A second portable table saw with a riving knife!
Ever since portable table saws first appeared on jobsites, carpenters have been throwing away the guards, and for good reason: They’re difficult to remove and re-install; after they’ve been used for a few months, you can’t see through the plastic shroud, so it’s impossible to align the blade with a measurement mark; you have to remove the guard to make narrow rips or rabbets; and carpenters have always suspected that the splitters cause more kickback than they prevent. Those are a lot of reasons to set aside a saw guard.
Fortunately, tool manufacturers—prodded by governmental regulations—are upgrading the guards on portable table saws. Bosch was the first manufacturer to release a new guard system. On my website almost two years ago, I reviewed Bosch’s new Smart Guard System for their portable table saw. At the time, I learned that several tool manufacturers had been working on the same system together, so that every new portable table saw could be equipped with an easy-to-use guard system where the splitter converts to a riving knife. Up until then, the only way to install a riving knife on a portable table saw was by modifying the splitter, and that meant the shroud couldn’t be used again. But Bosch’s new Smart Guard System eliminates the need for modifying the splitter, allows carpenters to use the plastic cover or shroud, and converts easily into a riving knife simply by lowering the splitter down beneath the top teeth on the blade.
If you don’t know what a riving knife is, or how important it can be to your safety, pay attention! A riving knife acts just like the splitter on a table saw—it prevents the kerf from closing on the back of the saw teeth, which usually results in kickback. A saw kerf can close for a variety of reasons, either from pressure built up in the wood grain—especially in hardwood— or from a warp or twist in the board, which creates pressure between the rip fence and the teeth at the back of the blade. Kickback is one of the most dangerous things that can happen while using a table saw. Many carpenters have lost fingers—or worse—because of accidents due to kickback.
Like a splitter, a riving knife mounts behind the blade, but instead of projecting up over the blade, a riving knife is about 1/8 in. shorter than the top teeth of the blade. More importantly, a riving knife attaches to the blade carriage, so it travels up and down with the blade, staying at the same elevation, no matter how high or low you crank the blade. Some splitters don’t do that, which makes them impossible to modify. But the best thing about a riving knife is that it doesn’t have to be removed—ever, unless you switch to a smaller blade or dado set. Riving knives can save a lot of fingers. (For more on riving knives, read this article from Fine Homebuilding).
Bosch’s Smart Guard System revolutionized table-saw safety—mostly because it was the first easy-to-use guard that carpenters weren’t inclined to throw away! Bosch made the plastic shroud easy to see through, easy to remove, and easy to store right on the saw. They also made a splitter that converts into a riving knife quickly and easily: It takes only a few seconds to loosen the splitter and lower it into the riving knife position. If you’re not familiar with the Bosch Smart Guard System, the tool review article referenced earlier discusses the system in greater detail.
The guard system on the DeWalt saw is very similar to Bosch’s guard system, but there are many other benefits to this saw. First of all, the DeWalt 745 weighs less than 45 lb., while the Bosch 4100 comes in at 60 lb.! The Bosch saw does run much quieter and more smoothly, but the weight difference is so dramatic that many carpenters will be tempted by the DeWalt saw, especially considering that the DeWalt saw costs as little as $400, while the cheapest I’ve seen the Bosch is $550.
Because the DeWalt saw is so much smaller, I was able to get a smaller Rousseau Saw Stand, which saves on the overall weight and space. The only real compromise I’ve had to make with this saw is the noise: This new saw is a screamer.
I tried the saw with the factory blade from DeWalt, and also with a Forrest blade, and found little difference in the noise—although the saw cut beautifully and ran more smoothly with the Forrest blade.
Another problem I have with the DeWalt 745 is the blade elevation mechanism—it takes over 40 revolutions of the crank to raise the blade fully!
At first, I thought the smaller gear teeth would be prone to sawdust buildup, but after using the saw for more than a year, I’ve found that the mechanism still works smoothly, if slowly.
Fortunately, the engineers who designed the Bosch and DeWalt guard systems paid a lot of attention to the way we use table saws. Both guards are split down the middle, so the operator can see the blade looking from both the front of the guard and through the top of the guard. Because you can see through the top of the guard, you don’t have to lift or remove the guard to check that the blade is hitting a measurement mark.
|DeWalt has definitely improved on Bosch’s clumsy and difficult-to-operate guard latch.|
The 745 guard slides easily onto the back of the splitter/riving knife—simply lift the front of the guard and slide the rear ring and pin over the hook in the splitter.
|To lock the guard in place…|
|…press the large thumb latch down.|
|To remove the guard, lift the latch up.|
Nothing could be simpler. The latch on the DeWalt guard operates smoothly and easily—a significant improvement on the Bosch latch, which is difficult to grasp, and it sticks.
