So, how do I like my SawStop table saw? I love it. Soon after I started using it, I discovered additional benefits I hadn’t even taken into consideration. Despite being larger and more powerful than my old portable saw, it’s half as loud, and it shakes less. That latter bit is more comforting than I can describe in words.
Thanks to a more powerful motor, I have an easier time cutting hard and exotic woods. Purple Heart caused my old saw to struggle, but now I cut through it like butter. That gives me cleaner cuts, and I finish sooner.
Even the wheels I use to lift and lower the blade or change its angle are a joy to use compared to my old saw. They’re larger, so I need fewer turns to make significant changes, and yet they feel smoother. It’s a giant step up in quality, as it should be.
I’m still vigilant about safety, but I feel less stressed knowing I have a backup system if I make a mistake. That means I’m using my table saw for cuts that I might have avoided before—not because they can’t be done safely, but because I feared my tool too much.
Dropping $2,200 on anything, let alone a table saw, isn’t something I can do at the drop of a hat. It involved sacrifice and saving. But now that I have it, I know the effort and money spent is justified.
Total Points: 195.5
Class Ranking: 1/2
Overall Ranking: 1/10
Awards: Best Portable Jobsite Table Saw, Best Fence, Easiest Setup, Best Dust Collection
Like DeWalt, SawStop’s Jobsite Table Saw is loaded with features. It all starts with the box – yes, the packaging. Assembly requires only the attachment of the wheels and handles and the box is designed to help. If you read the instructions laid out for you, you’ll spend maybe 10 minutes on assembly before you’re ready to work.
SawStop has an excellent stand and they’ve cleverly hidden the tool/miter/riving knife storage box under the side extension. Move the table extension and the box presents itself. Like DeWalt, there are two knives available – one with safety guards and one without – so you’re not left wondering how the pawls and guard go on the riving knife. Blade height is fully adjusted by just one turn of the wheel. Not everyone was on board with this, citing less accuracy for dado and rabbet cuts. In the end, we showed we could be as accurate on the height as any of the other saws, so it’s a win.
A micro bevel adjustment was another source of contention between Pros. Some really liked the ability to dial in a precise angle while others thought the lack of a specific point of reference would force you to re-zero the angle every time you use it. We left this one as a toss up based on preference.
The fence on this system is easily the winner. With clamping on just the front side, it self-aligns better than any other in the group and offers excellent stability. While SawStop didn’t have the most powerful feel to the cuts, it was very smooth with little vibration. Feature preferences aside, the only (slight) negative we agreed on was that the bevel lock stuck a little bit compared to others.
Tool Review: Available in October 2015 print issue only
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.
From the initial introduction of the SawStop flesh-sensing safety system, I’ve been impressed. But I was even more impressed when I started using the saw. Forget about the blade-stopping safety system, which I’ve never triggered except on purpose for a testing demonstration, it’s just a great saw and the only table saw in my shop. So, maybe I’m biased already, but I got more excited when SawStop announced a new portable model targeted for use on the jobsite.
The SawStop Jobsite saw with its rolling cart tips the scales at 108 pounds (the saw alone is 79 pounds). It has a 1.5-hp motor, drawing 15 amps to drive a standard 10-inch blade.
Pleasure to unpack
One of things that impressed me about my previous SawStop saw was how well thought out even the unpacking and assembly was. The Jobsite Saw continues that tradition. You just cut one end of the box, tip the saw up, bolt on two wheels and two handles, then roll the saw right out of the box.
There’s clever onboard storage for just about everything you need. The rip fence slides into a holster on the side with the push stick clipped above it. Blade wrenches mount on the side close at hand. When you slide open the table extension to allow ripping up to 25-1/2 inches to the right of the blade, you’ll discover a lidded storage compartment to hold the blade guard and other saw accessories, including the manual.
I’ve been using a SawStop cabinet saw for more almost ten years. And for nearly that long, I’ve been hoping they would come out with a real portable table saw. Sure, a few years ago they introduced their Contractors Saw, but that monster weighs 310 lbs.! Definitely not my idea of portable.
