Saw Stop questions

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Forum topic by MikeJasse posted 12-05-2016 09:56 PM 2134 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1015 days

12-05-2016 09:56 PM

Long time lurker, first time poster. Spent many a night reading y’alls views and arguments of course about all these saws, learned a lot from this board, many thx.

I’m finally making the step up to a cabinet saw, I intend this purchase to be a lifetime saw for hobby and weekend warrior woodworking. Seems any of the main-line cabinet saws would be great to own. In particular my eye on Shop Fox 1820 looks like everything i could want in a saw. BUT i play the piano as part of my real job and just feel I should pony up for the added layer of accident defense from a saw stop. So probably going with the 3hp w T-glide.

A few remaining questions i haven’t seen much discussion about (hopefully these are not retreads, or too long a thread):

1. CARTRIDGE LIFE- what is the shelf life of an un-tripped brake cartridge? Any components in it that would degrade and cause less confidence or a no-fire when tripped after years of waiting? (saw stop cust svc said there’s not a shelf life limit, just wondering if anyone else can think of a reason. do they test 5 or 10 year old cartridges or just new ones).

2. MOBILE BASE for EXTENSION – people say the mobile base works great. But if you have the long extension table does the whole thing move well from just the main mobile base? (Some saws have an added truck/dolly to the base that extends to the right to support the extension). Ok for the rails to support the entire extension wings when lifted up?

3. FICKLE ? - says the safety system is always running diagnostics from power-on and during use, and if anything doesn’t pass the saw is inoperable. That’s great as a safety system, but how often is the saw refusing to run, fickle, or giving false positives etc on its checklists, is this a problem? Can you run Bypass mode if need be to overcome things that would only affect the safety brake, so to just use as a regular saw? Let’s say I just need to make a couple cuts but don’t have a brake cartridge available for some reason, or it’s having a sensor problem, etc?

4. LONG-TERM – I wonder what saw stop will do after their patent protection runs its course and others are able to copy what they do? (seems like only a few more years but idk?). Is there worry parts or support won’t be available long-term, esp for proprietary electronics and cartridges for safety system, or for older models as they continue to improve and focus on newer patents and products). I’m guessing they’ll still be around or someone else will offer what is needed to keep these things running since there’s a lot of them out there now, but lifetime is (hopefully) a long time!

Any experience or thoughts you have are much appreciated! -mike

22 replies so far

View socrbent's profile


877 posts in 2747 days

#1 posted 12-05-2016 10:13 PM

1. I have had no problem with cartridge life. Have put 2 into use that had set for well over a year with no problem. Would not expect any problems with longer storage times unless the environment where they were stored was very hot or humid.

2. I have a 36 extension on my pcs and have no problems moving saw with the mobile base. The extension is not very heavy and easily lifts with the mobile base.

3. I have had nor heard of problems with cartridge failing to operate. As far as I know the saw will not operate without a cartridge.

4. Only time will tell. This seems to me to be a quality company that will be around long after their patent protect expires.

-- socrbent Ohio

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2473 days

#2 posted 12-05-2016 11:54 PM

1. Nothing to add..

2. Espeically if you get the PCS base, it works like a car jack. It lifts the saw straight up off the ground. The rigid fence rails mean that the extension is lifted right straight up as well. A lot of the bases on other saws don’t lift the saw, they just have locking casters. In that case, you’d need/want rollers under the extension supports.

3. The diagnostic runs once at power on of the saw. It takes about 20 seconds to check everything, and then you can start cutting. Remember this saw has two switches. One for power on, where the diagnostics run, and then the other for the main motor. I just make sure to turn the saw on first while I gather my materials, and then it is ready to go. It is a pain to wait the 20 seconds if I forget.

4. I considered this as well, but I figured the worst case is that I have to buy a switch and wire the motor direct and then it just runs like a regular saw. Not ideal, but its still a great saw mechanically, IF, they ever go under and stop supporting their saw. Eventually, every saw stops being supported (see what i did there?). You may argue that it is more of a risk with Sawstop, but who knows. The other thing that could happen with the patent going out, is other folks start making parts for it. Hard to say.

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Matt's profile


160 posts in 1429 days

#3 posted 12-06-2016 12:13 AM

I own a PCS 175 with 36” T-Fence for a little over a year.

1: The cartridge is a sealed component. I can’t imagine that there is any degradation of the component over the life of the saw. I’ve read about saws that have been set off for the first time after years of ownership so I don’t think this is a concern.

2: The front T-Rail and back rail mounted on the saw are extremely heavy (>1/4” thick power coated steel) that support the extension tables. The extension table inserts are pretty light so I don’t think this is a concern. I have moved the saw (36”) with a hand truck a few inches and there was zero movement/sag of the extension.

