SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw review

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Review by CyberDyneSystems posted 05-29-2012 06:36 PM 14838 views 0 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch
SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw review No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

My review is of the SawStop Industrial Cabinet saw ICS51230: 5 hp, 1 phase, 230 V 20 A

I have not included much for Photos, check out Stevenmadden’s review here for a nice selection;

My pertinent background:
A carpenter in various trades since 1986, I have had opportunity to use dozens of tablesaws over the years.
I consider the older Unisaw (circa 1930’s – 2006 ish) to be the industry standard cabinet saw, and have worked on about 10 different models of Unisaw alone. I have also used a few Powermatic 66, Walker turner, Oliver, Craftsman, Ryobi, Delta Contractors saw, and many more.

Before using the SawStop, I felt the best tablesaw I had used over the years that was “ownable” by mere mortals was the Powermatic 66 with an original Beisemeyer fence. I prefer the left tilt, and the T-Square fence over the right tilt and Unifence on the Unisaws.

I have a 1940’s Unisaw at home, now equipped with a Beisemeyer fence, and we have used a 1993 era Unisaw with 50” Unifence in the shop since, well 1993.

The SawStop is now my favorite. With the exception of the real industrial saws like Oliver etc..
this SawStop excels in most every category. (Please consider that for the rest of this review anytime I claim a superlative, I am making this claim to the exception of such industrial monsters as the Oliver.)

The safety system of course is the single largest factor, but the overall design is industry leading as well.

We had it set up in a few hours taking time to make sure all adjustments were perfect.

From it’s huge, beautiful castings with tight machining, to its utterly smooth operation, I was impressed that this was a superior design to the rest of the pack.

I have video of it passing the dime test, where you balance a dime on edge, and fire up the saw, and it does not vibrate the dime onto it’s side. You start with a nickle, then a penny and work your way up to the dime.
We even made a cut, a 6’ rip through pine, with the Dime still standing.
In my experience, this makes this the smoothest running saw (short of the multi-ton industrial monsters) on the market today. Period.
Operationally advanced:

- The handwheel adjustments are the smoothest of any cabinet saw I have used, both brand new or well broken in. The wheels are located perfectly.

- The power switch is in the best location I have found, allowing me to switch the saw off with my knee easily as I complete a 16’ rip (a very common task in my shop)

- The Dust collection is VASTLY superior to the Unisaw or any other comparable design I’ve come across. In conjunction with the guard, you do get amazing results.

- The lock down throat plate functions flawlessly, and is easily swapped for a zero clearance for Dado stack etc.

- The fence is a dead ringer Beisemeyer knock off, so it’s suits me quite well.

- It has the proper left tilt to the blade.

- It’s table size, weight and power (this is the 5HP single phase motor) make it a dream to use. It takes what you can throw at it in stride.

The little amenities are nice additions:
- Like storage locations for wrenches, guard, riving knife and miter gauge.
- tamper proof enclosure doors, (saw will not run if the cabinet is open. Heck compare this to our 1993 Unisaw, where the cabinet access door never really closed and sealed, and was a bear to open, and leaked dust like crazy. None of this is a problem on the SawStop.)
- It has better wrenches!
- The riving knife or guard dust collection assembly swap in and out in a seconds, with the flick of a well designed substantial lever.
- The extension table is superior to the white malimine we are used to seeing.

In short, I’d want this saw even without it’s added safety features. When forced to design their own saws by the industry leaders that did not see a future in the safety system, it seems that SawStop went out of their way to make their saws superior in most every aspect as well.

That I am in a University instructing students on the safe use of these dangerous tools, means that the added safety of the SawStop makes all the things I have listed in this review, icing on the very tasty cake.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


309 posts in 3526 days

31 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4915 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 06:50 PM

Welcome to Ljs
I found it most interesting that you did not mention safety until the end of your review ,that’s the final icing on the cake.I have a SS in the school were I teach a Adult woodworking class,I agree with each point that you make. Not just a good saw but a great saw. thank you for your review.


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4453 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 07:57 PM

thanks for the rewiew
and welcome to L J not the worst corner to hang around on
but be aware its addictive :-) enjoy and have fun


View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 5090 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 08:09 PM

I could care less about what the “anti” folks have to say about the SS. To me….. it is not only a safer saw, It is a better built saw than most. Until I got into hand tools, the SawStop was going to be my only choice.

Nice choice!

View Jeff's profile


558 posts in 4532 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 08:23 PM

Ah, yes. Another glowing review on this and other woodworking related websites of the SS from a member who’s only been a member a few hours. Do they need the publicity that badly?

View stevenmadden's profile


174 posts in 4427 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 08:55 PM

CyberDyneSystems: Thanks for the review, it’s good to hear that they are still cranking out an excellent product. I still love mine, the only thing I would add to my review is how well it has held up.


View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 4261 days

#6 posted 05-30-2012 12:38 AM

Wow, almost sounds like a commercial.
Welcome to LJ’s.

-- Life is good.