DeWalt’s easy-to-use hardware for storing the plastic guard under the saw is similar to the Bosch, so storing the guard and keeping it with the saw is no longer an excuse for not using the guard.
Trust me, this is one table-saw guard you won’t throw away in frustration.
To adjust the guard and splitter/riving knife, you have to remove the throat guard. But DeWalt made that easy, too. The throat guard is secured with a tool-free lock, and a finger hole makes it easy to remove the insert.
Converting the guard from a splitter to a riving knife means lowering the splitter until it’s just below the top of the saw blade teeth.
|Bosch uses a very small lever to release the splitter/riving knife.|
On my Bosch 4100 saw, even in the locked position, the splitter/riving knife isn’t perfectly snug. I’ve tried tightening the lock nut to increase the pressure, but the bolt is so small, I worry that I might shear it off.
By comparison, the DeWalt splitter is secured with a T-knob that tightens and seats easily. You don’t have to remove the knob to lower the splitter.
|Just loosen the knob about three turns, and push the knob in, so the splitter can slip off the retaining pins. Then lower the splitter into the riving knife indexed position.|
DeWalt tried to think of everything with this saw.
|They even ship it with a plastic push stick.|
I guess, in a pinch, that’s better than nothing…
|…but my advice is to make yourself a proper push stick, one that doesn’t push towards the blade but over the top of the blade.|
That’s another great way to save fingers while working with a table saw!
• • •
Please don’t try anything you see in THISisCarpentry, or anywhere else for that matter, unless you’re completely certain that you can do it safely.
Great review! You gotta try the NEW Bosch GTS 1031 table saw. It’s a better comparision to the dewalt dw745 because it’s also a mini version of it’s bigger brother the 4100 you mentioned. Bosch improved the design significantly for portability, dust collection and on board storage over the dewalt. Both great saws though. So nice not needing a large heavy saw in the field.
I have the new Bosch saw and it’s been in the field for over a month with a finish carpentry crew from Millwork by Design. They’ve also been working with the DeWalt 745 (a comparison review). We should be getting a review on that saw soon! I have run all the tests in my shop already. I did find that it’s a bit louder than the DeWalt. The motors in these smaller portable saws are NOT the same as the ‘router-quality’ motors in the larger portable saws, like the Bosch 4100.
Gary are you having problems with the table insert bending. I used the saw only a few times and it is bent. Total flaw in the design. I’m thinking of returning it for the DE Walt.
This is not a high-end saw and isn’t designed or manufactured for longevity–a lot of the parts are plastic and thin metal. But that’s all driven by price point. If American customers demanded top-quality tools and were willing to pay for them, then I’m sure manufacturers would build them better, but that’s not the case. Most power tools are sold at big box stores where customers are much more concerned about bottom line than longevity and quality. Sorry for the bad news. You got what you paid for. It’s a good little saw. But it’s not a beast.
Gary, Are you kidding me without the insert the saw is useless. I paid $400.00 for a saw that the insert bends on the first week of light use. I don’t buy my tools at big box stores. Who’s side are you on who’s lining your pockets. Tell me can you use the tool without the insert? If so please explain. Faulty design !
Call Dewalt for a new one, you’re under warranty. I wound up getting 2 before I fixed the misalignment issue myself (see below) . It’s a white metal cast piece so I don’t see how it could bend as that material is too brittle.
You consider 400$ for a saw as expensive? Come to Europe, nothing is sold here unter 1200$ that makes a straight cut. Surprisingly Bosch and DeWalt equals cost twice as much as in the states with the same quality longevity.
Thanks for the great review. I know and have used the 744, which set the standard for compact table saws. I agree; the new guard is both slick and safe. Regarding table saw advice in general; listen to the guy whose ten digits are still intact.
you must have a newer version…my 745 has none of these features….
Rick, I bet you have a first generation model of this tool?
We also have such an animal that we purchased about 5 years ago & you’re right – it’s lacking the updated guard & riving knife. It does have the plastic push stick, but it stores on the side of the saw rather than on the fence.
We added another one of these saws to our stable last year & it does have the improvements Gary mentions in the article.
I’m surprised. I didn’t think the 745 came any other way. I thought the saw wasn’t released until the new guard system had been developed. Are you sure you have the 745 and not the 744?
I’ve got a 744 also….which now stays at home most of the time….the 745, even without all the improvements, does it all fo rme….still able to count to ten, as well….
The DW745 is a great little saw. I love the smooth rack and pinion fence system and com paired to what I once used the DW is a gutsy saw. The right tilt is a real bonus also. As far as the blade guard: That never made it out of the box, Not because it wasn’t well thought out but after a life time of using table saws I’ve found them to be a colossal PITA.
Now that the government thinks we should be feathering the nest of the saw stop folks and driving the cost of our equipment off the map why don’t we instead reinstate some basic skills classes to teach the proper use of power equipment and generate a new class of young tradesmen (and Women) who know how to safely operate and respect power equipment.
