Which Model SawStop?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by DavidNJ posted 12-18-2012 02:41 AM 5542 views 0 times favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2227 days

12-18-2012 02:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sawstop

Why a SawStop? Because my wife says “you had 10 fingers when I married you, you will have 10 fingers when I divorce you”. The married part started 26 years ago, I’m still waiting for the divorce.

I would classify myself as a novice. I am more than willing to take on projects, but my only table saw is a 20 year old Sears model I pretty much gave up on years ago: the stand shakes, the fence has the stiffness of yesterday’s newspaper, and miter slots don’t fit anything. My work relies on a 10” sliding miter saw, a 12” double compound miter saw, and hand power tools: circular saw, drills, jig saw, router.

If this was a $500 or $750 dollar purchase there wouldn’t be much of an issue. But require blade stopping technology pretty much eliminated that option.

At the price of any SawStop model and the difficulty of getting it into the basement this is likely to be a 15-20 year purchase. So rather than a starter table saw, I’m looking at a saw that needs to be versatile for a long, long, time.

The options: 1.75hp Contractor Saw, 1.75 Professional Cabinet Saw, 3hp Professional Cabinet saw. The first two share the same motor; the second two share the same chassis. All are vertical lift and come with the same rail options at the same prices.

I looked at both today and a new Delta for comparison. While the dealer might disagree, for reference I thought the Delta was a bit smoother (although all were very smooth) and more completely thought out; details like front mounted bevel wheel and a 360° bevel gauge. That said, the Delta had a visible machining error on the bevel on one of its cast iron wings; an error large enough the wing should have been sold as a second.

On the contractor model the steel wings are optional. That may actually reduce the de facto price $100 if I replace the left side wing with a cast iron router table top. The motor hangs out the rear, the tunnions and arbor assembly are substantial, but visibly lighter than the PCS models. The model was introduced in 2008. Price with wheels and two cast iron wings is $1958. The store’s owner has the contractor model.

The PCS cabinet models look substantial. The motors are left side mount eliminating the option of a left side router wing. The assembly with the motor and arbor looks substantial but less so than the Delta. SawStop and the dealer say dust collection is significantly better on the cabinet models. It weighs about 20# more than the contractor saw with cast iron wings. The model was introduced in 2009 and costs $2498.

The 3hp model adds a 3hp 220v only motor. It also adds $430 at $2928, which is also $960 more than the contractor model. The shop’s woodworking expert has 3hp non-SawStop saw, has always had 3hp saws, and said he would get a SawStop if he was buying one today.

In relative pricing the contractor model is slightly more expensive than Powermatic’s contractor saw; the 3hp cabinet model is slightly less expensive than Powermatic’s 3hp PM2000. However, if the safety feature wasn’t an issue would I wouldn’t even be considering a saw in this price range.

All of the models have a “mobility” kit included in the price. unlike other cabinet saws, the SawStop mobility kit is integrated with the cabinet which sits on the ground when not in motion.

The price’s listed include their bottom of the line fence. This isn’t an issue since I will be installing a 52” Incra fence. I’ve described this purchase as the search for a table saw to go with an Incra fence.

The questions:

Is the contractor model sufficient and acceptable, or is it just over priced?

Is a cabinet saw worth $530, about 25%, over a contractor saw?

Is a 3hp model worth $430 over a 1.75hp model? Will the extra power make a difference? Will cutting 5/4 oak ever be an issue? Is it worth $960 more than the contractor saw, about 50% mode?

Since this is a long term purchase, should it be viewed as may be 1/10th the difference per year, or $100 a year more for a 3hp cabinet over a 1.75hp contractor model?

Thanks for your opinions and valued experience,


45 replies so far

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3219 days

#1 posted 12-18-2012 02:54 AM

I have used the 3 hp PCS and it is an awesome saw. When I upgrade, I want that one. As far as a PCS being worth the extra over a contractor saw, that is really up to you. I think the cost difference in the motors is totally worth it, as I work with 8/4 stock and some thicker on a somewhat regular basis. The way i see it, when I purchase one (someday) it will be the last saw I ever buy.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2227 days

#2 posted 12-18-2012 04:55 AM

Pip, you are saying you would definitely spend $430 (about an extra 17%) for 3hp over 1.75hp in a cabinet saw but are less certain it is worth $1000 more than the 1.75hp contractor model? That also makes sense looking at the used saw; the market for 3hp used cabinet saws is much larger than the market for 1.75hp ones. Note that the 1.75hp PCS cabinet saw could be upgraded to 3hp time for about $600 in parts.

It will be the last saw, but the technology used to stop the blade will probably replaced. When I was talking with SawStop today I suggested something (that I probably should have just patented instead): instead of destroying a sacrificial aluminum block and probably the blade, why not use a disc break like the Siemens wedge brake (

Unlike conventional disc brakes which require externally developed hydraulic pressure for activation, wedge brakes use the energy in the rotating assembly and the friction between the disc and the pad to apply force. It would be a natural for this application and my napkin analysis is that SawStop averages about 150hp-175hp braking force.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

509 posts in 2273 days

#3 posted 12-18-2012 04:59 AM

I didn’t do anywhere near the research you did, but I bought the 1.5 hp Contractors saw for use in my commercial shop and I’m happy with it. It does everything I need for it to do and is very accurate.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2810 days

#4 posted 12-18-2012 05:40 AM

The contractor model is overpriced for what it is.

Yes, the cabinet saw is worth the premium.

If you have 220 power available, go for the 3HP. Remember, if you play your cards right, this can be the last saw you ever buy. If it is, I’d not worry about long term cost, as the time saved in alignment and setup, as well as ease of use. And god forbid you ever trip the brake with skin contact, the saw will likely have just paid for itself many times over.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2227 days

#5 posted 12-18-2012 06:23 AM

Mark, could you elaborate on “very accurate”?

