A Road Trip (to see a saw)

At my daughter’s insistence, we headed off for a road trip to see a rather unique saw, and one that I’ve been wanting to see in the flesh so to speak for a long time.

At Gabbett Machinery in Melbourne (one of their branches), we were let loose in their showroom (luckily for them I couldn’t find a forklift!) Gingerly peering around (like a kid on Christmas morning ….I see the tree…..I see something colourful under the tree… YES ….WE HAVE PRESENTS! Ok, well it was a bit like that). If you peer into this first photo, something black comes into view….

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I was kindly invited to come down to see this saw, an invitation I definitely appreciate. Dwarfed by comparison to the amazing tools around it, nevertheless, it held its ground like a slick black corvette amongst a convoy of big rigs (gee, the metaphors are flowing today!)

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This is the 10″ Saw Stop, named for the company, and also the incredibly unique safety feature that sets this saw aside from the pack.

It comes at a price, with the model here coming in around $A5500, and before seeing it, I was very dubious about how much it is worth. I still feel that for a 10″ cabinet saw that it is rather expensive, even given the Saw Stop, but the build quality is obvious, and exceptional so some of that extra price is well justified.

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This model is shown with the 52″ extension, which gives a massive rip capacity. There is some discussion about the possibility of a sliding table and/or scribing blade, but as yet they are not available. It has a very nice fence, with UHMD plastic on either side.

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The whole unit looks and feels very well engineered, although I only have my initial observations to base that on. The start/stop switch seen here is typical of the whole unit – designed and placed to a plan, and not feeling like an add-on. I’m not sure where the switch for the saw stop mechanism was, although there was a keyed lock on the side of the starter box which might have been it.

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Had a bit of a play with the height and tilt mechanisms, and the gearing felt very nice and smooth, without play, or getting stuck at the extremes of travel as I’ve noticed on some other brands. The riving knife for the blade tracks up and down with the rise and fall, and carries the blade guarding with it which I like. I didn’t get to see how easy removal of the riving knife is, but I’d expect (and hope) that it’d be a couple of bolts under the blade surround insert. ***Update*** It’s even easier! Have a look at the photo below (and the closeup below that) – there is a lever partially covering the SawStop mechanism – that is the riving knife release. Very cool! ***

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Now the unique aspect of this saw is its ability to detect (via current leakage) if the saw is not cutting what it should be (namely if you’ve had a lapse of concentration and decided to ..uh.. cut yourself instead of the wood). This saw had been tested the day before, and the blade is still in place where it was bought to a near instantaneous stop. The mechanism not only stops the blade in fractions of a second, but drags the entire blade below the table surface. Here you can see where the aluminium brake has engaged the blade.

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At $A100 a pop for the mechanism, plus a destroyed saw blade, you wouldn’t want it happening every day of the week, but boy – how nice would it be to have this sort of safety mechanism on a tablesaw? If there are times you will be cutting something that can potentially set the mechanism off by mistake (very green timber perhaps?), it can be switched off, and a test cut made which will still indicate if the mechanism would have fired. It is based on a fusewire that is caused to burnout, releasing the aluminium block which slams into the blade. The blade cuts deeply into this, jambs up, and the force (and angular momentum of the blade) then drags the blade down and out of sight. You have to watch the video on the Saw Stop website – it is bloody amazing!

***Update – videos now linked from here with permission from Gabbett Machinery***

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On that note, just to clarify- the SawStop feature is incredible, but hopefully never needed or used. The saw itself still has to function as an other cabinet saw, and given its price tag, it has to do that very very well. At least from my first impression, the engineering quality in the build of the saw itself supports this, and as a cabinet saw it looks to be at the sharp end of the 10″ range, with the added bonus of a unique safety feature.

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Here is another result of a demonstration of the Saw Stop mechanism. As you can see, there are fine holes drilled near the contact surface of the blade brake, which allows the saw blade to quickly bite deeply into the brake surface. You can see just 3 teeth made its way past the brake before it was stopped. The first tooth ripped completely off the blade (and not just the carbide tip), so have no doubt – the blade is written off when this fires.

Note there is a lot of plastic deformation of the brake component, which is how a significant portion of the energy is dissipated in stopping the blade so fast.

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As you can see, my daughter is also very impressed, and wishes Daddy had one of these in his workshop!

One Response

  1. G’day Stu…wow the “Why Sawstop” video id the most effective ROI piece I have ever seen…

    You may remember me approaching you at the Working with Wood show last year here in Melb….we were chating about your new tou at the time ..iTouch…I just got a 32Gig version and starting taking my Stu’s Shed podcasts on the road with me…haning out for your next review on podcast….nice write up on your blog about this must have table saw

    cheers,

    Rodney

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