Table Saw, out of commission and next steps

A few years back (3ish) we bought this saw:

While having a real table saw has been the start of the woodshop being a serious part of HSBNE, this particular model has given us grief since day 1. In no particular order, here is a list of issues we’ve had with it:

  • The rise/fall and angle adjustment handles fell apart within the first month. I took the original handle off the felder a3-31 and machined 2 adapters so we could have handles on the machine.
  • The ratcheting handles that secure the sliding table extension to the slide broke away (same garbage plastic). I replaced them with ones from ebay at $20 each.
  • The extrusions used for the fences are not standard, so you cant use standard jig kits with them.
  • The angle adjustment indicator on the front of the machine was never accurate, I had to fiddle and shim it repeatedly to get it roughly correct.
  • The pin supplied for changing the blade has been slowly bending more and more as people use it, I’m guessing due to it being the same low grade steel as everything else.
  • The blade plate around the saw is this same crap steel and is deforming slowly from blade changes, and as it deforms it raises a burr that impacts on material passing over it.
  • The screw for adjusting the scribing blade height collides with the table top which bends the whole mechanism down. It’s also made out of a mild steel flat head that was getting stripped out very quickly. I replaced it with a grub screw of the right grade and height and bent the mechanism back.
  • The mechanism that lets the sliding table fence stop at 90º is flat out hot garbage, a few pieces of stamped metal that are impossible to tune with any kind of finess. I ended up designing a replacement in cad which some other members fabricated. Big improvement but shouldnt have to have been needed. which leads me to:
  • The sliding fence cannot be tuned to be repeatably 90º because of the slop in where the pivot interfaces with the extrusion
  • I had to replace the stop at the end of the fence near the blade end so people had a chance in hell of the measuring tape on the fence ever being even approaching accurate.
  • The bolt that locked the sliding fence was of such a terrible grade that members managed to hourglass the bolt by tightening down on it with hand pressure and we had to make a whole replacement assembly. Again, cheap low grade mild steel unhardened.
  • The blade guard was flat out garbage:
    • The multipart plastic construction catches material as you’re trying to pass it through, very unsafe
    • A huge amount of flex in the construction means that the vendor, in demonstrating it to us, collided the guard with the blade repeatedly taking large chunks out of the guard
    • The mechanism to add/remove the guard is so fiddly it was determined not really feasible to teach to everyone who needed to add/remove it.
  • The slide is aluminium with steel inserts in it. I think they were smart enough to harden the steel inserts, but they didnt deburr them, so thats why the slide is so rough and bumpy rather than smooth.
  • The bar the clamp sits on was not hardened from the factory, so tightening the clamp on the bar would pull up a burr which would then prevent the clamp from going up/down the bar. We had to get the blacksmithing cause people to harden this part.
  • Clamping down with the clamp on the fence actually flexes the fence up dramatically because the extrusion is so thin, so you can have a clamp or you can be square but not both.
  • The arbour thread is the worst thread, it was cut by a blind man, loose/tight/loose/tight over the whole length which makes blade changes much harder.
  • Half the gauge stickers (angles on the slide extension, angles on the mitre fences etc) have just been destroyed and come off from normal use, just very low quality.
  • Tuning the saw so the slide runs parallel to the blade is very difficult, the way the mechanism is designed is flat out stupid. Its way more difficult than it needs to be to keep the saw cutting straight. It also tends to wander constantly just from use.
  • Its currently slowly destroying the belt that connects the main blade to the scribing blade, presumably because the rollers are not correctly aligned.
  • The ‘rise and fall lock’ has never ever done a damn thing.
  • Finally, the piece de resistance, the failure that made me write this post, the wormdrive that controls the rise/fall of the blade has totally worn away, presumably because like every other material on this saw, its unhardened cheap mild steel. See picture:

I’m kind of a bit at my wits end with this machine, we just have to spend so much time making custom parts for it and fixing things. The distributor, leda, is impossible to deal with and we’ve never managed to get a replacement part out of them. The rep for leda is also impossible to get to respond and work with. We’ve gotten a spare part once, by randomly wandering into a saw shop and them somehow having the right contacts. Any part we want, if we can get it, comes from china and is a 3-6 month wait on the slow boat.

Right now I am going to try and source that worm and gear for the rise/fall, but the saw will be out of comission and unusable until we can source the replacement.

This saw is rebranded and resold by a few different distributors:

I’m hoping I can get the part from one of these places that sell a clone. But its very clear these are a cheap chinese machine that everyone just rebrands.

