Our Table Saw Is Going To Kill Someone - SawStop Discussion

Over the last few days in the #woodworking channel on our slack, there has been substantial discussion about our table saw’s lack of safety features (no splitter, no riving knife, no guards, etc.) and general agreement that since replacement parts are not available for it to replace those safety features, we are essentially gambling with our member’s safety against an almost certain eventual accident.

Over the years, we have repeatedly discussed the possibility of getting a SawStop table saw (for those who don’t know, it’s a table saw with a safety feature that detects if the blade contacts flesh and fires a safety brake to stop and lower the blade near instantly in the event of an accident). In the past it always felt like the expense was too high for the moment, and other items were higher priority, so it was always pushed off to the future. I would like to propose that, with us in our new space, our membership growing rapidly, and our finances in a very comfortable position, that we should stop putting off this necessary improvement to the safety of our most dangerous tool in the space. The discussion among our active #woodworking channel participants also appears to indicate this is a widely supported idea.

Our current table saw is a 3HP 10" Blade cabinet saw, and it’s capabilities have served us well. General agreement among the #woodworking group was that our future saw should be of similar capacity. That means we would be looking at either the SawStop Industrial Cabinet Saw or the SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw. We have not yet come to agreement or understanding on whether the premium for the Industrial saw is worth the extra cost. The Industrial saw is heavier, has a bigger table and base, and has several additional safety interlocks that the professional saw does not.

We also have discussed a list of upgrades/additions/accessories we feel would be necessary to include in the purchase, and have landed on the list(s) found here (one tab for each saw option, full list is still up for debate/negotiation).

Please, take a moment to review these options, read through the discussion in #woodworking if you have interest, and share your thoughts/comments.

I believe a few of us plan to go to Rockler and Woodcraft tomorrow (Saturday 2021-08-21) to see the saws in person so we can compare and contrast the professional and industrial models. Please let me know if you would be interested in joining that boondoggle, all are welcome to join and offer your input to this decision!


Kevin McLeod

Rockler/Woodcraft visit to look at the different models will be tomorrow (Saturday 2021-08-21). We will leave from Hive13 at 3:00pm, carpooling is that is convenient for those interested in joining.

SawStop Model Comparison Observations

General Overview

  • Ryan and I went to Rockler and Woodcraft to look at the SawStop models

  • Rockler had Professional saw in stock, Woodcraft had both Professional and Industrial in stock

  • Neither store can offer us a discount on the saws, SawStop disallows it. However, they did both state that if we gave our members ID cards, they are happy to offer all our members a 10% discount on all stuff store wide except power tools and a few specific brands (SawStop, Festool, Laguna, etc.)

  • Both stores can accommodate a text exempt purchase, just requires filling out a form.

  • Lead times are 2-4 weeks

  • Photos of the two saw models can be seen here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/gBWe23puyLAdR3en7

Model and Feature Comparisons

  • Saw Table Top

  • Both models have heavy cast iron tops

  • Industrial saw table is significantly thicker/heavier

  • Both are the same width, but the Industrial saw is 3” deeper (front to back). While this doesn’t sound like a lot, when standing at the saw, it definitely feels significant. The deeper table would offer significant additional stability for things like crosscut sleds. However, if we build a proper outfeed table, that can be adjusted to be flush and level with the saw surface, and route miter slot extensions into it, this difference becomes less important.

  • Fence Systems

  • The fence that comes standard with the Professional saw is very flimsy/cheap feeling. It can be upgraded to a nicer fence system (that they call the “T-Glide” fence). I would consider this upgrade necessary.

  • The Industrial saw comes with the nicer “T-Glide” fence standard.

  • The “T-Glide” fences for the professional saw and industrial saw are constructed the same, and are both high quality, but they are not the exact same. The industrial saw’s fence is significantly longer (even more so than the extra table depth I believe). A longer fence offers significant improvements in cut accuracy, stability, and safety.

  • Side Table Size (and fence travel)

  • Both saws are available with side table options that allow either 36” or 52” rip width. I would advise we only consider the 52”, as the 36” would be a significant limitation below what our current saw can do.

  • Saw Base

  • The industrial saw has a rather large access panel “box” on the right side of the saw cabinet. As far as we could tell, it serves no purpose, as it was completely empty. It’s possible that the larger size motor options require that space.

  • The blade tilt control is in different places on each saw. The professional saw has it on the right side of the saw cabinet (under the side table, like our current saw). The industrial saw has it on the left side, so it’s much easier to access (since there isn’t a table overhanging it on that side). This difference was unexpected, it would definitely be nice to not have to crawl under the side table to tilt the blade.

