Cabinet Saw Advice Needed

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by codysmith1124 posted 02-14-2018 02:29 AM 1476 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View codysmith1124's profile


3 posts in 905 days

02-14-2018 02:29 AM

Hi everyone. I just retired and just joined Lumberjocks! Today I parted with my old venerable PM 66 table saw. It’s was an older mid 80s version with no safety features, I’m getting a little older and less confident pushing stock through it so I figured it’s time to make a change. My budget is $3-4000. I’m sure the collective experience with this group can help me. My questions are simple:

Is there anything else I should be looking at other than Sawstop?

Can anyone comment on the power of the 1.75 HP version?

I find it very confusing as to who owns who and what is built where. I have the Festool Track Saw for any sheet good cuts I need to make. Most of my work is on the serious hobby side ranging from craftsman style furniture to strip style boat building.

Thanks in advance for your replies and I am truly humbled to be part of your community. I will always treat you with the respect you deserve.

Many thanks.


-- Kevin,

35 replies so far

View ppg677's profile


221 posts in 1659 days

#1 posted 02-14-2018 03:35 AM

In cabinet saws, SawStop is the way to go. I have a PCS 1.75 and never feel limited by the HP. In fact I keep a 50t blade on there even when ripping 8/4 hard wood.

View MrUnix's profile


8155 posts in 3002 days

#2 posted 02-14-2018 03:40 AM

I would have kept the PM66… you can’t find a better built saw today ;-)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Charlie H.'s profile

Charlie H.

405 posts in 1453 days

#3 posted 02-14-2018 03:51 AM

Congratulations on your retirement.
I just retired too and I think I want to spend lots of time woodworking.
I don’t think of myself as old, but the days of picking up a sheet of 3/4” plywood are history so my abilities are obviously diminished too.
My tablesaw doesn’t have any safety features either.
Its 1 3/4hp, I use regular blades and for the most part it does fine.
Cutting thick 2” hardwood can bog it down some.
I was gung-ho on replacing my saw with a sawstop but have decided to wait a year and see if woodworking really is my go to activity.
If I do replace the saw I am pretty sure I will go with a 3hp just so I get more of an upgrade than the flesh sensing tech.
Good luck to you.

-- Regards, Charlie in Rowlett, TX --------I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.---------

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1306 days

#4 posted 02-14-2018 03:57 AM

I have to ask…is there a reason that you feel like you might all of a sudden cut your finger off? Here is my take on a sawstop, and remember, this is just my opinion and will no doubt make some fanboys bawl like a fat dog. The sawstop feature that actually shuts it down if you touch the blade is about $1000 worth of gear on the saw. So, you pay roughly $3K for it and for what the saw is actually for you got a $2K saw. If I thought I was $1000 certain I would cut off a finger I would find another hobby!!! Also, it cost around $100 to get the saw back up and running again and if I understand correctly another blade {more money…$75-$100 depending on the blade} also, if you accidentally touch the blade while it is running and the gizmo activates. That seems like a ridiculous amount of money to line up to spend just to own a table saw. The fanboy comeback is always, “what’s your finger worth??” They say this as if a table saw cannot be operated safely at all. Been at this since I was a kid in high school, 40 years ago and I have never even come close to a table saw accident. Might have saved a few arms and fingers on a radial arm saw…but a table saw is just not that inherently unsafe if at all.
Now, if you are an alcoholic and/or you habitually smoke a lot of dope then it might be a good idea…I know a lot of drunks and I know a few fellas that smoke that wacky weed…they all still have all ten fingers and toes.
Again, this is just my personal opinion, fan boys can get over it….or not, I could care less. But I suggest you put all your money towards a great saw not an unnecessary gizmo. On the other hand, if it makes you feel good then go for it.

View rcs47's profile


216 posts in 3932 days

#5 posted 02-14-2018 04:42 AM

Happy retirement!
I’ve got the 1.75 HP contractor sawstop because they didn’t have the pro series when I got mine. I would have bought the pro if they had it because the motor hangs out on the contractor. I’m running 120V and I have cut 2.25” red oak. I adjust my push rate. I will change to 240V with the next house.

My Dad ran a 1 HP Unisaw @ 240V in his cabinet shop that we used for all lumber cutting. It would cut as fast as you could push the wood (our hardwood choices were ash, red birch, and alder). When he closed the shop after 40 years, he rewired the saw to 120V and it would not cut anything, just trip the breaker. He rewired it back to 240V, adding it to the garage and the old saw was back.

