Sawstop buying advice needed

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Forum topic by unclearthur posted 10-13-2017 03:59 PM 1004 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View unclearthur's profile


354 posts in 2564 days

10-13-2017 03:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sawstop table saw

After a bad experience with Grizzly, I’ve decided to mortgage the house, sell the kids and buy a Sawstop (3 HP cabinet saw with 36” fence). I’m not really obsessed with the safety feature (though it is a positive), but I am in Canada and Delta and Jet are basically unavailable here, Powermatic is almost as expensive as the SS, and after all the hassles with Grizzly I don’t want to roll the dice on the other cheaper options (different private label Chinese saws). I just want something that will work.

Anyways, I have to decide on some of the options / accessories, and have a few questions:

1) I do use a dado set on occasion, but I am not too worried about hand to blade contact with it – seems to me to be relatively low risk cuts. Do I need a Dado brake cartridge or can I operate the saw with the Dado set with the normal cartridge (realizing that the safety feature won’t work in that case)?

2) Wondering if I should buy a backup brake cartridge. If you set off the mechanism and destroy your original cartridge, can you still operate the saw (in “bypass” mode) without the cartridge? Is that practical, or is the saw basically down until you get a replacement cartridge?

3) Is it easy to make zero clearance inserts (Dado, normal) for the saw or is it better to buy them from SS?

4) re: mobile bases. I probably move the saw once a year for some reason. I assume the PCS Base (as opposed to the more expensive industrial base) is sufficient …...but I’m wondering if I can get away from buying a mobile base at all. Any clever way of moving the saw occasionally without a mobile base?

5) Finally ….. can I put the thing together out of the box on my own or do I need help?

Thanks for all responses

13 replies so far

View jonah's profile


2122 posts in 4075 days

#1 posted 10-13-2017 04:25 PM

You cannot run the saw with a dado blade and the normal cartridge. The cartridge won’t be close enough to the blade and the saw, detecting that, will refuse to start.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6245 posts in 3270 days

#2 posted 10-13-2017 04:41 PM

1) Yes you need the dado cartridge.
2) the saw is down until you install a new cartridge once one fires.
3)Your choice, I would suggest you get the more expensive ICS base. With it, the fence and extension table is lifted straight up with the rest of the saw.
4) I set mine up myself (ICS) but I have a tractor with a loader to lift it up. You can do the same with an engine hoist, the hard part would be getting it onto the mobile base.
5) Congrats! Good choice.

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

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2771 days

#3 posted 10-13-2017 04:53 PM

If you are only doing it once a year, the PCS base is probably fine. The ICS base is a true gem though if you have the cash. Buttery smooth and truly omni directional. Whichever way you go…get it at the same time you get the saw. The PCS base must be installed while the saw is laying on its back. And the ICS base requires the saw be lifted in or tilted in off the shipping pallet.


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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6245 posts in 3270 days

#4 posted 10-13-2017 05:34 PM

I should added with the above: I’ve read/seen some stories where guys figured out a way to use the standard brake with a dado blade…...kudos to them. But certainly not recommended by me. It required putting a conductive filler (IIRC) between the cartridge and the dado blade.

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

View clin's profile


1113 posts in 1772 days

#5 posted 10-13-2017 05:48 PM

I have the same saw, I will confirm what has been said. You need the dado cartridge. I would get an extra brake. It’s not that you will fire them often. Maybe never. But, if you do, you can be back up and running in a few minutes if you have a replacement brake and saw blade.

I bought an extra, and about a year later, due to a brain fart, I tripped it. Glad I had the spare. and I immediately ordered a replacement. If you have a SawStop dealer nearby, then perhaps wait until you need it. If you have to order you’ll be down at least a few days.

I have the ISC base. It has 4 swiveling casters. The pCS base just two. So with the ICS you can rotate in place. With the PCS you have to wiggle it back and forth.

Easy to put togather, but might need a helper to stand it up etc.

-- Clin

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4353 days

#6 posted 10-13-2017 06:21 PM

If the budget will allow I strongly recommend the ICS’s a lifetime saw you will never need another one once you invest in it, and yes I would suggest a spare dado and regular cartridge


View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1368 days

#7 posted 10-13-2017 08:02 PM

1. You cannot operate the saw without brake cartridge. That should answer many of your questions.
2. My saw sits on a cheap Grizzly mobile base. I am happy with the setup.
3. No problem with assembling the saw yourself. The most difficult part is initially attaching the wings so you better have some support like a few cardboard boxes set to the table saw height. If you decide to go with the Grizzly or similar mobile base make sure you set it up before all the heavy things are attached to the saw. You will be happy with the saw.
Some people suggest paying a few thousands more for the industrial model ( easy to spend someone else’s money) I see no point in that unless you are a production shop.
Spare cartridge ? Why the heck do you need one ? You might never need it. If you do Amazon will ship it for free in two days if you have their prime membership or for $3.99 if you need it next day. Again for the production shop that could be different.

View JoeK1's profile


29 posts in 1191 days

#8 posted 10-13-2017 10:34 PM

Just for reference, the PCS mobile base installation guide has installation instructions for a PCS that has a fence system already installed. I would not recommend planning on occasionally moving the saw w/o a base as the sheet metal cabinet is not very substantial. The sheet metal is folded under w/o additional reinforcement. A couple times a year the mobile base is offered free as an incentive. I think Black Friday is usually one of the times.

View RDan's profile


154 posts in 3100 days

#9 posted 10-14-2017 04:43 AM

Get the extra cartridge. It took me awhile to set my PCS up, the moment of truth. It did not start. Followed the troubleshooting guide, it said to replace the cartridge. Put in the new one and it started right up. Contacted Sawstop about it, they said to ship it to them and they would test it. It was defective, and they had a new one to me in 2 days from receiving it. Love the saw. I find the PCS base works well for me, I could not afford the ICS base though. I also got the infinity insert and like being able to change the insert for my different blades. Dan

View unclearthur's profile


354 posts in 2564 days

#10 posted 10-14-2017 04:52 AM

I also got the infinity insert and like being able to change the insert for my different blades. Dan

- RDan

What is the “infinity” insert ?

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6245 posts in 3270 days

#11 posted 10-14-2017 11:35 AM

The Infinity insert is a ZC insert that allows you to replace a small strip of material when needed, instead of throwing out the whole thing like the OEM SS inserts. I have one and love it, though it’s not exactly cheap.

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

View jonah's profile


2122 posts in 4075 days

#12 posted 10-14-2017 11:57 AM

You can get three phenolic inserts for the price of the infinity insert. Just sayin’.

View Markmh1's profile


115 posts in 1220 days

#13 posted 10-14-2017 02:03 PM

I’ve had my PCS for about a year. So far, the brake hasn’t tripped. I’m pretty close to Milwaukee, so getting a new cartridge isn’t much more than 1/2 hour, 45 minutes to replace. Having an extra one is your call, I can’t advise either way.

I bought the PCS mobile base, and every time I move the saw I wish for the ICS base.

I have Multiple Sclerosis so I had my wife help me with assembly. Assembly went very well, but I did slow down and read the directions twice. The saw went together easily, holes lined up, quality workmanship.

If I had assembly to do over, I’d move the saw to my workshop first. I had to remove some doors to get the saw down the stairs, the PCS mobile base made the saw a little too big.

I do have the 3HP PCS saw. For me, The ICS may have been overkill.

I’m glad I bought the saw, I wish I’d have done it sooner.


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