I am looking to get a cabinet-style table saw this year. Or next year. Maybe.
SawStop = Safety
When you think SawStop, you think “safety.” Their patented injury mitigation technology has saved many users’ fingers and hands. SawStop safety tech works by activating a blade brake and retraction mechanism when it detects human skin contact.
SawStop marketing photos show that accidental blade contact causes a scratch at most, rather than horrific digit amputation.
No woodworker, DIYer, or contractor plans on having their fingers touch a spinning blade, but it does happen.
Here’s the thing – with insurance, you protect your financial wellbeing for when something accidental or outside your control happens.
With a table saw, you are in full control of your actions, or at least you should be. Accidents tend to happen when safety measures are defeated or users grow too comfortable with tools and let down their guard.
I don’t use power tools when I’m tired or impaired, and having read about all kinds of user accidents, I am almost obsessively cautions – most of the time.
Do I need a SawStop? Is it necessary if modern table saw safety guards and implementations are used and safety practices firmly adhered to?
Could I just continue using portable table saws, one of them being the previous SawStop jobsite model test sample that I have not yet donated?
Different Questions to Ask
I spoke with a SawStop VP a few years ago, and the phone call started changing how I view the brand.
Then, when I started testing the SawStop jobsite saw, I was deeply impressed by the experience, none of which was directly tied to the safety features.
Remove the active injury mitigation technology – the main safety feature – and a new question arises.
One can hope to never need to experience SawStop’s safety tech in person, but for now let’s ignore it and take it out of the equation. If you want active injury mitigation and flesh-sending tech, SawStop’s the only option right now.
For the user that doesn’t want or need the safety tech, is SawStop still an incredible table saw? Is it still the best choice for users?
Is a SawStop Table Saw Right for Me?
Did you see that latest video by [popular YouTube DIYer]? Or that project by [popular woodworking influencer]? They love their SawStop table saw.
“Well, of course they do, they got it for free.”
Some of the sponsored/review coverage I’ve seen seems absolutely genuine, and some I tend to have doubts about.
From my experiences with the jobsite saw, I think SawStop hype is justified.
Six months ago, I knew I would likely buy a SawStop. Now, I’m still maybe 80% certain of this, but I’m less sure than previously.
I’ve been using portable-style jobsite table saws without issue. Pawls help to prevent kickback, riving knives help to prevent binding, guards help to keep the blade covered, and following proper safety practices helps to prevent any surprise incidents. Reading each tool’s user manual should of course always be the first step.
Should I just build a larger base for a portable jobsite or contractor-style table saw?
What about other brands’ of cabinet table saws? They offer most of the same features aside from the SawStop safety tech.
Maybe I could or should invest in a European-style cabinet saw with a sliding fence? Maybe used?
While I have a track saw, a table saw is still indispensable for many types of wood and plywood cutting tasks. It’s still, as woodworking and workshop authorities would describe, the cornerstone of most workshops.
Which SawStop Table Saw?
110V and 1.75HP, or 220V and 3HP?
Personally I’d lean towards the Personal Cabinet Saw (PCS), although I still don’t quite understand the difference their Industrial model offers. I remember once being told that, among the Industrial Cabinet Saw users, there are more DIYer woodworkers use that model than actual commercial users, although I don’t know if this is still true or if I am possibly remembering it wrong. The PCS seems to be the most popular model for individuals.
My research over the years shows that the industrial cabinet saw mobile base on the PCS is the way to go, as is the upgraded T-Glide fence option.
I probably don’t need a 36″ rip capacity, but that seems to be the way to get the upgraded T-Glide fence, compared to the 30″ design. But, you also get greater support via legs under the overhang. The 36″ saw doesn’t look to be too much wider than the 30″, and so perhaps the footprint difference is minimal.
Which dust collection methodology is best for me?
One thing that is clear to me is that I need a better setup than I have now. Portable table saws can be cumbersome when you’re working with bigger workpieces. They’re designed for portability and jobsite efficiency, and are less ideal for workshop tasks.
One popular DIYer approach is to build a work table that supports a portable table saw, placing the top inline with the table saw’s table to expand its working surface.
A custom mobile workbench that can be paired with a portable table saw is going to have just as large of a footprint, and it’ll still cost a good chunk of money to build. Maybe it won’t cost as much money, but a lot of time also has to be factored in, too.
While that might ease some frustrations, it still wouldn’t be ideal given some of the portable table saw frustrations and limitations I’ve experienced over the past few years.
ToolGuyd has a budget for tools and equipment tied to content-related needs. I’ve been saving up, and although there are a couple of things the budget could go towards, I think that a cabinet-style table saw is winning.
There are things I want to make as part of project-related coverage, projects I need to make in support of regular content creation (such as a space-saving safety gear cabinet and parts cabinets), and parts I need to make for functional use (such as for product testing support or jigs).
I’ve been using forward and rear supports with portable table saws. A DIY cabinet base will help with this, but it won’t do anything about the fence. Okay, maybe I can design my own fence. The added time, cost, and complexity adds up, and at the end, the solution is still a compromise.
A cabinet-style table saw is my next upgrade.
Maybe at that point I might take the time to design and build a mobile DIY portable table saw worktable, for comparison purposes.
Here’s what’s important to me: Less noise. Better dust collection. Accuracy and easy calibrations. Mobility – I want to be able to push the saw aside or pull it out for use with ease. Quality. Fast and effective customer service. Easy controls. Less hassle.
I built myself a workbench, but when it came time to outfitting it with drawers, I waited, and waited, and waited until I had the time to do them properly. I eventually ordered some kitchen cabinet drawers. I’ll just made the drawer fronts – eventually. I have two more workshop cabinets to build now, and having a better table saw will make the tasks go quicker and easier, and maybe even with better results.
There are times when the DIY route is perfect, and other times it’s a customize. Here, the decision about whether to work on a table saw vs. with a table saw is the easy one for me. For you, it might be better to save the difference in cost and put that towards something else.
SawStop’s jobsite saw proved to be a VERY GOOD tool, and it surprised me as to how user-friendly it was. Does SawStop’s cabinet saws deliver a comparably exceptional user experience?
I just received my purchased Powermatic jointer today. Will my upcoming experiences push me to the “Gold Standard” brand? They also have new 100th anniversary tools coming out, with the PM1000 table saw included in the specially decorated anniversary edition tools. That throws a wrench into things.
This all brings me back to the title question.
Is SawStop the best workshop table saw brand this year? Should I look at other brands or styles of saws (e.g. Euro-style)?
I have been mulling over another question: if SawStop was willing to provide a test sample for review, or a “use it now or lose it” editorial or influencer discount, would I take advantage of it? Absolutely. I prefer to purchase tools for use, but an editorial sample or discount would allow for content exploration commitments and also squash my indecisiveness.
This post is intended to answer two questions for me. Is there a better choice when it comes to cabinet saws? And, is there interest in detailed explorations regardless as to which table saw path I go down? Going down the DIY table saw platform vs. cabinet saw debate, for instance, really depends on having both options side by side.
For instance, I purchased an 8″ jointer and a brand supplied me with a 6″ jointer, and only with the two can I explore the pros and cons of both.
I can make do without a full-size table saw and wait further. If I’m going to give up floor space to accommodate one, I need to be sure I’m making the best choice and that I can squeeze every bit of use and editorial potential out of it.