Woodworking Tools

Saw Stop Contractors Saw

I remember the first time I ever heard of a table saw that would stop a spinning blade the instant it started to cut a finger (or as they show in their demos, a wiener). I instantly understood the technology because it was similar to what we were using in a different industry at that time. But I recall being impressed that someone could move those principals to another industry and make a working product. And so began the Saw Stop. Our evaluation of this product was pretty much what we expected and what we have heard about the saw from on-line videos and demonstrations and talks at wood shows. But there were still some surprises for us. First of all, we were very impressed with the actual quality of the the saws. We found them to be very well made and well put together, all powder coated to a durable finish. All of these saws are well built with a variety of up-to-date innovations and working features (some of which are also found on other similar saws).

After giving the saw a good look over in terms of design and finish. The first thing we always look at is the fence system because table saws are primarily designed for ripping wood. That is their main woodworking role. The Saw Stop Contractors Saw has a very well designed fence that is easy to read and easy to adjust and will make minor adjustments with ease. We found the scale easy to ready and the fence locked solid when engaged. We liked that the Plexiglas scale adjusts slightly so that each time you switch to a different blade, if you take a moment to adjust the scale you will absolutely accurate cuts without having to measure and mark each piece. A very nice feature. We felt that for most woodworkers the 1.75 horsepower motor would be adequate and was nicely helped by the “poly ribbed V-Belt” system.




The Saw Stop people talk about the “stability” of their saws and yes, they are that. Part of this is due to the fact they weigh so much, which is a result of the actual stopping mechanism built into each saw. The riving knife system on the saw is easy to remove without any special tools, a real plus for those “other cuts” we always seem to be making. This combined with the left tilting feature makes the Saw Stop a very, very competitive saw. OK, so the way this saw works under normal conditions is that when cutting typical dry wood (kiln dried, sun dried or otherwise dried) the saw works perfectly, slamming the brakes quickly as soon as the spinning blades come into contact with.

The tougher question, is what are the drawbacks to the system, and yes, like all good things there are pros and cons. The cons – the design of the braking system means that when the blade touches anything that is a bit damp, like a human finger or hand, the brakes are applied immediately. Depending on the blade you are using at the time, this will do one of two things, either damage the blade beyond any further use, or render the blade dysfunctional, but at least repairable. That's right, repairable (hopefully). If you are cutting any piece of wood that happens to have a high moisture content, or has some dampness on it, there is every possibility that the Saw Stop will clamp the breaks and stop the blade because it has detected moisture. That is what actually stops the saw blade, when it detects a small bit of moisture, such as what would get on a finger, a hand or, some moisture on the wood you are cutting.

The braking mechanism is triggered by a certain amount of moisture. If you happen to be using a thin kerf blade, you can pretty much kiss it good bye. If it is an “industrial” type saw, with a thick wall, the blade may survive a clamping but will need to be checked at the very least. The good new is this braking mechanism can be disabled, which would need to do if you were cutting green or wet lumber.

So, at the end of the day, is this saw any good. Our answer is absolutely YES, if you can afford this saw and are aware that damp and green lumber can set it off, the Saw Stop shops are an excellent, long term investment. The Saw Stops are all high quality saws, very safe to use with their stop features.

Steel City 10" Granite Top Tables Saw 35920

Think your table saw is heavy? ... Try this granit top little gem at 467 pounds. Yes thats right, a granite top table saw. At first I wondered what would be the purpose of a granite top over steel, then it gradually began to dawn on me that first of all granite does not rust. Now if you live in Texas or New Mexico you don't have to worry so much about that but in the soggy west coast or the humid east coast rust is a real problem.

This "left tilting" table saw has a few features we really liked and Steel City is well on it's way to shaking up the market by bringing out some new and innovative features. First of all we liked the fence, yes there are are other very good fences out there, but we still liked this one. It is smooth, accurate and well built. We liked the position and size of the off / on switch. It is easy to find and easy to shut the saw down should things start going awry one day, with a BIG red paddle.

The entire saw base is enclosed except for a 4" dust port, so you really don't get a chance to see the trunion system, which is the real heart of any saw. We dug around and found a very well made, cast system that is mounted with about as much strength as one could imagine for a table saw, this system is not going to move on you once it is set.

 Its nice to see manufactures putting quakity componets into their tools and Steel City has done so with the motor a dual 110/230 volt (115/7.5 AMP) 1 3/4 horsepower motor, not the biggest in the world but certainly satisfactory for most woodworkers.

