What we did to a Sawstop Industrial and Contractors saw.

  • Advertise with us
Review by RegP posted 05-05-2013 01:00 PM 9340 views 6 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
What we did to a Sawstop Industrial and Contractors saw. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am a retired Industrial Arts Teacher. During my career I taught may students the basics of table saw use. I got the chance to to help demo them to a groups of fellow teachers at several inservices attended by as many as 100 fellow shop teachers. We were able to address and test a number of concerns. We burnt up 20+ brakes and blades that day.

1 – Nails in the wood – We were able to rip a 2X4 sample with 3 1/4 air nails driven into about an inch apart through the cut line. We could consistently cut the first four nails with no trigger. Tried it several times once got through a whole 36” piece 30+nails no trigger. What did trigger it every time was when the stationary left hand was putting pressure to the right – maintaining alignment of the stock was in contact with the nail head as it was touching the blade. Thus the contact with finger through nail was what set it off.

We also assumed that a piece of nail shorting between the blade and brake gap set it off. We experimented with putting a single layer of duct tape on the brake surface (only because that’s what we had at hand) and it seemed to get farther down the cut line before triggering.

2- Wet wood – We were able to cut wet wood – we took wood off an outside wood pile covered in ice and snow, comments were how anyone in their right mind would put that on their saw, rusting the table top, we were able to crosscut and rip icy wood no problem. If you touch the wood to the side of the blade, no light go ahead, light flashes use bypass mode – if you must. Also left wood immersed in a bucket of hot water overnight and cut it fine the next morning.

3 – Sap that was the enemy – ripping our 2X4 spruce or pine wet runny sap when in contact with a finger and blade at the same time would trigger it. The sap seemed to be more conductive than water. Sap had to be in contact with the operator and blade at the same time. Thsi was not dry sap this was the real runny kind like corn syrup.

4 Treated wood – No problem if properly aged. If you understand the treatment process, after treatment the wood is left outside at the plant to “dry” or evaporate off the oil based chemical solution. Under certain conditions that drying does not happen as well as it should – processed in winter – pour drying conditions – shipped too soon because of demand – many reasons. You then get what I call the oily slimey kind. You should not even be handling it with you bare hands but that is another issue. That was the kind that could trigger the brake. Assumption – the oil is conductive if in close contact between blade and hand, conductivity had something to do with it. Properly cured treated wood did not trigger no matter how close the hand. Slimey wood touch it to the side of the blade and check for the light, no light go ahead.

5 – Saw power – As much power as any other saw better than most. Limited only by the power supply. Some in attendance had issues but were able to trace it back to inadequate power supply. Those with good proper setups had no problem. Those with problems had the same with previous saws. Now we felt we knew what the actual issue was. Current voltage and amperage is not always as advertized.

6 – False confidence – Students/workers will try it out and stick their finger in to see if they can set it off. Not if you empathize the everyone will know as it goes off with a big bang. Also they need to understand that the cartridge has a memory – it does- and will indicate a false trigger. It is a loud, sudden, violent action it cannot be done in secret. Once one student/worker does it the world will know.

7 – Ruins the blade – Not necessarily – We agreed that a cheap blade under $50 through it away. Good blades ofter could be extracted from the brake looking unharmed but sometimes had a broken or missing carbide tooth. Send it for resharpening and any good resharpener will replace a missing tooth or two. The danger would be a cracked tooth flying off the next time the saw was started even though it “looked” good. I draw the area on the blade where it was in contact with the brake and note it for the resharpener, then I would use the blade again after it is returned from sharpener.

8 – Anti Kickback Blades – Some feel they may not stop as fast as a normal open gullet 24 tooth, those really grabs the brake. We thought that the advantage of an anit kickback design was the prevention of kickback. Kickback has nothing to do with the saw itself. We could not detect a great difference in “sawstopping” anti kickback to regular open gullet blades. We saw a difference of about one tooth extra travel before stopping. Verdict your choice. I will continue to use anti-kickback for its own advantage with students. We also tried an 80 tooth blade it traveled a little furthur as well before stopping. My experience a 24 tooth open gullet blade stopped with 2 inches of teeth past the brake on average and the 80 tooth 4 inches as far as we could see. In other words 15 to 20 degrees of revolution to stop the 24 tooth and the 80 tooth took 90 degrees, not bad for either.

9 – Easy of use – Sawstop saws have the best setup we had ever seen to remove and replace guards and riving knife, no tools or alignment required. That alone gives no excuse for not using them and may be worth the price of admission.

10 – Saw damage from braking – No problems were ever able to be detected. Alignment stayed on after multiple 20+ brake engagements. The dealer has a demo unit that has been set off hundreds of times. It has not had any problems and it has traveled all over the place been banged around but all the castings and bearings have never been touched. It still runs good.

11 – Smooth running quiet powerful saw, no shortcuts taken there.

12 – Dust collection is the best in the industry, designed into the saw not added on.

13 – Manuals and packaging show just how much sawstop cares. Ask to take a look they inspire confidence in the product. I have never seen any so good.