So what to do, mid to long term? I’m personally pretty sick of repairing this machine, coupled with the fact that simple issues are actually big issues, like how very difficult it is to get a 90º cut on it. I think we’re probably facing the fact this machine cannot keep up with the load HSBNE puts on it and we should replace it with something more fit for purpose. We can probably sell this machine (repaired) for 1-2k, a machine that would be a step up is going to cost 6-10k. I’m not too bothered if we get another sliding panel saw or a cabinet saw. I don’t want to get a gumtree old iron thing, I want something with good manufacturer support where getting spare parts is no big deal. I dont want to get any kind of chinese rebranded machine, so to my knowledge that limits it to a few brands: Laguna, Hammer (Felder), SawStop.

So yeah. thats the deal, I’d like to hear everyones thoughts/input etc.

Re the argument for the panel saw or cabinet saw, i think the sliding table gets confused with it being a panel saw.
You can definitely get saws with sliding tables that I wouldnt call a panel saw.

The main thing I would say is not getting a saw with a scribing blade… its nice but not really something we do a lot… and you can always get around it by running the piece over twice on different sides.

The scribing blade on our saw means that the Blade is a long way back and therefore trying to use any sleds for joinery is really uncomfortable. I also thing it makes it more dangerous for shorter people.

In this video
The sawstop has a sliding table, but a traditional insert so that you can fit dado blades and zero clearance blades. Can easily breakdown sheets as well.

Anyway, totally agree with Josh’s post, the Leda saw is rubbish, and as far as I am concerned not really the best type of saw for the space. Though I am biased because I am much more interested in Joinery for which the Leda is not suited.

Its obviously more expensive but there is definitely something to be said for the Saw Stop from a safety point of view. Might take some fear factor out for members looking to get involved in woodworking. I also wonder if while looking at a new router table set up it would be a good idea to get an all in one unit like the tricked out one in Craig’s video with Saw and Router Table together. Not to mention there are so many videos out there on woodworking channels using the Saw Stop it’s not hard to find content and help.

But damn expensive

We’re basically down to a saw stop or a felder, theres just not many options out there in terms of quality vendors. As always, if we go sawstop (and thats the current thought), we still have to solve the problem that if a member triggers the saw its a $500 expense.

Regarding all in one units, I think they’re great for home shops but we kind of need the flexibility given by a separate unit in terms of managing our layout. The other concern with those is because the direction of travel is different on a router its hard to get that flow working correctly, or you have to sacrifice being able to stand in front of the tool.

So yes, we’re looking at those brands and we’ve done a lot of thinking about router tables and decided separate is better for us. Theres a router table purchase being figured out at the moment, and we’re figuring out what our path and decisions are about the saw as a mid/long term goal.

i just went to the sawstop website and during the purchase, they let you optionally add a number of things, and one of those is a “standard brake cartridge” which is priced at $130USD, that’s a lot less than the ~$500 you proposed, so maybe if your pricing is through an australian distributor, then the key is to pre-buy a couple of them with the saw and keep them for future event/s as a start.?

Carbatec has cartridges for $130 in Australia but you also have to replace the blade. So it would depend on the cost of the blade

Yep its $150 for the cartridge and $150-$350 for the blade. Hence $500. I do know what im talking about.

I would prefer a table saw that it easy to use a sled with and that can have the knife removed and replaced easily.

What would be the member responsibility if someone activates the sawstop break? I couldn’t afford to replace it if it went off and I would avoid using it or put it in bypass mode. What would be the rules of using the bypass mode? Do you think that people might be less careful knowing that their fingers aren’t on the line? If there is the possibility of members being required to put down a deposit to use the saw, I will have to vote against it as I would be ruled out of having access to the table saw.

I’d be more convinced about them if I saw a rigourous test of different materials that might get used to prove they aren’t conductive enough to cause it to break. Particularly recycled materials, plastics and composites materials. I haven’t been able to find anything like that online and that makes me wary.

"What do I do if I activate the safety system’s brake cartridge? What will it cost to reset the safety system? Does activation damage the saw?

If you activate the safety system’s brake, you will need to replace the brake cartridge and evaluate the condition of the blade for future use. Replacing the brake cartridge is simple and can take as little as 90 seconds to complete. A standard brake cartridge costs $79 USD and a dado brake cartridge $99 USD. SawStop saws are designed to absorb the force of activation and are not damaged by it."

… so blade replacement is not a must-do according to the manufacturer.

It throws a massive chunk of metal into the saw blade. It absolutely does necessitate the replacement of the blade. If you somehow separate the blade from the brake, the blade will be warped and stressed from the impact and you will have teeth damaged and potentially ready to fly off.

Just because they put a sunny face on it doesnt negate the reality of what happens.

Bypass mode is a reasonably complicated procedure requiring keys and it turns off every time the saw is off (stopped? Not sure), so you cant put it in bypass and leave it.

