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SawStop Review: 10 Reasons A PCS Table Saw Is Worth It

Updated: September 17, 2022
After decades with a JET table saw I recently upgraded to a cabinet maker SawStop PCS36 and have never regretted the investment. Learn why this saw is the safest and best choice for almost any size woodworking shop.
SawStop Fence
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SawStop Review: 10 Reasons A PCS Table Saw Is Worth It

There are a surprising number of woodworkers that don’t know about a SawStop and it’s unique blade-stopping technology.

But for those that do, the cost of the saw is a hard investment to justify. 

So, after sitting on the bench for a few years, I recently purchased the professional cabinet saw with the 36″ T-glide fence (PCS175-TGP236).

In this review we’ll take a look at the features a SawStop PCS has that may (or may not) surprise you. Or tempt you into pulling the trigger and buying one.

#1: You WOn’t Find a HIgher Quality Base on the Market

Best Mobile Base For Table Saw

While an afterthought to some, when I was looking at the SawStop one of my first concerns was how it would be moved around the shop. And, even though I’ve used good mobile bases for my table saw, the SawStop is a HEAVY saw.

After talking with a few sales folks at Rockler the base for any PCS or ICS saw was the four caster, hydraulic lift assisted base. While the bolt-on option works, it wasn’t recommended for saws with the longer fence systems.

Why talk about this first? Don’t buy a SawStop and put the mobile base in later. These saws are just too heavy.

#2: Precision T-Glide Fence

SawStop Fence

On the professional cabinet saw line I don’t understand why SawStop doesn’t have their premium fence on all of the saws.

In fact, I almost made the the mistake of buying the 30-inch saw until I discovered it didn’t have the premium T-Glide Fence that is a big part of why you buy a $3,000+ table saw.

So, as you’re making a decision on a SawStop cabinet saw, make sure to budget in the T-Glide fence.

Here’s what to like about the T-Glide Fence:

  • Smooth operation
  • Precision measurement
  • Deflection-free locking handle
  • Easy to see imperial and metric measurement

#3: 36" or 52" Extension Tables Or Router Insert

Saw Stop Router Table

For small workshops you can get by with a smaller table saw.

As you might be thinking, a 36″ table saw isn’t small – but if you factor in the option of making it a dual-purpose router table then the little extra space for the saw is a net reduction in your garage footprint.

Shown above? You don’t have to install a router table, and SawStop provides a high quality table for the area to the right of the cast iron wing.

#4: Dual Wrenches For Easy Blade Changes

SawStop Blade Change

For almost thirty years I’ve used a block of wood to change the blade in my table saw.

As you can guess, when I found two wrenches for the blade in the SawStop I was … impressed.

A small upgrade, but a nice feature to get a firm tighten on the blade.

#5: Dust Controlling Blade Guard (Optional)

Saw Stop Blade Guard With Dust Collection

Adhering to the old saying “buy once cry once” is true, I decided to upgrade everything at one time. And with SawStop that includes opting for the upgraded dust collection blade guard.

The advantages?

Well, as you can see from the picture:

  • Completely encases the blade (I’d prefer to not test the blade brake)
  • See thru
  • Retains the riving knife
  • And, a must, a dust collection port to capture dust.

Did I mention one of the reasons I opted for a new saw was to control dust? 

#6: Internal Dust Collection With 4" Port

SawStop Internal Dust Collection

My old Jet 10″ contractor saw was simple: open box with a 4″ dust hole. Did it work? Yes. But did it catch all of the dust? No.

The SawStop takes dust collection to the next level with this internal dust collection system that brings the suction power of your dust collector to the blade itself.

Enough said on this one, even if some dust makes its way into the cabinet you’ll be catching a whole lot more dust with this cabinet saw.

#7: Top Quality Cast Iron With Serious Shipping Protection

SawStop Cast Iron Top

When you first open the SawStop box you’ll find one of the cast iron tops staring back at you. 

And while your first reaction might be “that looks like some bad rust” (it was mine), SawStop has put some serious protection on their cast iron components.

The brown above? It’s a wax-like paper soaked in a WD-40 like compound to keep the cast iron protected during its voyage to your garage. Your job? Make sure to protect it from there forward.

#8: Best Assembly Instructions Of Any Tool You’ll Purchase

SawStop Assembly Instructions

If the saw wasn’t enough to impress you, the assembly instructions should. Every component from the saw to the rails had a complete, step-by-step visual guide on how to assemble the saw. 

#9: Heavy Duty Cast Iron Table Wing Assemblies

Cast Iron Wing Installation Hack

Unfortunately I assembled my SawStop by myself.

