly, Jet, and Steel City also offer comparable designs, some of which cost nearly three times as much (not to imply that all are equal quality though). For those who may not be aware, Shop Fox is part of the Woodstock International group, which is also associated with Grizzly. Both companies are owned by businessman, luthier, and woodworker, Shiraz Balolia. For all intents and purposes, the Shop Fox W1677 and Grizzly G1023SL are identical except for color, retail circumstances, and warranty. The 1677 has two 10" solid cast iron extension wings for a total width of 40". It's also available in a few other configurations that include an alternate fence (the SF "Original"), longer rails options (EXT1, EXT2, etc), and there's also a 5hp option (W1711). The W1677 comes with heavy duty 8" chrome handwheels, a 4" dust port, steel motor cover, a blade guard/splitter assembly, magnetic switch, standard and dado inserts, and a very heavy duty cast iron miter gauge. The Shop Fox Classic fence is a good copy of the venerable Biesemeyer Commercial fence. The most notable difference is that the fence faces are made from UHMW plastic vs the plastic laminated birch ply faces of the Biesemeyer. One downfall of the Shop Fox Classic fence is that in it's stock configuration the fence rails only offer 26" rip capacity to the right of the blade and 8" to the left. Because this is a left tilting saw, I didn't envision ever needing the capacity to rip on the left side of the blade, so during the initial setup I slid the front fence rail over to the right an additional 10" for a respectable rip capacity of 36" to the right of the blade and none to the left. This minor modification still allowed me to use the stock bolt holes and required no extra drilling...there's simply one less bolt holding the rail tube. Since the measuring tape had never been installed on the rail, I was still able to place it appropriately starting at zero. The tape readout only extends to 26" so I'll have to either measure by hand for rips beyond 26", or add an extension tape to 36".
The W1677 came in a sturdy cardboard container that was shrink wrapped to a wood pallet. The fence was a separate package that was strapped to the main container. Many of the saws accessories such as the switch, the miter gauge, and blade guard were stowed inside of the saw's cabinet. The supplied owner's manual is quite good. Lots of assembly tips, detailed instructions, and plenty of helpful pictures. Assembly requires cleaning the protective coating of cosmoline off the cast iron, mounting the switch, the wings, the fence fails, the blade guard/splitter, the hanwheels, and the motor cover. The miter gauge also required some assembly. The front and rear fence rail brackets install using two supplied bolts each. The front rail tube then bolts to the front angle bracket. The wings install using 3 supplied bolts for each side. I did not install the stock blade guard/splitter assembly, as I've purchased an aftermarket riving knife. As with my previous table saws, I opted to put the Shop Fox on a mobile base, and mounted a router table on the right hand side. The same router table I made for my 22124. Since the 1677 is a different height than my 22124, I've had to make some adjustments to the associated router table cabinet and outfeed tables....aka rebuild them. The new saw also provided just the incentive I needed to install my new Wixey Digital Fence readout that I received as a birthday gift last March. Other custom touches were the aftermarket "Bolt On Ripping Knife" (BORK), which is a unique device still in the development stages. It's essentially a retrofittable riving knife that travels up and down and tilts with the blade. At this point in time, the BORK is only available for the Grizzly and Shop Fox left tilt 10" saws, and the Craftsman 22124 and 22114. Another custom touch I've added is a zero clearance insert (ZCI). Not only does the ZCI aid the performance of the BORK, but it prevents small pieces from wedge between the blade and insert.
The 3hp 18 amp motor on the 1677 requires 220v operation. Shop Fox provides an ample 12 gauge cord but due to the variety of 220v outlet styles available, choosing and installing an appropriate plug is the responsibility of the user. In this case, the 1677 was in alignment out of the box so I haven't needed to make any trunnion adjustments. The fence has required some tweaking to dial in, but it's a simple process of adjusting one of two allen screws using fractions of a rotation. The miter gauge also required some adjustment but was extremely simple. The stock miter gauge is made of heavy duty cast iron and offers width adjusters for the miter bar to eliminate any slop. As rugged as this gauge is, it lacks the precision and finess of my Incra, Osborne, and Woodhaven gauges. There was one small defect that required a call to Shop Fox's customer service department. One screw head on the right fence face was snapped off at the factory, and unfortunately it was the first screw which left the front end of the fence loose. The options were to send the entire fence back or fix it myself. I opted to tackle the fix and went out and bought an "EZ-Out" screw extractor. Shop Fox tech service offered one of their 30T saw blades to compensate the expense of the EZ-Out.
Fit and finish of the 1677 are excellent, and the Shop Fox color scheme (ivory and black) looks great in my opinion. The powder coat paint and chrome handwheels are flawless. The cast iron surfaces were nicely polished and smooth. I was surprised and disappointed to note that the wings did not include a beveled front edge. I was also a disappointed that the fence rail tubes and guide tube don't include any type of caps in their ends. These are minor complaints to be sure, but things that I've come to expect from my better tools, and are both luxuries that my Craftsman 22124 hybrid saw provided. The 22124 also had 12" wings vs the Shop Fox's 10" wings, and I do miss the additional 4" of CI surface area. The Shop Fox Classic fence is a very similar design as my former Biesemeyer Commercial fence. I do think I'm going to miss the Biese. While the fit and finish the 1677 itself is excellent, the SF Classic lacks that same level of polish, and it's most notable on the fence handle which is the one part of the fence that I deal with the most often.
All in all, the 1677 is a beautiful machine and I'm very happy with the purchase. I'm sure I would have been equally happy with the Griz 1023SL, or one of the other big name offerings had the same opportunity arisen. It has power and stability in spades, the modified 36" rip capacity is plenty . My 22124 was capable of cutting anything I needed with relative ease, but blade selection and alignment were more critical. The Shop Fox never flinches no matter what I'm cutting or what blade I'm using. The start up speed of the 1677 is impressive. The instant the green "On" button is engaged it's already up to speed. I'm finding the starting torque tightens the arbor nut far more than any of my other saws have. I tend to just snug the arbor nuts slightly beyond hand tight, yet there have been times when I've actually had some difficulty breaking the nut free with the arbor wrench. Dust collection is quite good. The chrome handwheels are a pleasure to use. They're big, shiny, smooth, and easy to get ahold of. They also smack of a high quality machine, which the Shop Fox certainly is. Overall, it's simply a very nice tool that should last a few generations....someday my grandkids will thank me for this purchase!