SawStop - Demo (Rating: 5)

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?