|Forum topic by gtbuzz||posted 04-01-2013 04:39 AM||4581 views||1 time favorited||26 replies|
04-01-2013 04:39 AM
Just bought a new SawStop 3HP PCS (36” fence) and thought I’d share some of my initial impressions. I thought for a second about writing this as a review, but let’s be honest. I’ve only had the saw assembled for less than 48 hours so how can I really write a review based on that? I’ll post a review when I get some actual miles on the tires.
Why I went with SawStop – hopefully this won’t turn into a politics discussion, but I wanted to give some insight into why I went with a SawStop. Can’t say this is going to be the right decision for everyone, but I feel like it was the right one for me.
I went through a trial and error process with some lower end saws that didn’t work out for me (Ridgid R4512, Grizzly G0715P) for various reasons. After getting frustrated by this I decided to just say screw it and buy the best saw I could reasonably afford. At this price point, the other two saws in consideration were the PM 2000 or a Delta Unisaw, but honestly, they weren’t really in contention. My reason for spending this much money was pure and simple – the braking feature. If it weren’t for the braking feature, I probably would have gone with the Grizzly G0690 or G1023.
My rationalization was this – would I pay $2000 for an insurance policy (albeit one that covers only a very narrow set of circumstances) on my fingers? The answer to that was yes. Before everyone jumps on me about that, I realize that I’m more likely to get injured by kickback than I am by slicing my fingers off and the best prevention is always being safe around the saw. But… why chance it? If I can potentially protect myself against a brain fart that I hope to never have, why not? I’ve always tried to take as many safety precautions as I can around my tools, but I know no matter how hard I try to be aware, it can’t guarantee 100% that I won’t screw up one day. Maybe 99.9999% but that 0.0001% chance is still out there.
I don’t think I would have considered this saw if it were just the technology wrapped around a 2nd class saw, but from everything I’ve read it’s really a top notch cabinet saw as well. After just my brief time with it I have no reason to believe otherwise.
Packaging – Saw came very well packed. The saw itself is in a giant cardboard box, lying down on a Styrofoam base, surrounded by all the accessories and packed below another Styrofoam part. It’s laying on its side and sits on the palette that way, so there’s virtually zero chance of it tipping over. When I had the Grizzly G0715P, that was bolted to a palette and strapped to a larger palette, however it still wasn’t wide enough. The cast iron table and motor were so high that the CG was way up there and made the entire assembly very tip-prone. In fact, the UPS Freight guy told me it had tipped over several times. Wonderful. That was UPS’s fault for being careless, but in this instance, the way the SS is packaged it pretty much removes that variable.
The rails came in a separate box, as well as the ICS mobile base, extension table and the fence.
Manual and Assembly – I was originally going to post some pictures of the build process, but after going through the instructions laid out in the manual, I stopped taking pictures and just built the thing. Why? There was no point – the manual really is that good. If you want to see how this saw is unboxed, check the manual. If you want to see each step – check the manual. I’m not talking about just a generic description of “attach the cast iron wings using the supplied bolts”. It’s a fully diagramed illustration that shows you HOW to attach it and exactly where the parts come from in the very well organized parts pack.
I’ve never come across a manual this good. If there ever was a trick in getting a part installed, the SS manual went the extra mile and gave you that trick to install the part rather than like on any other tool I’ve ever assembled, you had to figure it out yourself. As I mentioned briefly before, there’s even a very comprehensive set of instructions that give you step-by-step directions on how to remove the saw from the box. I don’t know if this is what it’s normally like when you buy a $3000 tool, but needless to say, I’m very impressed.
Overall, assembly took about 5-6 hours over the course of 2 days. I was extremely methodical in every step I took so less anal-retentive people will probably get this done a lot faster. There were absolutely zero hiccups during installation as everything was explained so well.
Build Quality / Fit and Finish – My previous table saw (that I didn’t just end up kicking the tires on) was a Ridgid TS2400. Plain jane benchtop table saw but it got the job done for a few years until I started getting more into woodworking. As far as build quality and fit and finish went, the R4512 was a class above that (but had trunnion problems), the G0715 was yet another class above that (trunnion and electrical problems) and this SS is yet another class above that. Kind of hard to explain but it just has a much more “put together” feel to it.
