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Thread: Steel City granite-top table saw - Informal review

  1. #1
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    Steel City granite-top table saw - Informal review

    For the last several weeks I have been in the market for a table saw, and after a lot of searching on the internet (especially here), in magazines and talking to anyone who had some time & patience, I've narrowed it down to a Steel City hybrid or the Jet Proshop. Well, today, I was able to get my hands on SC's new granite table saw, and I must say, it is nice , and I wanted to post a few of the comments I had about it.

    One of the most important thins I wanted to look at was the miter slots. I've read here, and elsewhere, that after-market miter gauges won't work with this saw, but that does not seem to be the case. If you take a look at this photo that Bill Walton posted on 07-21-2007, you can see that it looks like a normal miter slot.
    I took the stock gauge from a Jet super saw next to this one and tried it out. I also took a Delta 36-946 miter gauge (which I believe is the same as the Osborne EB-3) and tried that too. Both moved very smoothly and securely in the slots. There was no side to side movement at all. The difference people have been talking about is in the miter gauge supplied by Steel City. Their slot washer (don't think that is the correct term) is actually a rectangular plate instead of a round washer. I believe it is used to distribute any pressure that might be placed on the granite if someone were to lift the gauge out at mid slot, instead of sliding it out of one of the ends. As long as you're carefull with the after-market, this shouldn't be a problem. And just because I am curious, I tried yanking out the gauge in mid-slot, and no cracking happened. Of course I didn't exert a lot of pressure because I think anyone trying this wouldn't force it because it is pretty obvious that you shouldn't do that.

    Also, I tried out the fence system, and wow, it moves smoothly. A single finger was all it took to move it away from the blade. And once locked down it didn't budge - and I believe me I tried (reasonably) to budge it. I think it is the same "industrial fence" that they have on some of their other saws. I especially like the UHMW faces

    The next thing I noticed was the extension table. I say "table" because it only has a left one. There is no right table. Instead the main table extends over in place of the right table. I believe they are doing this to either cut some costs or simplify the saw. The left table, and adjacent main table, have 2 tracks embedded in the underside and a steel bar that attaches the two together. It is also attached with some set screws in 3 or 4 pockets along the junction, which also act to level the extension to the main table.

    Then I moved on to the riving knife. After seeing them on the SawStop and Powermatic models, this is the feature that I really would like on my table saw. If I had the money, I'd probably be looking at these, but I don't. Anyway, while I like the inclusion of this feature, I don't think SC executed it as elegantly as the other two. To remove the knife & blade guard, you have to reach in and unscrew a small handle and pull it out to release the indexing pin. I don't have large hands, but this was not as easy as it could have been. I really like the SawStops little handle that you pull to release their knife (much more simple). It was also easy to unscrew the handle too far and loose it down in the cabinet. When I did this it lodged itself between the motor & back wall, and when I reached in from the front of the saw to get it I found out that the supplied blade is sharp. I have a nice 1/2" cut on my left hand to attest to it. I know what you are all thinking right now too. I should just find the extra money and get the SawStop. If I can injure myself on an unpowered & unplugged saw, imagine what I can do on a running saw .

    I was also told by the SC rep recently that the top adds 100 lbs. to the saw's weight. This might be an issue for me, since my shop is in my basement, and this will have to be carried down 10 rises to get there. Because of this I went to the left side of the table and tried picking that side of the saw up by the extension table, and it seemed to be pretty easy (and I'm sure I shouldn't have picked it up there). I am by no means a strong person, but I had no trouble lifting the left side by 8 to 12 inches. If I do decide to get this saw I am now hoping that weight won't be as big of an issue.

    As for the granite itself...very slick. Literally, very smooth and slick. However, I did notice a chip in the stone, even though this saw was just received in the store and set up this morning. If you look at the above photo of the miter slot it was on the front edge at the left side of the slot above the tee'ed out area. Now this wasn't very large, it was only 1/8" in diameter, and maybe 1/32" deep, but it was disheartening to see. I shouldn't see this on a brand new saw. The guy at the counter didn't know if it came in like this or if it was damaged today because he didn't assemble it, but he did notice a second smaller nick to the right of the slot where the beveled edge meets the front face that I missed. Neither of these were structural in nature, and in no way affects the performance, but it does make me stop and think about how easy it might be to damage the top surface.

