|Review by Scomel Basses||posted 12-26-2013 04:43 PM||5095 views||1 time favorited||11 comments|
- SawStop 3HP 10-inch Cabinet Saw with 36" T-Glide Fence
- Brand: SawStop | Category: Tablesaws
Back story: When I purchased a Grizzly 1023RLW earlier this year, I actually wanted the SawStop 3HP Professional. I did so, as many of us have, because of the price of the Grizzly and the fact that it is a fantastic saw. I told myself that I’d get the Grizzly, use the money I saved from not buying the SawStop for other tools, and just be extra careful. To date, I have not had an accident on a table saw after years of use. By using all the typical safety techniques, I haven’t even had a close call on a table saw. So why would I decide to sell a perfectly good saw and spend a lot more money on a SawStop? Oddly enough, my decision was based on an accident I had on a different tool.
I like to use the router mounted in a table for as many operations as I can. I find that it’s very accurate and relatively safe when proper safety precautions are used. A few weeks ago I was routing a dovetail groove in a piece of maple to be used as a center drawer runner. I’ve made grooves in this fashion many times in the past. Like all those other times, I would progress the work piece along the fence with the help of push pads applying down pressure on the board. I’m still unsure how it happened but the bit caught the board and shot it across the shop. As the board raced from under the push pad, the pad was pulled into the bit which ripped the pad from my hand, pulling my left index finger into the bit. The tip of my finger got pretty chewed but not so bad to need stitches. In addition to being a police officer, I am also a life-long musician. I know everybody needs their fingers, but I really need them;).
This incident taught me that no matter how safe you are or how safe you think you are, accidents can happen. I know a lot of us like to think “this won’t happen to me,” that “I’ve been using a table saw since I fell from my momma and know what I’m doing.” Well, I’m sorry to say, there are no guarantees. While there are other tools in my shop that are very dangerous, and I don’t believe the SawStop technology makes the table saw completely safe, how can I not get this saw which would help eliminate at least a little bit of the danger? I fully intend to
continue all those safety practices employed over the years, which in conjunction with the technology, is a pretty good recipe. And while the brake does not eliminate kick-back, it certainly helps with one side-effect of kick-back, where when a kick-back occurs it can sometimes pull your hand into the blade. Enough of this epilogue, on to the review.
Buying: I purchased the SawStop PCS 3HP 36” from my local Woodcraft store which is sadly closing its doors. I got a great deal and the saw was already in stock. The guys loaded up the 5 boxes(they threw in the SawStop professional mobile base) onto the back of my Toyota Tacoma and off I went. I couldn’t unload the saw by myself so I had to wait for my brother to come over the next day to help. Due to my work schedule, I could not assemble the saw for a few days after purchase.
Assembly: Like what has been well documented in other reviews, assembly could not have been easier. The packaging, manual, and directions could not have been better. Usually, assembling and setting up a tool is an exercise in frustration. Not so with the SawStop. It is obvious the folks at SS have spent a fair amount of money on this alone with the posters and clearly labeled and colored coded blister packs. I like the fact that the saw is shipped on its back to make it less likely to tip during shipping. After pulling the box off the cabinet, I maneuvered the saw onto part of the Styrofoam packaging material as the manual suggests. This was very easy, even for one person. I then assembled the mobile base and attached it to the saw, again very easy. I was then able to lift the saw into the upright position. It was time to put on the hand wheels, which went on without issue. The hand wheels are very nice and operate very smoothly. However, I don’t like the center locking wheels. They operate as they should, but I think the handles themselves should be made out of metal and not plastic. It doesn’t effect the function, but the plastic slightly cheapens the look of this expensive saw.
Alignment: At this point, before installing the cast iron wings and extension table, I decided to align the miter slot to the blade. I felt it would be easier to shift the table now before adding all the extra weight. After learning how SawStop engineered their alignment system, this is probably not needed. The manual suggests that the saw is adjusted at the factory to very tight tolerances and that adjustment should not be needed. I have no doubt that it was adjusted at the factory, but it’s been my experience that shipping wreaks havoc on a tools factory
settings. My saw was no different. By using a dial indicator jig, I found my saw to be about .005” out of alignment. The method I use is to mark a spot near one saw tooth, zero the indicator, rotate the blade to the back of the saw, and get a reading from the same tooth. I don’t know how all the other companies alignment systems work, but I find the SawStop system to be fantastic. In the past, I either had to bang on the trunnions of a contractor type saw or take a mallet and bang on the table of a cabinet saw to make adjustments. There is no fine tuning in this method. On the SS, they utilize a front pivot point and then use two set-screws in the back of the saw to make changes. I found this to be extremely accurate. I loosened the four bolts that hold the table down and took a new measurement. Loosening the bolts caused a slight change in the measurement which was expected. I left the dial indicator at the back of the blade and went to the back of the saw to make adjustments. I used two 5mm wrenches, one on either set-screw, to make the adjustment. I was able to make very fine adjustments while watching the dial indicator. With a new reading, the blade was in prefect alignment with the slot, with no perceptible deviation on the indicator from the front of the blade to the back. Perfect! But I knew I was not done. No matter how careful I am when tightening the bolts that hold the table, the table always shifts a little. I employed the “star method” by tightening opposing corners a little at a time but still caused the table to go out by .001”. I know this is well within the acceptable range, but I knew I could get even better because of the pivot-point and set-screw system. I noted which direction the table shifted, loosened the bolts, and made some more adjustments. This time I compensated for the .001” and adjusted the table to be .001” out in the other direction with the bolts loose. I then tightened the bolts exactly as I had done before hoping the end result would be a perfectly aligned blade/slot. It was a success! There is now no difference on the dial indicator from front to back, all made possible by the pivot-point/set-screw system.
Completing the saw: The rest of the saw went together very smoothly. I used saw horses and some plywood “bridges” and blocks to bring the cast iron wings level to the top for easy installation. The wings went on and aligned perfectly with the table top and all appears very flat, well within the manufacturers specs. The extension table looks very nice and went on without issue thanks to the leveling screw on the saw side of the table. The fence was then installed and adjusted with the dial indicator to perfection and it smoothly slides along the top. As I did with my Grizzly, I replaced the factory power cord with a longer one.
Conclusion: My early impressions of this saw is that it is awesome. I’ve cut several boards and it’s effortless. The dust collection is fantastic. For now I have my shop vac connected to the blade guard and my DC connected to the back port. Between the two, it seems that not a spec of dust escapes. I may figure out a more efficient way of doing this in the future, perhaps using just my DC. I have not heard good things about using a T adapter on the back port so I may just continue to use both.
Another thing that needs to be said about this saw is about how beautiful it is. The design is just sexy with the sculpted/curvy front and black and red finish. I absolutely loved my 1023RLW, it was/is a fantastic saw. I absolutely bought the SS for the technology but I got a lot more than I was expecting. Everything on this saw compared to the Grizzly just feels more robust and the construction seems to be of much tighter tolerances.
Will this translate to better cuts and better fitting joints? I don’t know. A year ago, when I was first trying to choose between the Grizzly and SS, I asked myself was the SS $1500 better than the Grizzly? Back then my answer was no. I was wrong. The SawStop is so much more than the brake. I’ve suffered from buyers remorse on every purchase I’ve ever made, no matter the price, it’s a mental condition I believe. ;) This is the first purchase I can remember with absolutely no regrets.