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Thread: Sawstop ICS vs sliding table saw safety - a different type of question

  1. #1
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    Post Sawstop ICS vs sliding table saw safety - a different type of question

    Hi all. So, a bit of background. I currently own a Powermatic 5HP traditional cabinet saw. It's actually the 4th table saw I have owned in my lifetime and it's a great saw. In a few months I will be putting it up for sale. Basically, I want to get a safer saw.

    Before you guys start ranting, I know these sliding table saws are inherently safer. I also like how the slider table runs immediately along side the blade without any table surface in between (not like a Sawstop sliding table). They are a highly superior solution for doing cuts safely. On a slider, I could clamp down a small 1-2" piece of square wood and make a precision cut safely without any special jigs. This is impossible on a table saw without a special jig or getting your hands so close to the blade. I can rip a precise 1/8" strip off a board if I wanted to. I have seen some really weird cuts done on a sliding table saw that would be exceedingly difficult or impossible on a traditional cabinet saw. Here's one example:

    https://www.youtube.com/shorts/-3PgtjWh6Rw

    I have always been extremely careful when operating the table saw and always move slowly. However, I am 52 right now and I have been noticing my coordination. These are small things that happen sometimes like I'll open a drawer to grab a measuring spoon and fumble it where it drops to the floor. It's not a major thing and I never notice this when operating tools. It's always when I'm just doing other stuff and my minds not 100% on my hand movement coordination. I feel confident in working with saws right now, but I want to be safe for the next 20 years.

    I'd love to get a slider. If I did this, it would be a Minimax SC3C. That's the biggest I could realistically fit in my 20' x 20' garage along with all the other tools and shelves and stuff. The Sawstop solution would be the ICS 5HP with 52" fence, small sliding table and outfeed table.

    I know the Minimax sliding table is inherently safe, but I am still strongly considering the Sawstop because my coordination in the future could start degrading (being human is not perfect). I am just fearing the day where I could fumble my hands into the blade. What are all your guys thoughts on this particular safety consideration? Am I putting too much emphasis on this?
    Last edited by Aaron Inami; 07-02-2022 at 4:52 PM.

  2. #2
    That is a really hard thing to know. They are both good choices. I have the 52” ICS.

    On the aging, I am already 70 and dexterity has not changed much but ability to maintain focus has changed. Mostly, I notice that I set a tool down and don’t remember where I put it. I have always done that but I think it is worse now. I was thinking today that I should make a log of things that I do wrong in the shop to keep myself honest about shop safety. I want to keep up this lifestyle for at least 10 years. But, having dealt with aging parents who thought they had not lost a step, I do not want to ever overestimate my ability for driving, woodworking, or managing finances.

  3. #3
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    I agree that is a choice between two good choices. I have had several cabinet saws, as well as several sliders, so perhaps I have a different take on the question.

    Currently, I have a MiniMax CU30 combo machine, as well as a SS PCS. Both are my primary go to machines. One thing to remember is that while either machine protects against blade contact in its own way, either machine can still produce dangerous kickback.

    I like them both, but as an old dog, I find myself resisting new tricks and therefore I use the PCS more than the slider. I am trying to use the slider more, but old habits are hard to break. The Fritz and Franz jig I made is very handy, and I really like it for holding small work. It is also wonderful to straight line a board quickly. While making my kitchen cabinets it was a joy to set up the crosscut fence for two measurements and make panels quickly with accuracy.

    On the other hand, I still do most ripping on the PCS, as it is quicker to set up for a quick cut or two, which is my normal mode. I have some Jessem wheeled hold downs on the fence, and I can feed through multiples of narrow or wide rips one after the other. They work great.

    Anyway, I guess I am trying to say that if you have the room, I would have both. I have enough room that I also kept my old Unisaw for dado's and I am glad I also did that.

    If push came to shove, and I had to have only one, it would be the SS for me. Your situation may differ.

