Ever since  SawStop showed its emergency blade-stopping technology on a table saw, I've been intrigued and a little more than interested.

I wear a scar on my left thumb from an all-too-intimate contact with a table saw blade­ the kind of accident that might be prevented by SawStop which senses flesh and stops the blade in 5 milliseconds.

All that is why I was delighted to have a chance to test the new SawStop 10-inch contractor's saw. What I found was there is a lot more than just safety built into this saw.

Setting it up

The SawStop contractor's saw looks like similar saws on the market, but there are significant details that go beyond the safety system into precision, performance, fit and finish. See a demo here ( Part I,  Part II ).

Quality included tools, color-coded instructions and hardware packets make setup a breeze. I've set up these kinds of saws before, and this was easier.

Basic configuration

The saw I tested came with the standard 1.75-hp motor. It was wired for 110 volts, but it can also be easily rewired for 220 volts. It comes standard with stamped steel wings, but we tested a unit with the cast iron extension wings and 36-inch T-square-style fence system.

The saw comes with both a European-style riving knife and a saw guard system with splitter and anti-kickback fingers. You can change between the two systems very quickly. Less obvious is the sophisticated dust shroud that provides up to 99-percent efficient dust collection.

That's a huge improvement over typical open contractor saws.

Safety system

We tested the safety brake system using a hot dog in place of our finger. The results were impressive, with nary a nick in the hot dog and instantaneous stop and drop of the blade.

There's also a handy big red paddle to shut off the saw that can easily be activated with a knee, so no more floundering for the shut-off button.

Even the safest tool is no good unless it performs consistently. This saw does. Its controls function smoothly and precisely.

The fence system is excellent. Cuts are smooth and controlled. For the small shop concerned about safety and value, this is definitely a saw to consider.

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