I own a Bosch REAXX jobsite table saw, and have experience with SawStop's products as well. The rest of this post addresses the differences between my Bosch REAXX and the SawStop jobsite saw, but most of my comments apply equally to the SawStop contractor and cabinet saws as well.
I bought the REAXX in early 2017. At the time, I wanted a safe jobsite table saw for its compact storage. The choice was the SawStop jobsite saw or the Bosch REAXX. They are very comparable saws. I chose the Bosch REAXX over the SawStop jobsite saw for many reasons:
* TABLE SAW FEATURES:
I liked the Bosch table saw features slightly more than the SawStop, but it was a close call. The Bosch REAXX had features that were better than the SawStop jobsite saw, but the SawStop had features that were better than the Bosch REAXX, too. Overall, the Bosch came out slightly better, but either saw is good. Frankly, I don't like the lock/unlock mechanism for the rip fence on either saw. SawStop has a nice "would it have triggered?" indicator feature; see below. The Bosch REAXX doesn't have it.
The rest of the comparison had to do with the safety mechanism. In theory, you should operate the saw safely and never trigger the safety mechanism, so differences in the safety mechanisms shouldn't matter. In practice, that's not always the case. Here are some safety mechanism differences:
* FIRINGS PER CARTRIDGE:
The replaceable cartridges on the Bosch REAXX have two firings per cartridge. If you trigger the REAXX, you can flip the cartridge over and use the other "side." SawStop offer only one firing per brake. The cost of a two-firing REAXX cartridge and a single SawStop brake are comparable.
* BLADE REUSE AFTER TRIGGERING:
When a Bosch REAXX triggers, the blade drops below the table and is undamaged. When a SawStop triggers, it drives an aluminum brake into the blade. The blade's carbide teeth embed themselves in the "soft" aluminum, stopping the blade instantly. The blade also drops below the table on a SawStop. Carbide tips are welded to the blade, and driving them into an aluminum SawStop brake may loosen the welds in ways that are not readily apparent. A carbide tooth may break loose in the future during use. I do not like the thought of a razor sharp carbide tip flying at my face at over 100 mph. I would never re-use a blade that has been triggered on a SawStop. Replacing blades significantly increases the cost of triggering the SawStop safety mechanism, especially if you must replace a costly dado set.
* CARTRIDGE/BRAKE TYPES:
There is only one kind of Bosch REAXX cartridge. You leave the same cartridge installed for ordinary blades and dado sets. With SawStop, you use one kind of SawStop brake for ordinary 10 inch blades, and change it out for a special SawStop dado brake when you mount an 8 inch dado set.
* BLADE SIZE:
The Bosch REAXX works with a variety of blade sizes. I can use a 6 inch dado set on my REAXX if I wish. Blade choices are more limited with SawStop. You must use either 10 inch blades or 8 inch dado sets with SawStop. Other blade sizes are not compatible with the SawStop brakes.
* BLADE DESIGN SUBTLETIES:
SawStop does not work as well with blades that have anti-kickback "tails" (my term) behind the carbide tips. Freud changed the design of their SD-208 dado set (and other blades?) for that reason. I had a Freud SD-208 dado set with the anti-kickback "tails", which worked fine on my Bosch REAXX. When I replaced it, the new Freud SD-208 dado set was missing the "tails." I was told that Freud removed the tails for faster SawStop response; the tails were getting in the way of the SawStop brake as it pushed into the blade. I liked the anti-kickback tail design on the Freud blades.
-> I don't like the idea that my anti-kickback safety was reduced solely for SawStop compatibility reasons, but I understand that Freud can't afford to make two different blade types - one for SawStop and one for the rest of us. I wonder how SawStop (the company) and SawStop owners would feel if they had to pay double for blades that lack the anti-kickback safety feature?
(Note: If you want to see the tails, look at Freud's Box Joint blade set, which still has them.)
Stephen Gass deserves full credit for his brilliant invention. He also deserves some credit for the vast numbers of table saw injuries that occurred because of his greed. According to what I read and learned from others, SawStop made the licensing terms for the SawStop patents so onerous that no manufacturer could justify the cost. When no company would license the technology under his unreasonable terms, Gass created SawStop to manufacture table saws with the safety mechanism.
After Bosch released the REAXX in 2015, SawStop sued Bosch, claiming patent infringement. Bosch claims that their technology does not violate SawStop's patents. The court(s?) disagreed and ruled against Bosch. The International Trade Commission (US government) issued a ban on bringing Bosch REAXX saws into the US. You can still buy a Bosch REAXX table saw in Canada and elsewhere in the world. If you absolutely must buy a Bosch REAXX in the US today, you may be able to obtain one that comes from Canada. I presume that the sellers violate the ITC ban, but are flying "under the radar."
The patents belong to SawStop, and SawStop can ask whatever license terms and fees that they want. The other manufacturers can license them, or not. I am okay with that.
The real issue is that SawStop maintains an ongoing effort to get the US government to mandate the safety mechanisms for all table saws sold in the US, effectively giving SawStop control of the table saw market. Your SawStop dollars pay for significant lobbying efforts, especially with OSHA. If the US government were to issue such a table saw safety requirement, then SawStop would be in a position to extort the licensing terms and fees they want, or simply eliminate all competing table saw manufacturers from the US market.
The result of all the SawStop greed and political machinations has been to drive the price of table saw safety mechanisms so high that many woodworkers cannot afford them or choose saws without them. How many woodworkers have sustained severe injuries that would never have occurred if table saws with safety mechanisms would have been generally available 15 years ago? How much pain, grief, and regret could have been saved if SawStop had offered acceptable license terms to table saw manufacturers back then?
-> How would Stephen Gass feel if he were asked to face an auditorium full of injured woodworkers to explain and justify SawStop's history of licensing and lobbying practices to them?
Lacking any other choice, I recommend SawStop table saws to those who ask. They are very good table saws, even if you ignore the safety feature. The additional cost of the safety feature is like buying insurance, and for me, that insurance is worth it.
Others argue that a better, less expensive approach is to exercise due care when operating a table saw. They say that the safety mechanism encourages unsafe practices. We must agree to disagree. I believe that everyone should exercise due care and follow all safety practices, whether their table saw has a safety mechanism or not. Nonetheless, we are all human, and even the best humans make mistakes. The consequences of a table saw injury are so severe that I would "buy the insurance" and recommend a table saw with a safety mechanism. At this time, SawStop is the only table saw in the US with a safety mechanism, so I recommend SawStop.
I hope that we see a wide choice of tools with safety retraction mechanisms from many manufacturers when the SawStop patents expire in August, 2021. I wish I knew more about patents in general, and especially the SawStop patents, to say whether that can actually happen or not.
Last edited by Tool Agnostic; 02-10-2019 at 02:08 PM.