What is it you want?

Well, I wood like……

A SawStop

A Minimax spindle moulder

A Minima……..

What I am really getting to, are the guys from I Wood Like have just gotten their new website live, at iwoodlike.com.au


It is still very much a work in progress, and the amount of content on the site will grow very rapidly over the next few months particularly as resources are added.  It is the new front end for marketing of SawStop and Minimax machines (I Wood Like is an initiative of Gabbett Machinery, the importers of these tools), but it is to be a lot more than that, with it being a woodworking resource (not unlike Stu’s Shed in a way) covering the wider gamut of the woodworking genre.

I’m going to be contributing a number of videos to the site as well, around the SawStop setup and use, including projects specifically using the SawStop tablesaw.  I do see a number of sausages having close encounters with a spinning blade in the not-too distant future as well!

Speaking of the SawStop Professional Tablesaw, I spoke with Matt today, and we have arranged for my SawStop (which has been sitting in their warehouse since October, waiting for me to have a shed to put it into!) to be delivered next Tuesday.  It will come with a few spare test brakes, so there will be some sawblade destruction along with the sausage close encounters.  There still isn’t a shed obviously, but with the proximity of Christmas, I didn’t want to risk of having the shed (finally), and not the saw!



SSYTC058 Profile Pro on the C26 Genius

Another tool I got to play with at the wood show was the C26 Genius, a MiniMax combo– again from Gabbett Machinery.

Trying out the Amana Tool Profile Pro from Toolstoday.com, with a rebate cutter, then one of the profile cutters.

Photos are in an earlier post, but you can’t really see just how smooth the finish was, straight off the tool.

Cutters were changed without having to remove the cutter block from the spindle moulder – very easy system that positively aligns, and restrains the blades in the cutter block.

The starter set comes with 7 different profiles (including a straight rebate), but there are 137(!!!) different profiles to choose from for this cutter block, many costing around $US26.

SSYTC058 Profile Pro on the C26 Genius

Spindle Moulding on the Minimax C26

As I have mentioned recently, the whole concept of the spindle moulder has not been something that I have paid particular attention to, having worked with router tables for so long.  So when the opportunity arose to see what it was all about, I jumped at it.

The cutter is the Amana Tool Profile Pro Shaper Cutter, from Toolstoday.com, and it is a real head-turner.  The block is comparable to the quality finish you expect from Woodpecker (a similar anodised finish), which looks superb.  I didn’t get to try the Insert Planing head, as the available spindle length wasn’t long enough to secure it.  Will have to experience that another day.


The Minimax C26 is a combo-machine, with saw, moulder, jointing and thicknessing capabilities (and mortising with an add-on).  With a variety of spacers, the Profile Pro looked right at home.  For someone used to router tables (and associated kickbacks), the amount the blades protruded on the spindle moulder was a bit nerve-wracking, but Matt (from Gabbett Machinery) has plenty of experience and said this was quite minor compared to many other cutters he had used.  So on we went.


Despite the first photo showing a moulding cutter, we first started with a basic rebate cutter (and a large chunk of celery pine).  The fence was bought in to guide the work past the cutter, and the spring loaded plate (and associated hold-down) of the C26 kept the timber snug against the fence.

sm-2It was a bit of suck and see from my perspective, so off we went with the first pass.


It was a very smooth pass.  The feed rate could have been a fair amount higher, as neither the machine or the cutter really noticed, and the resulting silky smooth cut was testament to how well both worked.


Next, it was time to switch the knives over to a profile, and this was easily achieved in-situ – no need to remove the cutter head.  It has 2 guide pins to ensure accurate alignment of the cutter, and the block held in place with a turn of the hex key.


The amount of protrusion of this cutter was rather startling, but with Matt’s guidance I learned to accept that it was ok to use the cutter in that state.

So into the cutter went the timber, with excellent results.  There was absolutely no kickback, and the entire profile was machined in a single pass.


The Toolstoday.com Profile Pro sure made light work of the operation, and a superb finish from a single pass.  The industrial version of the router table came away smelling like there is definitely something worth pursuing further, and combined with quality cutter heads, the spindle moulder really is a rather cool machine.

The MiniMax C26 from Gabbett Machinery certainly held up it’s end of the bargain as well, and the jointer and thicknesser were given a real work out a bit later on, cleaning up a log of huon pine that we had been ripping veneers off on the new Professional 14″ Minimax bandsaw.  (You can see a photo of it in the background in some of the earlier images, along with the huon pine log).