Which meant one step in the process had me thinking on how to hold the wing in place while I inserted the screws. Yes, a block of wood and a clamp would have worked.

But, like any woodworker, why go simple when you can pull out another tool like my trusty cabinet jack

PS: The other wing was easier as it didn’t have the motor access panel jutting out.

#10: SawStop Blade is Included

SawStop Blade

After spending all the time and money on the saw, you won’t be left without a blade. As a solid, good-for-most-everything SawStop has included a carbide 40-tooth blade that can rip hardwoods and cut plywood. 

Of course, you’ll want to look at other blades and dado inserts. But it beats slapping an old blade in your brand new saw.

SawStop Review: Bottom Line

After pushing a few boards through the saw it is a huge leap up from a contractor saw in power and feel.

Because my workshop is in the home garage and I need to move the saw every now and then I maxed out the size and options right away. But even so, the following features were what I hoped for:

  • Dust collection was great
  • Plenty of power
  • Cast iron table top was immaculate
  • The fence is massive and was easily the best surprise. 

Other SawStop Models I Considered

I’ve owned and used a contractor saw for a long, long time.

And with my next saw wanted a true cabinet saw for better dust collection. But, there are other options.

In fact, there are three:

  • The 36″ contractor saw goes for around $2300 (without shipping) and features the T-Glide fence.
  • For about $1600 plus extras and shipping you can land the 1-1/2HP job site saw
  • And, new in Fall of 2022, a bench top compact saw is hitting the market
Of course, for larger cabinet and furniture shops you’ll look to the Industrial Cabinet Saws (ICS) which feature larger motors.

Deciding on a Horsepower

I didn’t spend much time deciding on horsepower. 

With my projects mainly being a steady diet of 3/4″ thick hardwoods and softwoods the base 1-3/4 HP was more than enough. While a 3HP would have been nice, the extra cost and need for a 230V circuit wasn’t worth it.

SawStop Optional Equipment

Unique to purchasing a table saw, perhaps, there is an opportunity to spend as much on optional equipment as the price of the saw itself.

While some accessories are up to the style of woodworking you’ll be doing, others I view as a must. And SawStop has a huge list of optional accessories to splurge on.

Recommended Accessories / Upgrades

  • Dust collection blade guard
  • Dust collection extension arm
  • Four-wheel caster base
  • 36″ T-Glide fence
  • Zero clearance dado insert

Capability Expanding Accessories

  • Integrated router table
  • SawStop router lift
  • Sliding crosscut tables
  • Outfeed tables
Bestseller No. 1
SAWSTOP 10-Inch Professional Cabinet Saw, 1.75-HP,...
107 Reviews
SAWSTOP 10-Inch Professional Cabinet Saw, 1.75-HP,...
  • 36-INCH T-GLIDE FENCE ASSEMBLY: The 36-inch...
  • SAWSTOP PATENTED SAFETY SYSTEM: Stops a spinning...
  • UNMATCHED QUALITY: The trunnion and arbor are...
  • DUST COLLECTION: 99% dust collection is delivered...
  • RELIABILITY: The Control Box houses the on-off...
Bestseller No. 2
Table Saw Brake Cartridge For 10″ Blades –...
61 Reviews
Table Saw Brake Cartridge For 10″ Blades –...
  • Revolutionary SawStop protection: Standard brake...
  • Compatible with all standard 10″ blades....
  • Compatible with all woods and other non-conductive...
  • 1 locking key allows the user to quickly and...
Bestseller No. 3
Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 8' Dado Sets -...
34 Reviews
Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 8" Dado Sets -...
  • Revolutionary SawStop protection: Dado brake...
  • Compatible with all standard 8″ dado sets up to...
  • Compatible with all woods and other non-conductive...
  • 1 locking key allows the user to quickly and...
Bestseller No. 4
SawStop TSI-SLD Standard Lock Down Insert
129 Reviews
SawStop TSI-SLD Standard Lock Down Insert
  • Positive locking latch allows for tool-free...
  • Positioning screws ensure a solid and precise fit...
  • Pre-formed clearance slots for SawStop blade guard...
  • Solid phenolic core
  • Low-friction, wear-resistant melamine surface
Bestseller No. 5
Circular Saw Blade, 40 Teeth, Combination
64 Reviews
Circular Saw Blade, 40 Teeth, Combination
  • Precision balanced
  • Product Type: SAW BLADE
  • Package weight: 0.794 kg
  • No batteries required
  • A high quality every day blade for both rips and...

Last update on 2023-01-10 at 06:47 / Images from Amazon

  • About the Author
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( Woodworker )

Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

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Disclaimer: DIY projects can be dangerous, hire a professional (link to Home Advisor) if unsure.