I reviewed our SawStop 10-inch Contractor Saw in the January 2014 issue of JLC. It’s precise, stable, and almost vibration-free, and if you touch the whirling blade with a good electrical conductor, such as a finger or an arm, the blade barely nicks the surface before a spring-loaded blade brake, stops it cold. However, the Contractor model, outfitted with an integrated base and a Biesemeyer-style fence, weighs over 300 pounds. It takes four guys to carry it, so it isn’t always practical to bring onsite.
We do own Bosch and DeWalt portable table saws, which can be better suited to the jobsite. But a former employee cut his thumb on one of those, so the SawStop safety feature would be our first choice. Naturally, when SawStop unveiled its Jobsite Saw, with the same finger-saving blade brake, I jumped at the chance to review it.
The new Jobsite Saw weighs just 108 pounds, including its mobile stand. It has tons going for it. The user guide is fantastic, and the saw was easy to set up. The accessories, including a spare blade and a spare brake cartridge, store conveniently on board. A separate brake cartridge is available for use with an 8-inch dado set.
The blade can be fully raised or lowered with a single rotation of the handwheel. To change the tilt angle, you just squeeze the handwheel’s backplate, swing the handwheel to the desired position, and let go. Once you’re in the ballpark, you can fine-tune the tilt angle by turning a micro-adjustment knob—a great feature. The large paddle switch can be turned off with a thigh bump. Green and red lights under the switch indicate the status of the saw and the SawStop safety system, and are clearly explained on a chart located near the switch. The rolling stand sets up and breaks down easily.
On site, my crew was impressed with the saw’s power. We used it mostly for back-beveling 1x6 poplar baseboard so we could easily scribe it to the finish flooring. But we also used it for ripping 2-by pine, 2-by white oak, 1-by ipe, and equivalent materials, slowing our feed rate when necessary to prevent the saw from bogging down. When we hooked our vacuum to the saw, it efficiently collected most of the sawdust.
Unlike our other portables, this is a belt-drive rather than a direct-drive saw. The belt significantly helps reduce vibration.
One concern I have about this saw is the fence. The T-style rip fence clamps only to the front rail of the saw, instead of gripping the front and the back of the table. Exerting pressure against the fence can push the rear of the fence out of parallel, resulting in inaccurate rips. We noticed this in the first few rip cuts we made. And the problem was worse when we used a feather board.
The SawStop Jobsite Saw I tested might be fine for rough cuts or decking work, but it does not deliver the same accuracy for finish work that our larger Contractor Saw does. It’s an otherwise awesome portable table saw with important safety features. But SawStop needs to rethink and redesign the fence.
Matt Risinger owns Risinger Homes, in Austin, Texas. See his video blog at JLConline.com.