    PS: I will be 80 in a couple months, and I can also see deterioration in my abilities.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  4. #4
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    I know the Minimax sliding table is inherently safe” relative to a standard table saw. It will keep on cutting just like a standard saw. I have a minimax combo saw (slider) and feel comfortable with it, but have had to make cuts that I really thought out clearly before proceeding. This is not a complaint, just factual experiences. I love the saw. I am not disparaging SawStop, they make a fine product. If you think or believe that at some point in the future you may somehow get your finger or hand into the blade, then seems to me the decision is clear. I am not making light of the decision. It is certainly one to consider thoughtfully. Others will probably provide comments as well. Good luck with your decision, they are both fine products and would serve you well.

  5. #5
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    One thing to keep in mind that proper use of the 4 function rip fence on a slider can greatly reduce the risk of kickback compared to a Biessemier
    type fence

    In addition you can rip on the slider, and use a Fritz und Franz jig.

    Regards, Rod

  6. #6
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    I saw a lot of familiar statements in your thread. I got my slider long after the Sawstop came to market, and find it is great for keeping my digits away from a spinning blade. Just the hand position of holding a board against the fence keeps the blade away from your fingers. That being said, I also have a traditional cabinet saw used mostly for ripping and dadoes. I have gone round and round in my head thinking of shedding the cabinet saw, and keep finding reasons to keep it.
    If you can configure the space, keep the PM and get that slider. You will love it and keep finding reasons to go back to it time and time again.

  7. #7
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    So, I've been watching a lot of youtube videos. I swear, some of these people have no business being around a table saw! It scares me! lol.

    Anyways, I am in the process of re-organizing my garage / wood shop. Throwing out tons of crap and going to get rid of a several bench top type tools that just get in the way (I'm always having to walk over them on the floor). Need to re-work some electrical lines and do garage lighting in preparation for a Clearvue cyclone. There was a cut I made today where I wish I had a slider. After looking at all the methods, I think I really am leaning towards a slider.

    My space really is small and I actually need to sell the Powermatic so that I can use that money to put towards a slider. I also changed my mind. I may be going towards a Felder K500 or K700 if I can swing it. There's a couple things I saw on the minimax that I didn't like.

  8. #8
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    Hello Aaron:

    I just upgraded from Sawstop to the Minimax SC3C. Aside from the horrible delivery of the machine (months late, damaged, missing parts...the list goes on and continues), it is a great machine. Only issue is that due to the ability to run a dado blade on the machine, the edge of the slide is about 1/2-3/4" away from a standard blade. So far, this hasn't been a problem. From a safety point of view, it is at least as comforting to use as my old Sawstop. I too am of advanced age.

    I don't want to bash, especially since I am still waiting for a Minimax FS-41 to be delivered (even later than the SC3C, it is somewhere between San Marino and Duluth, GA.). My advice is to look carefully at the exact machine model you order, and be prepared to wait a long time. Also, I ordered through a Minimax dealer who has been extremely helpful and proactive in getting the SC3C parts replaced and repaired. The folks at SCM USA itself seem to more involved in the sale and service of large industrial installations than one-off saws and you'll be lucky to get their attention.

    The machine is really too large for standard lift gate/residential delivery. FEDEX freight did a stellar job of trashing the saw at the end of my driveway. I had to refuse delivery, sent it back to Georgia for repairs that were not done correctly and then use a drop deck trailer to pick it up at my local dealer.

    Final comment: I added Proscale digital indicators to both the crosscut fence and the rip fence. They are flawless and work exactly as they should. If you are in the Raleigh, NC area you are welcome to look at the saw and give it a test cut.

  9. #9
    I went through the same thought process several years ago, and ended up with the slider. It is worth noting that the "blade brake vs no brake" is not the only safety calculus involved - also consider kickback accidents, etc.

    In addition, I've been rigorous in:
    1) Always using the overhead blade guard and riving knife.
    2) Training myself to always stand in a certain position with my hands on the fence. Before turning the saw on, I can do a mental checklist of, "Where am I standing and where are my hands?". This is much easier and more foolproof on the slider than a traditional saw.

    Today, I'd buy the Felder slider with PCS (their - superior - version of SawStop), and will likely do so in a few years.

  10. #10
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    I had the same decision to make a couple of years ago. I had owned a SawStop contractors saw and was upgrading when moving to a new shop. I bought a Felder planer, jointer, and bandsaw at the time. The salesman showed me their sliders in the Delaware showroom, and they were impressive. I had/still haven't ever used a slider, so I'm clearly not an expert with one.

