At the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers show in Las Vegas three years ago, Steel City Tool Works (SCTW) took the woodworking world by storm with the introduction of granite tops on table saws. Granite used in woodworking machines extended to jointers, lathes and even planers.
During the next couple years, the woodworking business as we know it changed. Companies found a difficult path toward keeping the doors open and many companies shut those doors or significantly downsized. SCTW was no different. There were rumors that the company was out. No longer were you able to get machines. In fact, I read more than once that the phones at the company headquarters were turned off. That’s not a good sign.
At this year’s major woodworking show in Atlanta, the International Woodworking Fair (IWF), exhibitors were at a premium. However, Steel City Tool Works was there in full splendor. Not only was the SCTW booth full of machines and sales people providing free-flowing information, the company displayed more innovation. In particular, the company showed table saws with a newly designed top.
Take a look at the photo above. Do you notice anything different? Look closely. I almost missed this detail while I was standing directly in front of the saw. Give up? Where are the seams that are generally found where the wings meet the saw top? Don’t see any do you? That’s innovation. No longer does your fence catch on the seam as it slides across the tabletop.
Here’s what the engineers at SCTW did. The table attached to the cabinet has been downsized to stop just at the far edge (away from the blade) of the miter slot. The wing edges are milled to complete the miter slots, so when the two are joined, the seam disappears in the miter slot. Cool. Ingenious.
The first question that springs to mind is: With the amount of finagling that one has to do to get the wings set correctly, is the miter slot usable given that is where the joint is? I tried a few slots and they worked fine. The company representative whom I spoke with explained that the wings fit to the table in the same manner as most other saws, but that there are set screws that allow you to perfectly dial in the fit.
Also, many of the company’s saws have the motors and pulleys tied together , both move in unison , and the motor is no longer hung by the belt. This setup translates into less vibration during start-up and run time. The rep. bypassed the nickel test and went right to conducting the test using a penny. The penny stayed balanced on its edge until the saw was shut off , the knock against the paddle caused the machine to shimmy.
If you’re looking for an entry-level saw, take a look at SCTW’s model #35990CS. This saw, with a cast iron tabletop and stamped wings, is priced at $499.
And, check out the knobs that lock the blade guard and pawls on the riving knife. With a quick turn you either attach the guards or pull them from the saw. It’s easy to do and maybe that will keep us using them.
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But what about the company, are they stable or on the edge, warranty issues would be a concern if the company goes under? I really like their tools but most of the dealer in WI have dropped them.