Why I Bought a SawStop

Posted: May 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

In this post I want to go over some of the reasons I bought a SawStop table Saw.  I ended up buying the SawStop Jobsite Saw  It has been a great saw.  I’m convinced it was the right saw for me.  Whether it is the right saw for you depends on you and your needs.  I just want to go over some of the reasons I bought this saw.  I realize this decision is almost religious or political in some peoples mind.  If you don’t pick the saw they chose, you are an idiot.  I just don’t feel that way.  Whatever meets your needs, is right for you.

I was using older Craftsman Contractor Table Saw.

craftsman

I bought it about 18 years ago when we moved in our first house.  I was building a headboard and footboard and needed something to cut the big pieces better than a circular saw (because I could never make a straight line).

bedheadboardandfootboard

The things I disliked most about that Craftsman saw were the following:

  • It had non-standard miter slots.  I could never just run to Rockler and get any sleds or anything that would fit the saw.
  • It never seemed to cut true.  I could get everything squared up and before long it was back to cutting weird again.

The non-true cut was the final straw.  I was making a test piece.  A stave Snare Drum.  While the test did work out.  I had so many issues getting the staves to come out right, I just kinda gave up.

IMG_1146

So I had made the decision that I needed a new saw.  There were a lot of good options:

So I had to come up with the things that were really important to me.

First I knew I needed a portable saw.  While I love the cabinet saws with the iron table, it just wasn’t practical for me.  For one thing, my shop is pretty much my garage.  I have half full of all my stuff.   The other half is so the wife can put the Jeep Wrangler in there when it is bad weather.  So I have to compact all my stuff as much as I can.

Here’s a picture of my garage/shop:

shop2

I also need the ability to take the saw with me.  I volunteer for a few groups.  First my wife was Kid’s Pastor.  So I built a lot of games for VBS and stuff.  It was much easier being able to take the tools with me.

connect4IMG_0025operationticketbooth

I also work with the Football boosters group at my son’s school.  We build the football floats they use in the big city-wide parade.  We typically end up at someone’s house doing all the construction.  Again being able to take the saw with me is a big advantage.

float1float2

I also help out with my daughter’s marching band.  We help build the props they use during the halftime show.  These build days are typically at the school, so again having a portable saw is awesome.

We made the PVC boxes in this show along with the wood bases (with casters) they sat on.  We also built the stage on the left 35.

band

In this show we built the beds (again on casters).  We also made the sideline cover frames.

band2

And since my dad passed away, we moved my mom in with us.  She kept their house and is renting it out.  It is in another state from where we live.  So when it is time to do work on the rent-house, I’ll need to pack everything up in the truck and head over there for a few days.  Couldn’t easily move a cabinet saw.

The next biggest question is did I want to pay the extra money for a saw that has flesh-detecting technology.  At the time I bought my saw, there was SawStop and Bosch that made flesh-detecting saws.  Bosch was making their REAXX saw.  It had a similar design to the SawStop in that it removed the blade away from the top of the saw.  The difference was that the Bosch didn’t stop the blade, it only dropped it below the saw top.  Thus it didn’t cause the blade to be damaged.  I won’t get into the details on why, but they are no longer making that saw.

So back to the question for me.  Do I need flesh-detecting technology.  Here are the reasons I chose to go with it:

  • My dad lost one of his fingers while working at the Paper Mill.  It wasn’t saw related, but I saw the effect of that finger loss.  He was a talented guitar player, but after the finger loss, he never played again.
  • My mom’s dad (I called him Pappa Floyd) lost his finger using a large saw cutting down a tree.   I actually have this saw in my garage and look at it often to remind me to be careful.
  • I use a computer keyboard for a living.  I also play drums, so the damage a finger loss could do to my life might be difficult to take.

Here’s a picture of me holding the saw that cut off my grandpa’s finger:

treesaw

For the above reasons, I had made the decision to go ahead and pay the extra money for flesh detecting technology.

Like I mentioned at the time, there was a choice between the SawStop Jobsite Saw and the Bosch REAXX saw.  The REAXX was actually a little more than the SawStop.  But the REAXX would be cheaper to replace after an activation.  To be honest, cost doesn’t matter after a near-miss.  I would just be happy to have all my fingers.  But after a false activation (like cutting wood that is too wet or something), then the cost might matter since I would need to replace the blade.

To be honest, I was worried that if I bought the REAXX saw, pending lawsuits might make it hard to get replacement cartridges.  I also work in technology, so I know how unreliable newer releases and products can be.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk my fingers on a new product.  I have a great deal of confidence in the SawStop technology.  It has been around for years.  If it wasn’t reliable, they would have been sued numerous times.

I also heard a rumor (may or may not be true) that you shouldn’t have a phone around the REAXX saw.  This concerned me.  I always have my phone in my pocket when in the garage.  I also wear my Apple Watch the entire time.  I like for my kids and wife to be able to get in touch with me in case of emergency.

Now understand, I still try to be as careful as possible.  The only tool I have with flesh detecting technology is the table saw.  I still have a miter saw, a router, and numerous other dangerous tools.  But even my grandpa cut his finger off with a non-powered hand saw.  So being careful is always job one.  But I know myself and I seem to do stupid things sometimes.

Here’s a picture of the SawStop sitting next to my Miter Saw.  Note: since this picture was taken, I’ve also replaced the miter saw stand with a portable one.

shop

Feel free to leave any comments about your choice for a Table Saw.  I would love to hear if you got a SawStop and if you have the same satisfaction I have.

UPDATE: trying to cut a piece of wood that ended up being a little wet, I ended up tripping the brake on my Saw.  Here’s the post I did about changing the cartridge.

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