I do not and never have worked or been paid by Sawstop. My motivation comes from the close calls of myself and my students, something better has come along and I want to see it in use. I have told many people it may not be a reason to junk your old saw but if your replacing your saw you are doing yourself a disservice by not seriously considering it. I bought and paid for my own. As one wife who had to pull up and down her husbands fly because of a saw accident said, he is getting one or divorce may be in the works, he silently nodded as he held up his bandaged hand.

Through my teaching about Sawstop I may have more experience than most. My local dealer has just had an order for 200+ more for our provincial schools I expect I will be a presenter at this years 2013 provincial inservice we will test them again any ideas?

-- Mr. P

View RegP's profile


5 posts in 2620 days

22 comments so far

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 4015 days

#1 posted 05-05-2013 02:07 PM

Wow. I just have to say that this is one of the most telling review/commentaries on the saw stop that I have seen regarding how many different conditions the brake was tested and what your experiences were.
This is valuable information for current and future users of the saw.Thank you very much for posting this information.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2962 days

#2 posted 05-05-2013 03:06 PM

great review,you covered just about every aspect of the saw.thanks for the detailed review,great information.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Swampy's profile


38 posts in 3116 days

#3 posted 05-05-2013 03:20 PM

Best investment in a tool I ever made. Great review

-- Gary Vondermuehll

View BuckI's profile


49 posts in 3920 days

#4 posted 05-06-2013 12:56 AM

This is one of the best reviews I have read, thank you for posting your results. I wondered about using the anti-kickback blades as I have a Freud 24T rip blade with the shoulders on it you describe in your review. I wondered if the shoulders made it more difficult for the brake to grab and hold the blade when it is activated. I too, have nothing but positives to say about the saw, the brake only makes it that much better. Thanks again for the review.

-- Kevin, Ohio

View a1Jim's profile


118065 posts in 4349 days

#5 posted 05-06-2013 01:17 AM

A very complete and well thought out review
I have used A SS where I teach woodworking and it’s a great saw plus I totally believe in it’s technology . I don’t understand folks who say you have to be a complete idiot to cut yourself on a table saw. All I know Is that I have shook hands with many people with 3 fingers or less all due to table saw injuries.


View mbs's profile


1668 posts in 3712 days

#6 posted 05-06-2013 05:46 AM

I appreciate you sharing your test results. I have the same saw and I love it.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3908 days

#7 posted 05-06-2013 03:24 PM

+1 on items 9, 11, 12.

-- Greg D.

View Mip's profile


454 posts in 2849 days

#8 posted 05-06-2013 06:02 PM

Thanks for the information. I belong to the local Techshop here just outside Detroit (I should get something knocked off the monthly dues for this shameless plug), and they use a Sawstop in the woodshop. I agree that the safety gear that comes with it is one, if not the best equipment out there. Easy to put on, easy to take off, especially the riving knife. The saw itself has plenty of power, quiet, and well built. What I liked about this review is what wood you stated sets off the brake. I was told that some of the pressure treated lumber might set it off since they use copper in the formulation. Now I know. Thank you for this very expensive testing, as I didn’t want to experiment on the shops saw; they bill me $200 every time I set it off.

View EEngineer's profile


1125 posts in 4385 days

#9 posted 05-06-2013 07:19 PM

Items 1 through 8 – absolutely fabulous! Although I have heard the complaints about all of these issues, this is the first time I have seen an in-depth test and analysis of the various failure modes. I don’t even have access to a SawStop that I would be allowed to try this on. Bookmarked for sure!

Disclaimer: anyone who has followed my comments here on LJ about SawStop knows I do not agree with Gass’s advanced marketing techniques (license my tech on my terms or I’ll make sure you get your ass sued off!) I have always thought that one place where this technology makes a lot of sense is in a learning environment.


-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3277 days

#10 posted 05-07-2013 02:31 AM

Best review on SS I’ve ever seen…thanks a ton.

View NormG's profile


6506 posts in 3775 days

#11 posted 05-08-2013 01:19 AM

Well presented

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

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 3213 days

#12 posted 05-08-2013 01:20 AM

Thank you so much for sharing these results. This is by far the most comprehensive SS review I’ve ever read. Hopefully should go a long way towards dispelling some of the myths out there.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

9555 posts in 3100 days

#13 posted 05-09-2013 01:33 AM

great review….

we shied away from SawStop at work, because we frequently cut wood directly from the yard, but it sounds like wearing one of the stretchy tight fitting grippy rubber palm, knit backside gloves would insulate the operator from shorting out the trigger via. the ice/snow/wet.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3906 posts in 3023 days

#14 posted 05-09-2013 01:46 AM

@RegP—Very thorough review—thank for documenting the testing. I don’t own a SawStop, but I am curious on the cost and level of effort to reset the saw’s brake after triggering. I imagine that you could probably replace the cartridge pretty quickly with all your experience (20+ in one day) but how about a hobbyist?

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2882 days

#15 posted 05-09-2013 07:33 PM

Totally agree with your very detailed write-up!

With mine, I’ve cut nails, and wood that was so wet, water was running out of it (long story…). I’ve never triggered mine, or the other 5 examples I’ve used, but I’ve seen and heard a demo firing…

To Don… Resetting after a firing is simple. Not much more than swapping a blade and cartridge, as is done daily.

showing 1 through 15 of 22 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics