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The MiniMax S315 Elite S is basically the same saw that was sold as the S315WS for years, in both 8.5 and 10.5 foot sliders. It supports up to a 12 inch blade with 1 inch arbor. To simplify inventory, the S315 Elite S is now only being stocked in the United States in the 10.5 foot version, for about $10,500. It has 50" rip capacity to the right of blade, choice of 4.8 hp single phase or 9 hp 3 phase motor, scoring blade with separate motor and easy adjustment, and dual cast iron trunions. This monster weighs in at 1675 pounds. It is basically the saw unit from the CU410 Elite S.
The S350WS was the 10.5 foot version of the S315WS; since the 315 is now normally 10.5 feet, that model number has disappeared from new equipment.
The SC4 Elite saw has been rebuilt, and will now be the "entry level 8.5 foot saw" for the production shop. It supports up to a 12 inch blade on a 5/8 inch arbor, and also supports a dado blade, with a single phase 4.8 hp motor and a belt driven scoring blade. It is similar to the saw portion of the CU410 elite (non-S), It weighs 950 pounds, and costs about $9100.
The SC4 Elite saw is also available with a 5.5 foot slider, weighing about 950 pounds, for about $8,300
The SC3W saw looks very much like the saw from the Lab 300 combo, with a 5.5 foot table, 5/8 inch arbor, 12 inch blade, 4.8 hp motor, weighing 650 pounds, for about $6,000
The SC2 Classic is the "new" entry level sliding table saw. It looks and sounds the same as the SC3W, above, including 5.5 foot table and a scoring blade belt driven from the main blade. It weighs 595 pounds, and is being sold by one dealer for $5,772
I hear there is also an S400 Elite S with a 16 inch main blade, but that it is not likely to become part of the American product line.
I just (3/16/13) got an ad from SCM, offering their si 400 nova sliding tablesaw at a special price of $9,995. Nova is the line above MiniMax, at the entry of SCMI equipment. This is a 16 inch saw with scoring, a 10 foot slider, 51 inch rip capacity, and a 9 hp (probably 3 phase) motor. If I were looking at an S315 Elite S or similar I would certainly look favorably at this machine.
Initially I thought this would be an ideal machine, since the shaper could use the same sliding table as the saw. However, setting up the shaper hood is time consuming - the only change-over I find inconvenient in the combination machine world where I routinely work. The shaper spindle is also a long way from the slider, so I rarely actually used the slider with that shaper. Your experience may vary - but I have largely moved to a separate shaper.
The ST3 Smart Saw/Shaper is very similar to the 5.5 foot CU300 Smart, with two 4.8 hp motors, 12 inch blade, etc. The tilting feature is an option on the shaper. The basic unit costs about $10,695
The ST4 Elite Saw/Shaper is very similar to the 8.5 foot saw and tilting shaper on the CU410 Elite combination machine, with two 4.8 hp motors, belt driven scoring unit, mechanical digital read out of tilt and shaper height, etc. The unit weighs 1,800 pounds, and costs about $15,900.
The ST5 Elite S Saw/Shaper looks much like a single phase CU410 Elite S combo on the web site, but there are no specs. I received a note from someone who had been considering this unit (thank you), and as of mid-2011 it was only available on special order, with a retail price of $19,495.
A web page with pictures showing the basic use of the slider is available. It shows ripping rough cut hardwood, setting up a (free) parallel fence, cutting sheet goods, and tapering table legs.
In Europe, "non-through" cuts are considered a safety hazard - dado blades are not used. Many of the saws configured for the North American market have been modified to support a dado blade. My slider supports the dado blade, and I have a dado blade. I have tried it, but in practice I never use it. Although there are people of good character and skill that would disagree with me, if I were building a custom machine, I would exclude the dado capability.
Why? The dado moves the slider almost an inch farther from the blade, which I find inconvenient. Most or all of the machines with dado option have a 5/8 inch arbor, rather than a full 1 inch arbor, to take the common dado sets. But most of my use of a dado is in plywood cabinets. The plywood panels where I often cut dadoes are often not very flat so the depth of the dado varies with the flaws in the panel (I saw a picture of a bicycle wheel that one shop lowered from the ceiling to push the panel flat over the dado blade).
What is the alternative? I make my dados with a router that follows the contour of the "not flat" sheet, so the depth of the dado is correct. Then during assembly I can pull the panel flat while clamping.
A forum member lost the 5/8 inch arbor nut for his MiniMax. After some research he found it was a Left Hand metric M16-2mm. If you haven't played with metric nuts, the first size is the diameter of the opening - 16 mm (about .63 inches), and with larger sizes the second number is the actual pitch of the threads, in this case 2 mm. He got his from McMaster-Carr - it was a perfect match.
Occasionally the slider will slip. What? About 5 years ago a sheet of plywood placed on my saw would rest on the scoring blade - bad - the slider was too close to the blades. Another person couldn't change the main blade because his slider was in front of the arbor. The slider mechanism is like a full extension drawer slide. When you install the drawer, you sometimes have to push hard to make the drawer go all the way in - moving the drawer to the proper place on the sliding mechanism. Like the drawer slide, the solution (recommended by MiniMax) was to stand on the outfeed side of the slider/outrigger, and lean against it, pushing firmly but gently (with my butt). It moves just like the drawer that is being installed. When it is in the proper position it will stop (it won't fall off on the floor), and will be clear of both blades. This is not a common problem - I only had to "fix" it once.
I need your help. I am a happy MiniMax user, but not a MiniMax employee, and have not used all the different equipment. I do not have special access to official information. If you have additions or corrections to this information on MiniMax products, please share it. Please email your MiniMax info to me.
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