This long-awaited table saw incorporates the SawStop flesh-sensing blade brake that prevents losing a finger, plus a riving knife and excellent blade guard. Reviews say this contractor saw rivals the performance of top-ranked hybrid saws. It runs and cuts smoothly, with excellent dust collection through a 4-inch port. Reviews recommend opting for the cast-iron wings (*Est. $100) as worth the extra cost. A mobile base (*Est. $160) and handled jobsite cart (*Est. $200) are also available, though the saw is still heavy for one person to load into a truck or van. The warranty is for two years. If you can't invest this much in a contractor saw, the more portable Bosch 4100DG-09 (*Est. $710) has the same safety features -- except for the flesh-sensing technology.
We found the best reviews of the SawStop Contractor Saw at Wood Magazine, Popular Woodworking, Fine Woodworking and the Woodworkers Guild of America, where it's tested in detail. The About.com guide to woodworking also tests this saw, and the review at Toologics.com compares it with the more expensive SawStop Cabinet Saw. Professional contractors weigh in on this saw at Tools of the Trade (where it wins an Editors' Choice award) and in a forum discussion at The Journal of Light Construction. Both ConsumerReports.org and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) cover the SawStop from the point of view of preventing serious injuries.
1. Wood Magazine
A former shop teacher and woodworking magazine editor gives the SawStop Contractor Saw a perfect 5-star rating. He tests it with both the aluminum and Biesemeyer-style fences and with both stamped-steel and cast-iron extension wings (recommending the cast iron). The review praises the SawStop for its heavy-duty cast-iron trunnions and good dust collection, as well as for its riving knife and flesh-sensing blade brake.
Review: SawStop Safety Available in a Sub-$2,000 Saw, Doug Hicks, July 2009
2. Popular Woodworking
This detailed review praises the SawStop Contractor Saw from start (easy setup, near-perfect fit and finish) to finish -- with kudos for "all but non-existent" vibration, quiet 81-decibel running and excellent dust collection. Huey also recommends opting for cast-iron wings, and concludes that though it lacks the power of a 3-horsepower cabinet saw, the SawStop Contractor Saw competes well even with hybrid saws.
Review: Tool Test: SawStop's Contractor Saw -- At Last, Glen D. Huey, Feb. 2009
3. Fine Woodworking
This long, detailed single-product review is accompanied by a video tour of the SawStop Contractor Saw. The review praises the saw not only for its superb safety features, but also for its smooth adjustments, easy assembly, fine fit and finish and overall great performance.
Review: Tool Review: SawStop Contractor's Saw, John White, March 2008
4. Woodworkers Guild of America
In this well-illustrated review of the SawStop Contractor Saw (with T-glide fence and cast-iron wings), a woodworker who's accustomed to using a cabinet saw reports surprise at this contractor saw's low vibration and excellent cutting ability (testing it on hard maple and with bevel cuts on "burn-prone" cherry). He recommends the 30-inch model and jobsite cart for portable or small shop use or, if there's space in the shop, the 52-inch fence.
Review: The SawStop Contractor Saw, David Munkittrick, May 2009
The SawStop Contractor Saw earns a perfect 5-star rating, based on tests. Chris Baylor, About.com's guide to woodworking, praises the instruction manual, reporting that it took about four hours to set up and tune his new saw. Opting for cast-iron wings and the T-glide fence, he found the saw's performance excellent: "Once the fence was adjusted to be square to the table, it remained true no matter where I placed it. The 1-3/4 HP motor handled any task that I threw at it while set to 110-volt power and with the included 10" blade." A disappointed reader warns that using a dado on this saw is inconvenient, and that cutting damp pressure-treated wood requires disabling the blade sensor. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: SawStop Contractor Saw Review, Chris Baylor, Not Dated
6. Tools of the Trade
The SawStop Contractor Saw wins an Editors' Choice award, with high praise for its flesh-sensing blade brake and true riving knife.
Review: 2008 Editors' Choice Awards, Editors of Tools of the Trade, 2008
7. Woodworker's Journal
Comparison tests of eight contractor saws give top ranking to the SawStop (based on a preproduction model), not because of its blade brake, but because of its overall quality and superior riving knife and blade guard.
Review: Tool Review: Raising the Bar on Contractor's Saws, Rob Johnstone, Oct. 2005
8. Consumer Product Safety Commission
This report by an engineering psychologist concludes that the SawStop blade brake adds significant protection to users -- superior even to the most user-friendly blade-guard systems that include riving knives, as on Bosch portable table saws.
Review: Human Factors Evaluation of Technology Intended to Address Blade-Contact Injuries with Table Saws, Timothy P. Smith, Engineering Psychologist, July 2011
This review of the SawStop Contractor Saw compares it with the SawStop Cabinet Saw, based on hands-on use of both. Though the 3-horsepower cabinet saw provides more power, the reviewer calls the SawStop Contractor Saw "a great table saw" and "the easiest saw to put together of any saw I have been exposed to."
Review: Ask Rick: How Does the SawStop Contractor Saw Compare to Other Saws?, Rick Peil, Sept. 2008
The SawStop blade brake is tested here to see if it really works -- testing it on hot dogs and chicken thighs to be sure it stops the blade, but also testing it on soft damp wood to check for false positives.
Review: Cutting-edge Protection for Hands and Fingers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, June 2007
11. The Journal of Light Construction
This forum discussion is interesting because professional contractors here agree that the extra price of the SawStop safety feature is worth paying. One notes that his last table saw injury cost around $10,000; another reports that his use of the SawStop while wearing a glove prevented his hand from being drawn into the blade.
Review: SawStop Contractor Saw Thoughts, Contributors to The Journal of Light Construction Forums, March 2009
At the time of our report, only two owners review the 30-inch SawStop Contractor Saw, with another owner covering the 36-inch SawStop. All praise the saw's performance ("works like a charm") and none regret paying more for the extra safety feature. Cast-iron wings are apparently a big plus if you can afford them.
Review: Sawstop CNS175-SFA30 1-3/4 HP Contractor Saw, Contributors to Amazon.com
This discussion covers solutions to a minor annoyance some owners of the SawStop Contractor Saw experience (a screw jamming with sawdust). Several users say they really like the optional above-table dust collection system.
Review: Thread: I Love My Sawstop Contractor Saw but...., Contributors to SawmillCreek.org, As of Feb. 2011
This 9.5-minute video covers all three versions of the SawStop Contractor Saw, explaining their differences as well as the features they have in common. Of the three, the Woodcraft power tool product development manager prefers the 36-inch fence and the cast-iron wings. The blade guard assembly is also demonstrated here. He estimates 90 to 95 percent dust collection with the optional above-table system. Accessories (such as the jobsite cart) are also well explained.
Review: SawStop Contractor Saw Now at Woodcraft.com; Part 1 - Models & Accessories, Andrew Bondi, Nov. 14, 2011