After I posted my initial Bosch Reaxx table saw review, a couple of requests came in for a SawStop comparison.
I’d drooled over their contractor and cabinet saws at a Woodworking Show last year, and they somewhat recently came out with a portable jobsite saw. Sure, a comparison, or at least a standalone SawStop review, seems like something I’d be interested in. So I got in touch with a SawStop VP and we got talking.
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been hugely critical of SawStop in the past. A few years ago, reports came out that they were lobbying the US consumer product safety commission, to make flesh detection and injury mitigation mechanisms mandatory safety features in all table saws. With SawStop holding multiple patents and being the only option at the time, it seemed like they were driven by the prospect of huge licensing sums.
This didn’t sit well with anyone, and I must say, it really colored my views of the brand.
But my views of SawStop had changed in the past year, softening somewhat. How and why?
As mentioned, I drooled over some of the saws that SawStop brought to the WoodWorking Show. The smoothness of the fence and overall quality of the machines had convinced me that someday, when I am ready for a full-size table saw, I might be in the market for a SawStop.
When my kids are a little older, what kind of saw would I want them to use at home? At school?
I’ve been spending a bit of time on forums and YouTube, and have seen quite a few woodworkers and DIYers using SawStop saws. There was one thing that they all seemed to have in common, and that’s customer satisfaction. SawStop users love their saws, and seem to be well taken care of by the company in the rare occurrence something goes wrong.
All of this gradually opened my mind.
We talked about quite a few things, including SawStop’s history, and a lot about their saws, especially the recently introduced Jobsite Saw.
I can’t tell you about the specifics, but I can tell you that it was an extremely illuminating discussion.
I feel better about SawStop, which is quite surprising even to myself, given how much I loathed them in the past.
I’ve never met Stephen Gass, the most well-known of SawStop’s founders. He’s got a doctorate in physics and worked as a patent attorney, and the media portrayed him as wanting to force brands to line his pockets with licensing fees.
The VP I spoke to seemed to have genuine admiration and respect for Gass, and talked of him in a much different light than is typical of critics. It’s not what the VP said that was impactful, but his attitude and genuine belief in what he was saying.
While the VP’s position might make him a less impartial judge of character, his words were impactful enough to make me regret being so critical of Gass without hearing both sides of things.
And he definitely got me excited to get my hands on a test sample of the jobsite saw in my workshop for review and comparison. Given all the features we talked about, I’m tempted to put a big project on hold until the test sample comes in. It sounded amazingly user-friendly.
Given my stance now, I wouldn’t hesitate to plunk down the cash for one of the larger SawStop models, if I had the space, upgraded electric, and need of a large table saw. I really need to get some more outlets, separate lines, and possibly also 220V service to my workspace. And a bigger workspace. And some nice dust collection ductwork. But yea, my stance has changed enough to where I’d spend cash money on a SawStop over other full-size saw models.
What is SawStop doing now? I’m done stewing over what happened several years ago. So let’s talk about what’s happening now.
Well, there’s that SawStop vs. Bosch lawsuit. After reading through the complaint, I can’t really fault them for that. More about table saw lawsuits here. They believe that Bosch and their Reaxx saw are infringing on their patents, and several retailers had told them that they would prefer to stock the Reaxx saw over SawStop’s – I’m guessing this is due to limited retail space.
The have a responsibility to defend their patents, and whether they’re right or not is up to a judge to decide. And they recently did decide in favor of SawStop, at least partially, although more work and time in court is needed before things are final.
SawStop owners seem to be quite pleased with their purchases, and SawStop customer service seems to be widely praised.
From my WoodWorking Show inspection, SawStop quality feels very good. It just felt like a more refined product, if that makes sense.
What is SawStop Doing Now?
This is what I’ve been asking myself, to figure out where I stand. Well, it looks like they make good saws – and I should know soon enough how good their jobsite saw is – and it’s hard to find SawStop users that regret their purchases.
I haven’t quite done a complete 180, but I’m definitely a lot more open minded. They’ve at least earned the benefit of the doubt from me.
The title of this post is catchy, but a little misleading. My stance had already been softening, changing already on its own. Still, the conversation and all I learned had brought me a long way back to neutral, maybe even over into positive territory.
It’s been what, 5 years since that whole CPSC business first came to light? The reasonable person in me wants to see SawStop for what they’re doing in the here and now. Yes, they’re involved in a lawsuit with Bosch right now, but any company in their position would be doing the same.
It’s easy to join in the common SawStop-bashing mob mentality, and in hindsight I might have been guilty of this too.
But forget about that CPSC issues from a few years ago, and there’s not much left to complain about.
That all said, I’ve got the Bosch Reaxx saw on the figurative test bench, a Dewalt saw that I’ve really enjoyed using, and a SawStop jobsite saw is on the way. Although my initial interest was a little soft, I now can’t wait to see how the SawStop compares against the Dewalt, Bosch, and other portable saws I’ve used in the past.
I am now cautiously optimistic, both about SawStop as a brand, and their products.
Your questions, comments, and opinions are of course welcome! I know that emotions and feelings can be intense, and that opinions about SawStop can be very polarized. All I ask is that you be respectful towards each other.