When I started getting more into woodworking, I began with tools that were a hodgepodge of my late father’s hand-me-downs and lower-quality or used items. One find was an ancient Skil table saw that didn’t have a blade guard or other safety features. When using that table saw, I focused more on not getting my fingers near the blade than on the piece of poplar I was cutting. When a piece of oak kicked back on me due to the lack of a pawl behind the sawblade, I knew it was time to upgrade to a safer model.
With safety as my main concern, I opted for the SawStop Table Saw, which fit perfectly in my small garage workspace. After a few months of testing and working on projects like shelves, plant stands, storage carts, and floor lamps, here are my thoughts.
What is the SawStop Table Saw?
If you’ve never heard of SawStop, let me enlighten you. The company’s table saws use proprietary active injury mitigation [AIM] technology to sense when the saw blade touches human flesh and stops it. Social media is filled with stories from woodworkers who would have lost digits on other table saws but walked away from an incident with just a scratch, thanks to the SawStop.
It is worth noting that the brake and blade may crack after engaging but both are replaceable (your finger is not). Many woodworkers say SawStop sent them replacements free of charge afterward, as their stories are the best possible publicity for the company. (You can turn off the safety feature if you’re cutting wet wood or metal, both of which might trigger the brake).
SawStop Table Saw Features
Aside from the technological benefits, this is a terrific compact table saw. The build quality is outstanding. At around 70 pounds, it’s a hefty little guy, but the weight adds to the stability. Furthermore, the saw won’t scoot around your workshop floor when cutting a partial sheet of plywood.
Out of the box, the saw didn’t require much assembly or adjustment. Theoretically, you can set this up at a job site or in your garage and start cutting wood in just a few minutes.
The 10-inch blade offers a maximum cutting depth of 3 1/8 inches (subtract an inch if cutting at a 45-degree angle). Powered by a 15-amp motor and spinning at around 4,000 RPMs, the blade easily rips through most wood like a hot knife through butter. Lifting the angle dial allows you to quickly make sweeping changes while turning it gives the micro-adjustments required to hit the exact angle you need.
Subsequently, the rack-and-pinion fence was perfectly parallel to the blade from the get-go and also incredibly easy to adjust. Use the dial to make minute adjustments to the fence depth on the track. The telescoping fence rails allow for a rip-cut capacity of up to 24 1/2 inches when fully extended, with a unique fence shelf adding support at the far edge if needed.
The dials for both the blade angle and fence depth are large, well-marked, and pleasant to the touch. Want to adjust? Just pull out the knob and dial it in. Push it in to lock it back into place.
Safety attachments, miter gauge and blade-change wrenches are located in a compartment at the rear of the saw, where you’ll also find the 2 1/2-inch vacuum port that hooks up with a standard-size hose.
How I Tested It
Over several months, I cut plywood, OSB, hard walnut and soft pine at various thicknesses with zero issues. The cuts were highly accurate! I’d often measure the primary piece of wood and the off-cut after sawing through the boards, and both were bang on nearly every time.
Patented safety system stops the spinning blade on contact
Accurate right out of the box
Rack and pinion fence
CPO 30-day warranty
More expensive than a standard table saw
Compact version does not accept a dado stack
Other portable table saws offer larger rip capacity
Will SawStop work on any table saw?
No. You can’t retrofit a table saw from another manufacturer with SawStop technology.
Can you cut plastic on a SawStop table saw? Metal?
You can cut plastic with the saw, but metal might activate the blade brake unless you shut the feature off temporarily. You should also deactivate the safety feature when cutting wet/green wood, mirrored acrylic and carbon fiber.
What Other Reviewers Had to Say
One commenter on the SawStop website wrote, “I was relieved to have one of our four SawStop saws do as it should when a student came in contact with the blade. He was ripping a piece of spruce stock and his support hand came in contact with the blade. The cut was just below the first knuckle of the thumb and in my opinion, had it been any other saw, he would have lost it. The injury consisted of a slight cut, and stitches were not necessary. [The SawStop] has made our school a safer place to work and learn. In 20 years of using table saws, these saws are the finest operating saws I have used and seen.”
So where does the SawStop rank among other portable table saws? Both Dewalt and Bosch offer comparable models. On a performance level, I’d put the SawStop up there with them.
Dewalt and the Bosch have a significantly larger rip capacity—32.5 and 30 inches, respectively—but neither use SawStop’s fence shelf support. Both the competitor saws also use wheeled stands for transporting to a job site, a feature I wish SawStop had included in its version.
However, folks who complain about the premium associated with the SawStop aren’t paying that much more, relatively speaking. The price difference seems meager when considering how much a cost to the emergency room would be after suffering a life-altering injury. I’ll gladly fork over the additional cash if it means I won’t have to live with the nickname ‘Stumpy’ for the rest of my life.
SawStop’s safety features sold me, but its performance blew me away. This is a great saw for all skill levels, especially beginners. If you want to teach your kids woodworking—this table saw needs to be in your workshop.
Where to Buy the SawStop Table Saw
Expect to pay just under $1,000 for the SawStop from Walmart, Home Depot and Amazon. Now, I’m more at ease when building projects with the SawStop, and that piece of mind is priceless (if you ask me).
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