Woodworker’s Journal – Tool Review
Many building contractors and DlYers use portable table saws on their jobsites or around the house and yard. They’re ubiquitous, economical and convenient to transport. But, these small and lightweight saws typically trade full-size and more robust features for compactness and to help shed mass. And, while some portable table saws are attractive due to budget pricing, the tradeoff is that they may be more difficult to operate accurately and safely.
That’s why in March, SawStop raised the bar of portable saws when it released its 10″ Model JSS Jobsite Saw ($1,299 street). Now, SawStop’s injury-preventing blade brake technology extends to the yard or jobsite, too. That’s because the saw comes with the same skin-sensing technology as its larger saws, which stops the blade in milliseconds, preventing mishaps from becoming tragedies. In the event of a body part coming in contact with the spinning saw blade, an internal computer engages a brake that embeds in the blade and stops it, while lowering the blade below the table.
This saw uses the same standard blade cartridge as other SawStop models. The brake cartridge can be installed or removed easily through the throat plate opening. And, this new JSS will accept an 8″ dada blade for cutting dadoes up to 13/16″ wide. SawStop’s dado brake cartridge (sold separately) is required for dadoing. A zero-clearance insert is also available for that purpose.
Jobsite users often cut wet framing lumber or pressure-treated material. In those situations, the operator can effectively “ask” the saw’s computer whether a material is too conductive, which could unnecessarily activate the blade brake. Lights on the saw’s oversize kill switch in front indicate whether the saw should be set to bypass mode using a key, for making wet-material cuts, or if it can be switched back to the safety mode with the brake system engaged.
The saw’s T-square style rip fence is also unique: an ErgoLock feature along its top edge provides a rocker paddle switch, rather than a front handle, so you can lock or unlock the fence with a finger push. It helps prevent the fence from “jumping” out of position when the lock is released — a common problem with other rip fences on portable saws that can throw off their accuracy.
The saw has an amply sized, power-coated aluminum tabletop that measures 31 1/4″ wide by 22 5/8″ deep. You can increase its ripping capacity up to 25 1/2″ by extending the saw’s fence rails to the right of the table. They release with a lever lock in front. A ledge can also be projected out from the inside edge of the rip fence to support wide or thin materials, such as laminate or 1/4″ ply.
Dialing in blade settings is easier here, too. Unlike all other table saws, jobsite and otherwise, this saw enables you to raise or lower the blade throughout its full range of travel (up to 3 1/2″ of cutting height at 0°) in just a single revolution of the hand wheel. Tilting the blade left off of 0° involves squeezing a back plate behind the blade tilt wheel. Then, you swing the hand wheel (and the saw’s arbor assembly) along its protractor scale to adjust to the blade angle you want. A separate “MicroTilt” control in front enables single-degree tilt adjustments. It’s a very handy detail.
During cutting, the saw’s 1.5hp, 15-amp universal motor develops a peak output of just over 3 horsepower, and I found it up to task for both dadoing and general cutting.
A scissors-style tubular stand with treaded lawn-mower-type wheels makes the 79-lb. saw (108 lbs. with the cart) easy to roll around, dolly-style. It sets up quickly to a 36″ working height and folds down for transport or storage by tapping a release lever with your foot.
Another helpful user convenience is an onboard storage drawer tucked under the movable tabletop wing. It stores the miter gauge, riving knife, guard and even a spare brake cartridge.
Matt Howard, SawStop’s vice president of marketing, says the development process for this new Jobsite Saw has taken many years, because its trunnion and braking technology are unique. The company can’t use existing engineering as other manufacturers often do. But, that’s what makes its design truly groundbreaking. And, from a safety standpoint, skin-sensing technology has been sorely needed in the portable saw category to protect pros and DIYers wherever they need to work.
Tool Review: Available in October 2015 print issue only
Video Review Link: Watch Video