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I have a SawStop table saw which I set off yesterday. The blade is not warped but am worried that a tooth could be loose. Is there a test to see if there is a loose tooth?

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  • FYI: There are a number of companies that will sharpen blades and will weld/braze/solder (not sure exactly which method is used) new carbide teeth to a blade if they're chipped/broken. However, don't do this with this blade! It's trash/decoration now.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 18 at 14:27
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    And congrats on getting the full value out of your saw! Of course, it might not have been a body part setting it off, but still...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 18 at 14:27
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    This doesn't answer the specific asked question, so making it a comment and not an answer... I would highly recommend following SawStop's recommendation on what to do if the stop trigger fired off. Their guidance and instructions will be much more valid than anything random people on the internet provide. I'm sure their instructions are quite explicit on what needs to be done in order to maintain safe operation and safety stop functionality if it triggers in the future another time.
    – Milwrdfan
    Commented Jan 18 at 15:18
  • SawStop's recommendations are almost entirely motivated by legal liability concerns. I'd consider them with a skeptical mindset.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 18 at 15:39
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    Upon further reflection, if you've got a high end blade (such as Forrest, which could run $200 or more), it may well be worth sending the blade off to a sharpening/repair place to have them take a look. I've seen places (sorry, no links handy) that will sharpen a blade for ~$20-30 and replace teeth for about the same per tooth. If there's only one tooth chipped/missing, it could well be worth it. They'll also tell you if the blade is damaged beyond repair, since it's their reputation on the line should they fix it and it later has an issue.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 18 at 16:33

4 Answers 4

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Triggering the safety in a sawstop rams an expendable aluminum brake into the blade, destroying it.

Your blade is toast. I'm surprised you even got it out of the brake.

Get a new blade, and be more careful on future cuts.

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    Even if this weren’t true, if you even suspect a tooth is loose, you toss the blade. At the speed it spins, you don’t take a chance of a tooth flying off!
    – DoxyLover
    Commented Jan 18 at 1:24
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    Test: Did this saw blade experience a high-speed impact with an aluminum block? If the answer is YES, it's Junque. Hang it on the wall block and all as a reminder. The cost of the new blade and the new brake unit should be weighed against what the ER visit for the missing body part would have cost you. Or the ER visit and the additional appointments, surgeries, and rehabilitation care.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 18 at 1:29
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    This doesn't answer the question. It's also a bit Chicken Little. I cut aluminum all the time with my woodworking tools (albeit not to a dead stop), had many kickbacks and other violent events, and I've never seen a tooth come loose on a miter saw or table saw blade. It's worth looking at a blade before adding it to the landfill.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 18 at 14:49
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I'm not in the it-was-scary-throw-it-out camp. By that logic most of our tools would be tossed on a yearly basis.

A tooth torn loose by the event will probably be fairly obvious. Grasp each tooth with a needle-nose plier (behind the cutting edge so you don't dull it) and test its mount. Look closely at the weld. If it's somehow loose but not completely free it should be fairly apparent.

Then, don protective gear (including a face shield) and test the blade in the saw with a block of hardwood. If no teeth are lost your risk is really no greater than it would be if a tooth had been poorly welded at the factory or had come loose for other reasons.

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    Inspecting the quality of the cut (especially in softer wood) would shed some light at the condition of the blade. Comparing to sawn pieces from before the Stop would also be illuminating
    – Eli Iser
    Commented Jan 18 at 15:32
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In answer to the question asked:

Is there a test to see if there is a loose tooth?

Yes, grab each tooth, in turn, with a pair of needle nose pliers and give it a good wiggle. If it wiggles and/or comes off, it's loose.

Possibly (gently) clamp the blade in a vice to hold it steady so you know it's the tooth wiggling, not the whole blade because your hand can't hold it solidly enough.

While you're at it, inspect each tooth for chips or other damage, consider using a magnifying glass. A damaged tooth is at risk of becoming more damaged, ejecting bits of carbide during use, or, at a minimum, giving you a bad cut. If you've invested in a SawStop, you're interested in a good quality cut.

On the other hand, if you've invested in a SawStop, you know that certain shop items are expendable consumables and a blade into the brake is, most likely an expendable.

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There's no need to trash the blade. The big blade manufacturers such as Ridge Carbide and Forrest have sharpening/repair services for any brand of blade - check their websites for details and pricing. You can let them know what happened and ask them to inspect the blade and repair as needed. The question then is whether it's worth spending the money for that, as well as shipping both ways. If it's an expensive blade it probably is, but if it's a cheap blade it probably isn't.

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