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Thread: SawStop long-term cost/reliability

  1. #1

    SawStop long-term cost/reliability

    I'm looking for a new table saw and I want it to be the last table saw I buy. I'm looking hard at a SawStop for all the obvious reasons. I'm posting these musings and questions because I assume other have had (or will have) similar thoughts.

    One concern I have about SawStop is the amount of electronics in it. On one hand, the electronics are what make it special because they make the safety feature possible. On the other hand, electronics make the saw far more technologically complex than most other saws on the market.

    Most saws are essentially mechanical in operation, with the motor as the only electrical component. No or very minimal electronics (circuit-board based technology) at all. So, I can probably figure out what a problem is and have a good chance at fixing it, assuming I can get the part.

    In the same way, I can work on my old car or take it to one of a dozen different garages near me. But if something goes wrong with my wife's Chevy Volt I have no choice but take it to the dealer.

    My point is not that I want to work on a SawStop but what happens when the warranty runs out? Am I going to be paying through the nose 10 years from now if it needs to be fixed? Will it turn into a really big and expensive paper weight because SawStop ceased making some little circuit board?

    Bottom line: Because the SawStop is a more complex machine, there are more things that can go wrong with it. And if something does go wrong, I only have one source to get things fixed. That makes me hesitate.

    Am I making mountains out of molehills?

    Am I being naive because all saws are similarly made with electronic components today?

    I appreciate any thoughts. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
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    380
    Hi Jim,
    My personal opinion is that the Sawstop is a $2000 table saw with $1000 of "safety" electronics added to it. I have seen many discussions about the Sawstop here at SMC as well as other forums. I'm pretty sure that many (if not all) of the Sawstop owners here on SMC will come to its defense and explain why they have made their choices to purchase the Sawstop. On the other hand, there are many who have used other table saws for many years and are perfectly happy with them. I personally would worry about the longevity of the electronics. I have a 5 hp Grizzly with the sliding attachment. This setup allows me to keep my hands and fingers pretty far away from the blade while cutting. I have built several jigs and fixtures to use with the sliding attachment for mitering, ripping, and working with very small pieces of wood.

    PS - I am using a Sawstop blade guard for dust collection and it works well on the Grizzly table saw.
    David

    20190409_225929.jpgGrizzly 1023rlwx.jpg
    Last edited by David Buchhauser; 09-05-2019 at 4:26 PM.

  3. #3
    Worst-case, you could bypass the electronics and turn it into a "regular" table saw.

    SawStop is no longer a start-up - they were bought by Festool's parent company (TTS), which makes it unlikely they'll go out of business or stop support.

    The sheer number of SawStops that have been sold would seem to make it unlikely that you'll have insurmountable problems in the future. If, say, a circuit board fails, it will occur often enough that someone will build an after-market replacement or license the design from TTS to sell replacements (assuming TTS doesn't).

    I wouldn't worry about it. By the same logic, you shouldn't buy any cordless power tools that are brushless or use LiIon batteries, as those all contain electronics.

  4. #4
    AFAIK you can just wire the motor straight to a power supply and run the SawStop without any safety features. There may be something preventing that, but I can't see how they'd prevent you from just wiring the motor straight to a power switch.

    Disclaimer- I've never looked inside a SawStop, just assuming.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Denver
    Posts
    72
    Hi Jim,

    I don't own a SawStop, but there's no argument that its' safety feature is a plus. If among all the factors in your decision this safety feature is primary, you should get one. It's a good saw and I suspect you'll love it.

    I can't speak to reliability from personal experience, but I've looked at them and they appear to be well-engineered and well-built.

    Many of us on the forum will argue that thoughtful work habits are the best safety when it comes to woodworking. That goes for all the tools in the shop. I've seen guys get their fingers injured with belt sanders, routers, and everything else...

    When I looked at the SawStop and asked the dealer if I should replace my Unisaw, they said no on multiple occasions. Not that it's way better or worse, they just said that I had a good saw and with good work habits I should save my money.

    David (above) bought the 5 horse Grizzly - A solid saw with the benefit of a slider and probably well-suited to his needs.

    If I was starting again, I'd skip past the cabinet saw and get a European slider. But that's based on the types of materials that I process. I recommend you think about what you build and buy the saw best suited to your projects.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    484
    Agree and disagree with Dan. A cordless tool is peanuts and widely considered to be disposable after 10 years(typical minimum timeframe manufacturers guarantee parts after discontinuing). With that said, i do agree that there are too many SS's out there for someone not to make money off providing parts for them. Not to mention the product and company are healthy and show zero signs of going anywhere in the near term. I dont own a sawstop, but i really havent heard much of the electronics pooping out on them, and its not exactly a new product.

    Its not just Sawstop, i have a VFD inside my KF700 that is a proprietary part to Felder and runs $1800-2000 to replace, i believe. Tools are becoming more complex than your daddy's unisaw, but thats not necessarily a bad thing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    North Carolina
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    25
    Safety features notwithstanding, the SawStop table saw is a very well-built and well-engineered tool. I have owned one for ten years without any issues and this includes a shop move. I would never suggest that any one brand is better or worse than another, having limited experiences with other saws, such comparisons would be baseless. Price is often used as a basis for comparisons and indeed, SawStop is pricer than some brands. Is it worth it? I thought so when I made the original purchase and if I am ever in the market for a new saw, I probably would make the same determination. I think you are wise to ask questions and do your research, but at the end of the day I don't think there is a right or wrong answer.