My guess is that it is not the government driving these requirements, but rather the insurance industry lobbying the government. For them, its all about maximizing the reward and minimizing the risk. A great deal of your premium dollars are spent on Capitol Hill. If they can get the government to institute these requirements for their policy holders, then all the better. They can then play good cop/bad cop all day long and make you feel better about paying them increased premiums for something that the “government” is responsible for. It’s a vicious circle and we contractors are generally on the losing end of the play.
Having said that, I believe the evolution of tool safety features are just plain smart. If a saw has a guard that is effective and doesn’t adversely effect your production and wallet, then it is a good investment over one that doesn’t. But I believe the implementation of such should be market (choice) driven, not government (or rather insurance) mandated. This puts all the other tool manufacturers that don’t have or can’t cost effectively implement this new technology at an unfair disadvantage.
If what I heard about the Ryobi case is correct, one reason they lost was the testimony given by the major saw manufacturers that the cost of the blade stopping system was in the neighborhood of $70. Bosch even has a system developed but has chosen not to introduce it.
It won’t take an act of Congress to get the industry to adopt a saw stop system, just a financial imperative to avoid future losses in the courts.
I am waiting on upgrading my DW744 until the new safer saws are released. It looks to me like the writing is on the wall and the major saw manufacturers will all be introducing such saws in the very near future.
I like my fingers as they are, thanks.
where did you get the Rousseau Saw Stand and how much do they cost.
Any idea if the older saws can be retrofitted with the newer safety devices?
Until Greg mentioned that he had one of the older versions, I didn’t even know they existed. Maybe you should contact DeWalt and ask them? But I suspect you won’t be able to. The mounting bracket for the guard/riving knife probably can’t be retrofitted.
Saw manufacturers have a long history of providing “guards” that were miserable to work with. Almost universally discarded upon opening the box. Nice to see some improvement. The idea that being a knowledgeable “professional” will keep you safe doesn’t always work. The bashing of SawStop is unfounded. they tried to sell the manufacturers on the idea long before they were forced into having their own saw made. I’ve had their 10″ table saw for about 6 years now. It has saved 2 employees fingers. It is also a much better saw than the UniSaw it replaced.
Had this saw for a while now and does all I ask of it. Only issue I had was black section of table insert did not align with top, causing stock to hang up at edge of table. Snap off the black piece, add a few layers of aluminum duct tap, as many as needed, and reinstall piece. Also the Bosch dust bag will fit it but I modified a 2″ pvc elbow to fit and blow down into a spackle bucket. Just remember to turn it when bevel cutting.
BTW this saw has an early Type 1 and later Type 2, check ID plate
A NEW Bosch GTS1031 table saw is much,much better than DeWalt DW 745. The Bosch is all metal,there is no cheap plastic like on DeWalt saw.And the weight of Bosch saw just 52 lb.
Vadim. Are you having problems with the 1031 insert…? Piece of junk..Tablesaw looks like it’s years old and it’s only 7/8 months old with minimum use.
This is definitely an awesome saw! i love the rack and pinion and the riving knife!
Here is my review of the both the Dewalt and the Bosch tablesaws. Both great saws for what they are…An affordable, portable solution.
I picked up this saw and Rousseau table this summer after reading Tom Gensmer’s article here: http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/2010/01/22/customizing-a-table-saw-stand/
I agree with all the positive reviews and will add that, yes, the saw has been around for several years but underwent a recent redesign. After reading all of the reviews on Amazon, I was quite surprised to find that DeWalt had even improved a lot of the internal issues that some negative reviews had spoken of, such as upgrading the lift gears from plastic to metal and the rack and pinion shaft from stamped metal to a solid rod.
The Rousseau 2745 table makes the saw 2x what it is on it’s own by increasing rip capacity, adding stability, and an accurate and rock solid fence. DeWalt’s rack and pinion fence design also works great; I find myself using it quite a bit when I am just needing to make a couple cuts and don’t want to pull the Rousseau out.
I also made a cutout in the extension top of the Rousseau for a router plate. The standard Rousseau fence doubles as a great router fence, too. Just clamp on a subfence when needed.
One issue that does bug me about this setup is that I can’t drop the saw into the table with the guard attached to its storage bracket. I suppose this is a good way to remind me to put the guard on each time before I use the saw…
Thanks for this article, Gary. It feels good knowing that my setup of choice is approved by the Katz.
Thank you for a great review!
Like I said before,the NEW Bosch GTS1031 table saw is much better than DeWalt DW 745.