Working with quality tools, and cutters is always a pleasure.

Destroying a Blade (saving a hand)


One of the really cool things from this year’s show, was getting to actually do the demonstration of the SawStop.  Not once, but 3 times 🙂


This is just after the safety mechanism has activated.  Unlike other demos (where I cut faster than I would normally, at least at the commencement of a cut), I did this one at my typical speed, and I could barely tell where the blade had touched the hotdog.  If it had been a real-life incident, it may not have even drawn blood.

The first time I set it off, I was expecting it to be quite a violent reaction.  In reality, other than a bit of a clang (and not much of that), it was almost anticlimatic, if it wasn’t such an incredible thing that had just occurred.  Being that you had just saved a lifetime of major issues (along with the initial trauma) from a moment of carelessness.

The speed is probably what makes it anticlimatic.  Your brain cannot register the speed of what happens – 5 milliseconds is simply too fast for the brain.  The time of a single flap of a bumble bee’s wing (and that is faster than a hummingbird). 8 times faster than a single frame of a movie.  80 times faster than the blink of an eye.

16 times faster than the brain can perceive.

Brain scanning technology is quickly approachi...

One moment the blade is there cutting, the next moment, it is simply gone.  The motor has cut out, the blade has dropped below the table (or rather driven itself there as part of the mechanism is a release of a swing mechanism the blade is connected to, and the angular momentum carries the blade away, and away from you.

At that point it doesn’t matter that the cartridge has fired, and needs replacing.  It doesn’t matter that the blade is wrecked (some people talk about getting the blade out of the block, but why bother – it will have been distorted enough by the process to render it about as useful as a Chinese $10 blade from Bunnings).  Just the initial costs surrounding getting a cut in the workshop goes a long way to paying for that, let alone a serious injury.

And SawStop (through the local suppliers) will replace any brake free that has saved an injury.  By sending the brake back to them (through Gabbett Machinery), the onboard computer reveals a lot of information about the event – blade speed, stopping time, and the material being cut.  That will tell if it was a save because it hit flesh during normal operations, or cutting ferrous material, or a sausage, and if it has been a save, the replacement brake is free (otherwise, they are around $150).

The bottom line is this:

As much as I love my TS10L, I have always been very aware that it was a compromised decision because I really did want it to be a SawStop (and you can see the history of that in the articles at the time).

New shed.  New saw.  And it will be the Professional SawStop – the brand new model, and the first shipment has just arrived in Australia (literally – the ship arrived over the weekend afaik).  Some time in the next 2 weeks or so (perhaps even faster), it will be getting delivered to the Melbourne branch of Gabbett Machinery.  As much as I’d love it to arrive at my place instead, I need to wait for the shed, as I have nowhere else to put it.

So that is the big news from the show.  Pretty excited about it, I must say!.

SAS-PCS-3 3 Saw Stop BrakeCartridge2012081001046099 PW image assembly PW image profile 1

I Tawt I Taw a Combo Saw

Combination machines are often underrated, or overlooked when considering workshop machines.  If you have the space, then a machine dedicated to one task must be better than one trying to be all things to all people right?

It is the public gym vs infomercial war all over again, in some minds: don’t buy a machine that can only do one thing, buy this workout zone for home and get 99 functions in 1.  Sounds great, but we also know for these sales pitches, the resulting contraption is built cheap.  After all, you don’t get 1 for 10 easy payments of $99.95, but they will throw in a second one for free, and an exercise mat to boot.

If you have the workshop floor area, why would you consider a combo machine, when 2 or 3 individual machines, each dedicated to the one task must be better.

Well that is not always the case.

There are a number of reasons to consider a combo machine in the workshop.

1. Price

Overall, it will typically be a lot more expensive than one of the machines it is replacing, but add them all together, and the price starts becoming rather competitive.

2. Floor Space

Unless you own the Taj Mahal of sheds, we are all space-poor to one degree or another, and some machines can be combined to minimise their overall demand on space, especially where they can share common infeed and outfeed areas.

3. Increased Capacity

If you buy a jointer, a 6″ jointer is a reasonable price, an 8″ adds about 60% to the price, and a 12″ about 4x the price.

It means as a stand-alone machine, few will be able to justify a 10″ – 12″ jointer.  But if you get a combination jointer-thicknesser, a 10″ or 12″ capacity for the jointer is not uncommon.