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3974 days

#7 posted 05-30-2012 06:46 AM

I do like the sawstop..but one complaint. When you turn on the saw, then turn it off, you have to wait a few seconds to turn it back on. Might not seem like a big deal, but is frustrating when you wait 2 seconds, flip the switch and nothing, turn switch off then again turn on and nothing, then after some patience turn it on after a few seconds of waiting time. Again, not a huge deal due to the safety controls that cause this, but it can be annoying

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


309 posts in 3526 days

#8 posted 05-30-2012 02:49 PM

”Ah, yes. Another glowing review on this and other woodworking related websites of the SS from a member who’s only been a member a few hours. Do they need the publicity that badly?”

Hi Jeff,
I guess a lurker has to have a first post some time. Sorry if this one did not meet your approval.
I’m sure it is clear from the transparent attempt to provide some history that I am not in fact a real person, but a sophisticated adbot A.I. bent on human destruction!

SawStop = wholly owned subsidiary of CyberDyneSystems.
First we start with intelligent Table Saws, then we take your fingers when you least expect it,. then you can no longer type on woodworking forums,. from there, the machines will take the world!

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


309 posts in 3526 days

#9 posted 05-30-2012 03:07 PM

W James and Dennis, thanks for your welcome!
The best part really is the the added sense of security.
I teach an introductory course in “Stagecraft” .. the bulk of which is construction of scenery. It’s a requisite for any theatre majors, so I get a mix of kids with experience, and interest, with newcomers that have never swung a hammer, who’s only reason for being there is they have to because they are acting majors.

One of the greatest feelings of satisfaction I get in my job is after a young ingenue has taken her 1st steps towards safely mastering a piece of heavy machinery like the tablesaw. The confidence she gains there boosts her confidence in life, and on stage.

I’ve been doing this for years with standard tools like the Unisaw the SawStop replaced. Knowing I have a fail safe is proving a huge weight off my shoulders.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


309 posts in 3526 days

#10 posted 05-30-2012 03:13 PM

Thanks for the welcome. You seem to have forseen the potential haters!

When I was writing this, I had no idea that I would so quickly run into the same sort of immature “my tool is better than yours” as I bore witness to for over a decade on a photography forum I was involved with. It’s so familiar.. Canon Vs. Nikon! etc.. :-)

Nice to see this is the minority though.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View woodmaker's profile


323 posts in 4029 days

#11 posted 05-30-2012 04:39 PM

These are nice saws. But I personally couldn’t give one 5 stars because replacement parts are proprietary and expensive. Every time that cartridge fires that’s a new cartridge and a new blade, which together is over $100.00 big ones. Not to mention you have to have a different cartridge for a dado set. Mo-money!

I’ve been using table saws all my life and have never had a scratch on my finger from one. I get more splinters from the wood I handle.

With that being said, I would buy one of these SS if the blade merely dropped away without damaging the blade and cartridge. So until then I will wait and use my trusty saw and use my learned safety experiences.

I like a lot of table saws in the same way I like Harley’s (my preferred ride) but I like a lot of other bikes out there as well. It’s more important that you ride, not what you ride, just like it’s more important that you woodwork, but not what tool(s) you use to do it with.

-- Mike

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4986 days

#12 posted 05-30-2012 04:42 PM

wait a minute… don’t tell me you use a Nikon???? ..... oh boy….. ;)

nice review. safety feature is real nice. for that much $$ I would probably opt for a slider, but this one is also a good machine.

rockindavan – curious – why do you have to turn the saw on and off that this delay is an issue? turning machines on and off quickly is not usually a good habit for longevity of motor and electric components in general.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View don1960's profile


227 posts in 4025 days

#13 posted 05-30-2012 05:11 PM


Love, love, love the ‘machine taking over the world’ response to the negative post. Way to take the high road. More people should.

Very nice review of a saw I wish I had, if for nothing else but the quality construction. I have a Ridgid 4512, and probably will never go beyond it unless I hit the lottery, but coming from a machine shop background I appreciate quality. Drooled over the Sawstop in the local store and even offered my fingertip for their hotdog demonstration. (they didn’t take me up on it, though.) :-)

Don’t let the haters get to you.


-- -- Don from PA

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


309 posts in 3526 days

#14 posted 05-30-2012 05:58 PM

”Every time that cartridge fires that’s a new cartridge and a new blade, which together is over $100.00 big ones”

I hear you Mike,
On the other hand,. (hand with fingers still attached)
Every time that cartridge fires I have saved a students fingers. A small price to pay for $100.00

We’ve never had a false trigger of the safety. The SawStop makes it REALLY easy to test material before hand.. but even then, we’ve yet to find a piece of wood that it see’s as a finger.

To be fair, we’ve had the saw for only 5 months,. but we’ve used it a LOT. Our Unisaw’s motor died in the middle of the biggest build we’ve done in this shop in over a decade. (kudos, that Delta has been trouble free since 1993)
So the SawStop was immediately put into hard service with a variety of materials.

IF we start to have a problem with false activations,. well that would suck!

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


309 posts in 3526 days

#15 posted 05-30-2012 06:04 PM

Canon shooter all the way!

Don from PA, for what it’s worth, my personal saw is a 1938 Unisaw I paid $300.00 for.
I will never be in a position to own one of these myself.

Here at the state University, it was practically the other way around.
I would have had to fight hard to convince my superiors to get any other saw,. but the safety feature sold the powers that be in an instant. I had a signed P.O before the end of the day.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

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