SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge

Best SawStop Brake Cartridges: Reviewed

Back in the good old days, when I was still a scrawny teen, I decided to learn how to play guitar. After spending a few weeks trimming hedges, sweeping sidewalks, and washing cars, I’d saved up enough to get a cheap one. Second-hand, of course.

I never bothered with proper lessons, which I regret today. Instead, I just hung out with a couple of older guys who showed me a few chords.

That was it. I was hooked.

Every afternoon, I would race home from school to cradle my bashed-up Cort and pluck out the same three or four chords. I fancied myself quite dashing. Needless to say, so did a few of the girls in my high school – which was the only reason I ever picked up a guitar, to tell you the truth.

It’s only now that I’m pushing forty that I wish I’d learned how to play the guitar properly. My son started taking lessons a few years back, and he’s already a lot better than I’ll ever be.

Before you say it, I know it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple in my case…

You see, when I first started doing woodwork and using bandsaws, I knew as much about SawStops as I do how to play Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Which is to say, nothing at all.

 

I Learned the Hard Way

I was working on a cabinet to hold my ever-expanding collection of cassettes one day. This was just after I’d left technical school and was starting my apprenticeship at the local workshop. My dad agreed to buy me my first tabletop bandsaw, which I’d set up in the garage.

Usually, I’m quite attentive while doing woodwork. After all, you’re working with a very sharp blade. It doesn’t pay to be careless!

But this day was different.

Blame it on the recklessness of youth, if you will. Remember what it was like, being young? The feeling of immortality?

Long story short, instead of focusing properly, I was daydreaming. It might have been about this new girl I’d just met a few days ago. Next thing I knew, I got this tingling feeling in my right hand.

I pulled back just in time to save my pinky. Not that I knew it at the time – my first instinct was to grab my right hand with my left and give my best Chewbacca impression.

My mom came running in first. One look at the stream of blood pouring from between my fingers was enough to bring out her best Janet Leigh impression. My dad followed shortly after, and we rushed to the hospital.

I’ll always be grateful for the fact they were able to save what was left of my pinky that day. But needless to say, when the first SawStops became commercially available a few years later, I was first in line. And I never let myself lose focus while working with a bandsaw ever again either!

I’m not the only one with this kind of story, of course. A quick Google search will show you hundreds, if not thousands, of similar tales. In fact, there’s a tablesaw injury every nine minutes according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Ten of them result in an amputation every day.

Those are scary figures. And all it takes is one brief lapse in attention, one slight distraction. I’d be lying if I said I never really lost focus ever again, but I was certainly warier.

Sawstop cartridge TSBC-10R2

 

How Does a SawStop Work?

I’ve never been very good at taking things apart to figure out how they work (I was probably hoodwinked by a couple of car mechanics back in the day). But bandsaws are a different story.

Not that I had to take my SawStop apart to figure it out, of course. When I bought my first one, the sales rep spent the better part of thirty minutes explaining it in minute detail for me. After his short sales pitch, my dad and I had about a thousand questions that he patiently answered for us, bless him.

I’m not going to give you a half-hour speech, so here’s the long and the short of it.

The blade itself monitors and detects what it’s cutting. Not with the same precision as what a steady hand would use it to cut with of course – by which I mean it isn’t going to tell you the type of wood you’re cutting. Maybe in the future, who knows?

But the blade does carry a small electrical signal that is immediately switched when the blade comes into contact with your skin. The human body is wonderfully conducive (I know from experience – I made the mistake of trying to hotwire my dad’s car once). When the electrical signal changes, the safety system is triggered.

In less than five milliseconds, the aluminum brake springs into action and the saw stops. Carried by its angular momentum, the blade drives itself under the table to avoid any more contact – just in case. The motor immediately cuts out too.

Voila – you walk away with all your fingers intact. At worst, you might have a shallow cut with very little blood, if any.

All that’s left to do is to reset your bladesaw. Simply check to see if the blade itself has any damage, which isn’t very likely with the newer StopSaw brake cartridges. If it is, you’ll need to replace the blade, unfortunately – but that’s a lot better than losing a finger.

Speaking of the brake cartridges, you’ll definitely need to replace it. Once you’ve done a few, it takes less than 90 seconds tops (maybe five minutes total if you need to replace the blade as well).

Hey, presto! Instead of sounding like a Wookie from Star Wars (and probably swearing like a sailor) and rushing to the nearest clinic, you’re back to work in a couple of minutes.

 

The Best SawStop Brake Cartridges

I know what you’re thinking – “If I’m going to have to replace it every time, why not just get a cheap, generic brake cartridge?”

Trust me, you don’t want to do that. I’m not bashing cheaper models, but when push comes to shove, wouldn’t you prefer to have the best SawStop brake cartridges? After all, this is your safety we’re talking about.

Luckily, they don’t cost all that much. Replacing them is super affordable – perhaps surprisingly so!

To save you the mission of hunting for the best, I’ve decided to review the two best SawStop brake cartridges available.

SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 10-Inch Blades

SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 10-Inch Blades

 

SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 10-Inch Blades

The SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 10-Inch Blades is so awesome you can even use them with carbide blades, which aren’t fully conducive. I’ve even used these with Freud blades, which have a bright red paint finish.

I mention this because using these cartridges, you won’t have to remove the paint. It’s been a long, long time since I last triggered my SawStop brake cartridges, but I make a habit of testing them every time I change a blade. This is really easy to do – I’ll tell you how after doing the reviews.

For now, let it suffice to say that these 10-inch blade saw brake cartridges are truly the best!

One other thing that does bear mentioning, however: these cartridges don’t fit the older SawStop models. A while back, SawStop changed the connection pins. Luckily, they also changed the plastic cover’s color.

New models use these types of cartridges, which have a blue plastic cover and connectors with nine pins. The older models had a clear case and fifteen pins.

 

Technical Details

 

Pros and Cons

If I’m ever given the opportunity to use any other 10-inch blade saw brake cartridge, you can bet I won’t. Here’s why:

 

 

Of course, there’s a downside to everything – even the best of products. Here’s a few common issues with the SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 10-Inch Blades:

 

 

As you can see, there isn’t much fault to be found with the design itself. Both cons aren’t product specific – in fact, they seem to be the industry standard!

Whenever I get the chance, I always strongly recommend SawStop bandsaws and the SawStop TSBC-10R2 Table Saw Brake Cartridge for 10-Inch Blades. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon.


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