  • Riving Knife, blade guard, and table insert

  • These features are the same on both saws, but the following observations felt worth mentioning

  • The riving knife and blade guard has a tooless connection to the saw that is VERY easy to use, it’s a matter of seconds to fremove/replace the riving knife as needed for different cuts. This is a huge benefit, as this was why our current saw’s splitter got… disappeared.

  • The splitter that comes with the saw is one that has the blade guard and anti-kickback pawl assembly mounts built into it. The floating overarm dust collection guard comes with the low profile shark fin style riving knife.

  • The table inserts are very easy to install and remove, they have a little latch handle that pulls up to release, but keeps it down tight and flush when locked. This is nice, as it ensures you don’t have your work hang up on the insert like sometimes happens on our current saw, BUT it does mean that it’s not as easy to make additional inserts from scrap laying around (and the inserts are $50 each). The table inserts also do have a slight quirk we will have to warn people about, they have a “hook” on the back side that locks it down into the table, and it’s very easy to not get it in it’s correct position when inserting it. It’s a simple small thing, but could be unsafe if missed.

  • Dust collection

  • The dust collection for the base cabinets is essentially the same between the two models

  • Both models have optional blade guard dust collection accessories. There is an overarm dust collector that is essentially a duct and hose that connects to the splitter-mounted blade guard, and then there is an floating dust collection guard that attaches to the edge of the table and can be raised and lowered as needed. The basic one cannot be used for any cuts that would require the blade guard or anti-kickback pawls to be removed (for example, cutting using the crosscut sled). However, the floating dust collection guard is much more versatile, since it has no connection to the middle of the table or the riving knife/blade guard. I would highly recommend we opt for the floating dust collection guard option. I must note however, that neither store had the floating dust collection guard on display.

  • Both models have a 4” dust collection port on the back of the saw body, and the floating dust collection guard has a 4” port.


  • Accessories/Upgrades

  • The 52” Side table and “T-Glide” fence upgrades are essential, the smaller side table is just too small, and the basic fence that comes with the Professional model is crap

  • The overarm dust collection hose that connects to the blade guard seems like it would get in the way of most cuts, I would highly recommend the floating dust collector guard instead, as it can be used with things like sleds, and swung out of the way easily for operations that cannot use it.

  • Model Comparison

  • Both the Professional and the Industrial saw appear to be high quality machines. The Industrial saw IS noticeably higher quality and built beefier than the professional saw, though it is hard to describe or quantify the difference.

  • The industrial saw’s tilt control on the left side of the saw would be noticeably easier to use

  • The industrial saw’s T-Glide Fence is significantly longer than the T-Glide fence for the Professional saw, and the longer fence would be a very nice thing to have for safety and accuracy of cuts

  • The extra depth of the industrial table is significant, and would be nice, but isn’t critical so long as we build a nice outfeed table.

  • Bottom line: If the price difference between the models was something like $400, the differences noted above would absolutely be worth it. However, the total cost difference for the two saw models, when you include the necessary upgrades to make them comparable (3HP motor, T-Glide Fence, 52” Side Table, etc), the price difference ends up being $1000. I do not believe the features listed above justify the premium for the Industrial model.

There are some brochures that show the saw models, accessories, etc. in the wood shop if anyone feels like reading through them.


Please, let me know if you have any additional questions, if you agree with my assessment of the differences between the saws and the accessories/upgrades we should be considering, or any other thoughts on this topic.

Here is the link to the spreadsheet that has the full list of stuff that would be included in a vote for this purchase.

Including the full saw package, a set of spare blades and brakes, and materials to build an outfeed table and hook up to dust collection, we would be looking at around $5400 for the professional model saw (or, if we decided to splurge on the nicer industrial saw, $6400).


Kevin M.


Just wanted to chime in. The makerspace we joined here in Atlanta has a sawstop and it’s amazing! Highly recommend!

One consideration to decide prior to buying it: if the sawstop detects that a current can pass through it, it locks. But it does so in a fashion that renders the brake unusable going forward and requires you to purchase another one. So would be worth determining who purchases a replacement prior to moving forward with this system. The policy here is if you set it off, you replace it (or pay to replace it). Of special note is that it can be set off with wet wood and some coatings on some sheets of plastic (anything that can conduct iirc). So the one here has had 2 peoples hands/fingers set it off and 7 other times it’s been set off (by my last count around a year ago).



Thanks for the info Tiffany! Over what period of time were those 9 triggers of the brake?


Do we know the cost of a replacement?


I’ll have to confirm but I think since 2016?


Yes, the prices for a replacement brake cartridge and blade are in the spreadsheet I linked.


How many members does your new makerspace have again, Tiffany? I remember it was more than the hive, but not by how much.

If you have had two contact-triggered brake sets since 2016, I think that’s a pretty convincing argument for why we need a sawstop ASAP. The Hive is growing rapidly, and as it continues to grow we will have more people using the equipment, and less awareness of each member’s skill levels.

