All is not perfect in Saw Stop Land

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Review by ccweems posted 03-12-2012 07:26 PM 21577 views 0 times favorited 95 comments Add to Favorites Watch
All is not perfect in Saw Stop Land No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

While I don’t own a Saw Stop saw and do not doubt their quality and their potential for safety I was given pause by a part counter guy. I asked about the saw and the noted feature. I was told that there didn’t seem to be any problem about the saws or the safety feature but there was about the expense of “false alarms”. He said that most of the stop cartridges were sold due to false activations. When you see the demo of the guy holding the hot dog and then stopping the saw blade with it be aware that other things can ground the saw blade and set off the blade lock. For this reason there is a bypass so that conductive materials can be cut. As a safety measure the bypass turns itself off once the blade stops. This means that if anyone is involved with repetitive cuts of a conductive material they must actuate the bypass each time. Also conductive materials includes not only the obvious aluminum extrusions but trimming a piece of wood with metal hidden or even wet wood. Who hasn’t accidentally trimmed a piece of wood with a hidden screw or nail? If your hand was touching the head and the pointy end extended to the cut line the Saw Stop feature would engage while $69 left your wallet.

The question I have is how many false accusations will occur before some clever lad working late at night will hot wire the safety system? While I don’t intend to denigrate the value of this system I believe that it will not ultimately prove its worth until the brake system is able to be reset without replacing parts.

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95 comments so far

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174 posts in 3973 days

#1 posted 03-12-2012 08:06 PM

ccweems: What is this a review of? What is the actual question being posed? You don’t even own the product in question, what is the point?

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30 posts in 3422 days

#2 posted 03-12-2012 08:19 PM

Couple things…

- this is more an observation… not sure it’s fair to put in as a review- maybe there’s a better forum?
- You’re sorta right. But it’s cartridge PLUS blade you’ll be buying. If you’re miserly and able to pull the embedded blade from the brake, you could get it sharpened/straightened… but thats sounds kinda sketchy. You’ll get a new blade. So make that minimum $100+
- On a cabinet saw like this, I kinda go outa my way to avoid cutting conductive materials. ;) On a jobsite, I could see this being a serious headache. But then again, maybe you’re not using the fence/miter gauge, and cutting sammiches at lunchtime for the crew. I kid. But had mine for the better part of a year and I don’t cut much pressure treated/wet/reclaimed wood. When I do the first two, I touch it to the blade and see if the lights flash before turning on the saw. That tells you if it’ll trip the brake on a cut. Further, the manual basically says wood has to be near ‘soaking’ wet. If you’re into reclaimed wood, maybe you invest in a metal detector to save you from nicking up those carbide teeth on the blades, regardless of triggering the brake. I think they also mention hitting staples won’t trigger the brake (usually?). Nails… yeah. Don’t care about the brake. Don’t want to hit a nail.
- Crazy as it sounds, I think the fear of watching/hearing a ben franklin (or two, forrest blade owners!) disappear from your wallet keeps me more vigilant than “you’ll cut your finger off if you’re careless” when it comes to this saw. What can I say. Too much extreme sports or something. But anytime someone asks if I’ve doing the safety-brake trick I kinda get grumpy and mutter about the cost.

This saw is the bees knees. Super flat top, great motor, excellent ergonomics, dust collection darn good with only a shop vac and none of the extras. Heck, the blade it came with isn’t half bad either. Great fence. Mobile base nice too.

I am not sure I agree with the validity your closing questions/conclusion. Apologies in advance for potential ruffled feathers.

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48 posts in 3549 days

#3 posted 03-12-2012 08:26 PM

This does not belong here, and I believe everyone is already aware of the potential for problems. Weird thing is, very occasionally and under the right circumstances there exists the possibility for misfires and ruined blades. On other saws, usually due to carelessness, the saw will cut your fingers off. You could probably buy 100+ blades and brake cartridges for the cost of one hand surgery.

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2816 posts in 3766 days

#4 posted 03-12-2012 09:19 PM

As the others have said, this is not really a review, just an observation about a machine you don’t own, it would fit better as a forum topic than in the review section. I agree with your comments though; falsely tripping the safety mechanism is a concern, and a potentially expensive problem. I have a SS, and although I haven’t tripped the mechanism yet, I know that it’ll happen one of these days. In the meantime I’m pretty careful to turn the safety mech. off when I’m cutting green or pressure treated wood. It’s a risk (and potential expense) I’m willing to take; the SS is an awesome saw, safety features aside.

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

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13588 posts in 3577 days

#5 posted 03-12-2012 09:25 PM

Although I respect your observation, I don’t think you can reliably score a machine that you don’t own. I’m not sure how the rating system works but it seems unfair to a potential buyer to skew the ratings this way , as people rely upon them when contemplating a purchase. I don’t like SawStop for some of the reasons you mention but I’m not allowed to review it until I buy one.
And I ain’t going to buy one:)

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

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Craftsman on the lake

3527 posts in 4321 days

#6 posted 03-12-2012 09:31 PM

All you have to do is look at an older LJ’s with the same question here

Out of 30 answers there have been 2 triggers but they weren’t actually false triggers. A nail caused it. With about 25 people saying they’ve owned the saw and used it for an extended period of time 2 triggers.

One of the users was a neurosurgeon, who tries to repair saw blade torn hands. Interesting read.