    With all of this information, I know have some thinking to do. I probably won't end up with the Jet Proshop because of the back-order time, and I am just impatient, so it comes down to the granite Steel City, or one of the two cast iron versions - either the 1-3/4 hp 35670 without riving knife, or the 35900 with the riving knife, which is identical to the granite version (I called SC last week and they confirmed that this is a new model and should be in their warehouse this week).

    I'll keep you posted on which saw I end up getting, and if this wasn't too rambling and boring, I'll post my review of it.

    Thanks for reading
    Brian
    Last edited by Brian Effinger; 03-19-2008 at 10:30 PM. Reason: forgot to run spell check
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  2. #2
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    Call and ask for Jim Box at Steel City tech when you can Brian. He's at the Murphysboro, Tn. phone number listed on their web site. I would discuss the after-market miter gauge with him before giving it heavy use. You should check to see if anything has changed as they might not warranty a crack using it..

    Again... please call and just tell him Sarge from Atlanta ask you to call to clarify the miter gauge situation....

    Regards and enjoy...

    Sarge..

  3. #3

    ummmm

    Where are all of the great pictures of the top and the saw. I really want to see that granite top in all its glory.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bin View Post
    Where are all of the great pictures of the top and the saw. I really want to see that granite top in all its glory.
    Sorry, I don't have a camera on my cell phone, and I didn't want to bring a camera into the store. I'm not sure they would like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Thompson
    Call and ask for Jim Box at Steel City tech when you can Brian. He's at the Murphysboro, Tn. phone number listed on their web site. I would discuss the after-market miter gauge with him before giving it heavy use. You should check to see if anything has changed as they might not warranty a crack using it..

    Again... please call and just tell him Sarge from Atlanta ask you to call to clarify the miter gauge situation....
    Thanks Sarge, I'll give him a call early next week, after Easter. I did ask the rep last week if the miter gauge cracked the slot if it would be within warranty, and he said it would be. Of course, I'm sure that doesn't include obvious abuse.
    Is it really OK to call the big whigs there? I guess I just feel funny asking a VP such a simple question.
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  5. #5
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    This saw is currently at the top of my list. I am watching this thread with great interest. Thanks for the info.

  6. #6
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    Is this saw the same as a hybrid (orion) model? If so, might the riving knife set up be attached to an older SC Hybrid? I know, I should call SC customer service. Just thought someone here might have already considered this possibility.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Peterson View Post
    This saw is currently at the top of my list. I am watching this thread with great interest. Thanks for the info.
    No problem Greg
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meyer
    Is this saw the same as a hybrid (orion) model? If so, might the riving knife set up be attached to an older SC Hybrid? I know, I should call SC customer service. Just thought someone here might have already considered this possibility.
    Somehow, I doubt it. I would think it has to be a completely different trunnion assembly. But I could be wrong (its happened once or twice )

    Well, I was driving by the store again today, and had a camera with me so I stopped in and asked if I can snap some pics. They had no problem with that. As a side note - these guys have been great, and knowledgeable. If you're near the Buffalo area, check out Phillips Bros. Supply in Williamsville.

    Anyway, here is a photo of the saw. Nice looking, isn't it?
    As you can see I had the Delta miter gauge in the slot. And here are two more, showing the gauge from the front and an enlarged picture of the washer & slot.


    This next photo is of the extension table support bar. You can also see the holes where the alignment set screws are located.

    Last edited by Brian Effinger; 03-20-2008 at 9:56 PM. Reason: Forgot to run spell check again.
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  8. #8
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    And here are the two chips in the granite at the front of the saw. One is at the left side of the slot, and the other is 3/4" to the right.
    As you can see, they aren't really all that big, and they won't affect the use of the machine, but as I said before, they are a little unsettling.

    The next picture is of the throat. You can see the riving knife knob behind & a little below the blade (btw, that is the blade which already injured me). I've also included a close-up of the knob.

    I hope these pictures have been helpful. If anyone has any more questions or comments, please post. I'm still on the fence with this one.

