Sunday, September 6, 2009

SawStop PCS

I received my SawStop PCS last Monday. Freaking humidity and heat kept the assembly slow.

I didn't take pictures like I intended so here are some observations I recall. Use your imagination. Add a bikini where necessary.

The saw came in 5 boxes: #1 - the saw, #2 - the extension table, #3 - the extension rails, #4 - the mobile base, #5 - the fence.

Everything was meticulously packed. All parts were laminated onto color-coded and labeled carboard. The saw, fence, and mobile base each had their own manuals since each is a choice for your system. I chose the 36" fence since my shop is crowded and honestly I prefer to breakdown sheet goods with the Festool TS75 plunge saw. Cabinet shop folks think this is a weird method-of-work.

The mobile base is integrated into the saw's base. You see two pedals sticking out the side along with two wheels out the other side. The saw sits on its original base when deployed so it isn't on wheels and won't move. The base is able to lift the whole saw, extension table included, in one easy foot-press. Lowering is trickier in that you press the release pedal with the main pedal to let it down slowly. The motion is easy, but I'm still mastering the soft landing.

Fit and finish: spectacular. I cannot find a single flaw anywhere on this puppy.

The manuals are incredibly well illustrated, photographed, and documented. The main saw manual is 113 pages and covers assembly, calibration, and usage. It also includes some simple shop projects for decent push sticks and other safety items near the back.

Overall, my calibration was limited to putting the miter slot parallel to the blade. I used the Woodpeckers' saw gauge to easily calibrate it to 1/2 a thou front to back of blade. The gauge is well worth the $70. Normally this adjustment is a time consuming frustration of whacking the tabletop with a mallet to finesse a displacement only to have it all screwed up when you tighten the trunnion bolts. Not so with SawStop: loosen the table-top bolts and use 2 hex screws to scoot the table top clockwise or counter-clockwise around a pivot point set to the front of the table. The screws push into stiff rubber blocks to be gentle. Once set, tighten the screw you loosened then tighten the table bolts; they didn't move the table top at all with the adjustment screws tightened slightly.

Holy crap, the dust collection. I have a decent DC, but I am waiting for the proper connector to arrive to connect the SawStop to it. The SawStop doesn't need a DC, but I'd imagine that the DC hose in the cabinet would get full and cause grief without an occasional connection to a DC.

With the blade guard on, the laminar flow of air from the spinning blade creates a vacuum under the guard and directs dust into the cabinet hose. When the wood actually lifts the front of the guard, you hear the vacuum open up. The dust is directed down the hose and actually ejects out the back of the saw's DC port. I had a nice pile back there that was easy to sweep up. I broke down a half sheet of 12 mm ply into 9 drawer bottoms then straight-lined 4/4 oak before ripping it into 9 1/2"-strips 60" long. The dust on the table could be swept up to a pile that would neatly cover a poker chip. The pile out the back port was fan shaped, but had definite edges so sweeping it up would be trivial. Hooking up the DC for a moment to the dust port pulled a crapload of dust from the hose. The laminar flow is definitely working well.

The fence is in Imperial and metric, which is a plus. There's a gauge on both the left and right sides of the fence (this is a left-tilt saw). It comes with hangers for your blade guard, riving knife, miter gauge, and blade change wrenches.

Speaking of blade guard, yes, I use it on a SawStop. The ney-sayers of SawStop say that it promotes unsafe practices. Dude, please... I'm not going to start putting a Jack-n-Coke on the extension table and pushing boards through with my nose because of the safety mechanism. Even if I was stupid enough to say "party on" and do stupid stuff at the saw, my wallet would remind me I'm stupid: the cartridges aren't that expensive but it will blow out your Forrest WW2 blade in the process. Add to that new underwear.

If I were forced, at gunpoint by a gun with no brake mechanism, to find faults in this saw, here's the list (YMMV):

1. I'm 6', which isn't that tall by any standard, but to see the status lamps, I need to step back and bend over a bit. I think this will go away as I get comfortable with the saw; effectively, you use it like any other saw, but if you want to touch the blade with a finger or tape measure, make sure the status lamps think the blade is stopped even if it is to your eye.

2. This fence is a nice fence, but I was awesome at moving and locking my previous fence in a fell swoop dead on. This one wiggles more in the track before the lock; I think I can fix it with the parallelism screws, but right now it is a minor inconvenience.


I will, however, feel a certain Zen for all the hotdogs I'll save with this choice.

For the curious, this was an upgrade from a Powermatic 64S. A sweet saw in its own right, but I gladly pay up-front to avoid paying for physical therapy.

4 comments:

  • calicant said...
     

    A Sawstop PCS was just delivered to my garage and I have rolled the cabinet onto the top polystyrene pad. The mobile base should be attached at this stage but I ordered the industrial version and it's instructions suggest four people (and a 5th to position the base) lift the cabinet. I'm hoping the 3HP PCS is less heavy and that my wife will get home soon to help me upright it onto the base. Did you have lifting help while assembling?

  • Paul-Marcel said...
     

    Hi, Calicant, I unpacked, assembled, and installed the PCS alone, but that doesn't mean it's recommended. The PCS mobile base is installed into the base before you flip it up. If you need to lift the cabinet onto the mobile base you bought, it'll be a 2+ person lift. You wouldn't want to tip it up onto the base and have the base skate away while lifting as you'd kill your back.

    Enjoy the new saw; I still love mine.

  • calicant said...
     

    Thanks. I hope my wife had enough wine so she doesn't mind humping a table saw! We have been doing the Insanity workouts for a few weeks and she has hiked down and up the Grand Canyon with me so I'm reasonably optimistic.

  • Robert W. said...
     

    Well...here we go.
    Order the very nice Sawstop PCS from Woodcraft.
    Waited about 7 days for delivery from their Parkersburg, WV warehouse.
    Started assembling Sawstop per the enclosed meticulous instructions.
    Oh...geez..what's this? Motor and trunion tube completely OUT of the trunion brackets. Motor hanging in the bottom of the cabinet.
    This can't be good.
    Called Sawstop. Roger (Service Dept) acknowledged that this has happened before...in transit. 60,000 Sawstops out there. I got the one.
    Contacted Woodcraft. They called Roger to confirm.
    Woodcraft sent me a replacement the same day I called.
    SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE from BOTH SAWSTOP and Woodcraft.

    Saw arrives later TODAY! I can hardly wait to assemble the saw...again.

    Yes...I'd order a Sawstop if I were you!