Another important factor on any saw is the blade guard and splitter or riving knife. When you are ripping wood that starts has a mind of it's own and starts move on you as you are cutting it, a riving knife is critical for your own safety. The beauty of this unit is when you need to take this assmebly off, it comes of easily, you don't have to struggle with it.

Finally, finally, finally, a manufacture who sees the value in providing a built in wheel base. Yes, the unit we tried actually comes with a mobile base.

All in all we thought this was an excellent tool, innovative enough to catch our attention and tough enough to be a tool we would want in our work shop.

DEWALT D-Handle Router DW618D

The first thing that strikes one when just looking at this router is huge  yellow “D” shaped handle. The DEWALT DW618D is a bit unique looking but was specifically designed for easy in accomplishing certain jobs. The large “D” shaped handle which includes the on/off swithch (which can also be locked in the On position). For anyone doing hand routing jobs, this unit is an edge above most others when it comes to actually holding the router. Lets not minimize that role. Imagine if you doing an edge job on a counter and trimming laminate or rounding an edge, it is VERY simple to make an imperfect cut, especially if you don’t have a good grip on your tool. DeWalt makes it easy with this tool by providing a large, easy to hang on to handle, AND an opposing smaller black round grip to make the woodworker will have all the gripping power needed.

 Lets talk a bit about the tool it’self. The version we tested was a fixed base unit, which means the depth control is set manually for each cut. We liked the idea of the micro adjustment which even gave us control of 1/64 inch adjustment. This will accommodate even the most fussy woodworker. Changing the bits in this tool means lifting the motor from the base, which, with the quick release clips made the job quick and easy. We also liked that the spindle “locked” into position so we could change bits with just one wrench.

Another important point on this router is that it does come with both ¼ inch and ½ inch collets, further the collets are what we call eight finger collets which means better grip on router bits.

 We did not try this unit it a router table, DEWALT has other routers more suited to table use, not that this unit could not be used in a table but it has been specifically designed for “job site” work and that is how we tested it.

The DW618W is a 12 amp router, rated at 2 ¼ horsepower (at maximum load, which is how all router manufactures are now rating their tools). At over 8 pounds, this router is a good solid tool because typically you do want some weight in a router to perform smoother cuts.

 All in all we found this a good solid router, not outstanding just a good solid tool for anyone doing a lot reno or job-site work.

DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router

We were a bit anxious to get our hands on the DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router for a couple of reasons, first of all it boasts a 3 horsepower motor, which is about what you would expect from a 15 amp unit, and this is a plunge router, which is what we prefer given a choice.

 We used this router both on and of the router table and found it easy to use and very capable of anything we challenged it to do. We liked the soft start feature, which in a 3 hp unit is very nice. I means when you start the tool it doesn’t try to jerk it out of your hand every time you start the unit up, a very nice feature and a good safety feature too.

 The DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router uses a variable speed motor which runs between 8,000 and 22,000 rpm. Useful for doing a wide variety of jobs. We found the rack and pinion mechanism for moving the router up and down to be smooth and move. We also like that the scale on sliding ruler was magnified somewhat for easier viewing. We also wondered what this scale and magnifier would look like after a few months of use, would the dust start masking the scale? Then we surmised a bit of blown in air would probably solve the problem.

This unit also incorporates a multiple level preset height adjustment scale and micro adjustment mechanism that would ensure as accurate a depth cut as one would ever likely need. We did use the dust extractor attachment that comes with the router and found it fairly easy to attach and very helpful for keeping dust and chips in check

The DEWALT DW625 EVS Plunge Router comes with both ½ inch and ¼ inch collets, which we would have expected as other DeWalt units come with these as well. As usual the eight finger collets grabbed our bits tightly and made sure even when we challenged the router to so tough jobs, the bits did not slip. Changing bits is easy with the DeWalt spindle lock mechanism and one wrench, even when the unit is positioned in a router table.


The DW625 EVS is a heft 11 pounds, no lightweight when it comes to routers so using this router free hand, although it worked fine, we felt it’s best and most useful home would be in some sort of a router table.

 As with all DEWALT routers we have tested, this unit is also capable of using guide bushings, which DEWALT declares as “standard size” … what ever that means? There are a number of different guide bearing sizes so we are not sure what they are referring to as “standard size guide bushings for template work”.

 All in all we really liked this unit, we liked the smooth action, the power and easy of use both in and out of a router table, this is definitely one we would recommend.