Well, the wait is over. SawStop has just released a new model, and it’s truly portable—a real jobsite saw for carpenters that care about quality tools and are willing to invest serious money in the tools they use.
The new Jobsite Saw by SawStop (available in March), which includes a wheeled stand, costs almost $1300.00, nearly twice as much as the Bosch 4100-09, mounted on a similar wheeled stand. But in my opinion, it’s money well spent.
Ron takes a deep look at the new SawStop Jobsite Saw now that he has used it on a few jobs over the past few months.
Although it’s designed for the construction industry, I took SawStop’s new job-site saw into my shop and tested it to see if it would pass muster as a furniture-making tool. The saw can be folded up and set against a wall, taking up very little space. The collapsible stand is outfitted with wheels, making it easy to move.
The saw has convenient onboard storage for the fence, miter gauge, spare blade, spare brake cartridge, and wrenches—it even has a spot for a tape measure.
The 15-amp universal motor had ample power. It handled 3⁄4-in.-wide dadoes without any trouble, and I was able to rip 8/4 hard maple (although I did have to slow the feed rate). The cabinet has a 2 1⁄2-in.-dia. dust port connected to a shroud around the blade. Hooked to a shop vacuum, the saw did a very good job capturing chips and dust, especially with the blade guard in place.
The new SawStop Jobsite Saw was delivered to the Fine Homebuilding shop last week. This morning I laid my hands on it for the first time. As with the three other SawStop models I’ve used, the quality and intelligent design are readily apparent. The saw rides on a tube-framed cart/stand that can be set up for cutting or folded for transport in seconds. Thoughtful details include a height-adjustment knob that goes through its full range of motion with a single turn, an expanding table for rips up to 25-1/2 in. wide, and a clever storage box for accessories under the saw table.
My anticipation for the new saw is easily explained by statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC says that 67,000 people are injured every year using tablesaws, resulting in 33,000 emergency-room visits, 4000 amputations, and $2.3 billion spent on medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This makes tablesaws the most dangerous consumer product on the market. Although I have all my digits, I attribute that more to good luck than any special awareness on my part. I know many carpenters and hobbyists who are missing fingers. These are smart, conscientious guys who had a momentary lapse in judgment or a distraction.
Late last year SawStop announced its first portable model and unveiled it at JLC Live. I was at the show, where I witnessed several demonstrations of the safety mechanism and was able to play with the controls. But that’s not the same as using the saw, so asked the manufacturer to send one for testing. The Saw arrived in early March and after using it for a while I decided to do a video review because video reveals things that are hard to explain in photos and words (video below). A few of the things I learned from using the saw are worth mentioning here because they contradict rumors that have been floating around for years about the possibility of there being a portable SawStop and how it might function:
I’ve done plenty of dumb things on the jobsite and gotten away with most of them. But one day, back when I worked full-time as a carpenter, the odds caught up with me, and a short length of 2-by blocking that I had just ripped on a portable table saw kicked back and hit me in the mouth. That blow broke a few teeth and my jaw and taught me a few lessons about the limitations of workers’ comp and health insurance.
A blade guard would have prevented that accident, but it won’t prevent a finger from making accidental contact with a spinning blade. Neither will the flesh-sensing technology in SawStop’s new portable jobsite saw, which I’ve been trying out. But what it will do is stop the blade almost instantly if a finger does touch it—in less than 5 milliseconds, before any major damage can occur, according to the manufacturer.
By now, most PDB readers are probably familiar with SawStop. The company introduced its well-regarded cabinet saw almost a decade ago and recently introduced a contractor’s saw, but neither of those saws is portable nor practical on most jobsites. The JSS-MCA is, however, thanks to a compact design and an integral wheeled stand to tote around its 80-pound weight.
Ron demonstrates the New SawStop Jobsite Saw running a dado stack.