If you are in the market for a table saw, then you probably stumbled upon Sawstop table saws. They are great pieces of equipment, renowned for their automatic brake system, which stops the blade when in contact with skin or flesh. So the question is: are they really worth their price? Especially if you are a hobbyist, is a SawStop worth the money?
The short answer is: yes, absolutely. There are multiple reasons for it: first of all, their unique braking system will give you additional peace of mind. Not only that, but Sawstop is also top-notch in aspects such as dust collection, maintenance assistance, general building quality, and many others. We’ll get into details in the article.
All things considered, it’s definitely worth getting a SawStop table saw if you can afford it. I’m not saying you absolutely need one: any decent, but less expensive table saw is a good entry point. You’ll have to learn how to operate such a machine safely in any case.
Is a SawStop Table Saw Worth It? 3 Reasons to Get It
1) The Automatic Braking System
So how does this safety system work? It takes advantage of the difference in capacitance between materials. In short, we call capacitance the ability to accumulate electric charge. The saw knows how much electric charge is stored in the blade in normal conditions, ie when in contact with wood or without material near it at all. When human flesh comes real close to it, there’s an exchange of electric charge between it and the metal blade. The saw control system detects that and triggers the braking system if the change is longer than a predetermined amount of time (which is a fraction of a second). The blade instantly disappears under the table.
You can easily test if the braking system is working or not when the saw is off. If you touch the blade with a finger, a red light under the table will flash. That means the control system is detecting a capacitance change.
Even if you were the most skilled craftsman out there, a small distraction might still happen to you. As we all know, with table saws that one mistake can cost you dearly. The additional safety system will give you some peace of mind.
2) Maintenance Aid
When it comes to machine maintenance, the onboard computer is very handy. It will tell you if there’s something wrong with the saw by signaling a specific code for each problem.
If you happen to have any problem during the building process of the saw or later on, don’t be afraid to call them. Their assistance is top-notch. SawStop gives you a detailed manual that includes building instructions and much other useful information. Make sure you check that carefully.
General maintenance activities like changing blades are pretty simple. Another example in this regard is the braking system. If you ever happen to activate it, you’ll have to change the blade and the brake cartridge, since the blade will get inevitably ruined. The process is very straightforward: SawStop claims it will take you less than 5 minutes.
3) An Overall Very Well Thought Piece of Equipment
So at this point, you might think that the main thing that differentiates this table saw from the others is the automatic safety system. Even if that was true, one can still argue it’s worth spending an additional 1000 bucks if that means you won’t lose a finger at some point. Truth to be said, there’s much more than that.
Sawstops table saws are excellent pieces of machinery, with or without the braking system. They are very high quality and precise machines. The design is very well though in any aspect, always keeping the end-user in mind. Some things that are worth mentioning:
- The sturdy build. These saws are built to last you a lifetime. If you think about that, it’s pretty obvious. The saw components need to be heavier than the common table saw since they need to withstand the dead stop that the braking system might cause.
- It’s powerful, but not that loud. That means you won’t need to struggle with hardwood as you would do with cheaper saws. And you’ll also get cleaner cuts.
- Dust collection system. You might think: well, most table saws have one! That’s true, but in this case, the dust collection apparatus is still worth mentioning since it works particularly well.
- The riving knife system. Having something in place against kickbacks is a must-have. In this case, they went even further. By attaching the riving knife to the blade arbor, the distance between the blade and the fence is fixed. That way, you’ll avoid the pinching problem.
- Getting a piece of equipment as huge as these cabinets saw into your workshop might be quite difficult. If that’s the case, the mobile case is a nice addition. It will give you the freedom of moving the saw around if you need to. In any case, make sure you can fit one in your shop before getting it.
As you can see, Sawstop table saws are much more than a braking system. They are well-thought machines that are supposed to last you a lifetime. They are definitely worth the money if you can afford one, even if you are just a hobbyist. Consider the additional money you’ll be paying as a one-time insurance payment for your hands and fingers.
The next question then might be: do you need to get a Sawstop table saw to start woodworking? No, you don’t need one. There are many solid alternatives out there. Consider getting a basic table saw for a starter, then upgrade to a Sawstop down the road. As your skills grow, you might need a better and bigger saw.
In any case, you’ll have to follow the proper table saw etiquette: make sure you learn it if you are a beginner. The most important thing is to always keep your hands away from the spinning blade; use a pushing stick when you need to get closer. With a Sawstop saw, the safety system will be there in case a slip happens.