That’s my first recommendation – use 240V.

Riving knife is #2. Sawstop has one. Many other saws have them too. Dad’s shop had a saw with a large table we used to break down sheets of plywood, but it was old, did not riving knife, from the 40’s, and 5 HP. This saw has thrown wood at me (you really get the arc on the bottom of the piece of wood from the blade like they show in the pictures, and it hurts), even thrown a piece 60’ breaking the front window.

The deciding factor for me on sawstop was my Dad. This was a man that had made his living using table saws for 40+ years, and he told me a story about nicking his fingers on the blade. The same guy that taught me how to use a saw without any guards in a production shop (the jointer had a guard, but nothing else). I was working in the shop at 10.

Side note – back in the 70s, I remember retired guys coming in to buy the odd piece of plywood. I would see them on a regular basis, then not see them for weeks. Then they would come in again missing their right thumb from pushing the wood through the blade. Sometimes just the tip, sometimes the whole thumb.

Back on topic – I don’t run a table saw every day the way I used to when I was working for my Dad. I’m not as young as I was when I was working for my Dad. My hands shake a little, usually when I don’t want them to shake. There might be someone around the saw when it’s running. So I got a sawstop – I don’t care about their politics.

A couple of points, buy at least one extra break cartridge for the regular and dado to have on hand just in case.

EVERY time you change the blade, check the blade to break space.

Talking to the shops that run sawstops, their trips have mainly been from people running out tapes to check measurements contacting the blade as it is spinning down. The circuit is still live until the blade stops.

Good luck in your retirement.

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4178 days

#6 posted 02-14-2018 10:39 AM

The PM66 was one of the finest American style industrial cabinet saws ever made, so you’ll likely not want to step back much. The Saw Stop PCS is a very nice saw if you get the T-Glide fence upgrade. Even though it’s not a necessity, I’ll suggest sticking with the 3hp motor instead of getting a smaller one. There is a notable and significant difference in that upgrade, plus it’ll fit the budget, and you obviously have 220v….no reason not to. Having extra power never hurts, will allow you to dictate the pace, will be less sensitive to blade changes, and should lead to longer motor life. I’d hate to see you spend that much on a saw and feel like you settled for less than you wanted.

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

View avsmusic1's profile


652 posts in 1488 days

#7 posted 02-14-2018 11:54 AM

What I’m thinking (and reading thus far in the comments) is, no, there isn’t a direct competitor w/ the safety mechanisms you’re looking for. I would vote for the 3hp just because I like the extra power for the rare occasions I may need it. I’m also guessing you’re PM was a 3 or 5hp model so you’re probably used to having it.

Since you’ve already made the call to sell the PM I’ll spare you any personal opinions on the sawstop vs PM comparison. I will, however, congratulate you on your retirement and I hope you have the opportunity to make some sawdust soon! Can’t wait to see some of your work

View Redoak49's profile


4798 posts in 2791 days

#8 posted 02-14-2018 12:08 PM

“Fanboys howl like a fat dog” sounds like someone is,a Sawstop hater.

The Sawstop is a very well built saw. I have one and it is solid with great fit and finish.

Part of my reasoning for getting the Sawstop was that I was getting older and wanted the increased safety.

I have the 3 hp PCS so I can not comment on the 1-3/4” hp. My son has the 1-3/4 hp one and has no issues. He bought one because his job relies on his fingers.

View msinc's profile


567 posts in 1306 days

#9 posted 02-14-2018 12:17 PM

“Fanboys howl like a fat dog” sounds like someone is,a Sawstop hater.

The Sawstop is a very well built saw. I have one and it is solid with great fit and finish.

Part of my reasoning for getting the Sawstop was that I was getting older and wanted the increased safety.

I have the 3 hp PCS so I can not comment on the 1-3/4” hp. My son has the 1-3/4 hp one and has no issues. He bought one because his job relies on his fingers.

- Redoak49

I don’t hate anything…well except for spending $1000 plus for something I just do not need. Glad you got one, glad you like it and especially glad you got what you wanted. If that’s what it takes to make someone feel comfortable using a saw then I certainly got no problems with it, but it is not for me. I was told that the saw had to be running for the gizmo to blow…now I read that it will do it if the saw is winding down and gets touched by a tape blade. $150.00 every time you touch the blade with a tape when spinning down??? Absolutely ridiculous….to me.