It makes me really wonder why the stand-alone jointers of that size are so expensive?  You can buy a 15″ thicknesser for a fraction of the price of a 12″ jointer.

4. Access to machines you otherwise wouldn’t get

A combo machine like a jointer/thicknesser is just that, a couple of machines combined.  But what about the multi-machine combinations?


The MiniMax C26 for example combines a 10″ tablesaw (with sliding table), a 10″ jointer, 10″ thicknesser, a spindle moulder, and optionally a mortiser to boot.

You may be looking for the typical combo of the saw, jointer and thicknesser, which means the spindle moulder and mortiser are bonuses – you may not have planned on buying them otherwise, but who’d say no if they are included?


So let’s look closer at the C26 particularly, as it is one that I saw at my recent road trip to Gabbett Machinery.

1. Price

C26 Stand-alone
10″ Saw w sliding table $5400 $1900
10″ Jointer $1400 (8″)
10″ Thicknesser $1500 (15″)
$2000 (10″ combo)
Spindle Moulder $1300
Mortiser +$500? $860

Ignoring the mortiser, as that price is a total guess, the C26 at $5400 compares very closely to $5200 of the stand alone machines (if you still consider the combo jointer/thicknesser), or $6100 of totally independent machines.  There are

2. Floor Space

C26 Stand-alone
10″ Saw w sliding table 5.2m2 4.9m2
10″ Jointer 1.3m2
10″ Thicknesser 0.9m2
 (or 10″ combo) 0.8m2
Spindle Moulder 0.5m2
Mortiser 0.7m2

C26 footprint 5.2m2 (that includes the area of the sliding table with the arm out at an operational position).

Standalone machines 8.3m2

And this is just the foot print of the machines themselves, not including the typical amount of space you’d leave around each machine for access, or the infeed and outfeed areas, which is significant!

There is no question about it – a combo machine saves a fortune in shed space.

The increased capacity is primarily around the jointer – getting a 10″ jointer or larger is exceptionally expensive stand alone, but not so much so when part of a combination.  The 6″ jointer I have has always been quite a limitation for me – couldn’t justify getting a larger one, but have often found it to be a limitation.

As to machines you wouldn’t otherwise have, that is a personal issue.  For me, I don’t have a mortiser or spindle moulder, so that would be the win from having a combo (not to mention the increased jointer capacity). The other thing I don’t have is the sliding table, which can prove exceptionally useful if you are trying to do a lot of crosscutting on the tablesaw.

So unlike cheap exercise equipment sold on late-night TV, a serious combo workshop machine is something well worth considering when looking at setting up a workshop.  They are not cheap, but as shown, it is comparable to the machines they replace, and they save a fortune in workshop real estate.  As I am discovering with the current shed build, workshop floorspace is worth a small fortune, and being able to save many multiple square metres is worth a lot, much more than the cost of the machine.

The Minimax C26 in particular was from Gabbett Machinery.


Contractor Saw version of SawStop

A first look (video) at the Contractor SawStop can be seen here on Fine Woodworking

It also shows just what happens when the SawStop is fitted with a dado blade, then made to cut something fleshy.  Stopping that blade sounds violent!  Still does though, with the resulting minimal amount of damage to the ‘subject’.

They are not yet on the market, but could be in Australia later this year. No indication at this stage of the price point.

Choosing a tablesaw

Quite the tough decision really – almost worse than buying a car, because you’d expect to have the same tablesaw even after buying, and selling a number of cars! So it is a purchase that you want to get right, and be happy with. Any purchase is always a compromise – a trade-off between quality, features and price.

As I eluded to earlier, this is a list of features I’d want to see on a new saw, in no real order, and not necessarily with any locked in – after all, everything is a compromise!

10″ blade (minimum). Upgrading from the Triton, which runs a 9 1/4″ blade which on the Triton gives a maximum cutting height of 64mm. Having a 10″ blade doesn’t add much to that, but passing the magic 75mm mark is a good start (means I can split a 150mm post in half in 2 passes)

Dado blade capable. Not quite sure whether I need this, but I see dado blades used all the time on woodwork shows, and I do have one so would be good to see it being used!

Decent motor 2.5HP or greater. I rarely need all that power, but using a Triton saw (3.25HP) for so long, and you get used to all that grunt. There is a reason why some people opt for 3 phase machines, and one is power. A saw that comes out in a 1 phase model could have 3HP, the 3 phase version is 5HP. Seeing as I would be extremely hard-pushed to justify the expense of installing 3 phase power.

