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Is it worth the Premium Price?

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Review by TrentFysty posted 04-11-2012 06:44 PM 9005 views 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Is it worth the Premium Price? Is it worth the Premium Price? No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Let me first say that I am writing this review to provide potential buyers with a first hand experience, not to open up the ever growing debate of madating the safety technology or what kind of person the founder is. With that said, on to the review.

Backround:

Let me start out by saying this is the 4th Table Saw I have owned. I started with a Delta job site saw that wasn’t good at all. It was mostly plastic and while it cut wood, it wasn’t much more then a circular saw turned upside down and bolted to the top. The second was the top of the line Dewalt job site saw. This was a good saw. It was direct drive and I found it cut pretty much everything I wanted to cut. It was relatively light weight and it worked well for the work I was doing. The third saw was a Grizzly G1023 SLWX3 5HP saw. It was three phase and a beast in its own right. I have no complaints with the Grizzly and I would highly recommed their products. The reason for moving to a SawStop was that I cut the top of my left middle finger in January of this year. I was following all safety precausions and the wood kicked back and I got cut. The Grizzly didn’t have a riving knife which would have helped to eliminate or drastically reduce kick back so I can’t say that my accident is only preventable with a SawStop, but none the less I decided to go with SawStop for peace of mind going forward.

How I chose the SawStop:

At first I was looking at going with the contractors model of SawStop. I am in the process of selling my house and moving to something smaller. I wanted something that would be fairly easy to transport and could also be used with a 110 outlet. Given that I don’t know exactly where I will be living I didn’t want to go with a saw that required 220 as I can’t guarantee the new place will have it or that I can put it in reasonably. The contractor saw seemed to fit what I was looking for. I read all the reviews I could get my hands on and felt like it was the way to go. Off to the store I went so I could see one face to face. That’s when my decision changed.

Comparing prices and knowing that I could get the mobile base or overhead dust collection for free with a mail in rebate the price between the contractor and the 1.75HP Professional Cabinet saw was minimal. Comparing the two side by side the decision was made easier. The motor on the contractor saw sticks out the back by a foot or so. That means you can’t place it tight agains a wall for storage. That wouldn’t work for me. Second, by the time you add in the upgraded fence, cast iron wings and mobile base the price difference is so small that it just didn’t make sense to go with the contractor saw. The mail in rebate sealed the deal and I purchased the PCS175 with the 30” Premium Fence.

Why not upgrade the fence? The extra 6” would make storage that much more difficult in my current setting and probably even more difficult in the future. I don’t understand why SawStop does not offer the top fence in a 30” length or even smaller and get rid of the black top insert. I don’t spend a lot of time breaking down sheet stock on my table saw so fence width isn’t an issue for me. So I went with the 30” fence and after playing with it in the store I felt confident it would meet my needs.

The saw is 1.75HP. Going from a 5HP to 1.75HP was a big leap of faith for me. While I didn’t think I needed the 5HP again, I wasn’t sure 1.75HP would do the trick. So far I have been pleasantly surprised. I have cut 8/4 maple and oak with no problem. I do keep my blades sharp and don’t slam the stock through the saw. I haven’t noticed a lack of power yet. If I do end up in a location with 220 I will order the parts from SawStop ($40 plus shipping) and convert to 220 to extend the life of the motor. I also understand I can purchase the 3HP motor and convert the saw over that way.

The overall quality of the saw is excellent. I’ve used the top of the line Delta, Powermatic, and General and this saw is right up there. The top is flat, blade aligned to .001 and the fence was easy to adjust. The assembly was easy and I was able to do it by myself. The instructions are clear and easy to understand and the packaging was excellent.

The safety features is what sold me on SawStop. Simply put, there is no other saw on the market that offers the safety of SawStop. I hope that other manufacturers take the steps to incorporate something similar on their saws. I won’t get into the politics of it or the ethics of Mr. Gass business practices. All I will say is they have a corner on the market and when there is only one option, I bought SawStop. The issue of false activations has been brought up many times. Reading the manual it clearly states what you need to do to reduce the chances of this happening. Remove all conductive material. So no staples, no nails, no metal of any kind. That’s easy, I don’t want that hitting my expensive blades anyway. Use dry wood. Use the bypass when appropriate. All of this makes sense to me. If it does trip because of contract with skin then you send it to SawStop and the replace the cartridge for free.

Dislikes:

Fence options are limited. The dust collection is strange in that it goes from a shroud around the blade through a 4” tube to the bottom of the cabinet and exits. You have to have a dust collector for this or dust will go all over the place. My Grizzly just dumped into the cabinet so if I for got to hook up the dust collector, no problem it just stayed in the cabinet. Other then these two issues I really don’t have any gripes.