NiteWalker, any saw will require a dedicated circuit. The saw is going in the basement, about 60’ feet from the circuit breaker panel. I expect to run new circuits for the table saw, the dust collection, and another for other power tools. We had a second panel box added a decade ago and have ample space for the additional breakers. Since the lines are only going along the basement ceiling I was going to run them. The table saw is going in front of the furnaces and dust collector is going in an alcove behind them, so I was going to bring the lines down along side the furnace lines.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2810 days

#6 posted 12-18-2012 03:44 PM

I would definitely go for the 3 HP then.
I wish I had bought a cabinet saw from the get go back when I started ww 9 years ago. I wouldn’t be on saw #3 which is still not my final saw.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

509 posts in 2273 days

#7 posted 12-18-2012 03:59 PM

Very Accurate? It cuts straight lines and if I need something to be exactly 3” wide then I set the table fence at 3” and the piece comes out exactly 3” wide. My previous table saw was my Shopsmith Mark V and the Sawstop is a hundred times better than that.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3392 days

#8 posted 12-18-2012 04:07 PM

You have opportunity and permission to buy, perhaps, the last saw you’ll ever need. I’d take advantage of that.

-- jay,

View a1Jim's profile


117416 posts in 3811 days

#9 posted 12-18-2012 04:28 PM

Were I teach wood working there’s a 5hp SS it’s one of the highest quality table saws I’ve ever used. As far as your selection of which saw style to get ,I think If you think about this as a life time investment and get the best you can afford you will be happier in the long run. years ago when I was in sales work there was a sale technique that was called reduce to the ridiculous ,in essence it’s breaking the value of something to it’s time it’s going to be used . As and example if you pay a $1000 more for the upgraded SS what will the cost you per month for 10 years ,that equals 120 months so 1000 divided by 120 = $8.33 a month or $4.17 a month for 20 years .Even though this was a sale technique it does hold true. In the end it all depends about what you want and are willing to spend and the fact your getting a SS a great investment and insurance policy .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2227 days

#10 posted 12-20-2012 05:01 AM

Jim, I agree with your analysis that the difference has to be annualized over the expected length of ownership. I’d go even further, and look at the residual value so the equation would be

(purchase price including delivery and installation – sale price) / years of ownership

This argument clearly makes the PCS 3 hp preferred over the 1.75 hp. The resale would be significantly higher; many more people in the used market are looking for 3 hp saws. The cost difference per year is small, especially if the dust collection port on the blade cover is used; it is a $139 option on the 1.75 hp model.

It seems the advantages of the contractor saw are that it can be mounted on a specially constructed cabinet that would include storage and that its rear mount motor allows a left side router table. That last feature also reduces the effective cost by $100 since only one cast iron wing would be required. Net, the contractor saw becomes over $1000 less expensive (36%) and has some features advantages.

However, it is very likely that the current SawStop braking action that expends a $70-$90 + tax and shipping brake and a blade will be replaced with a non-destructive technology making the current model obsolete for that feature. Once its safety feature is not unique in the marketplace, SawStop as a company may not survive.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2810 days

#11 posted 12-20-2012 11:27 AM

David, I disagree that sawstop won’t survive if other blade stopping technologies come to be.

You’re not only paying for the blade brake technology; the sawstop is a world class saw, right up there with the unisaw, PM2000, etc.

What makes you think the blade brake will be nondestructive?
I see your diagram above, but is that suitable for high rpm loads?

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View ducky911's profile


237 posts in 3023 days

#12 posted 12-20-2012 04:08 PM

I went with the 3 hp…and it has been a year….and I happy I did.

You can push 5/4 as fast as you want.

View Manitario's profile


2702 posts in 3116 days

#13 posted 12-20-2012 05:12 PM

David, my 2 cents: If you are going to spend the money (and if you have the money to spend!) get a cabinet saw, not the contractor saw. With the cabinet saw you are getting a solid, heavier machine with solid cast iron wings which is smooth and vibration free; personally I wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of building a base etc. for the contractor saw. I have the 1.75hp SS model; it is a well built machine that is a pleasure to use. That said, there have been a few times I’ve wished it was 3hp, I definitely have to go slow with 8/4 material, and getting through 8/4 maple was a fight!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2227 days

#14 posted 12-20-2012 07:29 PM

Rob, are you saying in 20/20 hindsight you would go with the 3hp model, no questions asked?

NiteWalker: SawStop has a limited distribution network and competes but does not dominate at competitive prices with a unique and highly desirable feature. Take away the advantage of the feature, could they compete sufficiently at the same price to survive? I’m sure you know of many companies that haven’t.

And yes, a brake could do it. There isn’t that much energy stored in the spinning blade. The hard part is the instant response. That is especially an issue for SawStop because there system requires contact to actuate. For comparison, I believe Whirlwind is a proximity sensor and as a result gets away with a response 3x slower.

I saw the PCS back-to-back with a new Delta. The PCS was nice, the Delta was nicer. If the safety feature didn’t exist I’d probably be a Grizzly or Steel City customer; probably a Grizzly 1023RL for around $1350 delivered.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2810 days

#15 posted 12-20-2012 11:15 PM

They would have to react to the market accordingly.
Other manufacturers would have to raise prices to pay for the new blade brake technology; sawstop would have to adapt or leave the market. The kicker is if the other manufacturers use blade brake technology that doesn’t ruin the blade like you said. Sawstop has the speed advantage for now. A lot can happen in 3x the time it takes for the sawstop blade brake to activate.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

showing 1 through 15 of 45 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics