Reluctantly joined the Sawstop Club

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Review by Manitario posted 06-12-2011 07:26 PM 13668 views 0 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Reluctantly joined the Sawstop Club No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

So I bought a Sawstop. I was perfectly happy with my General International granite topped TS, but I have been increasingly concerned about my safety when using it. Namely, I’m an ER doctor, and need my fingers or most of them at least. I debated for a long time about this saw, and whether a) if I needed it (as I already am a very safe and careful TS user…most days) and b) if it really would help prevent a serious injury. In answer to “a”: I realized that as careful as I am using the TS, it only takes a split second of inattention or kickback to send my fingers into the blade. Chances are very low that I’d have ever injured myself on the TS, but not zero…which leads me to “b”: I’m still going to end up with an injury if any part of me touches my TS blade, however, from what I’ve read and seen, I believe that the Sawstop will decrease the severity of the injury.

I went with the 1.75HP saw mostly because the 3HP saw was another $900, which made me consider very carefully whether I’d ever really need a 3HP saw. The last thing I wanted to do was spend $2800 and realize after a few years that the saw was underpowered. From what I’ve read though, if I feed the TS slowly and use a thin-kerf blade, 1.75 HP should be all I ever need as a hobby ww.

Packing: The TS came on a crate, with everything packed in styrofoam and thick cardboard. It would have taken an impressive amount of carelessness to damage the TS during shipping. The cast iron top was covered with a moderate amount of oil, and was spotless after a little effort and application of orange degreaser.
Assembly: The instructions were meticulous and easy to follow. There were detailed diagrams and pictures, and every part was well labeled. It would have been difficult to screw up the assembly. Fit and finish was perfect and there were no visible flaws in the machining of the parts.

By comparison, my Gen. International TS also had very good assem. instructions, so this isn’t just a Sawstop thing. I have read on LJ’s many horror stories about poorly worded, unclear assem. instructions, so it was nice not to have to deal with this. The only other thing to comment on the assem. was the installation of the cast iron wings. My Gen. Int. TS had granite wings, which were perfectly level and even from the moment I put the bolts in. The Sawstop wings needed some effort in order to align and level them properly. I didn’t pull out my feeler gauges, but I know that I was not able to get the table perfectly flat, how much it is out though, I’m not sure. As well, the extension table was tricky to align with the cast iron wing, and took several efforts to get it right.
Fence and rails were easy to adjust, with the exception adjusting the gap b/t the fence face and TS surface, which required the loosening of about ten bolts.

Total time to assemble the saw and the base ~4h.

Initial Impression: This is a well built, well thought out saw. It is obvious that actual TS users designed the saw. It starts smoothly and quietly, and although I didn’t test it with any thick pieces of wood, it cut easily through what I threw at it. A couple of quibbles though: The dust collection consists of a shroud on the underside of the blade, connected to a 4” hose which in turn connects to a 4” dust port on the back of the machine. Whereas I’m sure that the shroud will collect dust better than on my old TS which was simply an angled ramp at the bottom of the cabinet with a 4” port at the back, I would have liked to see a 5 or 6” port on the Sawstop. Unfortunately, due to the design of the saw it will be virtually impossible for me to retrofit this which is disappointing. As well, for the price of the saw, it would have been nice for them to include their overarm DC system. That said, I could see after my first few cuts that the DC was noticeably better than my old TS, even without overarm DC. Second issue is with the fence; it has a melamine covered plywood face, which seems to be inviting me to chip it. My old TS fence face was HDPE, which was virtually indestructible.

In essence, take out the safety system, and the Sawstop is like any other $1500 TS. Unfortunately it wasn’t $1500 though…I’m happy with it, and hopefully it will serve its purpose for many years to come.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3656 days

35 comments so far

View TrentFysty's profile


21 posts in 3399 days

#1 posted 06-12-2011 08:02 PM

Thanks for the review. It sounds like Sawstop makes a good quality table saw. I have looked and looked at a Sawstop with the same type of questions that you pose here. The thing that really bothers me about the Sawstop is the incredibly high price. I realize that, relatively speaking, the increase in price is small compared to saving a finger but it’s still a lot of money to put into a saw.

I am really hoping for some other saw manufacturers to jump on the Sawstop idea and make something similar. The competition would help to drive down the price and bring a great safety feature to the market. Until that happens I just don’t know if I have the extra $1300 in my budget to spend over another quality table saw to have the added safety.

Please make note that I am not slamming Sawstop but just wondering if there is really $1300 of additional material, R&D, and labor that goes into the saw to add this feature. It would seem that the price could be lowered, either by Sawstop of their own accord, or through competition and still provide a great saw.

View MrRon's profile


5913 posts in 4016 days

#2 posted 06-12-2011 10:19 PM

I am not a Saw stop owner nor will I ever be, but as an ER doctor, you made a wise decision. If I were a doctor or musician, I certainly wouldn’t take a chance with my fingers. I feel that your choice of a 1-3/4hp over a 3hp saw was not a good decision. You obviously did much research on saws and you are right up to a point. The # 1 reason why you get poor cuts in hard and thick woods is not enough power. If the power is not there, what happens is the speed of the blade slows down, causing the blade to heat up. Heating causes the blade to burn, further slowing the speed down and inviting kickback. Get it hot enough and you can warp the blade. Under such circumstances, you will not be able to get clean cuts. A 3hp saw eliminates these problems for it has the power to keep spinning.
I would buy a replacement cartridge and blade so you can continue working if the saw stop kicks in. As far as cost is concerned, they probably are trying to recover development cost quickly and also because they have the only safety device that works. That comes with a premium. I wonder the safety device is made. If it were made in China, I would be wary.

