|Review by Manitario||posted 06-12-2011 07:26 PM||9922 views||0 times favorited||35 comments|
So I bought a Sawstop. I was perfectly happy with my General International granite topped TS, but I have been increasingly concerned about my safety when using it. Namely, I’m an ER doctor, and need my fingers or most of them at least. I debated for a long time about this saw, and whether a) if I needed it (as I already am a very safe and careful TS user…most days) and b) if it really would help prevent a serious injury. In answer to “a”: I realized that as careful as I am using the TS, it only takes a split second of inattention or kickback to send my fingers into the blade. Chances are very low that I’d have ever injured myself on the TS, but not zero…which leads me to “b”: I’m still going to end up with an injury if any part of me touches my TS blade, however, from what I’ve read and seen, I believe that the Sawstop will decrease the severity of the injury.
I went with the 1.75HP saw mostly because the 3HP saw was another $900, which made me consider very carefully whether I’d ever really need a 3HP saw. The last thing I wanted to do was spend $2800 and realize after a few years that the saw was underpowered. From what I’ve read though, if I feed the TS slowly and use a thin-kerf blade, 1.75 HP should be all I ever need as a hobby ww.
The TS came on a crate, with everything packed in styrofoam and thick cardboard. It would have taken an impressive amount of carelessness to damage the TS during shipping. The cast iron top was covered with a moderate amount of oil, and was spotless after a little effort and application of orange degreaser.
Assembly: The instructions were meticulous and easy to follow. There were detailed diagrams and pictures, and every part was well labeled. It would have been difficult to screw up the assembly. Fit and finish was perfect and there were no visible flaws in the machining of the parts.
By comparison, my Gen. International TS also had very good assem. instructions, so this isn’t just a Sawstop thing. I have read on LJ’s many horror stories about poorly worded, unclear assem. instructions, so it was nice not to have to deal with this.
The only other thing to comment on the assem. was the installation of the cast iron wings. My Gen. Int. TS had granite wings, which were perfectly level and even from the moment I put the bolts in. The Sawstop wings needed some effort in order to align and level them properly. I didn’t pull out my feeler gauges, but I know that I was not able to get the table perfectly flat, how much it is out though, I’m not sure. As well, the extension table was tricky to align with the cast iron wing, and took several efforts to get it right.
Fence and rails were easy to adjust, with the exception adjusting the gap b/t the fence face and TS surface, which required the loosening of about ten bolts.
Total time to assemble the saw and the base ~4h.
Initial Impression: This is a well built, well thought out saw. It is obvious that actual TS users designed the saw. It starts smoothly and quietly, and although I didn’t test it with any thick pieces of wood, it cut easily through what I threw at it. A couple of quibbles though: The dust collection consists of a shroud on the underside of the blade, connected to a 4” hose which in turn connects to a 4” dust port on the back of the machine. Whereas I’m sure that the shroud will collect dust better than on my old TS which was simply an angled ramp at the bottom of the cabinet with a 4” port at the back, I would have liked to see a 5 or 6” port on the Sawstop. Unfortunately, due to the design of the saw it will be virtually impossible for me to retrofit this which is disappointing. As well, for the price of the saw, it would have been nice for them to include their overarm DC system. That said, I could see after my first few cuts that the DC was noticeably better than my old TS, even without overarm DC. Second issue is with the fence; it has a melamine covered plywood face, which seems to be inviting me to chip it. My old TS fence face was HDPE, which was virtually indestructible.
In essence, take out the safety system, and the Sawstop is like any other $1500 TS. Unfortunately it wasn’t $1500 though…I’m happy with it, and hopefully it will serve its purpose for many years to come.
-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil