Great saw, but not for the money

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Review by Cole Tallerman posted 04-18-2013 01:21 AM 9684 views 0 times favorited 41 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great saw, but not for the money Great saw, but not for the money No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

So let me start off by saying this review is based on 6 months of hobbyist work and comparing to other saws on the market. Last summer, I had an accident with an old .113 table saw. My parents would not let me use another table saw unless I got a SawStop. So being 16 (not much of a budget) i went with the cheapest one; the contractor saw with 30” rails. (I ended up upgrading to cast iron wings).

The good:

The saw came perfectly aligned and packed beautifully with great directions. The saw easily went together and was running in no time. It will grudgingly cut through 10/4 hard maple but it regularly does great with anything 8/4 and less. I love the riving knife which is what I feel the real safety feature of any table saw. The brake design seems to be good and well thought through and I like having the added security because lets face it, accidents happen. Also, customer service is outstanding.

The bad:

So my biggest complaint is that it is not enough saw for the price. The two piece locking fence is horrible. It is the generic fence that comes on most base model contractor saws (grizzly, baleigh, craftex, etc) The fence stays mostly square, and slides okay but there is no way to adjust the angle of the face to the table. It is 1-2 degrees off which makes a huge difference when cutting small pieces that need to be pushed hard against the fence. I have made 3 lengthy phone calles to the tech department with pictures showing them the out-of-squareness and the very slight bow in the front rail, and so far all they have done is send me the plastic sliders because maybe one was worn. There is no angle adjustment on the fence. At this price, I would expect the base model to come with a t-square fence. (Im amazed to see that the base model cabinet saw doesn’t even have one!)

Another problem that I have with the saw, Is that the motor mount seems less then adequate. It is on a self tention system (the motor is tensioned by its own weight) which although it seems smart, it makes it basically impossible to get the two pulleys lined up with each other. That, along with the plastic blade guard make a quick jolty rattling noise as it starts up. That noise only happens half the time. The other half it starts up flawlessly. I recently used a grizzly contractor saw and I felt no difference in quality. although the insides are completely different, the grizz starts up smoothly every time, and for +-$750 it comes with a beis clone fence; something I would expect from Saw Stop. I thought I had defiantly assembled the saw incorrectly because of the jolting problem but after a two hour phone call, the tech decided it had all been assembled correctly.


It is a great saw, but for the money, the basic model can almost be laughed at. The only reason that I kept it was because my parents wouldn’t let me work on any other saw, and at the time I didn’t have any extra money to spare but now I am so mad that I didn’t go with the 110 volt cabinet saw or at least the upgraded fence. I home to soon upgrade to a delta T2 as sawstop wont give me the t-square fence for the difference in the basic saw vs the next model up. Which makes it over $300. (if i had gotten it from the get-go it would have only been a +- $180 upgrade.


I forgot to add that the basic grizz came with cast iron adjustment wheels which felt so much better then the ones on my Saw Stop.

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2985 days

41 comments so far

View kdc68's profile


2987 posts in 3077 days

#1 posted 04-18-2013 01:56 AM

Cole....very well written review. Perhaps a controversial review when SawStop enthusiasts read it all. Nevertheless, you spoke your mind. I don’t own a Sawstop, so I can only speculate that you pay for the technology and not a Bies style fence, cast iron wings, or other common upgrades found elsewhere. They (Sawstop) have no competition in regards to the technology. Competition generally brings prices down. Unfortunately for you and others will pay the price for safety…which “on the flip side” having all ten fingers is priceless

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3377 days

#2 posted 04-18-2013 04:09 AM

Great review Cole, and I agree that the sawstop cs is way too much for what you get.
I’m buying the 1.75HP PCS with 36” fence and industrial mobile base this coming fall/winter.

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

View Woodknack's profile


13431 posts in 3180 days

#3 posted 04-18-2013 06:54 AM

Well written review. Nice to read something on Sawstop that isn’t about the blade brake. This is the 2nd time in 2 days I’ve read the SS contractor has issues which is disappointing as they seemed well designed at Woodcraft.

-- Rick M,

View Ken90712's profile


17888 posts in 3989 days

#4 posted 04-18-2013 08:31 AM

What a great review, I have been looking at the 3 hp one and agree that it might not be worth the money. I full understand there is no price tag in saftey and your fingers but the ret of the saw should be a great as the technology! Very fair review and somethng to think about. Well done

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Alan72's profile


222 posts in 2833 days

#5 posted 04-18-2013 09:16 AM

I bought the pcs 1.75 back in Dec. I love it! I understand what your c/o, if you spend that kind of money, you would expect to get a quality fence. When I bought my saw I went with 36” t-square fence, I couldn’t believe that if I bought the 30” fence I would’ve been stuck with that cheap fence. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig, Why they put a cheap fence on a saw like that I just don’t get it. When you get the chance I would upgrade it with the SS T fence. write the company and tell them your 16 and instead of buying your first car, you bought their saw, maybe they would feel sorry for you and send you the right fence.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 3160 days

#6 posted 04-18-2013 11:38 AM

Great Review Cole!

