|Review by woodfly||posted 05-11-2009 11:31 PM||5067 views||1 time favorited||30 comments|
Well I’ve had the saw for almost 6 months now so I thought that it was finally time to get around to the review.
I have been saving for my “first” table saw for several years now and finally had the money to get almost any one that I wanted. My first inclination was to go with a Powermatic. For the most part I have seen very few negatives when reading reviews from other buyers/ owners. The big issue was the $$$ even though I had saved enough. The question was go with the Powermatic or go with something for less $$ which would in turn leave me with money for additional tools for the shop. I chose the latter and in retrospect it may not have been the best decision.
I choose the Steel City after reading some reviews and seeing them at the WW show. The quality appeared good and the price was attractive and for some reason the Granite appealed to me.
I purchased the saw at the local Woodcraft store just before Thanksgiving. The “deal” included the WWII blade and some blade cleaner. I think it was something under $1400.00, which included a mobile base and dado insert.The saw actually arrived in less than a week and I managed to get it into my basement shop with a little help and a big dolly. As previous reviewers have stated the shipping container is a heavy cardboard box over a welded tubular steel cage and pallet. After taking off the cardboard I noticed that one of the top steel rails on the cage had a large bend in it, however after a close inspection, I could see no damage to the saw. There was a cardboard box with a lot of the hardware in it that had a pretty large tear and it looked like some of the small plastic bags had started to come out through the hole. I was concerned that some might have already been lost, but after checking for all the parts, everything was present and accounted for.
Assembly: After unpacking and getting the saw onto the mobile base, which I also pruchased, I was ready to start the assembly. The first step was to get the Granite extension on. There are 3 studs that screw into the fixed table top onto which the extension is then bolted. FIRST PROBLEM—One of those studs was not threaded properly. While it looked like it was threaded, it actually only had rings cut into it instead of spiral threads. I didn’t even know that was possible. Regardless, all progress stops because if you can’t complete step 1 you can’t go to step 2. I called customer service and they sent the part, which arrived about 4 days latter. I finally was able to get the extension on but had a devil of a time getting it even and level with the rest of the top. It could not be adjusted the way the instructions stated and I finally had to shim it, which was the only way to get it level. The rest of the assembly went OK, however I kept noticing how much wooble there was to the saw as I was puting it all together. I began to suspect the mobile base. Before getting things completely assembled I tried to make sure everything was level but the saw still wobbled too much. I even shimmed the mobile base to where it was not touching the floor and there was still a lot of movement. I finally decided that the base was to flimsy for the weight of the saw and took it off the base and put it right on the concrete floor. That solved the problem. Don’t buy the Steel City mobile base.
Assembly complete, saw running, sawdust being generated, now for some observations:
1. The table extension has a pretty pronounced crown right in the center. On one of the photos, you can see by the level just how much.
2. There seems like a lot of vibration when the blade is tilted 45 degrees. (Steel city says they all do that) You tell me LJs, is that true?
3. The “nickle test” I don’t think so, unless its a roll of nickles!
4. The blade insert that came with the saw was unusable. The four leveling screws on each corner of the were so proud of the top (see photo) that anything you tried to push through would either stop when it hit the high spots or ride up over them, sometimes leaving you with a piece of wood in the middle of a turning blade that you could not push on through. I serious safety issue if you ask me. I called customer service and thay sent another one that was even worse. I finally took a grinder and flattened the high spots out and it seems to work OK now. When I called customer service concerning the issue again their answer was that they were redesigning the insert and one would be sent to me. That was 5 months ago. I made another follow up call a couple of months ago and they told me it was still in the design phase, but suggested that I buy a zero clearance insert. After all my trouble you might think they would send me a zero clearance insert instead of offering to sell me one. I did buy a zero clearance insert, but not a Steel City. I bought a LeeCraft and it works great. I’m not even going to go into the issues with the Steel City dado insert I bought, which was also unacceptable.
5. The Riving Knife (which I love) is supposed to have a quick disconnect, but it does not work properly. Customer service is supposed to be sending me that part also. I’m still waiting and have little to no hope that they will come through.
6. During assembly almost all factory adjustments had to be readjusted. The 45 and 90 degree stops, riving knife alingment, blade to table, miter slot to blade, fence to blade etc.
Sorry,I didn’t mean for this to get so long. I guess I’m just venting a bit.
There are some pros. Once everything was set up, I have not had to make additional adjustments.The saw makes good, repeatable cuts, has good power, and is pretty solid. (once I ditched the mobile base) The fence is very nice, smooth and solid. The Granite is dead flat and I don’t have to worry about rust.
The cons – Quality control could and should be much better and quite frankly Steel City customer service is bad. Apparently they are content to just tell the customer what they want to hear without following up or doing what they say they will do. There is more vibration than I think there should be. Not sure the Granite will “last several life times” and based on my experience so far, I dread the day I may have to call SC customer service to collect on any warrantey needs.
So there it is. Would I do the SC again. No. But it is what it is and I will make it work. After all, its just my opinion right?