Answering Your Questions about the Steel City Table Saw

Our full-fledged, in-print review of the Steel City table saw will appear in our February 2007 issue. In the meantime, we’ve had several questions about what we’ve posted so far here on the blog. One of the great things about this format is that we can get answers much faster. I spoke on the phone yesterday with Scott Box, one of the big-shots of the new company.TestSAW.jpg

The first question people had was about the packaging of the saw, and whether or not it had been given special treatment before being sent to us. As I mentioned in a reply to a comment on an earlier post, the elapsed time between requesting the saw, and its being loaded on a truck to us was just a few hours, and there wasn’t any indication on our end that the boxes had been opened before shipping. Scott assured me that the saw we recieved came from their standard inventory at their warehouse, and that the steel cage crating is the way that all of their saws are packed.

The second question was about the similarities between this saw, and a similar saw sold by Sears.
When machines are made overseas, the level of quality of the finished product isn’t set by the manufacturer. They work under contract to whatever specifications the purchaser sets in the contract. While the two saws are made in the same place, the differences between the two are significant. The differences Mr. Box pointed out, and my observations confirmed are:

  • Tighter tolerances and heavier castings, particularly on the tabletop and alignment
  • Different motor, fence, rear trunnion support, depth of cut and supplied blade

These things may not be obvious at first, but they will increase the cost of manufacturing and make a big difference in how the saw performs, both out of the box and years down the road.fence.jpg

Before seeing this saw, I was skeptical about it because of its size and cost. My concept of a basic table saw is a Delta Unisaw or a Powermatic 66. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the saw, the thoughtfulness behind the packaging, and the extra features. So far, I’ve been impressed with its capabilities. I haven’t given it a lot of use, but I have ripped 8/4 oak with the supplied blade without bogging down the saw. We’ll be using the saw on a regular basis here in our shop, and we’ll follow up on its performance in a few months.

All in all, if you have limited space or a limited budget, this saw would meet your needs, and you wouldn’t have any regrets.

Bob Lang

8 thoughts on “Answering Your Questions about the Steel City Table Saw

  1. Ray Paquin

    I just purchased my saw 3 weeks ago. I found it to be everything I could have expected in a saw priced at this level and by comparison to saws priced $200 – $400 more.
    I attended the Woodworking Show in Columbus and made side-by-side comparisons of the saws I was interested in. The Engineers and Marketing teams at Steel City Tools have done a nice job of developing this saw from the customer back.
    I found the set screw adjusments helpful when leveling the extension wings, but a a couple of close tolerance dowels would help to keep the top surface of the tables perfectly aligned. This can be achieved but it takes some time.
    I purchased an Incra Miter gauge and sled at the show and mounted it for the first time on my new Steel City saw.
    I am so impressed with the performance of this saw right out of the box that I am considering buying a new drill press by SCT.
    I look forward to many years of performance and enjoyment.

  2. Jeff Briere

    The following was from my contact with Steel City customer service after my purchase of their titanium topped tablesaw model 36539. Hope it helps.

    My Steel City saw finally arrived on Wednesday Dec 27th (46 days after ordering), so I have had several weeks now to put it through its paces. I must admit that the saw has some shortcomings which are "unacceptable". I was extremely meticulous in the assembly and care of my new saw and here are my observations, recommendations and complaints:

    1st the unacceptable part-the cursor on the rip fence can not be adjusted enough to make an accurately measured cut. There are elongated holes on the cursor and on the rail that can be adjusted, but even with each component at its maximum level of adjustment, the indication is 1/16 of an inch off from the actual distance from the blade to rip fence distance. I stopped at Hardwood Heaven today and their Steel City saw on the showroom floor has the exact same problem. While this can be remedied with the removal and reinstallation of a new scale tape on the front guide tube, this should never have occured on a $1900 saw. It is truly unacceptable to not be able to set the fence and get an accurate cut. I would like to receive a redesigned rip fence cursor to resolve this problem. I do realize that on a left tilt saw I will have to re-adjust my cursor every time I change blades, but this is with the Steel City provided factory blade.