    I used the extra space that a slider would require in my workshop to build a large assembly table/workbench/cabinets and bought an ICS. It is a very impressive table saw, and I do feel safe with it. I'm likely going to add a CNC machine on top of that new assembly table at some point, so I feel that I've used that space extremely well. And huge amounts of storage with the drawers.

    I think you'll do well either way. The Felder K500 and K700 are impressive machines. And the ICS is built like a tank. A joy to use.

    In either case, think before making any cuts, and if tired (which happens so much more often now as we've become elderly (sigh)), just stop and work another day.
    Last edited by Alan Lightstone; 07-04-2022 at 7:20 AM.
    - “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
    - Welcome to Florida. Where the old folks visit their parents

  11. #11
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    Aaron,

    Having gone through the same planning/reorganizing/purchasing exercise last year, here are a couple of comments/questions for your consideration:

    - My hobby shop is 14x20 (single car garage) and it contains 12 inch (310mm) jointer/planer, saw/spindle (slider/shaper) with a 2050mm (80 inches) carriage; a 16inch bandsaw, a Clearvue Dust Collector, a floor 17 inch drill press, a router table (I have not yet made the leap into going with a router spindle on the combination machine), a 7-foot workbench.

    - The jointer/planer and saw/spindle replaced an 8 inch jointer, 15 inch planer and 3hp cabinet saw. The end result was a net gain in space (and the addition of a shaper). Not sure how my workspace compares with what you have available at your end, but this may open new possibilities.

    - My saw/spindle (Hammer B3) takes almost less space in terms of footprint than my cabinet saw. The "almost" comes from the fact that the carriage is 80 inches long. Had I opted for the shortest version it would have taken up less space.

    - The jointer/planer combination machine (Hammer A3-31) cuts the footprint of the stand alone jointer and planer machines in half.

    - One way to tackle your space constraints would be to have a shorter slider (compared to the 8+ feet offered on larger / more expensive models).

    - Whether you choose a product made by SCM/Minimax or Felder/Hammer, I am sure you will enjoy the work environment and capabilities they offer. Going with entry level models could be a way to stretch your budget while exploring potential gains stemming from combination machines.

    - Based on my experience so far, I am confident that my slider allows me to do things more easily and more safely than if I had a cabinet saw. The Sawstop is certainly a good quality machine, but it remains a cabinet saw. The virtual elimination of injury from kickbacks (as I now work besides the machine, not in line with the blade) and the capacity of handing very small items (with a Fritz and Franz jig) are two examples of benefits for the type of work I do.

    I hope these few thoughts will help you navigate through the numerous scenarios that accompany the planning of a new shop and the associated cleanup and purchasing implications.

    Regards,

    Jacques

  12. #12
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    I'm on my saw almost every day since I use it for work. I've had the sawstop and while it was refreshing to know that my fingers would be safe if stuffed in the blade, I switched to a slider when the opportunity presented itself. I had convinced myself through youtube videos that a slider was safer and now, using it daily, I would have to say I confirmed that for far more reasons than expected.

    1. My hands just stay away from the blade. I never get close to it.

    2. I'm always well off to the side and protected from kickback, something I had an issue with on my sawstop (got a bad arbor, they probably have fixed it by now).

    3. Less dust on me and in my lungs. Standing behind the blade exposed me to everything that was thrown back. The slider places me out of line of kickback, but also away from dust throw. I use an overhead guard most of the time and have an air filter set up behind the saw to suck in anything that doesn't make it in.

    My slider is also a short stroke and I have made various jigs to allow long stroke on it when needed.

    So, if you are starting to have little slips, it's worth considering if kickback could also be an issue for you. If so, the slider would be ideal. If not, then the sawstop would take care of you.

    All said and done, I can confidently say I'll never buy another cabinet saw again unless it's an absolutely forced decision. Especially with sawstop alternatives starting to appear on sliders.