The CI extension tables are very close to being perfectly aligned with the main table top. If I run my fingers across the seams, I can definitely feel where the seam is and I can tell one side is higher than the other, however if I lay down a feeler gage (in this case 0.0015), it switched which side was higher, meaning there was probably around a 0.00075” difference in height. This was only at one spot. Seems okay in my book. Both extensions were perfectly level without the need for any shims.
SawStop claims their saws are project ready. I tested this out by checking to see how far out of alignment the miter slot was to the blade. I was able to get pretty repeatable measurements of < 0.001” with my dial indicator. No adjustments needed, good to go there.
Customer Service – I had to contact their customer service to get an issue squared away with a missing part (not SawStop’s fault) and I was very impressed with this. The first thing I noticed is that I never had to deal with an automated prompt. A live person picked up the phone every time I called (3 times) and everyone spoke perfect English. Talked to one of the techs briefly and he seemed very knowledgeable and even gave me some tips on installing the PCS saw into the ICS base.
What impressed me even more, however, was my interaction with their sales department. When I spoke to them about my missing part, they immediately knew what it was and without hesitation told me exactly what the packaging looked like and gave me the dimensions. I don’t expect that out of the sales folks, so it was a pleasant surprise. She wasn’t able to ship me a replacement part because my dealer screwed up and was supposed to have ordered one, but she called them on my behalf and got everything straightened out. As soon as I told her where I bought it from, she had the store # as well as the manager’s name already pulled up. Nice touch.
My other interaction with CS was dealing with the rebate for the dust extractor. I submitted the rebate form and 6 business days later, it’s due to arrive, having been shipped from Portland to Atlanta. Again, I’ve never gotten this fast a turnaround with another company.
ICS Mobile Base – I bought the mobile base for the industrial cabinet saw instead of the one that was meant for the professional cabinet saw because it has 4 swivel casters instead of the two for the PCS. I’m very space limited in my shop, so being able to rotate around tight obstacles was pretty important to me.
All I can really say is it’s a very good base. Just 3-4 pumps on the foot pedal and the saw is lifted enough for me to easily wheel it around my shop (what little there is of if). One step on the release lever and it gently sinks back down to the ground. The saw sits on a pair of “skis” which are in direct contact with the ground and have abrasive pads on the bottom to increase friction with the floor surface.
Really my only nit with this base is that it is pretty expensive ($330 including the PCS conversion kit) and it does increase the footprint of the base by quite a bit. It occupies space that wouldn’t have been all that useable, so it’s not a big deal.
Misc – You may have noticed that I didn’t install the table extension or the legs yet. The reason for that is that is that I plan on adding a router table in that space instead and haven’t quite figured out what I want to do yet. I may use the SS extension table or I may custom build something for it, but that’ll just remain a hole until I figure it out. The downside is that it limits the left rip capacity, but it’s not a big deal for me right now.
Purchasing Experience – This was probably the one downer that I had. I bought the saw from Rockler and they were out of stock, so it took about 12 days (4 were weekends though) for it to arrive from across the country. I had expected that since I purchased the ICS base instead of opting for the PCS base, however they ended up screwing up my order. In order to use a PCS saw with the ICS base, there’s a conversion kit that has to be ordered with it. The way Rockler sells this base is as a single SKU (with the cost of the conversion kit built into the price). Also, apparently if you order something in store, the actual order with the vendor takes place at the corporate level. When my order was placed, whoever processed the order saw that they had one conversion kit in a warehouse, so instead of placing the entire order for me, they ordered everything except the conversion kit. Problem was, they neglected to actually ship the conversion kit from their warehouse to the store. This was Rockler’s fault, not SawStop’s.
As a result of this, it took an extra week from when my saw arrived to when I actually got the conversion kit. My saw sat in my garage waiting for this part to arrive. Mistakes happen and in the grand scheme of things this was really inconsequential, but it was annoying that the purchase experience didn’t go smoothly despite having dropped well north of $3000 with them. Honestly when they figured out where it was the right thing to do was to overnight it to my house instead of making me wait for the next shipment to the retail store and for me to have to drive over and get it.
Conclusion – I’ve managed to cut a few pieces of wood using a Irwin Marples 40T combo blade. Can’t really tell much based on just a few cuts, but I’m happy so far.
I’ll write a full review after I make a good amount of sawdust and actually get to know the saw, but based on just my very limited experience, I’m very happy with my purchase.