Basically, if we don’t get something safer, we are setting ourselves up for an inevitable bad accident, and since our saw lacks safety features, we have (at least partial) liability for that eventuality.


When we joined I think we were at 300ish? Unsure where it’s at due to covid (how many people dropped membership and they just started taking new members at the beginning of the month after not taking them since the pandemic started so that may have hurt them).


I’ve got the 3 HP PCS SawStop at home. Just a few notes.

First, I don’t believe the Steelcity ever had a riving knife, just a guard, which was not great. A splitter is pretty easy to make or buy, and might be worth a purchase out of the warden’s budget.

Second, I have not noticed a problem adjusting the angle of the blade on my SawStop. It’s true the wheel is on the side, under the table but usually I’m kneeling down to eye ball the angle of the blade, and I’ve never had a problem finding the wheel without looking for it under the cabinet. As such it’s not a problem.

Third, if the Hive is willing to wait, SawStop does run specials. Those specials throw in either the overarm dust collector for shopvacs, or the ICS Mobile Base for free. When I got mine it was in Feb, and I believe it happens every spring, March-April time frame.

The mobile base is very nice, since it allows the extremely heavy sawstop to be moved as if it has no weight. The base works with either PCS or ICS without issue. The mobile base is a ~$400 value. If it only gets used occasionally to get things that roll behind the saw, or to make a long cut it can be worth it.

The overarm dust collector with dedicated shop vac is going to be the best way to collect dust from the dust collector build into the guard. The Pennstate DC is not going to be able to collect much from the very narrow tube that connects it to the 4" duct. Also probably one of the best moves that can be made is to throw away their T connector on the 4" duct that connects the inside of the cabinet to the over arm. It’s a poor design that does little other than save space.

Fourth, regardless of the time of the decision, you might consider visiting the Edward B Mueller company on Reading rd. They usually have them in on hand, and are pretty nice to deal with for most wood working supplies.

Hey Andrew, thanks for the input, I’ll try to respond to each bit below:

  1. riving knife vs. splitter - you are correct that the steel city saw just had a splitter, not a riving knife. We have talked about making one to replace it before, but I don’t know that anyone has ever felt confident they understand the design requirements well enough to not make something potentially dangerous out of ignorance. I know I don’t feel comfortable DIY making that safety device.

  2. I agree the placement of the tilt wheel is no huge obstacle

  3. I personally feel like we should not go for a mobile base at the hive. With how uneven our floor is, every time someone moved the machine it’d have to be realigned. I’d rather it get installed in the spot we want it then have it never move again. We are not space constrained like most home shops.

  4. for the overarm dust collector, it sounds like you are talking about the one that just has a small hose that connects to the blade guard, I agree that one would be best served with shop vac. However, the one I’m proposing is the “floating guard” model, and it is much larger, it has a full 4" duct all the way to the guard. It’s much better suited for a dust collection system like ours.

  5. I’m unsure it’s worth waiting, I’ve seen the mobile base deal, but again, I don’t think we should get the mobile base. And I’ve seen the small dust arm as the sale item, but never the large floating one.

  6. we have definitely not ruled out Edward B Mueller company, we only visited Rockler and Woodcraft because they are open on weekends.

Thanks for the feedback and thoughts!

You can also buy splitters if people don’t feel comfortable with the liability. Just a thought.


If you move the saw, there is no need to realign anything, other than maybe the outfeed table, because the entire saw moves. It can be easily worth it at “free” if all you’re doing is moving the saw to get things that have fallen down between the saw and the outfeed table.

Correct, I am talking about the smaller tube that connects to the built in dust collection on the blade guard. To be more specific I’ve tested with both the blade guard hooked up to a dedicated shop vac in my ceiling, and a DIY overarm similar to the 4" sold by SawStop. The dust collection from the blade guard is superior from my testing. I realize that hanging things from the ceiling is not something the Hive can do with the much higher ceilings. The additional tubing seems a reasonable compromise.

The issue with the 4" overarm is that the saw is flinging saw dust forward at about 100 MPH, while your average dust collector moves the air at about 40 MPH, max. Further the saw is throwing it forward, unlike a miter saw, where you can capture the dust with a box behind the saw. That’s a large part of the reason why the blade guard is superior, since it works with the way the dust is thrown. With nothing connected I was still seeing the blade guard shoot the dust back a foot or so from the opening on the back. If you do decide to go with the larger added expense of the overarm, make sure you add a brush fringe like the one around the shoe on the CNC. This might fix some of the problems with the dust getting flung forward.


The other issue I found with the 4" overarm is that it gets in the way move than the guard does. In either case you’re going to have to remove them, but the blade guard starts to have problems at like 1/2" or less cuts, the overarm usually needs to be removed around 3/4" or 1" cuts.