    Thanks again for reading.
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  9. #9
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    Slick looking saw.

    A couple questions/comments.

    My first thought was how slick and smooth that top looked, and why can't they grind/polish cast iron like that? Then I remember that Powermatic did have a polished top a few years ago (maybe they still do). I remember reading about how the tops were so shiny that they reflected the light into your eyes, and some owners were taking an orbital sander to them to knock the reflection down. Could this be the case here? Please note...I have no experience with this, I just remember the postings.

    My second thought is about the chipping. I do have granite in the house, and it can chip if you drop something on the edge. My thought is that in my shop, I have a LOT more chance of dropping a tool on the edge of my table saw, than dropping something heavy on the edge of a kitchen counter or shelf. It may not be a problem, as not too many are as clumsy as me.

    I do know that they recommend you treat granite kitchen counters to protect against staining. This is probably less of a problem in the shop.

    One place where I think the granite would be outstanding is for those who live in humid areas where you are fighting surface rust on table tops. This would be a great aid in that fight.

    All in all, if I were in the market, I think I would stick to a cast iron top, but that is only my $.02.

    Oh yeah, the other question...is it possible that wing nut on the riving knife just needs to be loosened, not removed, to remove the knife?? I have never seen a Steel City saw, but it looks very well thought out.

    Rick Potter

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    ....Then I remember that Powermatic did have a polished top a few years ago (maybe they still do). I remember reading about how the tops were so shiny that they reflected the light into your eyes, and some owners were taking an orbital sander to them to knock the reflection down....
    I sanded my PM66. It was all nice and shiny until I set my ROS down on it while I plugged into a drop cord. Only problem was that the switch had gotten bumped into the on position so it took off and left a big swirly skid mark on my shiny new top.

    That granite top looks pretty sweet.
    Use the fence Luke

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    My first thought was how slick and smooth that top looked, and why can't they grind/polish cast iron like that? Then I remember that Powermatic did have a polished top a few years ago (maybe they still do). I remember reading about how the tops were so shiny that they reflected the light into your eyes, and some owners were taking an orbital sander to them to knock the reflection down. Could this be the case here? Please note...I have no experience with this, I just remember the postings.
    It is a very smooth surface, but not really reflective when you're standing right over it. Pushing the miter gauge through it was a breeze. When I put it back into the Delta's miter slot, it felt like it was grinding on sandpaper compared to the granite.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    My second thought is about the chipping. I do have granite in the house, and it can chip if you drop something on the edge. My thought is that in my shop, I have a LOT more chance of dropping a tool on the edge of my table saw, than dropping something heavy on the edge of a kitchen counter or shelf. It may not be a problem, as not too many are as clumsy as me.
    That is my concern too. However, if the chipping were just limited to the edges at the vertical & horizontal planes, then it probably wouldn't be a problem. I'm more worried about chips somewhere in the top surface. Of course, I still don't know how the chipping occurred. It could have really been knocked around during shipping, or mistreated at the store. I'd like to know how the top looks after a year of normal use, or more importantly, after 10 years (when the warranty is up). When I say normal use, I mean careful use. I wouldn't intentionally try to break the slab, nor would I intentionally try to damage a cast iron top. This is an expensive piece of machinery.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    I do know that they recommend you treat granite kitchen counters to protect against staining. This is probably less of a problem in the shop.
    I didn't get into this extensively with the rep, but he seemed to indicate staining is not a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    One place where I think the granite would be outstanding is for those who live in humid areas where you are fighting surface rust on table tops. This would be a great aid in that fight.
    That is one of my main reasons for looking at this. My shop space is in the basement, and even with a dehumidifier running, I am worried about moisture. In October 2006 we had an unusually early and heavy snowfall, which knocked out power for a week, and my sump pump doesn't have battery back-up. That first night I was up late scooping water out of the crock with buckets - that is until my feet gave out & I just couldn't do it anymore. The next day we had some spots with no standing water, and a few with 2 or 3 inches. Fortunately my dad was able to buy a generator for me out in Rochester, where they live.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    Oh yeah, the other question...is it possible that wing nut on the riving knife just needs to be loosened, not removed, to remove the knife?? I have never seen a Steel City saw, but it looks very well thought out.
    You don't need to remove the nut completely, but the first time I loosened it, I accidentally went to far and it came off. And now I have a reminder to be very careful when touching a saw blade.
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  12. #12
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    Two other things that I wanted to say:

    The first is about the insert. When I took it out to take a picture of the riving knife nut, it was kind of difficult to reinstall. The anti-kick back prawls kept it from inserting smoothly, and I managed to jam one of my fingers doing it. Maybe if they were't bolted so tightly to the gaurd, it would have been easier, but I don't know for sure.

