Which table saw to buy - Steel City 35990c or Porter Cable PCB270TS

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Forum topic by duffmankc posted 03-07-2011 06:12 PM 10513 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2839 days

03-07-2011 06:12 PM

I’m new into wood working and looking to get a good table on my modest budget. I’ve been looking around and I think I’ve narrowed it down to the Steel City 35990c or Porter Cable PCB270TS.
It seems that the main difference between the two saw is that the Steel City has the full cabinet-mounted trunions, whereas the PC has cabinet mounted trunions, but not the traditional kind. Also, the Steel City has solid cast iron wings.
The Steel City is $650 right now on amazon, but I have seen previous posts that it has been $600 on amazon and I’m not in a huge rush so I can try to wait it out to get the lower price.
Lowes has the PC right now for $550, but after several discounts, my total out-of-pocket cost would be only $460.
The Steel City saw seems to be the better saw, but do you guys think its worth the extra $140 over the PC?
Right now I’m leaning towards getting the PC and spending the savings on a good blade or fence.

24 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2895 days

#1 posted 03-07-2011 06:42 PM

the solid cast iron wings would be worth $140 to me but having heard mixed reviews on Steel City, I’ll leave the advice to experts below. Good luck! Al

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View duffmankc's profile


14 posts in 2839 days

#2 posted 03-07-2011 08:32 PM

I haven’t seen too many reviews/comments on Steel City. Sounds like they used to make saws for Ridgid or Craftsman and now are doing it under their own brand. Anyone else familiar with Steel City or their reputation?

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3666 days

#3 posted 03-07-2011 08:53 PM

I have a large SC table saw, 3hp 220, cast iron with 52 in to the right. The two times I’ve needed to call SC their tech help was helpful, knowledgeable and timely. The start switch went out and the tip of the arbor shaft chipped. SC immediately replaced both parts and they were easy to change out.
I used to buy PC routers and liked everything I used branded PC. They were bought out by Black and Decker. I’ve looked at the products they now make for the big box stores. To me, they look like warmed over cheap poorly made B and D products. I think they picked a few items to continue under the PC name but cheapened them to the point of being almost useless.
I also have an SC 14in granite top bandsaw. It has and continues to work great.
I have not used the PC table saw but I have looked at one in the store. I was not impressed! As far as the components for the saws, I think they all come out of the same Chinese factory but to different specs.
Like Bertha said. The solid cast is worth the difference. Mass is one of the key factors in making a good saw and dampening vibration.
So far, I’m happy with both my SC tools.
PS. I really cannot believe I waded into yet another table saw thread. This is almost as dangerous as arguing politics and religion at the same time. Every body has their own opinion. A TS is the center piece of almost every shop and you’ll be glad if you put a little extra into this critical tool.
Hope this helps. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2895 days

#4 posted 03-07-2011 08:54 PM

I heard the same story but the one I heard is that some were from Delta. As the story goes, they got sick of the problems associated with the larger makers & went off on their own. They started out with Table Saws & now have a pretty solid selection of your standard tools. They were the first to use granite tabletops, to the best of my knowledge. I was gung-ho Steel City until I heard bad things from respected people. I love the LOOK of their machines, for what that’s worth :)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View tommyt654's profile


122 posts in 3650 days

#5 posted 03-08-2011 06:50 AM

Considering Lowes now sells the SC Bandsaw you might want to see if they are also going to carry that tablesaw. But either way the SC is a far better tablesaw than the PC will ever be IMO:)

View terry staggs's profile

terry staggs

19 posts in 2838 days

#6 posted 03-08-2011 07:03 AM

Steel city is a knock off of delta. when delta was sold . some of the top guys left and went to china to use delta as the proto type and start up.( info from trade show) mi opinion is all the new stuff is junk. if you have never owned a saw you might not know the difference. my opinion is use you money to buy a good older saw. it will be money well spent.


View jdon88's profile


19 posts in 2854 days

#7 posted 03-08-2011 08:44 AM

I’m looking around for a good older saw instead of a new one. How old should it be? 5 years, 10 years? Is there an age to be avoided as in too old?

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3015 days

#8 posted 03-08-2011 09:14 AM

I had a Hitachi Hybrid Saw, and didn’t care for it. Then I noticed the same saw branded as Porter Cable at Lowes. That makes me very nervous because it tells me Porter Cable had nothing to do with the design or engineering of the saw.
My hitachi adjustment wheels broke off (both of them), and the frame was flimsy and bent under normal usage in a shop setting.
My advise: shop for a used Jet. I have the gold series contractors saw with cast iron wings and the Xacta II fence, and I love it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View knotscott's profile


8148 posts in 3577 days

#9 posted 03-08-2011 12:06 PM

The guys who founded Steel City did indeed have some history with Delta (and others), but AFAIK, they’ve since left Steel City. I’ve heard that one of them (I think Scott Box) is involved with General International.