Nice to see you make a note of the push stick you use that pushes your hand OVER the blade instead of down towards it. I see so many people on sites using ridiculous push sticks that may be more dangerous than than not using one at all. We have all see guys use the butt end of their steel hamme or any old odd shaped scrap they find on the floor or my personal favorite the eraser end of a number 2 pencil ( its no slip right?). I’m not the company safety officer by any means but a table saw is pretty serious.
On a lighter note, once it is realized that everyone is ok, I love to eavesdrop on the conversation that ensues after a kickback incident when the trimmer has to ask the GC to have the taper come back out to “touch up” a couple areas on the wall behind the table saw.
I also have the older 745 and the rousseau table. I bought it to replace the Bosch 4100 that was just to heavy to be lugging in and out of the van and carrying to the work site. It’s a great little saw and I was also wondering if they had a retrofit guard assy. That being said I only use the guard when ripping 2x lumber. I made zero clearance inserts that I use most of the time in conjunction with my homemade push stick and a rubber trowel/float that I.use to push the material tight to the fence and table.
I have the new Bosch 1031 and think it is pretty lousy. It is very loud, and rough cutting. The blade vibrates and wobbles leaving a lot of saw marks in the cut edge.
My buddy has the 745 and he brought it over to my shop for a side by side comparison. The 745 is smoother running, and produced a much better looking cut. It was still loud, but not quite as loud as my Bosch. The Bosch screams, and it is almost scary to stand in front of it when its running.
This is probably my last Bosch purchase, as I have been really disappointed in where their quality has dropped to. The only thing I like about the saw is that it is very portable, and stands on its edge for transportation.
I agree with Gary, it is too bad that these company’s are building tools for price points to sell to the general public, rather than the professional. I would gladly pay $100-200 more for a small table saw of this size, with a better motor and arbor system, and a better quality fence.
SAWSTOP, PLEASE MAKE A PORTABLE SAW!!! NUF SAID…
BTW, thanks a lot for this article. Super relevant. I’ve been thinking about getting one or both of these saws. This “unbiased” review and all the comments on both saws is amazing. Saved me a few hundred bucks. Thanks guys!
Just bought DeWalt 745.WOW this is amazing table saw,especially fence rails and how really low weight the saw is.
A day before (when I bought DW745) I purchase a 20v Drill and Impact Drive.
This thing just superb!Very well built and a lot of power!
Sold almost all my Bosch stuff,and switch to DeWalt side.(but always use my DeWalt Miter Saw for finish carpentry 9 years,still works.)
Now,never look back.Thank you DeWalt for a great Power Tools!
Just passing the time and found your site and this article….I just wanted to add that the old Ryobi saw stand, can’t remember the model, it was pretty cheap works with the 745…anyway when it died, I put the DeWalt 745 straight on it without drilling new holes, it just fits perfect and that stand is in my opinion the best one out there…is is at least 8 or 10 years old…great saw with real easy to use stand
Is there any place on the saw to store the fence when transporting?
Hi I was wondering if anyone knows how to remove the riving knife from the dewalt dw745, I am trying to do some tongue and groove cuts but the knife is in the way. I Jane took the bolt out but can’t seem to figure out how it releases . Great if anyone can help. Pete from England
Removing the riving knife on dw745 – no need to remove the bolt just slacken off, then push bolt in with finger then lift knife upwards.
Anyone know the width of the riving knife? Anyone tried to change it out with a thinner one for thin kerf blades? Does DeWalt manufacture one? Decided on this saw over the Bosch because the knife in that saw is not removable at all, but still wondering about this aspect of the DeWalt. Thanks.
We just purchased the DeWalt table saw and in putting it together, noticed the anti kickback mechanism is missing. Is this necessary to operate the saw?
If it were me, I wouldn’t hesitate to use the saw– I never use the anti-kickback pawls anyway. But that’s me. I’ve been using tables saws for a long time. I think the riving knife is a more important safety feature and no table saw should be used without a riving knife. BUT I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU THAT YOU SHOULD USE THE SAW WITHOUT THE ANTI-KICK DEVICE IN PLACE. I don’t know how experienced you are. It sounds to me as if you are very new to table saws, so I’d suggest not using the saw without all the safety features in place.
I thought I had the same problem with the missing antikickback device. The instructions said it was on the onboard holding part of the saw. I looked found the onboard holding section on the side and didn’t find the antikickback there.. I called and they sent it to me. I’m having a very tough time setting it in the slot it’s supposed to fit in though. Went to see a video and saw that there was a side slot where the kickback was hiding. Watch this video
Was very difficult to get out of the slot and I still can’t get the device to slip into the slot. I’m ready to take a file to the slot, but am calling to see if I’m doing something wrong.
I’m sure that the device is in that slot and that you missed seeing it like I did and I bet many others.
Followup: it’s not easy to see or press, but I found that pressing the chrome pin on the anti kickback device will shift the pin to a narrow neck that allows you to slip the antikickback device into the slot of the riving knife.