3: The saws electronics will not allow the saw to operate without a cartridge installed (and correctly spaced from the blade) regardless of bypass mode enabled or not. Bypass mode is easy to enable, however it only remains active for one blade start/stop cycle and needs to be enabled again for each blade start/stop cycle. All this being said, picking up an extra cartridge (or two) would likely be pretty common for a production environment. As a hobbyist….. If I manage to set it off for a contact, I’ll suck it up and wait till the replacement arrives since I should be paying more attention anyway – finger/moisture/metal regardless – Hobby is meant to be fun :) .

4: Time will tell on this one – I’ve talked to support once and was very impressed; it was a question about the coating on diablo blades causing problems (nope). It’s a high quality product at a price point that is competitive with saws of similar specs (Cabinet and Industrial grade). However they are not competitively priced in the contractor/portable market so those product lines will likely reflect that – but that’s all speculation.

Overall – I couldn’t be happier with my purchase (well I should have gotten the 52”) and I haven’t needed the safety feature (and don’t intend to.)

-- My "projects" always look better when your glasses are broken.

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

169 posts in 4057 days

#4 posted 12-06-2016 12:33 AM

I had a cartridge trip because I didn’t have enough clearance between the brake and blade. Problem was caused because I failed to check the calibration when I changed blades. New blade was slightly larger diameter than the original.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5975 posts in 3291 days

#5 posted 12-06-2016 01:41 AM

I run a PCS with an ICS mobile base. That particular mobile base has a hydraulic foot pedal, and lifts the saw and 52” rails all as one unit. It is really a slick system, and I especially like that it frees up space under the extension table for my shop cart.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Kazooman's profile


1346 posts in 2430 days

#6 posted 12-06-2016 02:29 AM

Geez….. I suggest you buy another saw.

View MikeJasse's profile


2 posts in 1015 days

#7 posted 12-06-2016 03:11 AM

thanks for the replies everyone. i also came across some pretty thorough youtube reviews by jay bates and by workshop addict today i hadn’t seen before that talked about some of these things.

no Kaz i think this is the saw for me. just trying to be thorough and eyes wide open going in! kind of a significant purchase for me here.

anyone have a strong opinion +/- on vendor or shipping? first time I’ve bought a major tool like this online, i guess ill look around tonight and use rocker or amazon prime or sawstop direct idk. hope for someone who will be responsive if any problems need addressing, but it sounds like most have had a very good experience with the delivery and setup of these from what i can tell.

View Halc's profile


146 posts in 2080 days

#8 posted 12-06-2016 03:12 AM

I bought the 3hp Sawstop 3 years ago and have no regrets. It’s a great tool and I’ve had no problems with the mobile base, cartridges, fence or anything else. I don’t think you would ever be sorry if you bought the Sawstop.

View Marcial's profile


169 posts in 1023 days

#9 posted 12-06-2016 03:25 AM

My 20 year old Jet contractor’s saw went out for the second time in the midst of a project and wife said get another one. The SawStop technology had been on my wish list for several years (had a close call 16-18 yrs ago with one digit getting a 2×8mm portion sliced off- no long term consequences but healing by secondary intention is long and unpleasant). Anyway, the contractor’s model is just a pleasure to use. Beware the cartridge though; mine went off for coming into contact with a screw. Thank to Amazon, no time lost to driving 40 miles to the nearest SS dealer for a replacement.

View clin's profile


1056 posts in 1474 days

#10 posted 12-06-2016 05:01 AM

I have SawStop PCS. It certainly makes a lot of sense to protect your fingers and livelihood. I think the rough premium for the SawStop technology is about $500. I see it as insurance. Not cheap, but in your case makes it a no brainer. Of course, still many other ways to damage your fingers in the shop, though not too many can cut or shred them quite as quickly and severely as a table saw.

I see no reason to be concerned with the shelf life of the cartridges. Electronics don’t just wear out sitting on a shelf. And I do not believe there is anything mechanical that will wear just sitting there.

I use an ICS mobile base with my PCS. It lifts the whole saw, and the extension just goes along for the ride. As mentioned rails are very heavy duty and in fact the bulk of the weight of the extension. The weight of the extension table is insignificant. While I’m sure the extension legs help the extension stay flat, I think they are there mostly to ensure the saw won’t tip if something heavy is stacked on it. There’s no need to support the extension when moving it.

Fickle? SawStops are not fickle. They are of course more complicated in their design, though only slightly more complex to use using two switches. But mine has worked as expected every time.

Long term, who knows. It’s possible they are the Betamax of table saw technology and something much better will come along someday and SawStop will cease to exist or simply won’t bother supporting an old technology. But, in all likelihood, this is many years down the road. We now buy cars with very complex controls with no assurance we will be able to get parts in the future. It’s just the way it is.

While I don’t think it is silly to consider long term availability of parts and service, I see no reason to be any more concerned about SawStop than any other product. And as mentioned, worst comes to worst, you bypass all the control and switch power to the motor directly.