Conclusion:

If you want the safety features of a SawStop then the choice is simple as there is no competition. If you want a quality saw and aren’t concerned with the safety features SawStop offers then I would look to the other manufacturers as you can get more options for the same or less money. For me, the rest of my fingers are important. I don’t want to have another trip to the ER, rehab time or other complications that come from cutting the tip of a finger off. SawStop gives me that peace of mind. While I hope that I never need that safety feature, I am glad that it is there.

Update:
I faxed in the rebate form on Monday and ad the mobile base delivered on Friday, 5 days total. Pretty impressive response in my book. The mobile base works very well and I like being able to “lock” the saw in position. When putting together the mobile base I did discover an issue that I will be sending on to SawStop. The bolts that hold the two fixed casters are powder coated as are the holes they bolt in to. I ended up using a tap and die to clean both of them as I was afraid I would break the bolts otherwise. I just happened to have the correct metric tap and die. Just a little tip for those assembling their own mobile base.

Otherwise the saw continues to perform very well. Switching blades and dados is really quick. I still have no issue with power.




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TrentFysty

21 posts in 1284 days



21 comments so far

View woodklutz's profile

woodklutz

221 posts in 1426 days


#1 posted 04-11-2012 07:36 PM

Well written and explained. How good is the fence? Best of luck with your purchase.

-- honing my craft one mistake at a time.

View bunkie's profile

bunkie

411 posts in 1804 days


#2 posted 04-11-2012 07:39 PM

Nice review. Once you’ve had some more experience with it, perhaps you might do a follow-up.

The thought crossed my mind a few weeks back that it might be worth it to replace my Grizzly 1023SL with a SawStop. I haven’t hurt myself on my current saw (or on any saw for almost 20 years now) but I’m close to reaching a point where the peace of mind might well be worth the extra $2000. I’ve been a guitar player all my life and it would be a shame to have to give that up because of a preventable accident.

Mind you, I follow all of the standard precautions: I only remove the guard for non-through cuts, I use pushsticks and featherboards, my fence is properly aligned, I stand out the way of the blade, I plan my cuts and I get a shiver down my spine every time I turn the saw on as if the lion had just been let out of the cage. But I worry that it’s not enough.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112104 posts in 2234 days


#3 posted 04-11-2012 07:54 PM

Congrats on your new saw any time the name Saw Stop comes up it seems to start a debate with those who feel they are somehow going to get legislated into buying one or that they don’t like the inventor for his business practices, or they haven’t hurt them self yet so why do the need it now or one more that using a saw stop will have people become complacent about safety while using table saws in general. I don’t understand those lines of thought but we are all entitled to our own opinions. I have always felt Saw Stop is a great tool and the safety aspect and quality of the tool makes it a good investment.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View tsdahc's profile

tsdahc

75 posts in 1009 days


#4 posted 04-11-2012 08:13 PM

Im seriously looking at this saw. I was going to go with a grizzly but circumstances have changed and I have enough for a saw stop. My biggest thing right now is the fence. For cost consideration I want to go with the 30 in fence, how would you say the fence measures up to the more expensive fence? Im not too concerned with the size but more how it functions and how more or less accurate/stable it is compared to the bigger brother.

Also for the mobile base to you have to buy it then they send you a refund chek or do you get the base from them in the mail, or blade guard?

View freidasdad's profile

freidasdad

144 posts in 1645 days


#5 posted 04-11-2012 08:41 PM

Thanks for the review….and congratulations on the new saw. As soon as the budget permits I plan to make this same purchase. I’ve had a few mishaps myself. Cut thumb, huge bruises on my chest and stomach from some kick backs. ( I’m not as clumsy as this makes me sound…) None of this has prompted me to start saving for the Saw Stop. What got me started was when my daughter became interested in woodworking and coming into the shop with me. I give her all the safety instruction and watch her like a hawk, but I just can’t justify not having the safest technology available when the kids are involved. I’d never be able to forgive myself if anything happened that could have been prevented by spending a few extra dollars.
Thanks again for the review.

-- My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am---author unknown

View TrentFysty's profile

TrentFysty

21 posts in 1284 days


#6 posted 04-11-2012 09:16 PM

Thanks for the comments! As far as the fence, so far so good. It’s rock solid, slides easily and is easy adjustable and stays true. The only downside I see is that it can use of the self accessories that are made for the larger fences. I will be making an auxiliary fence that is taller for those cuts that require more stability. As far as measuring up to the professional fence, I think it stacks up well. It’s not as big and therefore not as heavy. I think it will work find for my needs. It’s is much better then the extruded aluminum that comes on the contractor saw. If they would have offered the pro fence in a 30” length I would have gone with that.

The rebate is sent in after you purchase the saw and then they send out the accessory that you chose. Pretty simple and they even email you to let you know they received the form and that is has been processed.

