SawStop Portable Job-Site Tablesaw
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.
In 2002, SawStop demonstrated its first flesh-sensing tablesaw to prevent injuries. The cabinet and contractor SawStop saws have been universally lauded by cabinetmakers and hobbyists as high-quality and reliable. Unfortunately, these saws are larger and heavier than the tablesaws normally found on job sites. For almost a decade, the company has promised a portable job-site tablesaw to compete with small saws such as the Ryobi model that injured Carlos Osorio in a well-publicized 2010 court case. The saw is finally here, so I thought you’d want a sneak peek. We’ll run the saw through a series of tests and subject it to the full rigors of the job site over the next few months. Stay tuned for the full report.
The brake cartridges are identical to the brake cartridges found on larger SawStop saws. The dado cartridge is in the foreground, and the standard cartridge is behind it. They sell for about $70 each. Both the cartridge and the sawblade must be replaced when the safety system is activated.
Sold with a rolling stand that folds up into a two-wheel hand truck, the new SawStop Jobsite portable tablesaw is loaded with intelligent features. It has a 25-1/2-in. rip capacity and can be equipped with an 8-in. dado set. All of this engineering and the saw's cool features come at a price, however. The saw sells for $1300.
The saw is controlled with two switches. The toggle switch controls the blade brake system. You can test materials to see if they're sufficiently wet or conductive to activate the brake by touching the nonspinning blade with the stock in question. If the red light comes on, the material will activate the brake if you attempt to saw it. You can bypass the safety system when necessary. The larger red paddle switch controls the saw's motor.
The throat plate of the SawStop Jobsite saw is height-adjustable, so it can be made flush with the cast-aluminum table. The riving knife is removed or swapped by rotating the small red lever behind the blade. Below the red lever is the blade brake cartridge.
The rip fence on the SawStop Jobsite saw is locked and unlocked with a rocking lever on top of the fence. It's unlocked in this photo. The design is nonconventional, but the locking mechanism adjusts quickly and holds its place.
When set up and when folded for transport, the SawStop Jobsite saw is about the same size as the larger class of portable saws, which includes the Bosch 4100, the DeWalt 744, and the Ridgid R4513. By itself, the saw weighs 79 lb. With the cart, it comes in at 108 lb.
One of my favorite features on the new SawStop Jobsite saw is the handy storage box under the expanding table, which has room for spare brake cartridges, the blade cover and kickback pawls, and the miter gauge. It also has a protected spot for the owner's manual.