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3350 days

#3 posted 06-13-2011 01:07 AM

I doubt there’s an extra $1300 in anything in a sawstop; the premium price comes from the sawstop being the only one of its kind. I actually wish that other manufacturers would pay the license for the sawstop technology. I’d pay an extra $100-$300 for the technology, but the price of the sawstop alone is among festool levels. Great saw I’m sure, and if I had the cash I’d have one, but I don’t, so I won’t until prices come down or they license the technology to other manufacturers.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View glassyeyes's profile


137 posts in 4102 days

#4 posted 06-13-2011 01:15 AM

The patent-holders for the SawStop mechanism apparently tried to sell it to a current manufacturer of table saws, but they had no takers. It has been suggested that this is due to the potential for law suits. If that seems ridiculous, it is apparently a truism in the small-plane industry, where the introduction of new technology is sometimes seen as an indictment of the old gear; lawsuits follow. If memory serves, someone has already lost a suit on this general issue. I own the 3HP Professional saw. I had significant electrical problems with the saw at first, including drastic misalignment of the cartridge-to-blade gap, but I must say that the customer service was first-rate. Also, one side of the fence is quite true (parallel and square), but the left (main) side is significantly off.

I bought it for the same reason; I value my hands. In researching the problem, it seems that there are about 30,000 TS injuries a year, at an average cost of about $30k each. As a doctor, the opportunity costs would likely be much higher.

I worked for years on ladders and roofs, with no safety equipment at all. I shudder when I think about it. ANYONE can slip up, and it only takes one time. One hand specialist said that almost all of his patients with TS injuries indicated that they had removed some or all of the safety equipment. Foolish—but common.

I agree about the cartridge; a spare would be good.

-- Now, where did I put those bandaids?

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 06-13-2011 01:33 AM

Although I detest the business methods of the inventor of the technology, his company does make a really nice saw. I would love to own one, but they would have to come down to Grizzly levels instead of Powermatic levels in order for it to be in my price range… Kind of like having to buy a Mercedes Benz to get seat belts..

I do agree, I wish other MFGs had bought licensing and introduced the tech in more affordable saws…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Paul Lajoie's profile

Paul Lajoie

137 posts in 3877 days

#6 posted 06-13-2011 01:51 AM

Rob, as a fellow Sawstop owner I must 2nd all your comments. I bought mine (also the 1.75HP) in March and have been very satisfied with it. As far as the extra $$ for the saw compared to others, being a fairly new company there overhead must be pretty high. Prices will only come down when and if other co.’s come up with there own safety device. I recently cut the top of my left ring finger knuckle (2 stitches inside, 7 outside)removing the blade on my lawn mower so I could sharpen it. Dr. wanted me to miss 4-5 weeks of work!! Luckily I was able to talk my employer into letting me do light work for awhile. If I had cut my finger on a tablesaw, I would have lost that finger and maybe more, so I think the extra $1000 is well worth it!


View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3656 days

#7 posted 06-13-2011 04:57 AM

Thanks for the comments guys. It is a very nice TS, safety features aside, but I can’t foresee the prices going down as long as Steve Gass has the patents locked up.
Paul: maybe there is a market for a lawnmower blade stop???

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View lysdexic's profile


5348 posts in 3396 days

#8 posted 06-13-2011 05:42 AM

I am in a similar line of work and I made the same decision for the same reason. I scrub my hands for surgery almost daily. Regardless of the severity of the actual injury, if the sawstop can keep me from missing just a few days work then it has paid for itself.

Congrats on your purchase.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3777 days

#9 posted 06-13-2011 05:56 AM

It is coming to the point this type of technology is going to be mandated in the near future. I am all for it. They are great saws and when possible will purchase one

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1130 posts in 3747 days

#10 posted 06-13-2011 06:29 AM

My hands are my life as well and of all my tools, I am most nervous with my cheap Craftsman tablesaw. My kids want to get in the shop and make stuff as well sooo an upgrade as you have done is in my future.
Smart move.

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View wildbill001's profile


111 posts in 3415 days

#11 posted 06-13-2011 06:31 AM

Heard on the radio just the other day that the gov’t is already looking into mandating this tech for ALL table-saws. I don’t remember the exact number but something like 10 amputations a day due to TS injuries. Seems a little high to me but what do I know. News person said it would add something like $200-300 per saw if it goes through. I can see this technology being a god-send for businesses and potentially for DIYers but it just scares the bejeebers out of me when the gov’t starts saying we have to have it. Not to mention the cost factor.

Just be careful out there….


-- "You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back" -- Unknown

View glassyeyes's profile


137 posts in 4102 days

#12 posted 06-13-2011 01:40 PM

I suppose I’m a bit of a Libertarian—if you don’t want to wear a motorcycle helmet, that’s just fine. But why should the rest of us pay your bills from the rehab hospital if you choose not to wear one? I’m going to wear mine—and carry insurance when I screw up. So—where do we draw the line between our Freedoms and our Freebies?

-- Now, where did I put those bandaids?

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3466 days

#13 posted 06-13-2011 02:07 PM

Thanks for the objective review on this machine. As a fellow physician, I can appreciate your motivation; I’m just not quite there yet; and the debates are just too exciting to resist;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3823 days

#14 posted 06-13-2011 08:14 PM

Thanks for the review. NiteWalker, I tend to agree with your logic, w/o considering the legal battle. If I had the dough at the moment, though, I would get a SawStop.

View shopmania's profile


701 posts in 3955 days

#15 posted 06-14-2011 12:17 AM

Thanks for the review. I would love to have a SawStop. As a chiropractor, without fingers I am done, and I am VERY careful on the TS as well as all my other tools. But like you said it only takes ONE mistake to change your life. I think you made a very wise choice, one I hope to follow suit on as soon as possible.

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, [email protected] Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

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