View cso's profile

cso

63 posts in 1345 days


#7 posted 04-12-2012 12:25 AM

I have the same saw only with the upgraded 36 fence. The 1.75 hp has never been a problem for me either. It is my second ts and I love it! Changing out blades and dados is a non-issue after a while as changing out and adjusting the cartridge becomes routine after a while. I bet I can do it (go from a blade to a fully stacked 7/8 inch dado) in 90 seconds or less after about a year and a half of doing it. No complacency on my part in regards to the built in safety. There is a financial incentive not to fire off a cartridge as your $125 blade and $69 cartridge will need to be replaced. Compared to a hospital visit and/or lost work time….well, there is no comparison. Accidents can happen no matter how careful one is.

View cdhilburn's profile

cdhilburn

95 posts in 1342 days


#8 posted 04-12-2012 01:44 AM

I just purchased a used R4512 granite top saw and I like it. The reason I bought used and low endwhen I upgraded was that I am saving for a SawStop. Most of the time people are “all in” or the opposite with SawStop so it is refreshing to see pros and cons. I like the honest review. I am with you on the politics but until another manufacturer comes along with a similar safe technology I will put a little money aside each month for my future SawStop. I was at a Woodcraft a few months ago and the Unisaw seemed like a better saw but for the safety features you can’t beat the SawStop. Congrats on the new saw!!!!

View Straightbowed's profile

Straightbowed

717 posts in 955 days


#9 posted 04-13-2012 02:19 PM

have u tried the hotdog test yet it? would be worth the cartridge just to see yes no I would personally like to see the hot dog test in person and do it myself then I would be sold on it but I use a long pushstick anyway or actually make my own out of red oak with the handle tapered and smooth so if my saw kicks back it can push the stick back some and my hand can hopefully slide up and away

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View Swampy's profile

Swampy

38 posts in 1002 days


#10 posted 04-14-2012 03:02 AM

Only thing I can say Trent is Im a happy camper with mine I bought the same saw as you except with the 36” fence about 3 months ago and Ive never looked back. I still do what I always have done Safety Safety Safety but now I have just one less thing to worry about. Ohhh and the quality Its outstanding as far as Im concerned but thats just my opinion for what its worth.

-- Gary Vondermuehll

View shopmania's profile

shopmania

692 posts in 1840 days


#11 posted 04-16-2012 01:48 AM

Nice review. I got the Contractor saw with the upgraded wings and 52” fence in January. I Love this saw! The fence is awesome, the blade changes are easy, and so are cartridge changes. . You have to change to a different cartridge to do dadoes. Mostly I’m cutting sheet good or i by material, but the one time I cut 2” stock it handles it very well. I opted to go without the mobile base, as I really don’t need to move the saw much at all. You can slide it a few inches easily enough if you need to. I built an outfeed table on mine and attached it to the rear fence rail, and it really works great. I had a Rigid with the granite top and 30’ fence. I really like that saw, but this is a big upgrade. The fence on this saw is always dead on accurate. I used to check the fence to blade measurement at the front and back of the blade every time I moved the fence. I just don’t need to do that anymore. The riving knife is really nice, and taking the throat plate out with no tools is quick and easy. The saw comes with a zero clearance insert from the factory, and you can use it with angled cuts as well, which is really nice.

Hope you enjoy your saw as much as I have!

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, DrTim@ONeillChiro.com- Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8780 posts in 2757 days


#12 posted 04-16-2012 12:40 PM

First of all – Congrats on the new saw!

I plan on getting the 3hp SawStop with 52” rails in the future. The money I was planning on spending now is going to a replacement vehicle as my contractor box is rotting apart at a faster rate than I expected. And with 200,000 miles on my truck I might as well get a new (used) rig.

Being in the trades I know a number of guys that have severely cut or cut off a finger or multiple fingers.

My brother is has been a construction trades teacher for 4 years now and can vouch for the digit saving features of the SawStop. He told me you can’t even begin to think of reacting as fast as the safety is thrown on the SawStop.

I personally do not care about the politics that everyone drags into the SawStop discussion, all I care about is saving my fingers and will most likely end up with one unless someone comes out with a truly competitive product that I might consider. I have looked at them and they are nice machines even without the safety feature.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Swede's profile

Swede

191 posts in 1676 days


#13 posted 04-16-2012 05:02 PM

When I was working in Construction I cut off the tip of my first & second finger including my middle finger halfway to the first joint. It took many years for it to heal and not have pain all of the time. I no longer work construction and my father has purchased a Unisaw since. I have been thinking about getting a comprable saw to use as I only do woodworking as a hobbie. Any comments on what would be comparable.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View eddie's profile

eddie

7325 posts in 1271 days


#14 posted 04-16-2012 05:38 PM

thanks for the review was leaning toward the contractor saw but the points you made have to rethink this i liked the cabinet one better but with the add on its not much difference on prices.

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View doordude's profile

doordude

1085 posts in 1640 days


#15 posted 04-17-2012 05:16 PM

nice review, i think because of the politics, i’‘l go with a jet cabinet saw.good luck on your new place to live.

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