While the Steel City industrial cabinet saw is modeled after the Delta Unisaw, like most other North American style industrial cabinet saws, the hybrid and contractor saws are very different than those from Delta. The 35990 is a departure from their other well proven hybrids like the former Craftsman 22124, current Cman 22116, former Ridgid R4511, and Steel City 35925. Like most tools in today’s market, it’s tough to draw conclusions from other tools carrying the same logo. I know they’re were some issues with the 35990 that were documented here, but I’ve read other positives about the same saw, so its hard to know if the issues we read about were just isolated incidents. It looks like a nice saw for the money, but IMO more field testing is needed before I’d get a “warm fuzzy” feeling about buying one.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3172 days

#10 posted 03-08-2011 01:03 PM

I can’t speak of the SC saw; no experience wih it. I did look at the PC saw a year ago. I liked the saw till I checked out the fence. The fence on the one I checked out was not good at all. I wound up with a Craftsman hybrid, model 21833, which was about the same price, ~$450 including tax and discounts. I think the new Ridgid 4512, replacement for the Granit top 4511, is the same saw as the Craftsman with different paint. I really like the Craftsman, but I have seen on here where some folks have had problems with alignment issues with its trunnion. Bottom line, I wish I had not been so concerned with getting a saw for less than $500 to stay within my budget. Like I said before, I’m happy with the Craftsman, but I know it’s right on the thin edge of just acceptable quality. For such an important tool I would feel a lot better if I had some extra beef in there.

Be sure to take a close look at the fence on that PC saw. Lock it down then grab it with your hand and give it a twist. You will see that you can easily twist it out of plumb, in the vertical plane, by a few degrees.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3124 days

#11 posted 03-08-2011 02:36 PM

First saw…find you a well taken care of Ridgid 3650 and buy a good blade.

-- Life is good.

View mrg's profile


840 posts in 3201 days

#12 posted 03-08-2011 03:33 PM

I was at the Woodworkers show 2 weeks ago and spoke with a rep from Delta and had asked about the PC saw and he told me that it is built for the big box stores. He said that the store says we want a saw at this price and they build to that. He said he would not recommend the saw. Not up to par with what it should be.

The conversation came about after me asking about the saw and if it was the replacement for the contractor saw, and also because it was in the Delta woodworking tools.

-- mrg

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 2877 days

#13 posted 03-08-2011 03:54 PM

All my table tools are Delta x5. A budget for a tool based on money in your pocket won’t get you a good saw or table tool. I would consider waiting until you have more money. You will probably own this saw for the duratiuon of your carrer. It’s the most used and the most important table tool in your shop.

My first saw was a used crapsman on flimsy legs and wheels. Then I bought a 500.00 Delta Contractors saw with a unifence on a roller stand and wired it for 220. Nice saw.

It took awhile but I finally coughed up 1100.00 on sale, for the Delta X5 with a 50” Biesemeyer fence, an extension table, and a roller stand. Awesome machine. I wish I made my own outfeed table. The Delta table could be better but it works.

I don’t know how much room you have but it sounds like this saw will be stationary.
Go big, go for cast iron weight, 220 power, a roller stand, 50” capacity, and buy the fence you want now. Why own 2 fences?

Sounds like you need to save more money. No regrets.

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3346 days

#14 posted 03-08-2011 05:47 PM

Here a distinction mostly missing from power-tool discussions; Brand does not equal manufacturer

Steel City, Delta, GI, Craftsman, Jet, DeWalt, Grizzly and others are brands that purchase from a manufacturer; similar to a private/White label but without an exclusivity agreement.

As far as I know the only truly unique private label arangement is with SawStop; based on an exclusive manufacturing agreement tied to the technology.

The Steel City 35990c looks like the successor to the Granite top 3/4 to full cabinet SC, Ridgid, Craftsman, GI model that is fairly well respected for a budget saw. I’m assuming the fence, trunions, motor, and gear assembly are similar if not identical; all of them very functional; if not in the same category as a full cabinet saw.

The PC is the sucessor to the Hitachi brand saw sold by Lowes without much success for several years. It’s an okay saw; however, there are some limitations immediatly evident. Even if you wanted to upgrade to cast wings to throw some weight over the saw they simply aren’t available. The fence is custom and may not be exchangable for after-market models, etc.

I’d suggest a good look at Grizzly’s offerings to compare to the SC Saw and Sears/Home Depot version of their new contractor saw to compare against the PC. Set two tiers; $600-$800 or $400-$500. Depending on how long you want to use the saw before you upgrade, portability, etc.

And as above; keep an eye on Craigslist for a steal sale. Chicagoland this week very briefly had a PM available for less than $1,000.

View duffmankc's profile


14 posts in 2839 days

#15 posted 03-08-2011 06:26 PM

So, its soundling like the PC isn’t a very good saw. For the SC, seems like its getting some mixed comments. What are some of the things that you guys have heard about SC?
Are their any other new saws around the 500-600 price range that you would recommend instead?

Also, I have thought about looking for a used saw, but it looks like all of the old saws are equipped with a spliiter instead of a riving knife. How important is the difference? I’ll be making non-through cuts on the saw that I buy, and its sounds like its a pain in the butt to remove and replace a splitter and realign it with the blade.
Thanks for all the help.

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