    The other thing is the chipping at the miter slot. I was just looking at the photos again, imagining my floor joists in the reflection in the table top, and noticed that it looks like the piece that chipped off is in the fence rail. Maybe whoever assembled it at the store was a little careless putting the fence on. But that still doesn't allay my fears of damaging the top.
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  13. #13
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    Sorry to not have gotten back sooner Brian... but I just finished 3 coating drawer bottoms on both sides in the shop... I usually don't get out of there until mid-night every day.

    JIM BOX is Scott Box's brother and over the technical department.. Scott is the VP and quite often on the road setting up distributors or at shows. If you call and ask for technical.. it is likely you will get Jim anyway and trust me... he would love to assist you.

    BTW.. the first tme I ever called Steel City after I purchased an 18" BS.. I called to ask a question with techinical and make a suggestion. I ask for "tech" when the phone was answered. Miss Holly ask me to hold on for a second as the technical guy was in the back Sweeping the floor. I told her no problem and waited about 30 seconds. The person picked up from the warehouse and answered in this manner.....

    SCOTT BOX... how can I assist you? SO.. you would never who is a Big Shot at Steel City and who is not. These guys have been around tool manufacturing all their life and know about tools. When Scott Box showed up at my shop to bring and install my Granite jointer fence.. he was wearig worn jeans and had on a sweat-shirt. These are just regular guys like you and I. They are definitely not your corporate types.. just tool guys.

    BTW.. I wouldn't be concerned with a chip on the edge as it probably got there in shipping. I went down several weeks ago now and tested for chips on my granite fence. Someone had the question would it crack or chip easily. I have no chips and have bumped it with 12'-14' tips of oak stock swinging it in my shop.

    But.. I put it to the test. I took a 11/16" open end steel wrench and popped the back of the fence pretty good. No crack.. no chip.. So.. I popped it real good and same scenario.. still no chip or crack. Very hard and same thing... I would guess it would be more suspetable on the very edge through as that would be the weakest point and why SC reccomends their miter guage...

    Give Jim a call....

    Regards...

    Sarge...

  14. #14
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    Well, I called Steel City's tech department, and I think I talked to Jim Box (I asked for him, but when he answered, he didn't state his name). He said an after-market miter gauge was fine to use, but suggested that I remove the small round washer & either retrofit the washer from the stock gauge, or work without it altogether. I also asked about maintenance on the granite, and he said there was none - just use it. That's great news, since I really don't like maintenance and am lazy . I also asked about the weight, since I'll be lugging it down the basement stairs (9 rises), and he said the main box should only be about 350 lbs., which is also great news because that is one thing I am not looking forward to. I forgot to ask about the warranty, so I called back this morning and spoke to someone else (Sam I think) and he said that the granite is covered even if I damage it with the after-market miter gauge. Again, good news.

    So after these phone calls I decided to get one, and went down to the store and bought it. $1413 after tax (thank you new york state ) and then there will be a $100 rebate, so at least that softens the blow a little. Now I know that around here, if I don't take and post photos, it didn't happen, so when I get it delivered tomorrow and down into the basement, I'll make sure to post photos and gloat

    Thanks again to everyone for all of their help
    Itís only work if somebody makes you do it.
    A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.
    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side and it binds the universe together.

  15. #15
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    Brain, what was the price before taxes on this TS? Out here in Oregon we don't have a sales tax .

    I'm pretty stoked about this TS, and the more I try to make my craftsman contractor saw DC friendly, the more I want this cabinet saw.

    Granite tops for residential use are prone to staining. So long as you don't spill any liquids or set anything on the TS top that'll otherwise leave a ring, the top shouldn't need any treatment.

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