How Can I Not Buy a Sawstop?

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Blog entry by Kacy posted 12-23-2009 06:05 PM 3960 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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

19 comments so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4086 days

#1 posted 12-23-2009 06:15 PM

I have had one for two years with zero regrets. It is a great saw. I would still teach every safety measure possible to your boy.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 3147 days

#2 posted 12-23-2009 06:19 PM

I took a long hard look at the pro model and if I had the funds I would have bought it.
It would take me another year of saving and I needed to upgrade now. I have some big projects on my radar and my under powered craftsman had to go.

So I bought a Grizzly G0690 and I love it so far. I feel that my recent awaking to shop safety has me approaching my power tools as I never did before. It has a good riving knife, a useable guard and lots of power. Something my old saw lacked.

If you have the funds definitely get the Saw Stop. You will never regret it. It’s Beautiful.

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3758 days

#3 posted 12-23-2009 06:33 PM

Kevin has all the right thoughts… a nutshell….......real safety is in the mind – not in the saw. You can’t take all the guards off a SawStop and happily assume that you are 100% safe. There are many other ways in which you can suffer injury on a table saw.

As gizmo stated, safety training with the young lad will extend to all your other tools as well, and the knowledge will stay with him for a lifetime.

Best of luck with your choice.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#4 posted 12-23-2009 06:43 PM

Kacy, the biggest drawback to the Sawstop is, as you have pointed out, the price. A friend of mine, who is a pro, once advised me that when buying a tool to spend the most money your budget will allow on the tool. The few times that I have ignored this advice I have come to regret it. I agree with Kevin’s comment that if funds are not a problem then go for the Sawstop.

By the way I can well understand about the safety feature of the saw and its inherent advantage with inexperienced woodworkers. In a series that I recently posted I detailed the construction of a vanity that my younger son did with some minor help from me. Even though he is 28, and has more focus than a teenager, he had almost no real experience with power tools or woodworking. Cutting plywood and hardwood on the Sawstop was just one less worry with working in the shop with him.

I have had my PCS since April and, similar to you, used a Craftsman saw before putting the Sawstop in my shop. Like Giz, I have had no problems with it whatsoever. It was one of those tool purchases that after I ran the saw a few times wondered “Why didn’t I do this sooner!!”

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#5 posted 12-23-2009 06:55 PM

I’ve not heard a single bad thing about the Sawstop other than price. So if the cost is not stopping you, I say go for it by all means. Every time I read about a woodworker having an accident on a table saw, I kind of second-guess myself for not getting one.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Darell's profile


434 posts in 3590 days

#6 posted 12-23-2009 07:57 PM

Kacy, by all means get the Sawstop. I’ve had the contractors Sawstop for a year and a half now and I love it. Their customer service is as excellent as their table saws. My dado cartridge went bad and the saw wouldn’t start so I called Sawstop and they immediately sent me a new cartridge, free of charge, along with a return paid label to send them the bad cartridge so they could check it out. That just hi-lites another safety feature of the saw. If the cartridge malfuntions the saw lets you know. The Sawstop and the proper training of your son in shop safety will go a long ways toward getting him started on a long, safe woodworking journey.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3266 days

#7 posted 12-23-2009 08:02 PM

Safety of that caliber is well worth it….I wish I had that option available when I bought my TS….I would not even think twice….the saw stop is the way to go….I think it should be a mandatory safety option on all TS….and for teaching a loved one? There can never be enough safety…..go for the Saw Stop – you will not regret it.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3288 days

#8 posted 12-23-2009 08:07 PM

I saved for a long time to get mine (I was going to get the PCS, but my local Woodcraft dropped the ball [as usual] and ordered the ICS, and I decided to accept it – but that’s another story). I just started using it this last week, and there are a few things I don’t like about it, but they’re minor.

1. The table seems to be low. I don’t know if it’s lower than the off-brand contractor’s saw it replaced, but it seems so.
2. The contractor’s saw took about a second to come up to full speed, and it made an “easygoing whir”; the ICS slams on full speed instantly, and it makes an “angry whine”. I’m still a little bit scared of it (to be fair, it cuts so well, I have yet to feel any resistance pushing anything through it).
3. Topside dust collection is nonexistent. I’m going to have to build a dust-collecting guard.
4. The riving knife makes it harder to make zero clearance inserts.
5. The inserts have a lot of complicated milling on the underside, which should also make it harder to make your own.