Someday I will have one. I just hope it’s before I tear something up. As for the “I’ll get a sawstop when they pry my table saw out of my cold bloody hands” crowd. Well… You’re weird. Then again, a lot of people are these days.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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2816 posts in 3766 days

#7 posted 03-12-2012 09:32 PM

“And I ain’t going to buy one” I don’t know Al…pretty soon they’re going to be mandatory anyways…maybe you should jump on the bandwagon before you’re forced to :)

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

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37 posts in 4565 days

#8 posted 03-12-2012 09:33 PM

I have had my sawstop for 4 years now and have never tripped the brake, and I have hit several pin nails and brad nails that I didn’t know were in the wood I was cutting. I use the saw everyday for my business. As far as I’m concerned its better than I had ever expected. When I bought the Sawstop I bought an extra standard brake, and an extra dado brake just in case. I’m starting to think I’ll never use them.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4057 days

#9 posted 03-12-2012 10:26 PM

Add me to the list of people who has NEVER had “misfire” on his SawStop.

And, as always, remember that I haven’t taken mine out of the crate, yet ;-)

Yeah, yeah. I know…...

-- -- Neil

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507 posts in 4118 days

#10 posted 03-12-2012 11:01 PM

Not to pile on, but really this should be a forum or blog post. To address your question though – if you’re buy one and you’re concerned about nails go buy a metal detector. It’d set you back less than $100, much less for a cheap one, which is all you need for wood that isn’t too thick. Carbide blades will lose teeth or worse if they hit nails, so if you’re running wood that potentially has nails in it through a table saw today I would be surprised if you don’t have one.

And the SawStop has an override button for the brake, for those times where you’re cutting wet wood that might cause it to fire – no need to hot wire it anyway.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

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11859 posts in 4571 days

#11 posted 03-12-2012 11:48 PM

How can you give something you don’t own and never used , a 5 star review ??
Your “review” is just hear- say…ie: “I was told that ”.....”He said that ”
When you review something , that means that you are sharing your own experiences with something after using it for a good length of time , not repeating others thoughts. AKA Gossip.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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174 posts in 4270 days

#12 posted 03-13-2012 12:09 AM

The guy at the service counter was most likely not referring to home-owner or cabinet shop owners

Carpenters I know that use the contractors saw in the field for commercial construction have had problems with it tripping. Usually because of wet lumber.

One scenario: Plumbers had a leak on storm water line, during second shift. Water got on the lumber and “dried” over night. Next day, worker goes to cut something and the brake activates. I’ve not used the saws on a commercial site, but the guys I’ve talked to said they like using the one at the yard, in the controlled environment of the shop, however, it is problematic using the saw in the field.

The guy at the counter was probably dealing with these kind of saw stop users. In a controlled environment, I doubt the brake is going to randomly go off. For a woodworking shop, I think you’ll be fine. If you plan on taking your contractors model saw stop to commercial/industrial job sites that are not closed/dried in, you might want to rethink your options.

-- There are many ways to skin a cat...... but, the butter knife is not recommended

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174 posts in 4270 days

#13 posted 03-13-2012 12:19 AM

One more thing. The contractor is going to pay for replacement cartridges in heart-beat. Even a minor injury is going to cost the contractor a ton of money. The compensation insurance will skyrocket.

I big contractor looks at it as write-off, and potential saving a future compensation claim. I suppose, in the case of the home-owner/one man shop/cabinet shop, if your brake goes is activated, you should look at it in the same positive light.

-- There are many ways to skin a cat...... but, the butter knife is not recommended

View PCM's profile


135 posts in 3928 days

#14 posted 03-13-2012 01:28 AM

I’ve owned a Saw Stop for 4 years and have not had a misfire. The saw is great and all of the safety features make you a safer woodworker because you become more aware. Additionally, another important safety aspect is the dust collection which is unmatched in the industry (I upgraded the original saw to the new blade guard and blade shroud). Anyone who discounts the benefits of so much safety is foolish. Has anyone out there never had an accident? No matter how careful you are, there are things that can not be anticipated. Talk to someone who lost a finger and ask them if they would trade the cost of a 100 cartridges and 100 blades for their finger. I hope you never suffer such a tragedy and you certainly have the right to decide this for your self, but I must ask you what is the value of trying to discourage other people from placing safety first.

View Luke's profile


546 posts in 4177 days

#15 posted 03-13-2012 03:36 AM

$3000, that is the value of trying to discourage other people from placing safety first. In this instance (saw stop) some people just can’t afford it. Myself included. Even the contractor style is out of my price range. Of course someone who has experienced an accident would say that they would trade 100 blades and cartridges for their finger, because they already had the problem. Me, I can’t afford that many blades and cartridges so it’s a non point. I either work with what I have as safely as I can or don’t work at all. I don’t want to offend anyone wanting to state their opinions on the safety of their woodworking experience. This is a dangerous by nature hobby/career that we pursue and you simply cannot protect yourself from every possible danger. You do the best that you can with what you have or you don’t do anything at all. If you are in a profession where you must watch you’re butt then I would say go all out in providing you’re employees with the safest possible working environment. As for the regulation of the table saw it’s unfortunate but think about it like this. Vehicles are probably the most dangerous things on the planet. More people are harmed because of those than any table saw accidents by a long shot. The vehicle industry is regulated big time and the cost for an affordable, safe car has dropped over the last 20 years. If you really really want to be safe then go out and get a 90’s model Ford Bronco, a Chevy Suburban, a Hummer, but you say, I can’t afford the gas on any of those huge vehicles and I really don’t want to drive something so huge. Okay, buy a smart car, or a Honda Fit. or a Mazda Miata. See, regulation does not lead to good things disappearing, at least not all the time. And in this case I think we will be fine with the upgrades. The problem comes when people think they are going to be forced to buy something they can’t afford. Supply and demand will bring the cost down as long as Sawstop is not allowed to be a monopoly on the saw market. Which would supposedly be against the law. Although the upholding of that is a whole other subject.

-- LAS,

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