If you get the PCS, I’m sure you’ll be happy with it. I had a 50+ year old Craftsman contractor saw that could barely cut its way out of a wet paper bag. Not going to ridicule it, after all my dad built our first house with it. But, I had no idea just how useful and fun an accurate table saw can be. It Hurts the wallet up front, but after you start using it, you’ll forget about what it cost and enjoy working with a quality machine.

-- Clin

View DrTebi's profile


305 posts in 3744 days

#11 posted 12-06-2016 10:42 AM

I have had the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw with the 36” rails now for about five years, and will share my findings with you… first to answer your questions:

I don’t think it is much to worry about. The last one I put in was at least three years ago, the saw has never complained. I am of course assuming that it would complain if the break was faulty…

The mobile base works great. The extension table lifts off the floor and moves along. However, the extension legs are quite flimsy, and have no crossbars, which means they will tend to mis-align, which is annoying. The saw generally stands strong enough to make most cuts, but the extension table is something where SawStop definitely saved some money.

No fickle. There are moments when the saw is “thinking” for a few seconds, after turning the power on, and after stopping the saw (hitting the red paddle). So you cannot go from off to on immediately, but the downtime is not long enough to annoy me. I have not had any false-positives yet. I did manage to cut into my miter gauge a couple of times though in the beginning… an expensive affair when the break hits and you need to buy a new brake and new blade! By the way, Forrest will in most cases repair a saw-stopped blade, but I did not feel that the blade ran as smooth as it did before the repair…

I don’t know what will happen when the patent runs out.

I will tell you something else about long-term though: My table is not flat anymore. I measured almost 1/64” off from left to right with a 12” long engineers square. I have not yet tried to fix it, but it is very frustrating. Setting the blade to 90 degrees is in a way useless now… well, if I remember to only cut from one side, it is somewhat OK, still a big bummer. I suppose this happened because the table was not properly seasoned at the factory.

The only other thing I would complain about is the insert plate. I just hate insert plates… the one that comes with the saw tips if you put pressure at the wrong spot. Making your own may help.

Other than that, I think it’s quite a nice saw. The blade has been running true, the miter slots are parallel, the fence system is quite nice…

Last but not least, regarding shipping: I bought mine through Woodcraft, and I was very happy with the service. They did not just drop the saw on the sidewalk and walked away as some other dealers (looking at you, Felder/Hammer), they brought it down into my sub-terrain garage, made sure everything was there, had a little chat, exchanged some tips etc. That was Woodcraft San Jose.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5682 posts in 2971 days

#12 posted 12-06-2016 12:02 PM

Nothing new to add, but I can tell you an acquaintance of mine triggered his last year. Of interest is that his saw is a 2006 model and still had the original cartridge in it. Shelf life isn’t something that seems to be a problem. For the mobile base, get the ICS version (I think that’s what bbasiaga meant to say). It has 4 swivel casters for easy maneuvering, and the hydraulic jack lift lets it sit flat on the floor when in place. In my mind it’s the way all mobile bases should be made; of course all that is offset somewhat by the high cost. I haven’t had my saw that long (about 2 years) but I guess I do think it’s a little fickle. Especially when changing cartridges (back and forth to a dado blade). The setting has to be dead on, though this gets easier after a time or two. Also, there are several disconnects on the saw, in the doors, etc. Leave one ajar, and it won’t start. But all this is part of the learning curve, and you soon get to where none of it is a problem. I, too, wonder about the saw long term. Electronics like these are not a lifetime deal, and what would happen if SS went under? Well, worse case (very worse) is you could rip all the electronics out and run it as a regular saw. More likely is that the SS will make it, and parts service will be available for the foreseeable future. We may see after market stuff show, but Gass is also a patent lawyer, and i’d bet he has something up his sleeve to stretch that patent for a while yet. Congrats on the choice, and enjoy your saw.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View them700project's profile


170 posts in 1496 days

#13 posted 12-06-2016 01:48 PM

The only thing i can add is that startup takes a few extra seconds over regular saws and i find myself getting antsy.
the other thing i might say about the extention table with the mobile base is my legs hit the floor when saw is up, because of how uneven my floor is. I usually just have to quickly relevel the extention when i set it back down.

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1069 days

#14 posted 12-06-2016 09:18 PM

About the extensions: Grizzly G0715, which weighs almost exactly like PCS 36” does not have any extension support at all, still is very stable even when installed on Grizzly’s mobile base.
In fact I am using Grizzly mobile base with Sawstop with no problem. It costs less than 1/3 of the Sawstop version and works OK. The only pain is you need to untighten two pads on the extension legs before you move and tighten them back once in place.

View Redoak49's profile


4137 posts in 2466 days

#15 posted 12-06-2016 09:44 PM

IMHO the Sawstop Industrial Mobile Base is the best made…and very expensive.

I almost always leave my PCS with the power on and then just use the paddle switch and it comes on immediately….no waiting.

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