Why I didn't end up getting this one

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Review by PurpLev posted 03-16-2009 03:33 PM 11421 views 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Why I didn't end up getting this one No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

For lack of current online info on this saw, I thought someone might be of use to the bits of info I’ve been able to get on this saw after contacting SteelCity (which knows no details on this saw yet) and going to Woodcraft and seeing it live – which was very dissapointing.

The first disappointment was when I saw the photo that woodcraft posted of this new saw which was completely different then what Steelcity had posted in their ‘upcoming new products’ flyer. I had spoken to Steelcity and was told that they used a ‘temporary photo’ of a different saw since they still havent seen the new saw, and that the woodcraft published photo is the actual saw – very strange. I also found it a bit odd that I was able to go to a retail store and see a saw that the company knows nothing about it’s details since the company haven’t received it yet? (but the retail stores have…) just a red flag that went on from that moment on.

on paper it is very similar to the SteelCity Granite Top 35905, but at half the price – I was curious to know at what expanse. so here are the downgrades on this saw that SteelCity took to make it ‘affordable’ and ultimately why I didn’t end up purchasing it:

1. Saws entire body is slightly smaller, using less material, with a simpler box shape cabinet (no extrusions)

no big deal, it actually has a built in mobile base which is a nice addition

2. Trunnion is thinner, motor is 1 3/4HP, and cannot be ‘upgraded’ to a 3HP motor at a later time

somewhat disappointing, but to be honest, it would still work well for my needs, and I dont think I’ll ever be upgrading the motor only… if I were to upgrade to a 3HP machine- I’d replace the whole saw

3. Fence – smaller, lighter fence altogether. Rail is narrower, and made of thinner material, and also is made of 2 pieces as opposed to a one long piece. I did notice some deflection in the rail material when I clamped on the fence – very minimal, but it was there.

I didn’t really care much for this fence, but for the price difference, this fence was performing fairly well – no deal breaker

4. and this one was the last straw for me Miter slots are 3/4”x3/8” grooves with no T-Slot (as in other models) – I find this one to be a fundamental feature on any miter slot, and esp. on table saws. I really like to have the miter gauge /accessory secured in the slot so that it doesnt just pop up from it when you are least likely to pay attention to it.

no thank you, I’ll pass on this one – one corner cut short too many

If I was a new woodworker and didn’t know better (what to look for) this one might have been a decent ‘first saw’ but after experiencing a ‘first saw’ already, I’m looking for my ‘last saw’ now, and this one does not fit the requirements. just too many things were budgeted down on it – if it was 1, or 2 thats one thing, but when it’s almost everything, I might as well get a better saw altogether. Sorry Steelcity – you missed this one with me. Almost had it, but not quite.

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

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4448 days

30 comments so far

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4181 days

#1 posted 03-16-2009 03:55 PM

Yeah, the miter slot would be a deal breaker for me as well. I got rid of a Craftsman rollaway saw for not having any miter slots. It had a built-in sliding panel made of coated aluminum on flimsy aluminum rails with too much rock in them, and too many plastic parts all around. I couldn’t make my own proper jigs without miter channels. I considered making a large crosscut sled that hugged the sidewalls, but one of them actually molded out flush with the top to one side into a pair of legs that also functioned as a cord wrap-up. When you folded the saw up, you could tilt it over onto its wheels, and that leg thing, but it also meant one side’s edge couldn’t have anything slide against it. It was definitely meant only for rolling to a job site and cutting 2×4s and other light framing work.

Now I have a RIDGID from Home Depot that I love. The fence is somehow amazing, and I’ve gotten nothing but dead accurate cuts ever since getting it all dialed in. That said, the most annoying bit is that there’s a slight bow in the right miter slot. I didn’t notice it until I got an Incra miter sled that has a miter rail that can be adjusted to swell to exactly slide against the walls. I got it dialed in with the expanding nylon spacers, and it would just wedge as it neared the back. Using a precision ground 2’ straightedge from Woodpeckers, I found I could see a space between it and one side wall of the miter slot’s middle section, and it would gently rock when pushed against the other.

The fix would probably be to run some kind of lapping stone against them, with a reference plate dialed in with a dial indicator, but man, that’s just too crazy and finicky for me. The difference is something like 4-6 thousandths of an inch off straight. It’s amazing how such a tiny bit can mean I can’t use the nice expanding-fit feature of the Incra miter stuff. I can dial it back until it slides, but then it rocks about like a regular, included miter gauge.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4175 days

#2 posted 03-16-2009 06:12 PM

Ridgid has a new R4511 hybrid out that is supposedly made by, or at least in conjuction with Steel City. I’m wondering how similar these two saws might be. From what I’ve been able to glean from the owner’s manual on Steel City’s website, the guts look almost identical to those in the R4511, and the fence is the same. Not sure why they’ve omitted the faces from the fences of both of these saws….seems an odd cost cutting measure, but that’s likely it (easy enough to make I suppose). From a distance, it appears that both of these hybrids offer alot in the $600-$650 range…any other hybrids I know of in that price range have steel wings, open stands, cheap aluminum fences, etc., but having not seen one in person yet, looks can be deceiving. I suspect the lack of t-slots is to prevent breakage from people treating the miter gauge like a lever when retracted fully back.

