SawStop CNS175-SFA30 TOH Tested Portable Table Saw
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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SawStop CNS175-SFA30

About $1,750. Contractor stand: add about $300;
Each year, more than 40,000 people are injured while using a table saw. And 4,000 of those injuries—an average of 10 per day—are amputations. The SawStop, which gets its name from the blade brake that resides beneath the table, is engineered to prevent those kinds of serious injuries. If a finger (or some other conductive material) breaks the constant flow of current running through the blade, the brake thrusts itself into the blade and halts its spin in 3 to 5 milliseconds. This destroys the brake and the blade but leaves digits intact. No other saw offers such a limb-saving safety feature. We didn't actually test this feature ourselves—replacement brakes cost about $70, and good 10-inch saw blades aren't cheap either—but there are plenty of table-saw safety demonstrations on the Web.

Cutting wet or pressure-treated wood will also trip the brake, so the saw has an override switch for those occasions. As soon as you engage it, this saw is as dangerous as any other. You don't have to remember to turn off the switch; the brake automatically reengages every time you turn the saw on.

Besides the safety technology, we were hoping that a saw costing this much would perform at a different level than the others. It certainly does. The SawStop is fitted with a cast-iron table, a massive belt-drive motor—the other saw motors are direct-drive—and enough electronics to rewire C-3PO. And at 280 pounds, it was a bear to move, even with its rolling stand. Putting all the pieces together was time-consuming, but once it's done, you've got a serious saw. Adjustments turn smoothly, and the blade stays put when you're done. The fence is the best of the bunch, sliding easily on its rails and locking down exactly parallel to the blade.

Fine print: 280 pounds; 15-amp, 4,000-rpm motor. Max rip: 30½ inches. Max blade height: 3 inches
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