Full cast (cast iron) top, with 1 and preferably 2 mitre channels.

Quality fence

Riving knife, which is easily removed, and rises and falls with the blade. To this (ideally) there would also be the blade guard.

Left-tilting blade. Lots of controversy here, but after seeing some photos of ripping with the blade tilted over to the right, I can see why left-tilt wins some friends. Granted that you can move the fence to the other side of the blade, I’d rather not have to.

So, where does that leave us?

Gabbett Machinery: Saw Stop

Blade Size: 254mm (10in)
Dado: 20mm
Depth of Cut 90°: 79mm
Depth of Cut 45°: 57mm
Direction of Cut: Left
Motor: 3HP (1 Ph 230V 13A)
Arbor: 16mm
Table Size:1118x762mm
Weight: 240kg
Price: $5500

Other features: Saw Stop, heavy duty castings

Carbatec: TS10L

Blade Size: 254mm (10in)
Dado: 15mm
Depth of Cut 90°: 78mm
Depth of Cut 45°: 54mm
Direction of Cut: Left
Motor: 3HP (1 Ph)
Arbor: 16mm
Table Size: 1075x740mm
Weight: 230kg
Price: $2200
Other features: Heavy duty trunnions, quick release riving knife, spindle lock

Carbatec: TSC-10HB

Blade Size: 254mm (10in)
Dado: 15mm
Depth of Cut 90°: 77mm
Depth of Cut 45°: 58mm
Direction of Cut: Right
Motor: 3HP (1 Ph)
Arbor: 16mm
Table Size: 1015x685mm
Weight: 190kg
Price: $1700
Other features: includes router table extension wing

Woodworking Warehouse: Jet SuperSaw

Blade Size: 254mm (10in)
Dado: 20mm
Depth of Cut 90°: 84mm
Depth of Cut 45°: 54mm
Direction of Cut: Left
Motor: 1.75HP (1 Ph)
Arbor: 16mm
Table Size: 705x685mm
Weight: 210kg
Price: $2475
Other features: sliding table

Woodworking Warehouse: Powermatic PM2000

Blade Size: 254mm (10in)
Dado: 20mm
Depth of Cut 90°: 79mm
Depth of Cut 45°: 54mm
Direction of Cut: Left
Motor: 3HP (1 Ph)
Arbor: 16mm
Table Size: 1067x775mm
Weight: 210kg
Price: $3415
Other features: (shown with extension table- other tables also have this), spindle lock, quick release riving knife, cast iron base w built in raise-able castors.

Ledacraft MJ-2325CB 10″

Blade Size: 254mm (10in)
Dado: ??
Depth of Cut 90°: 75mm
Depth of Cut 45°: 60mm
Direction of Cut: Right
Motor: 2HP (1 Ph)
Arbor: 25.4mm
Table Size: 1170x800mm
Weight: 189kg
Price: $1232
Other features:

(I’ve not listed 3 phase motors as it is not in most sheds)

I’ve amended this list with a couple more models – there are just too many saws out there to provide a comprehensive list, and there are still all the 12″ saws etc that I haven’t tried looking through.

Where possible, I have listed the price of including a Biesemeyer Style fence.

Table Saw Research

I’ve been doing some research about the various cabinet saws out there, specifically looking for something to upgrade to after selling my Triton after many years of reliable service. I’m sure this will be a recurring theme until the final decision is made, but here are some initial observations and considerations.

I have not had an opportunity to actually use any of these tools in anger, so my opinions and observations at this point are tempered by that.

I’m not looking at the contractor’s saw – they are a compromise, minimising weight and cost in preference for portability. They certainly have their place, and many perfectly successful workshops have them, but I am strongly influenced to head towards a full cabinet saw (personal preference, and perhaps because I have done my time with a Triton Workcentre, I’m looking for that quantum leap in this upgrade, and not just another short step).

For the top, (other than a select few unusually made from granite, which I’m not sure if they are even in Australia, and then can’t use that incredible MagSwitch technology!), they should be cast iron, with ideally 2 mitre slots, one either side of the blade. The blade itself will typically be 10″ or 12″ (at additional cost), with a splitter (and/or riving knife), and guard. Power ranges from 1.75HP to 3Hp (and beyond if you have 3 phase power available – I don’t).