  8. #8
    You can't go wrong with the SawStop. In essence, it provides insurance against you cutting off (or seriously injuring) you hand or fingers. And that insurance payment is a one time thing - not like automobile insurance.

    People will try to tell you that if you are careful you don't need the flesh sensing technology. But there are too many stories of very experienced people who had serious injuries after 40 years of using table saws. I have a SawStop and it saved my thumb one time, and I think I'm a fairly experienced and careful worker.

    I had a shop injury (not table saw) and had to go to the ER to get sewed up. For a tensus shot, some lidocaine and suturing it was about $1,000. If you seriously damage your fingers on the table saw, the cost will likely be more and you'll likely have permanent restrictions in your movements.

    Even if there was some lifespan to the saw - say 20 years - I'd still buy it to save my fingers. I've grown attached to them.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    I decided to buy a short stroke slider because I feel that crosscutting is one of the best uses of a tablesaw. Most everything else I’d rather do on another machine.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    I decided to buy a short stroke slider because I feel that crosscutting is one of the best uses of a tablesaw. Most everything else I’d rather do on another machine.
    There is a lot to be said along the lines of this statement. SawStop 3HP PCS owner here and I LOVE it. However, I tend to use any other tool that will get the job done before using my table saw. I dont think its out of some kind of fear of the table saw as I always feel pretty comfortable when Im on it (though I am quite meticulous in planning out my cuts before I make them), its more just that I have a lot of options for making cuts and most of the time I find a quicker/safer/simpler way to achieve a particular cut and end up going that route instead. In my shop the table saw is not the "center" of the shop, but rather just another tool. And yes, to add to Brian's comment, crosscutting is definitely a task table saws are great at!
    If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Kansas City, MO
    Posts
    771
    We have 5 SawStops in our Guild shop and there have been maintenance issues with all of them. That being said I have had to replace 1 control box for $100 in the 5 years we've had them. Will you be able to get the control box forever? Probably not but I expect it will be available for quite some time. I have more trouble finding parts available for relatively new Powermatic machines (719T mortiser) that are not electronic at all.
    Chuck

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
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    Jim, I was in the same position as you two years ago. I had used a contractor table saw for 20 years. It was 3 hp with a sliding cross cut table - rather similar to the Grizzly of David. My plan was to purchase the SawStop equivalent, that is, an ICS with 36" T-Glide and the crosscut sliding table. After using a sliding table for 20 years, it is now a compulsory accessory.

    I also had my eye on a Hammer K3 slider. The more I examined these two saws, the more I realised that they were different in conception, and that this favoured the Hammer.

    What is comes to is that the slider on the Hammer can perform both rips and crosscuts, while the slider on the SawStop can only crosscut. The slider on the Hammer runs about an inch from the blade, while that on the SS runs about 12".

    The build quality of the SS in question and the Hammer are on a par, as is the cost (in Oz). The Hammer has a 12" blade against the 10" of the SS. Blade changes on the Hammer are easier than on the SS. The Professional rip fence on K3 is a Biesemeyer style but with high- and low options, and is adjustable for long- and short positions. I had a Biesemeyer on the contractor saw, and the Hammer Professional is better.

    Like you, I am suspicious of machines that rely on computers and complex electronics. The Hammer won again in this area (I could not escape this when upgrading my lathe several months ago, since variable speed requires a VFD).

    The attraction of a SS is the safety issue. While the Hammer does not have flesh-sensing technology, a slider keeps you out of the danger zone.

    If you are looking for an alternative table saw, one that does not rely on sophisticated electronics, then I do recommend a slider such as the Hammer K3. The SS is a terrific table saw, but I would not trade the K3 for one.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
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    2,352
    I really like my Sawstop as it is a well built way saw in terms of fit and finish. I bought it for the quality and the safety. I have had zero problems with it over the 5+ years I have had it. Given my age, I do not worry about parts availability for the next ten years.

    Some people like a slider and have room for it but I do not have the room. I have the SawStop PCS and it is cheaper than the Hammer K3.

    We are in a world of hurt if we are suspicious of equipment with electronics and computers as they are everywhere today.

  14. #14
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    Would not be to concerned with the "electronics" in the Saw Stop there ain't much, "electronics" at this level are pretty common,reliable and low cost. A lot of the worry with electronics in woodworking equipment is older equipment when manufactures created their own propitiatory electronics which are costly to replace.

    Mark

  15. #15
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    Dec 2018
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    However...
    If you start to look at other equipment/brands you need to do a little investigation for example if you were looking at Felder and were deciding between a 500 series and a 700 series there is a difference in cost to replace electronics, you might be thinking that the lower end 500 series would be less expensive to replace electronics than the 700 series - maybe but if something electronic fails on the 500 you have to replace the entire "electronics" box on the 700 and up you just replace the failed din rail component than can be bought from pretty much any electronics house.

    However part 2 - if you happen to work or know someone that works in an electronics lab for servo controlled motors and software than the repair of that "electronics" box repair becomes child's play...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark e Kessler View Post
    Would not be to concerned with the "electronics" in the Saw Stop there ain't much, "electronics" at this level are pretty common,reliable and low cost. A lot of the worry with electronics in woodworking equipment is older equipment when manufactures created their own propitiatory electronics which are costly to replace.

    Mark

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