View ppg677's profile


221 posts in 1659 days

#10 posted 02-14-2018 01:20 PM

FYI to the original poster—there is a lot if hate towards SawStop on here. It’s a $1000 insurance policy. It will probably never save your finger. A lot of lumberjockers here claim they don’t need it. But you’ll find plenty of people (like myself) who appreciate the airbags in the rare case you’re human and make a mental mistake.

IMHO, you’ve made a wise decision to get a safer saw (including one with a riving knife which is arguably the most important safety feature these days).

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3317 days

#11 posted 02-14-2018 01:44 PM

Codysmith, I am sure you are totally confused by now…
Truth is, a lot of people feel much safer with the Sawstop lineup, and that is fine for them.

Me, I just cannot afford one of them.
I run a humble Rigid 4512, (also much hated by a lot of people on here who got lemons), and it has been a horse for me for everything I do. Now that I am into segmented turnings, it is true and gives me what I want with my Incra Miter on it.

If you feel safer with a Sawstop, by all means get one. For me, I’ve been cutting wood with various tablesaws and radial arm saws since my teens. My first “table saw” was actually a circular saw mounted upside down in a cheap plywood table with a foot switch on it, the hand switch taped in the on position. I can remember the night I put a piece of wood right through the wall of my garage with my radial arm saw, trying to push wood through it. Got away from me, and off it went. I did know to stand off to the side, but my eyes never focused on it in flight. Just it punching the hole in my wall.

I do believe it is all about respect. My worst accidents have actually been on power sanders, where I thought in terms of how safe these must be, with no teeth, only to have the wood fly away and me push my fingers into 80 grit flying along. Takes just milliseconds to get down to bone, BTW…

I personally do not see a Sawstop in my future. Too much money for me, and every time I tripped the thing I would be without while I went out to spend more money on cartridges.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View PJKS's profile


62 posts in 1324 days

#12 posted 02-14-2018 01:47 PM

Why would your tape measure be that close to your saw blade ??

-- Pat / Colorado

View Blindhog's profile


158 posts in 1851 days

#13 posted 02-14-2018 01:55 PM

Congratulations on your retirement! I’ve been retired for a couple of years and will reach 70 this year (good lord willing and the creek don’t rise). While I like to think the ol’noggin still has some zip left, my physical skills have diminished, albeit very slightly. I look at it like my baseball play; I gave it up when the brain said, “glove down, but the body couldn’t respond quick enough to stop the ball from going between my legs”.
I purchased the 3hp PCS model from SawStop and have not been disappointed. Very high quality design and execution. I bought the PCS mobile base and love the ability to move the saw to provide space for different operations. My shop is a converted 3-car garage. My choice was based on product quality and the unique safety feature that can’t be underestimated. As my doctor told me, ” the last thing you want to do is have regret about not having this safety feature when you’re sitting in the emergency room with a Dixie cup full of fingers”.
Good luck in your shop build, enjoy the entire process. Remember, it’s the journey more than the destination.

-- Don't let perfection get in the way of plenty good enough

View BobHall's profile


72 posts in 2088 days

#14 posted 02-14-2018 02:50 PM

Cody, let me add my congratulations on your retirement! I am few years out and share the dream of spending my retirement in a nice shop making stuff I love and not pecking on my keyboard because it pays well. If your main question was ” is there anything else like Sawstop?” then I’m pretty sure the answer is no. I suppose sooner or later their patents will begin to expire and others will pick up the technology, but you need one now, right? As an “old machine guy” I don’t have anything newer than the 1960s, but that is a choice I made. My saws are not as safe as a Sawstop, and that’s pretty much that! Personally I’d think about the cost more in terms of the replacement cartridge and blade and not the ”$1000” which still puts the Sawstop about the same cost as a Unisaw. Either price would seem like nothing at all if it saved me from even a minor injury. Get the big motor too by the way, so you won’t wonder if you need it. Have fun, make sawdust God Bless!

-- Bob "jack of all trades, master of none"

View AlmostRetired's profile


221 posts in 1517 days

#15 posted 02-14-2018 03:42 PM


I wish that my screen name was more true about my retirement status. I’m about 3 years from retiring form the Navy after what will be 25 years. I started woodworking a few years ago and the family has gorwn into the hobby with me. I want tnothing to d with the above debate but based on safety for the family and I, and almost every review I read and received from word of mouth, the SawStop was the right way to go for me. I ended up with the PCS 3HP. The saw has been amazing for the amount of time I have had it and it does eas my nerves a little knowing the backup is there.


showing 1 through 15 of 35 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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