There are some fundamentals that the unit MUST comply with:

Click here to read full article

A Road Trip (to see a saw)

At my daughter’s insistence, we headed off for a road trip to see a rather unique saw, and one that I’ve been wanting to see in the flesh so to speak for a long time.

At Gabbett Machinery in Melbourne (one of their branches), we were let loose in their showroom (luckily for them I couldn’t find a forklift!) Gingerly peering around (like a kid on Christmas morning ….I see the tree…..I see something colourful under the tree… YES ….WE HAVE PRESENTS! Ok, well it was a bit like that). If you peer into this first photo, something black comes into view….


I was kindly invited to come down to see this saw, an invitation I definitely appreciate. Dwarfed by comparison to the amazing tools around it, nevertheless, it held its ground like a slick black corvette amongst a convoy of big rigs (gee, the metaphors are flowing today!)


This is the 10″ Saw Stop, named for the company, and also the incredibly unique safety feature that sets this saw aside from the pack.

It comes at a price, with the model here coming in around $A5500, and before seeing it, I was very dubious about how much it is worth. I still feel that for a 10″ cabinet saw that it is rather expensive, even given the Saw Stop, but the build quality is obvious, and exceptional so some of that extra price is well justified.


This model is shown with the 52″ extension, which gives a massive rip capacity. There is some discussion about the possibility of a sliding table and/or scribing blade, but as yet they are not available. It has a very nice fence, with UHMD plastic on either side.


The whole unit looks and feels very well engineered, although I only have my initial observations to base that on. The start/stop switch seen here is typical of the whole unit – designed and placed to a plan, and not feeling like an add-on. I’m not sure where the switch for the saw stop mechanism was, although there was a keyed lock on the side of the starter box which might have been it.


Had a bit of a play with the height and tilt mechanisms, and the gearing felt very nice and smooth, without play, or getting stuck at the extremes of travel as I’ve noticed on some other brands. The riving knife for the blade tracks up and down with the rise and fall, and carries the blade guarding with it which I like. I didn’t get to see how easy removal of the riving knife is, but I’d expect (and hope) that it’d be a couple of bolts under the blade surround insert. ***Update*** It’s even easier! Have a look at the photo below (and the closeup below that) – there is a lever partially covering the SawStop mechanism – that is the riving knife release. Very cool! ***


Now the unique aspect of this saw is its ability to detect (via current leakage) if the saw is not cutting what it should be (namely if you’ve had a lapse of concentration and decided to ..uh.. cut yourself instead of the wood). This saw had been tested the day before, and the blade is still in place where it was bought to a near instantaneous stop. The mechanism not only stops the blade in fractions of a second, but drags the entire blade below the table surface. Here you can see where the aluminium brake has engaged the blade.


At $A100 a pop for the mechanism, plus a destroyed saw blade, you wouldn’t want it happening every day of the week, but boy – how nice would it be to have this sort of safety mechanism on a tablesaw? If there are times you will be cutting something that can potentially set the mechanism off by mistake (very green timber perhaps?), it can be switched off, and a test cut made which will still indicate if the mechanism would have fired. It is based on a fusewire that is caused to burnout, releasing the aluminium block which slams into the blade. The blade cuts deeply into this, jambs up, and the force (and angular momentum of the blade) then drags the blade down and out of sight. You have to watch the video on the Saw Stop website – it is bloody amazing!

***Update – videos now linked from here with permission from Gabbett Machinery***

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On that note, just to clarify- the SawStop feature is incredible, but hopefully never needed or used. The saw itself still has to function as an other cabinet saw, and given its price tag, it has to do that very very well. At least from my first impression, the engineering quality in the build of the saw itself supports this, and as a cabinet saw it looks to be at the sharp end of the 10″ range, with the added bonus of a unique safety feature.


Here is another result of a demonstration of the Saw Stop mechanism. As you can see, there are fine holes drilled near the contact surface of the blade brake, which allows the saw blade to quickly bite deeply into the brake surface. You can see just 3 teeth made its way past the brake before it was stopped. The first tooth ripped completely off the blade (and not just the carbide tip), so have no doubt – the blade is written off when this fires.

Note there is a lot of plastic deformation of the brake component, which is how a significant portion of the energy is dissipated in stopping the blade so fast.


As you can see, my daughter is also very impressed, and wishes Daddy had one of these in his workshop!

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