  13. #13
    every slider will be different in position behind the saw. the big stuff you cant stand where you want as the carriage is there. All kinds of you tubes of guys in some yoga position ripping material off the fence. My entry level slider is possible as I can stand over the bar if your inseam is high enough The distance to the blade is far compared to the cabinet saws so much so its a bit of a reach, more so being used to cabinet saws for so long. It will take some getting used to

    You want to be truly safe get a saw stop. Your slider wont protect you from some different ways accidents can happen. i dont see sliders as tons safer, they are in some ways, half of the difference is some amount of cuts are easier and some wont be. Ill always have a cabinet saw or two besides a slider or two.

    Kickbacks are mentioned all the time here and no idea what people are doing to get kickbacks. I have lots of years on a besmeiyer with MDF attached and it does not kick back. If i need some space near the rear of the blade I can attach a piece of MDF to the fence to end anywhere wanted with a few clamps.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacques Gagnon View Post
    - My hobby shop is 14x20 (single car garage) and it contains 12 inch (310mm) jointer/planer, saw/spindle (slider/shaper) with a 2050mm (80 inches) carriage; a 16inch bandsaw, a Clearvue Dust Collector, a floor 17 inch drill press, a router table (I have not yet made the leap into going with a router spindle on the combination machine), a 7-foot workbench.

    - One way to tackle your space constraints would be to have a shorter slider (compared to the 8+ feet offered on larger / more expensive models).
    I hear you on that. While my space is 6 feet wider than yours, since it's a 2-car garage, I still want a good amount of floor space for things such as temporary staging areas, other types of tools, project, materials, etc.. Also space used as a receiving area for new stuff, lol. As far as size goes, I would get that same table length (2050mm / 6.6 feet). That would be the max length I could use in my space without opening the garage door.

    There's this insane guy who put a 10' minimax si315es into his 2-car garage. It basically fills up his entire space!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk1sfhy4PJI&t=20s

    To everyone else, I've pretty much decided that the next saw is going to be a Felder K500 or K700 slider. There were so many things I've done in the past that would have been easier, better, safer on a slider. There are so many of my concerns about fumbling into the blade. There is a high chance of this on a cabinet saw because you're always pushing behind the blade. I use push sticks ALL THE TIME and am extremely careful. If I make a partial or sensitive cut, I'll move the wood into the blade until a certain point, then I'll power down the saw to allow the blade to come to a full stop before pulling back any material. There is a tiny chance of slipping/falling forward. Since the blade on a cabinet saw is always right in front of you, it becomes a safety/injury hazard. The act of ripping 1" strips concerns me a bit, even using a push device.

    I have found that so much can be done using Fritz und Franz. I think if I somehow slip or fall forward on a slider, it would most likely be falling into the crosscut fence, since the blade is always beside me and mostly covered by the blade guard. The types of cuts where I would have to feed the wood while standing directly behind the blade would probably be very minimal. When ripping with most of the wood on the right side, I could use the Fritz/Franz as an assist most of the time.

    As I said, I have to sell my Powermatic. I plan to use the slider for dados as well (the Felder can do this).

    Many of you are saying sliders will begin having Sawstop type safety. Currently, it's only on the Format4 (and I'm not spending $45,000+ on a table saw!). This technology may trickle down to Felder/Hammer, but it will also make the tool more expensive. They have to re-design the entire trunnion and it's an additional pull-down/rise-up mechanism to be manufactured. Not sure how they made this, but it's probably springs under extreme tension or extreme motor/magnetics, but it's not going to be cheap. Maybe in 5-10 years you might see this. The Sawstop technology is not massively large because it uses the blade's momentum to pull it down after it releases the arbor lock. The whole trunnion was designed from the start to work this way, so it's not radically costly to manufacture (as opposed to the Felder PCS). Theoretically speaking, if the PCS was a $3,000 option on your Felder/Hammer slider, would you buy it or even be able to afford it?

    The slips I mentioned earlier was always around the kitchen when grabbing something like a spoon or a cup. This is pretty much when 50% of my mind is on getting the spoon and 50% is on some project, problem, research. When I'm doing woodworking, I'm 100% focused on what I'm operating.
    Last edited by Aaron Inami; 07-04-2022 at 3:57 PM.

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