    The next part that is unacceptable are the User Manuals provided with my saw. Refer to page 18 of the Industrial Fence User manual. Rear rail part #101 looks absolutely NOTHING like this picture, there are no notches in the actual rear rail and it is a "L" bracket unlike the picture. Page 13, step 9 attaching extension table to front and rear rail with six 1-1/4 screws, actually I was provided with 3 screws and three 1-3/4 inch bolts. I could go on, but I think a revised User Manual would be an inexpensive fix.

    The rest of my dissatisfaction stems from high expectations and personal preferences rather than full fledged deficiencies.

    -The on/off switch assembly should have a much larger OFF switch or button. Safety is very important to woodworkers which is why SAWSTOP is selling so well. Certainly it would add very little cost and add tremendous benefit to the saw to make a highly visible and accessible OFF switch. The on/off assembly could also use a longer cord than the 5.5 feet provided. It is a personal gripe, but by purchasing the product sight unseen coupled with the short power cord, I spent considerable time and effort rerunning my 230v power supply to a new location.

    -The dust collection port should be interchangeable with a panel on the back of the saw. Not everyone has their dust collector on right hand side of the shop. A more universal solution would be to mount the dust collector port on the back of the saw, this would accomodate shops with dust collection capability on either the left or right side of their shop. Again more time and effort rerunning 4" pipe.

    -The motor cover is secured with a finely threaded screw. A better approach would be to use the same door latch mechanism as the dust port cover utilizes, this latch seems to work well. A finely threaded screw is time consuming when trying to open up the motor casing to retrieve items dropped in the saw interior.

    -How much extra would it add to the price of the saw to provide chrome wrenches rather than the black iron ones? Chrome wrenches are less likely to rust, blacken your hands and your project than the provided black iron ones.

    -Could have pre-drilled the screw holes for the legs on the extension table, since the directions are so horrible and lack a good picture of the leg to table placement.

    -How about adding on-saw storage for the wrenches, dado insert and the miter gauge so they don’t get lost or damaged in the shop? The hooks in the back of the saw are worthless if you have an outfeed table or roller assembly in the way.

    -The side extension wings should be attached with bolts and not allen screws. If you want a product modification suggestion, there should be some sort of lip incorporated into each side of the saw to support and level the extension wings while the bolts are installed and tightened. This alleviates the balancing and alignment act that occurs while trying to hold the extension wing, tighten the bolts and level the surface with the saw top.

  3. SoCalJoe

    I understand a new upgraded model with a titanium coated top will be out in December or January ’07. Can’t wait to see it. For those in Orange County, CA there is a dealer on Lincoln Ave near Euclid and the 91 fwy.

  4. Jim Rokusek

    Bob,

    Thanks for the response! Price is about the same so you’re of no help to me (just kidding)! I’ll go kick the tires so to speak and see what happens. I’m looking forward to your next post about the saw.

  5. Bob Lang

    I haven’t been able to get much shop time in since posting about the saw. The Grizzly is also an excellent machine, and depending on money and space, I would have a hard time picking between the two. I don’t think you’d be unhappy with either one-for me I think it would come down to the final price to get a saw in my shop.

    I think with any large purchase like this, it’s well worth it to get a firsthand look before buying.

  6. Jim Rokusek

    Have you used this saw much since your last posting? I want to take a look at one but the nearest dealer is 3+ hours away. I’m trying to research this saw as much as I can before I take a long drive and spend $1000+. I’m considering this saw or the Grizzly G1023.

  7. Bob Lang

    "street" price of the saw as tested with 1.75 hp motor is $899.

    the same saw is available with a 3 hp motor for $999

  8. Bob Haines

    Bob –
    I have enjoyed your timely review and first impressions. What kind of order of magnitude is the street price for this saw? It is hard to eveluate value, especially when compared to the Sears saw, if we don’t know the pricing.

    Thanks,
    Bob Haines
    10/20/06

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