Finally, Another Finger-saving Tablesaw
A look at the Bosch Reaxx, SawStop’s first real competition.
I first learned to use a tablesaw the way most carpenters learn to use their tools— namely, by watching the people around me. Unfortunately, that meant I learned from an otherwise excellent craftsman who made dangerous techniques look routine. He would cut sheets of plywood in half by removing the rip fence and muscling the sheet through the blade freehand. He also would trim the bottom of a six-panel pine door by setting the tablesaw fence 1/2 in. from the blade and running the door over the saw with most of the door cantilevered off the left side. I didn’t learn to respect the tablesaw, or to use it safely, until a kickback accident cost me a fingertip.
Earlier this year, I reviewed the first-ever job-site tablesaw with flesh sensing technology, introduced by SawStop, the company that pioneered the technology 15 years ago. I liked the saw and said it compared favorably to Bosch’s 4100, which has long been a respected workhorse on residential and commercial job sites. Now Bosch has launched the first competitor to SawStop, the Reaxx. I spent two months testing the Reaxx with the experience of using the SawStop fresh in my mind.
The Reaxx will save your finger without ruining your blade
The biggest difference between the Reaxx and the SawStop has to do with how the injury-mitigation systems work. Both rely on the principle of capacitance in this case, the human body’s ability to store electricity—to sense contact with the blade and then to trigger their safety mechanisms. But whereas the SawStop drops the blade below the table and drives a chunk of aluminium into the blade to stop it, the Reaxx simply drops the blade and allows it to coast to a stop.
I have had the Reaxx blade drop twice when the saw wasn’t even plugged in once when I was getting the saw out of the truck, and once when I was changing the blade. The cartridge did not fire; rather, the safety release which is triggered when the cartridge fires got jostled and let go. Resetting the saw was easy, and if this is the price of using a safer saw, I’ll gladly put up with the minor inconvenience.
Like the SawStop, the Bosch Reaxx allows you to turn off the finger-saving feature if you want to cut highly conductive materials, such as wet pressure-treated lumber or foil faced rigid foam, that would likely activate the cartridge and drop the blade. A yellow light on the Reaxx indicates that you are in this “bypass mode.” (I tested the injury mitigation system by running foil-faced foam through the saw in regular mode.) By contrast, SawStop’s bypass system is a little more useful because it delivers either a blinking red light or a blinking green light to indicate whether the material is conductive enough to activate the safety cartridge.
For photos and more information on these finger-saving tablesaws, click the View PDF button below.