Apart from that, though, it’s a fine piece of equipment, and the short answer to your question is no. You may hear, “it’ll make you complacent”, or “I’d rather just be careful, thankyouverymuch”, but those aren’t rational, as you said.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View rcs47's profile


190 posts in 3126 days

#9 posted 12-23-2009 08:42 PM


I’ve been using “normal” table saws all my life. Last June I replaced a tilting table saw I got from my Dad (he got used when he opened his cabinet shop in 1947), with a SawStop contractor saw. I went for a SawStop because all of my research said they made a quality product, I could afford the extra cost, and accidents happen.

In the years I worked for my Dad, there must have been a half a dozen people that would come in to buy a piece of plywood (pre HD or Lowes days – the ‘70s). Then I wouldn’t see them for a few months, until they came back with one thumb shorter.

You’re on the right track with your son wanting to make saw dust. The built in safety feature will give you a little peace of mind.

I don’t know how my Dad did it with my brother and me working for him in a shop full of machines without guards. He taught us how to work around the machines. But those first few times must have been hard.

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

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4243 days

#10 posted 12-23-2009 08:48 PM

Just read my blog from yesterday, that should make up your mind for you. Nuff said, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Domer's profile


252 posts in 3363 days

#11 posted 12-23-2009 09:19 PM

I spent several months researching table saws and decided on the SawStop Industrial saw.

There were several things that made me choose the SawStop over several others. Not that they were bad but I thought the SawStop fit my needs better.

1. The safety brake. I know most people do not stick their hands into the blade but there are 35,000 emergency room visits for table saw accidents per year. It only takes one incident to pay for the saw many time over.
2. The riving knife is excellent and it pretty easy to change out so I will use it. The Unitsaw riving knife is probably slightly better but I don’t think much.
3. Overall quality. The SawStop is a great quality saw regardless of the safety devices. All of the tool sellers I talked to said the SawStop quality was at least as good as any of the other saws.
4. All of the tool sellers I talked to said that the customer service is much better with SawStop than any of the other manufacturers. I have only had to call them a few times but their response was excellent.
5. The mobile base on the SawStop is heads and shoulders above any of the others. I know this is minor in comparison to some other issues but in my case, I have a small shop and am constantly moving my saw so for me it is a big deal.
6. The SawStop is the number 1 best selling cabinet saw in the USA. That tells you that a lot of people are willing to pay the extra money for both the quality and safety.


View Kacy's profile


101 posts in 3081 days

#12 posted 12-24-2009 01:42 AM

I want to thank everyone for their comments and encouragement. Many of the things that have been said reinforce what I was thinking, and a few pointed out some things about the saw that I didn’t really know, so that was helpful as well. I’ve only been on the LJ site for a little over a week or so, but I can already tell that it is a place that I will hang around for a long time.

-- Kacy, Louisiana

View Kacy's profile


101 posts in 3081 days

#13 posted 12-24-2009 01:46 AM

Mike from Michigan …. I am really sorry about your accident, but if someone with 30 years of experience can have it happen, then I’ve got to do something to protect the newbie in my shop. I’m definitely getting the SawStop right after the holidays. BTW, I’m originally from MI, and still have family in Macomb and Oakland counties.

-- Kacy, Louisiana

View JayPique's profile


61 posts in 3284 days

#14 posted 12-24-2009 01:55 AM

Just today we had a guy put a kerf in his thumb on a tablesaw. He’s been working wood professionally for 15 years. Don’t know what happened, he just wrapped up his thumb and skedaddled to the ER. SawStop would have really really limited the damage. (Although this was on an Altendorf slider….they licensing the idea to other mfrs. yet?)

View WhittleMeThis's profile


125 posts in 3369 days

#15 posted 12-24-2009 01:55 AM

I think you answered your own question, enjoy your Sawstop.

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