I think Alan is spot on. I would call again, ask the customer service folks. If they can’t help you out on the fence I would ask politely to speak to a supervisor, and tell them your story – just like you wrote it here.

If they can’t help ask for the next person up.

I think your story is genuinely a good story, and I have to believe that they could work something out with you.

Good luck!

P.S. I’m not a SawStop owner, but think this is a very well written, objective review of the tool. Nicely done!

-- Steve

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2854 days

#7 posted 04-18-2013 12:15 PM

good review,
From what i’ve read, it seems the sawstop’s contractor saw gets worse reviews compared to their other saws.

-- Joel

View tsdahc's profile


109 posts in 3151 days

#8 posted 04-18-2013 01:59 PM

I was looking at the contractor model and from the get go knew the basic fence on the contractor was a no go, which meant by the time I added up the cost of the ” fence and cast iron tables and the wheel kit, I was at the same price as the PCS with the 30” premium fence and free wheels, so I went PCS. The 30 ” fence on the PCS is different than the one on the CS model. No its not the professional t glide fence but I think its a real nice fence. Im space challenged right now and the extra 9 ” the 36 took up was too much. I will go to the 52” when I have more room and money. I think its a shame the SS doesnt offer the 30” premium on their base CS, it really cant cost that much difference in the manufacture price, heck I would think having 2 base model fences would cost more in parts and support, but what do I know.

View Cedarsmells's profile


6 posts in 2709 days

#9 posted 04-18-2013 02:27 PM

You are mature beyond your years Cole. Well written, very fair assesment of the saw. If I could add my thoughts to your situation, this is what I would do, “HANDwrite” a letter to the Vice President of Sales with pretty much the same information that you submitted here and ask him/her if there is anything they could suggest to eliminate your issues. My bet is SS will do the right thing and send you a Tsquare fence. Persistence does pay off, but getting to the correct level within an organization makes it happen sooner.
I know of a situation with Porter Cable where a drill owner was given a “that’s the best we can do” from a local service center and after a well written letter to the VP of sales…. A brand new Porter Cable 3/8” drill arrived in the mail! Because of that story I now own a Porter Cable drill press. Sales VP’s understand the big picture and will do what is right – if they are aware of the situations.
Good Luck

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3958 days

#10 posted 04-18-2013 03:44 PM

Very fine review, Cole. I wish the HS kids I taught were as smart, focused, and well-written as you.

-- jay,

View Kobra's profile


21 posts in 2700 days

#11 posted 04-18-2013 10:46 PM

Excellent review Cole. My faith in the younger generation just went up a notch.

I would like to echo what others have said. SawStop is pricing themselves out of the “weekend hobbyist” market. I’m far more concerned about kickback than I am cutting myself. For the price of this saw ($1600ish) I purchased the Grr-ripper Deluxe Supreme System and the Grizzly G1023RLW.

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2985 days

#12 posted 04-19-2013 03:35 AM

Thanks guys for all of the supportive comments! I am going to try one more call tomorrow and if I can’t get anything worked out, I am going to take Cedarsmells suggestion of writing them a handwritten letter.

Alan79- I may steal that line “tell them your 16 and instead of buying your first car, you bought their saw”

Haha thanks everyone!

View 1953stancraft's profile


2 posts in 2688 days

#13 posted 04-19-2013 04:01 AM

Cole, Great objective review. I am a long time contractor and woodworker(63). When I set up my new shop two years ago, I looked at them all. Almost bought a Griz until I saw a live demo of the SS at Woodcraft, then used the saw in a class there. My first impression was that it was a very high quality saw(esp compared to the Makita benchtop saw I used for close to 30 years). Technology aside, respect the blade! I have the 3hp cabinet saw and when that blade is spinning…I don’t want to rely on the brake. Good luck in your woodworking life, and hound them for a better fence!

-- WSC

View libraryman's profile


45 posts in 4545 days

#14 posted 04-19-2013 04:21 AM

I think you might be forgetting that a contractor saw isn’t primarily designed for the “weekend hobbyist”. A contractor saw is primarily concerned with work produced at a job site by workers of all skill levels, intelligence and alertness. Being a good boss the contractor is concerned with the safety of his workers at the lowest cost to his business. He is also concerned with the quality his workers are able to produce using the job site equipment. The Saw Stop contractor saw is very portable using the folding mobile base and with the standard fence and steel wings is capable of fairly good work. It will also allow the contractor to avoid an injury and a lawsuit when a worker screws up. Sure it’s not a great value for the weekend woodworker, but neither are Festool products which many professionals opt to use.

View MarkSr's profile


215 posts in 2850 days

#15 posted 04-19-2013 05:17 AM

Very well written review Cole. Keep up the hounding and you will get to the right person, I agree with Cedarsmells, that VP of Sales will definately help you out, they of all people know what a bad review on their product can do.

By the way, Libraryman you didn’t say what your job at SawStop was. (LOL)

-- Mark, ”...NEWBEE: On the road to learning a lot; but; a lot more to learn…” ("My Granddad used to tell me, if you didn't learn something new today, it just wasn't worth getting out of bed")

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