Warning … the following is just me thinking out loud (or, actually, in type), and the rambling nature of the post pretty accurately reflects that status of my brain on holiday!
I’ve been thinking about moving to a real (i.e., not a bench top) table saw for some time now, probably every since I moved to working with rough-sawn feedstock for my projects. I initially was going to do all of the straightening and flattening work with hand tools, which wasn’t too bad for wood like alder. Unfortunately, I no longer have the stamina of a 20 year old, so truing up wood like hard maple or the SA exotics turned out to be too much, to the point where once the stock was ready I had to take a week off before I could contemplate breaking down the stock by hand. This is a long-winded way of saying that I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m going to have to rely on power more than I originally envisioned.
Which brings me to the table saw. I’ve always had a bench top saw, a little Craftsman. It served its purpose in the past for rough construction projects, but it really wasn’t much better than using a hand-held circular saw (which I often used instead of lugging out the bench top). But, now that I want to move more towards furniture making, I realize that I need to get a full-size table saw (among other things) to help me redirect some of the energy used in preparation towards design and final construction.
Having gotten this far in my thinking, the next natural question is “Which tablesaw?” There appear to be a number of high-quality saws on the market, judging from the reviews that I have been reading, and everyone seems to have their favorite (or, at least, the one they are willing to recommend based on using it years). But, at this point in time, I am leaning heavily towards a Sawstop, either contractor or professional grade.
There are a number of reasons why I am coming to this conclusion. Although not the most important, certainly the initial consideration is the pricing. I am blessed to be at a point in my life where I can afford most everything that I want (well, at least those things that would be good for me and that my wife wouldn’t kill me over). So, the premium price of the Sawstop is not really an issue, particularly since the saw seems to be just a good as some of the best peer saws that do not have the sawstop technology. Also, being the good economist that I get paid to be, I can easily rationalize the extra premium as a type of risk-avoiding insurance payment—and heaven knows that I pay enough in medical insurance and other payments each year that another grand isn’t going to make much of a difference, particularly when amortized over the life of the saw.
But, perhaps the biggest reason for leaning towards the Sawstop is that my 12 year old son has finally taken an interest in woodworking with Dad, including the use of the power tools. As a strapping young man (6 ft, 145 lbs), he definitely has the look of an adult, but he still has the attention span of a soon-to-be teenager (in other words, not much). So, while I have been comfortable with him around the small drill press and bandsaw, the table saw has been off limits. To be honest, I can’t remember back 40 years as to whether we had table saws in woodshop when I was in junior high, but, even if we did, it is now a new day and I don’t enjoy the prospect of having to deal with the state’s social services branch if an accident were to happen (to say nothing of having the guilt from allow my son to get maimed for what, in all likelihood, will be the next 100 years of his life).
If the sawstop technology really works as it appears to, and I can make use of that as a fail-safe as I train my son in the safe use of a table saw, is there any rationale reason for not getting a Sawstop?
-- Kacy, Louisiana