SawStop slider: my take, several months in

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I bought a SawStop slider last November after deciding to retire my radial arm saw. I’d used sliding crosscut tables at the shops where I worked in England; they were champs at cutting panels squarely and their fences were invariably set up with well designed, sturdy, movable stops. So when I happened upon the SawStop slider at Woodworking in America in 2016 I was hooked.

My apprehension about setting the thing up turned out to be unfounded. It took a few hours and the assistance of a tool-using friend. (See my post here.) The instructions were clear and detailed. (When it comes to technical writing, there’s no substitute for a native speaker of the relevant language. This has been one of SawStop’s strengths.)

A post on Instagram brought lots of comments, some of them criticizing the slider for being lightweight, both literally and figuratively. Based on my experience these past few months, Chris Hedges (@aedanworks) put it best with the following comment: “It’s a great attachment. Yes it has limitations but none that can’t be worked around. I think of it as a finishing slider. Wouldn’t go back to not having one!” Here are my specific observations.

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What’s great about the slider is the primary feature for which I bought it: I can crosscut a full sheet of 4’ x 8’ plywood quickly and cleanly. I set my slider up to allow for maximum ripping capacity with the sliding fence still on the table. I can rip an 8’ piece of material (or longer) but doing so requires lifting the back end until it clears the crosscut fence, which can be awkward. Any serious ripping means removing the fence. The good news is it’s easy to replace and re-set with a square.

The stops can deflect enough to produce varying lengths of cut. You can prevent this by treating them as parts of a precision tool. If you slam a sheet of plywood against them they’re going to bend (not that I’m suggesting anyone reading this would be so indelicate). Alternatively, clamp a sturdy block to the fence.

The miter gauge that came with my original slider has been superseded by an improved model with positive angle stops. After buying the improved version I found that the fence can still be moved out of square (and so make the other angle settings off) if pressed too hard. You need to check it regularly. Then again, that’s just good practice with any machine set-up.

The instructions that came with my slider made no mention of attaching a sacrificial fence. I used double-sided tape (thanks to @lostartpress for that suggestion), which was fine for a few weeks. There is a slot in the fence that I guessed was probably meant for this, but SawStop has spoiled me by consistently providing clear, detailed, and complete instructions, so I was stumped. A call to the company confirmed my hunch. I mentioned how unusual it was that they neither mentioned this critical component in the manual nor included the necessary bolts. (I would put my money on this being addressed in the next edition of installation literature.) I’ll be buying some bolts from a local hardware store this week and making this minor upgrade.

Bottom line: It’s not heavy-duty industrial equipment, but I’m not running an industrial shop. Check regularly to make sure the fence hasn’t moved. Treat the length stops as precision instruments. And share your suggestions for improvements with the manufacturer at marketing@sawstop.com. There are real human beings who check the inbox, and they sincerely want to hear your thoughts. This is a company that’s continually working to make its products even better because they get that their success depends on quality.

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