The SawStop is the industry leader in table saw safety. If you haven’t heard the name before, you’ve undoubtedly seen the viral videos of its incredible table safety feature at work.
It’s one of the best systems to keep you safe and secure while using one of the most dangerous workshop tools that causes over 65,000 serious injuries a year.
But the SawStop system isn’t cheap, and each time it goes off, you have to change the brake cartridge with a new one. This has left many wondering if there’s an equally safe SawStop alternative that is a little kinder to the bank.
The best alternatives to a SawStop
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The SawStop is a revolutionary technology in which the table saw blade carries a small electrical signal. The blade will instantaneously retract and slam into a brake cartridge upon making contact with your skin (or anything that can complete the circuit).
This system was unparalleled in the safety it offered users against catastrophic injury. And while the system is considered industry-leading, plenty of other companies have developed their own safe and reliable table saws.
So we’ve gathered up 11 of our favorite alternatives to get a better idea of what table saws you should consider safe options the SawStop.
1. Powematic table saws
Powermatic is one of the most popular table saw brands, with an unparalleled range of saws to suit every working space and workload, from the small workshop to large industrial-scale settings.
Additionally, they also have a slew of universal attachments and upgrades. If you become involved with their ecosystem, you can save a lot of money by transferring components to newer saws should you decide to upgrade your model.
In terms of safety, they don’t have any crazy technology to rival the SawStop. But what Powermatic has going for them is that they are exceptionally well made, robust and rigid.
When installed correctly and using their accu-fence railing system, you will get an incredibly smooth and stable cut which inherently makes these saws much safer.
2. DEWALT Table Saws
This is another well-known and trusted brand. DEWALT offers a fantastic range of smaller, desktop-orientated saws, making them an excellent choice for smaller workshops or anywhere with limited space.
They’re both corded and cordless and even have a roll cage, so if you’re using them on-site and they tip over (it happens), it’s not going to damage the saw.
These saws come with a hefty blade guard system, making things like ripping and cross-cutting much safer. They also have an inbuilt anti-kickback system, so the blade can’t throw what you’re cutting back at you!
3. Grizzly Table Saw
Grizzly is a self-proclaimed purveyor of fine machinery. They deal in high-end and robust table saws meant for a worker who takes pride in his craft and only wants the best regarding quality and robustness.
They have a full-featured range, from cabinet table saws to mounted sliding saws. No matter your intended use, you’ll be able to find what you want here.
It has all the safety features you’d expect from a high-quality table saw, a robust guard, an anti-kickback system, and a very sizable emergency stop knee paddle so you can turn the machine off during operation hands-free at a moment’s notice.
4. Bosch REAXX
So far, we’ve only covered saws with very general and standardized safety features in many regular table saws.
The REAXX series by Bosch was one of the first attempts to emulate the SawStop system’s innovative technology. It works similarly by detecting an electrical current using its ‘Active Response Technology platform’ and immediately dropping the blade.
This can drastically limit the potential damage done to the hand.
One of their big claims that allows it to surpass the SawStop is that it’s able to use the braking system without damaging the blade – so if it goes off, even by accident, you should be able to reset the blade and continue working as if nothing happened.
Unfortunately, the REAXX system is currently discontinued from manufacturing. This is due to its similar technology to the SawStop, which SawStop themselves now have a patent on.
This led to a lengthy legal battle, and unfortunately, the REAXX had to be put on manufacturing hiatus. However, SawStop’s patent on this technology expired last year, so fingers crossed that we will see this series re-introduced soon.
But there are still plenty floating around on the used market if you are keen on purchasing one today.
5. Shop Fox
Considered a slightly more budget-orientated brand, Shop Fox still has a great collection of open-stand saws to fit all workshop types.
However, as you go down in price on a table saw, safety and security become all the more critical as lower-quality components, and excessive vibration can compromise the safe operation of the machine.
Fortunately, Shop Fox has not skimped in this department. It comes with a clear blade guard assembly so you can see what you’re doing as you cut while it still protects you—ideal for making tight cuts on something such as a stair nose.
In addition, a ‘spreader’ is mounted behind the blade, which slightly separates the pieces as you cut them so they can’t get pinched and thrown up by the blade.
And there are anti-kickback pawls that gently push the piece away from you as you feed the blade making it much more difficult to throw the object back at you.
This is an excellent purchase for those wanting a safe alternative to the SawStop.
6. Delta Unisaw
Delta’s Unisaw range is well-respected table saws meticulously made using high-quality materials. They are very much considered a ‘buy once, cry once’ purchase where the steep asking price is justified by the fact this thing will essentially last you a lifetime.
Safety feature-wise, it uses its ‘BIESEMEYER’ fencing system, a heavy, tough, and accurate system designed to keep the more powerful 3hp table saws under control.
7. Jet Table Saw
Jet Table saws are an American brand but are manufactured in Taiwan, meaning you can be sure that it’s made to a high standard.
This fully-featured table saw boasts pretty much every safety feature you could want short of a real saw stop.
It has a robust guard system that completely shrouds the blade, a rail-mounted magnetic switch that can be reached in a split second to disable the machine, and an independent leaf safety guard for additional protection while the blade is angled.
8. Altendorf group
One of the less well-known brands on the list, but it is undoubtedly one that uses extremely modern technology to provide safety to you as a user.
Unlike the SawStop saw, which utilizes electrical current to trigger its braking system, this one uses optical detection in the form of two cameras which monitor your hand position in relation to the blade.
As soon as your hands penetrate the ‘safety zone,’ the blade is immediately lowered out of harm’s way in as little as 0.25 seconds. Slower than the saw stop, it is still fast enough to prevent major injury.
In 2021 the patent SawStop had on their braking system expired. Since then, and over the next few years, we’re going to see more and more alternative safety systems that try to utilize their technology.
The Savemsystem does, as the name suggests, stop the blade with the additional benefit of eliminating push sticks and kickback.
These can be purchased at the component level and then fitted onto an already installed table saw, allowing you further to enhance the safety qualities of your current machine.
So far, every saw we’ve included has been a big piece of machinery that can hold its own in a busy workshop environment.
But Skilsaw is a company that makes safe and small table saws explicitly designed for the beginner.
It’s super easy to set up and operate, although its cutting depth is not great – if you’re just here to learn the ropes, that shouldn’t be a big deal.
11. GoPlus portable
This is an affordable little table saw that retails for under $300 while making no compromises regarding safety features.
Despite its affordable price, it’s a heavy-duty machine that’s safe to use thanks to its solid fence and stable operation.
You can do almost everything on a bigger model, including a 0 to 45-degree, very accurate cut. Plus, to make operation more accessible, it has a self-aligning rip fence and guides to ensure your cuts are as precise as possible.
Considering how cheap it is, this machine punches way above its weight in terms of quality and construction, so if you’re on a budget, this is the one to check out.
The pros and cons of a SawStop Alternative
For many years now, SawStop has been the go-to for those who are conscious of safety while using their table saw. But the high price tag and the fact you need to replace the brake cartridge every time it triggers has led people to want to find a good SawStop alternative that is just as safe.
- Unrivaled safety. Although their patent has expired, they are innovators of a superior safety technology that has saved many people’s limbs from harm.
- It has a substantial rip capacity.
- It produces immaculate cuts.
- Although the complexity of the SawStop saw system, it’s easy to set up and reset once it triggers.
- It’s an expensive table saw, and if it triggers a lot, the costs continue to add up as you must keep replacing the brake cartridge.
- Not very portable. It’s designed for stationary workshop use.