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Forum topic by gridlockd posted 10-14-2014 08:35 PM 890 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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gridlockd

141 posts in 1850 days


10-14-2014 08:35 PM

Please forgive me if this is already out in the forum somewhere. I am, in the near future, going to be purchasing a new table saw. my inherited, 35+ yr old craftsman just isn’t getting it done for me anymore. I have been looking at several different brands, but was interested in the steel city saws. anyone had any experience with their tools, in particular the table saws?
Any and all other advice and wisdom is welcomed, I am a firm believer in research, especially when it comes to dropping large amounts of my hard earned money!

Thanks!

-- Gridlockd


7 replies so far

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7929 posts in 1846 days


#1 posted 10-15-2014 02:59 AM

Steel City is a puzzle to me. Their products never do better than middling in reviews, their prices aren’t the cheapest, they don’t sell direct, and are scarce in many parts of the country. I’ve never actually seen one outside a magazine. How do they stay in business?

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#2 posted 10-15-2014 03:19 AM

My only comment is that when I had a “shop” near
the beach and my table saw outside I fought
moisture a lot and a granite top would have
been easier to deal with at that point.

I was making cabinets for a living and outside
was the only practical place I could get the
work envelope to operate the saw in a
professional capacity.

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gridlockd

141 posts in 1850 days


#3 posted 10-15-2014 01:59 PM

Rick and Loren

I kind of feel the same way. I see their web presence, See several of their online retailers, but don’t know anyone that has one. I am on the fence about the granite top, though. I see the maintenance free aspect, but my table saw has also been known to be used as an assembly table, workbench, tool catch-all, etc. so i worry about a chipping or damaging aspect. also I wonder if the granite will eventually “wear down”, particularly in the miter slots, making for a sloppy slide.

On the flip side, from what pics i’ve been able to dig up on the interweb, they look to be well built. However, without being able to inspect one first hand, pictures can be deceiving. I have also looked heavily at the Grizzly line of cabinet saws. I own a grizzly lathe and feel the construction, fit and finish is only middle of the road, so i wonder if their saws follow that same line.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

-- Gridlockd

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JayT

4785 posts in 1677 days


#4 posted 10-15-2014 02:26 PM

The company I work for is a Steel City retailer, so I have some experience with the saws from doing assembly, selling and customer reports, though don’t own one. We don’t do internet sales, so am not trying to sell you anything, just giving my opinion about what I’ve seen of their products.

Our experience with Steel City table saws has been very positive. They are built as well or better than anything else I’ve seen at similar price points. For instance, the contractor saws are priced similarly to offerings from Ridgid or Grizzly, but have a much beefier trunnion set up that is cabinet mounted instead of table mounted. The fences themselves are pretty good, too, though I’m not a fan of two piece rails on any saw. Moving up the scale, we have also sold several of the hybrid saws and a couple 3HP cabinet saws. All of those customers report being happy with their purchases and the value for the dollar.

As far as the granite is concerned, there is a 10 year, no question warranty on those tops—any issues and they will replace it. If you hit the granite hard enough to crack or chip, you would have damaged a cast iron top with the same impact. The granite is actually more wear resistant than cast iron, as well.

All that said, are they at the same level as a Powermatic or SawStop in build quality? Probably not, but they are half the price of those lines, as well. Fit and finish on the SC hybrid was a tick below the one from JET, but the functionality was equal and the SC was 30% less expensive. Steel City’s offerings compare favorably to the Shop Fox saws we have stocked, which are exactly the same as their Grizzly counterparts and the SC’s are at similar to a bit lower price points.

Customer service for both our stores and customers from Steel City has been top notch, as well.

Now before I get accused of shamelessly promoting SC, let me say that I am not enamored with all of their tools and we have been selective about which items to stock—for instance, we’ve dropped the cast iron frame band saws because of some quality issues (I’m the buyer and get to make those fun decisions). The table saws, however, have offered excellent value for the price.

Another caveat is that Steel City has changed their table saw line recently and I haven’t seen the new ones in person, yet. Prices have gone up quite a bit, but based on past experience, I think you will still get good value for what you pay.

If you have a dealer anywhere in your area, I’d encourage you to look them over. When/if I end up replacing my aging Craftsman contractor saw in the next couple years, I will be looking seriously at SC’s offerings.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1100 posts in 1752 days


#5 posted 10-15-2014 07:32 PM

I have the Steel City 35990G.
Somewhere on here I have a write-up about installing and aligning the granite wings. If you read what I wrote, and follow it, it goes really easy.

#1 align the main table to the blade. This is a little tough because you only have half a miter slot, but mine actually came aligned right on.

#2 Setting the wings.
FORGET about the miter slot width until the very end. Get the wings on. Get them leveled. THEN set the miter slot width last. First wing took me an hour because I had to figure out how the whole thing was engineered :)
Second wing took all of 15 minutes. It’s that simple.

Durability of granite top.
EXCELLENT!
Learn to slide things into the miter slots nice and straight and when you take them OUT of the miter slots, it’s a nice fluid motion until you’re clear of the slot. Otherwise you can put considerable leverage on the very opening of the slot and possibly chip the granite. But that same amount of leverage would slightly deform cast iron as well so don’t sweat it. Just pay attention.
I don’t pound on my granite top. I wouldn’t pound on a cast iron top either. That’s what work benches are for. But I DO use it for assembly from time to time. I’ve clamped stuff to it. I’ve gotten glue and finishes on it. Stuff comes right off. Could be the 5 coats of paste wax, but hey…. nothing sticks to it.
Zero clearance inserts are SUPER easy. Cut a rectangle out of MDF, round the corners and on mine I put blind nuts (“T”-nuts?) in the corners ‘cause they stick to the magnets to hold the insert in place AND I can adjust the insert with little allen set screws in the blind nuts.
Blade-change wrenches that actually WORK!.
Dust collection…. not great out-of-the-box, but all you really need to do is stuff some dense foam into the space between the table top and the cabinet, and then get you some big flat magnet (like the calendars or business cards that stick on your fridge) and slap those over the big slot where the handle slides for changing the blade angle. I bought a couple SHEETS of the stuff at the dollar store for $2. I only used about a quarter of it and the originals are still working fine after 2 years.

I love my SC 35990G. I’d have gone to a Griz cabinet saw if I’d had the money back then, but I have absolutely no regrets and even though I HAVE the money now, I wouldn’t buy a new saw. I made all my kitchen cabinets AND a 3 and a half by 8 foot walnut island top (5/4 walnut after planing probably down to something just over 4/4). The motor does not get tired and I can STILL stand a penny on edge on one of the wings, cut a couple pieces of 3/4 ply and shut the saw off and that penny is still standing.

excellent bang for the buck with this saw.

The BIGGEST complaint I’ve heard is from people who can’t get the wings set up. Read my instructions and you won’t have that problem. I guarantee it. SC’s instructions for the wings are not that good. Mine are what they SHOULD have in their manual (or so I’ve been told by anyone that’s used them)

View gridlockd's profile

gridlockd

141 posts in 1850 days


#6 posted 10-15-2014 08:21 PM

JayT/Charlie

Excellent information from both of you, thanks. I’ll be continuing to look at SC saws and others in a comparable price range.

-- Gridlockd

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7216 posts in 2842 days


#7 posted 10-16-2014 09:27 AM

I owned a Craftsman 22124 that was made by Steel City/Orion for over 3-1/2 years…it was a great saw that served me well. It also had a large following at the time. The current Cman 22116 is also still made by SC. AFAIK, Lowes and HD can both special order SC saws.

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

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