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.
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.
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.