I dont know what a reasonable answer is, i agree that a bond is onerous, but i personally need some kind of assurance that a member wont blithely trigger it and then scarper. Maybe we can find some middle ground? I was looking into insurance and spreading the premium over all users but the broker laughed so no go there. We can get people to sign an agreement that states the risks of the saw, how to bypass, the fact we expect them to pay replacement costs on a trigger etc. thats probably the reasonable middle.

I believe the sawstop is reasonably tolerant of things like green wood, and ive heard that its gone through brads and not fired but im like you and am a bit paranoid about it. If you cut aluminium then it absolutely must be disabled. Also if you make a jig with aluminium components they need reasonable clearance off the blade so not to trigger.

Sorry, but you are personally making a recommendation 'absolutely does necessitate the replacement" that does not match with what the manufacturer themselves states , which is the ultimate truth. I will respect the manufacturer themselves enough to acknowledge that “you will need to… evaluate the condition of the blade for future use”, clearly says something different to you, making your statement/s untrue. BTW, I hold no strong opinion either way, but I’m not going to throw away an expensive saw blade which the manufacturer says may possibly be used after you inspect it, just because you say i should.

There are some conductivity tests out there and the accidental triggering with nails and green wood sounds pretty unheard of
The other materials like aluminium and PVC are an interesting point I wasn’t aware that the table saw was used for these things but I’m fairly sure you can place the material against the blade (while its OFF) and check the indicator to find out whether it would trigger.

It takes about 10 seconds to turn off the bypass if you know how but yes it requires Keys. If you turn off the saw you have to reset the bypass. It goes back to its normal mode every time you stop the saw

I can’t get over the safety aspect of it. I’ve been in construction for over 10 years and would be considered one of the safer workers around. And I have most definitely had moments where my concentration has lapsed.

Plenty of homemade sled videos on Youtube too

I would be willing to pay for a cartridge and blade if i tripped it. I realise not everyone can though.

Buzz, mate, its called responsible finance, budgeting and risk management.

Yes, we may get lucky and figure out a way to repair the blade and get it going again and in some way the cost may be less than the $500 stated.

Its not responsible, however, to base our models off that. We have to make the assumption that the worst will happen in a financial sense and plan accordingly.

If you trip a saw stop it will cost the space somewhere between $130 and $500, after evaluation of damage.

Does that wording make you more comfortable?

Can the blade be reused if the safety system brake is activated?

When the safety system activates, it will sometimes damage one or more teeth on the blade. Some users discard and replace the blade, while others choose to have their blades inspected/repaired by a qualified specialist.

Thats from the manufacturer, theyre basically saying they make no guarantees, its up to your own judgement.

From my reading it seems to be about grounding, ie if a nail is in the wood it doesnt care but if that nail touches the table its then past the threshold. Same with green, very wet and or pressure treated timber, its got to get past whatever internal limit theyve set.

You can test materials in bypass mode, it indicates if it would have triggered.

I’d be happy to reach out to other hackerspaces regarding how they’ve managed sawstops and see if we can find a way to manage this equitably. It’s a bit hard to be an org offering access to specialist equipment if that access becomes out of most members’ financial means.

I know I’d be hard pressed to find $500 to replace the parts with but at the same time can understand the impost it would put on the cause to be up for $500 each time it triggers.

I’d be happy if we did extensive tests in bypass mode and accertained a wide range of situations that would or would not trigger the break. If the saw then triggers durring a situation we had determined did not cause a risk of mis-triggering, the member who was using it at the time will not be responsible for the costs. I have concerns about glue, resin and plastics

Even if it only accidently triggers 1 in 10,000 times, that’s too high of a finacial risk for me if I’ll be responsible for a random incident. If I triggered it due to negligence, I’m happy to pay for those damages, as I would with a car accident.

interesting notes on sawstop that I found today: says “If you send us your activated cartridge, along with this completed questionnaire, and we determine through our diagnostic processes that contact with skin triggered the activation, we’ll send you a new cartridge free of charge.”

Also, the following items have been found to trigger sawstop by users when they touch the spinning blade:

  • UHMW plastic, due to static electricity buildup.
  • carbon-fibre laminations ( on timber ).
  • wet wood.
  • aluminuim (or any metal really).
  • embedded nails in timber.
  • rulers/squares/fences/rails/jigs that are conductive ( like steel rulers, aluminium rails)
  • g-clamps and other metal clamps
  • pressure-treated lumber
  • wet glue ( pva wood glue is water based )

…and it appears that most shops report it firing between 2 and 6 times since they bought their saw. one person had it fire 2 times in the first 2 months, one has gone years without a firing, but they cut only new wood and only have 1 or 2 operators who are both highly-aware of the firing risks, so the most likely scenario is that it will fire multiple ( maybe 5-10) times in the time we own it ( presumably 5 years or more ) .