Thanks for the insights.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View pickles's profile


68 posts in 4213 days

#3 posted 03-16-2009 07:59 PM

knotscott is correct. I have a 3 HP Granite Steel City Saw and the manual says not to use the washer on the miter gauge because it could damage the top, yet it has the t-slot. I guess the newer saws don’t have the slot for that reason

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4175 days

#4 posted 03-16-2009 08:23 PM

One of the possible improvements to granite top saws that I’ve read, includes using a plastic washer for the t-slots, so that in the event that upward leverage gets placed on the washer, the washer is the weak link as opposed to the granite above the t-slot. I suspect that much of that type of damage is done in the stores by people “testing the limits”....the plastic washer seems like a reasonable solution to me.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4448 days

#5 posted 03-16-2009 08:36 PM

I’m eager to see the Ridgid first hand to be honest.

I’m not a big ridgid fan, but it seems like people just love their 3660 TS… so if thats the case, maybe their new R4511 would be a good one too. it does state on the ridgid site that it has t-slot miter slots. other than, and the smaller motor (1.5 compared to SC 1.75) it seems identical to the SteelCity, I can only assume they are made in the same factory using the same parts (for most). I still think it would have been nice if SC would leave the T-slots in, and let me choose whether to use them or not – like they do with all their other saws…

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

View EEngineer's profile


1131 posts in 4413 days

#6 posted 03-16-2009 10:06 PM

I had spoken to Steelcity and was told that they used a ‘temporary photo’ of a different saw since they still havent seen the new saw, and that the woodcraft published photo is the actual saw – very strange. I also found it a bit odd that I was able to go to a retail store and see a saw that the company knows nothing about it’s details since the company haven’t received it yet? (but the retail stores have…)

...and what does this tell you about the saw? Well, first off, it tells you that Steel City is not making it. Second, it tells you that they haven’t even looked at the saw; they are selling, sight unseen, a product with their name on it – what kind of quality can I exepect from that? (c’mon! they didn’t even have a unit for test that they could take pictures of?). And thirdly, given that the retail stores have it and the Steel City offices don’t even have one to take pictures of, it tells you that they are far more interested in making money than any form of quality assurance.

Naw, there are lotsa reasons to not buy this saw and none of them have to do with miter slots!

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

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4788 days

#7 posted 03-16-2009 10:53 PM

That’s interesting that the miter slot isn’t a t-slot. I have their granite top Bandsaw and it does.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1600 posts in 4365 days

#8 posted 03-17-2009 12:23 AM

I ran across a deal on a new R4511 that I could not pass up (1/2 price) gloat gloat. Just finished setting it up and it has the T groove miter slot. I guess I need to find a plastic washer.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 4724 days

#9 posted 03-17-2009 04:40 AM

Just me I guess but if I was to go for a new saw I would try to find a 10’ sliding Table 3 Phase with converer, 7.5 Horse Power Motor, Soft Start, 3 Speed 1 Horse Power Scoring Blade, Electric angle and height adjustment Outrigger table extends to 10’ Digital height and angle display, Digital Fence 49.2 inches Start buttons on sliding table and machine, All scales marked in inches.

Did someone say LOTO?!

View 93mwm's profile


59 posts in 4220 days

#10 posted 03-17-2009 11:01 AM

sand hill, thats what dreams are made of

-- mwm! Before you criticise walk a mile in their shoes, and when you do criticise you will be a mile away and have their shoes!

View Emeralds's profile


143 posts in 4362 days

#11 posted 03-17-2009 03:05 PM

Good review and good info. You’ll be much happier down the road having discovered these things from afar.
I’m a notoriously budget minded guy whose dusty, cobwebbed laden wallet squeaks and creaks as I open it but ,if it were me looking for my “Last TS” I would be much less worried about the $$$ than making sure that everything I wanted or could imagine needing was there. In the short run it’s a bit painful but you’ll be so much happier down the road.


-- JMP

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4448 days

#12 posted 03-17-2009 03:31 PM

EEngineer – I wanted to be ‘nice’ so I used the miter slots excuse ;)

Gary – actually, ALL of their products that use Granite top have T slots in the miter slot. this is the only one that is different – which I found very strange as I assumed that the top is coming from the same supplier/manufacturer, and is the same part ? I guess not…. which is what made me think they WERE cutting a corner with this one as opposed to “overcoming a known issue” – since if it was the later – why didnt they replace the tops on ALL of their granite top machines?

sandhill – I don’t like blue

Timbo – I really like how everyone really liked their Ridgid machines ,as much as I’m not a Ridgid fan – right now this seem like the best solution.
Thanks Emeralds – I do agree that I’d rather be more frustrated now, then after I purchase the ‘wrong’ 500lbs weight (althought I must add, that budget is an issue at the moment)...

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

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 4472 days

#13 posted 03-17-2009 07:53 PM

Great review. Just the kind that helps LJ’s make wise decisions. Thanks!

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View araldite's profile


188 posts in 4204 days

#14 posted 03-18-2009 04:44 AM

I’ve seen the t-slot chipped on the floor model at my local Woodcraft store as if someone pulled up on the miter gauge before it was completely free. This seems to be an ongoing criticism of the granite tops. Steel City says they use the best granite available in China, which sounds good but means nothing to me since I have no idea how good Chinese granite is compared to anyplace else. If they’re using a cheaper granite, chipping may be an even bigger problem.

-- Failure is the road to success if you learn to learn from your mistakes - Vince, Greenville, SC

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4853 days

#15 posted 03-18-2009 12:30 PM

Purp, there’s a review of the 4511 in the last Popular Woodworkin mag. It has some good features such as a cabinet mounted trunion. The guy that reviewed it said the 1.5hp motor cut fine. While I don’t remember all the particulars, at the end of the article he did say that if it were him would save a few more bucks and opt for an upgrade.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

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