SawStop Inventor Walks the Walk - Fine Homebuilding

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Caution: Hard Hat Area

Caution: Hard Hat Area


SawStop Inventor Walks the Walk

comments (39) June 16th, 2009 in Blogs
RYagid Rob Yagid , senior editor


Produced by: Time Warp on Discovery Channel


We’ve all heard about the technology behind the SawStop table saw. A lot of us have even seen the famed hot dog video somewhere on the internet.

I’m happy a tool like this exists. I’m especially happy that we have a SawStop back in the shop here at the office. But I have to be honest; I always questioned whether the SawStop would really work if my finger slipped into the blade.

Well, after watching the above clip on YouTube of an episode of the Discovery Channel's Time Warp series, my skepticism has been quelled. SawStop inventor Steve Gass demonstrates how the saw's blade-stopping technology works, using his own finger to set off the blade lock.

Do any of you have the SawStop? Has anyone tripped the stopping mechanism? This video is wild.


posted in: Blogs, circular saw, tablesaws, SawStop

Comments (39)

sawzall316 sawzall316 writes: The bottom line to all the sawstop nay sayers, and read these words over in you mind a few times,
The sawstop tech exists---for quite some time now. Either Table saw manufactures get on board or face more goofy lawsuites like the Ryobi case. The one and only thing juries will consider no matter how incompotent and challenged the operater is the technology exits to prevent injury---PERIOD.
There will be no jury on the face of this planet that will move off that known fact---the technology exits to prevent injury. And it is in the manufacture's best interest to start providing it.

Posted: 10:24 am on August 9th

dls1044 dls1044 writes: A great use for that saw would be in High School Shop. When I was in wood shop in 1960,at Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia, I cut the tip of my middle finger off on my right hand from the mid nail, straight across. It did grow back after two or three years, but that machine wold have been wonderful in that position. Any one who would be able to afford or arrange that saw would be lucky and blessed to have it. Safety is the most important endeavour that we could strive for. dls1044
Posted: 3:01 am on July 11th

ElaineP ElaineP writes: What about your employees and family?

I can understand a home hobbyist, or one man shop wanting the freedom to gamble between spending a few grand extra up front on an awesome saw, or the possibility of spending over 10 times that in medical bills and lost wages in the future. Personally, I'm not a gambler, but, hey, it's your body you're betting.

However, what if you're not the only person using the saw? If you were holding the pursestrings for your company, and had the safety of your employees to consider, would you change your bet? If you're a hobbyist, what if your spouse or children also used the saw? If your sons or daughters were training/looking for work, would you want their school/employer to take that bet on their bodies?

Health and safety legislation seeks to protect the people who don't get to choose which machines they work on.
Certainly, I'd rather work for someone who, having the freedom to choose, chose safety first, however, my second choice would be working for someone who didn't have the freedom to be myopically greedy.
Posted: 11:50 am on January 12th

michael2160 michael2160 writes: unTreatedwood wrote:
" If it competed on a price basis with other saws without the technology pricewise, or close, I would put it on my short list if and when I needed/wanted to buy another one"

I was at my local woodcraft today and a new series Delta 52" 3Hp was $3,300 and a comparably equipped Sawstop was $3,600. Easy decision if in your price range.

I am not opposed to reasonable regulations regarding safety. Sawstop is currently not required equipment, but if were 45 years ago my gradfather would not have lost three fingers.

If helmets were required in the 1960s (as they are now in California) I may not have lost three high school friends to motorcycle accidents, and I since they were required when I raced motorcycles in the early 70's I walked away with only concussions on two occassions.

When I built houses, I would kick anyone off my job if they removed safety equipment (saw guards).

I can only say to those who challenge reasonable safety regualations: please keep your health insurance up to date. While I do support universal health care, I do not support your right to show up in an emergency room after sawing your hand off, or running your head into a tree, without insurance.
Posted: 8:59 pm on December 14th

jhonbaker jhonbaker writes: The lead paint argument is faulty because in that case the people were not choosing lead paint for themselves but choosing to use it for others - i.e. an apartment building, a contractor saving money - the list could go on. There were people going out and buying it themselves but again this does not compare as most people that are going to buy a table saw are already more equipped with the required knowledge to make a choice and where people buying paint rarely have done any research. The lead paint legislation was not about individual choice but about what one does to another in the name of profit.
My .02 cents is that if I do my job correctly I don't need this especially when a small amount of trace metal will set off this machine and then cost at least 160 bones to get operating again.
Posted: 1:58 pm on December 14th

ChimeWind ChimeWind writes: jmquinn32 said: "I don't accept the notion that people need to be saved from themselves. Let consumers become educated to the saw-stopping benefits and the market will decide."

History has shown that this does not hold up. It wasn't until the government banned lead house paint was it removed from the market even though there had been decades of proof showing how damaging it is to the developing brain before the ban. I firmly believe it would still be sold today in house paint (and sometime still illegally is) if it weren't for the ban. Even when someone knows the "facts" you still have price and marketing that can easily overcome many people's reluctance to purchase an "unsafe" product. Ignorance is bliss.

Posted: 4:23 pm on July 18th

jmquinn32 jmquinn32 writes: Rob,

I don't believe that anyone would have a problem with a market saturated with this or any new technology. Give me a new toy, a better mousetrap and I am eager to give it a try. No one seems to be saying that the technology is one that they may not ultimately choose, they would just like the option to choose. I don't believe that anyone is arguing against having safer table saws on the market or in their shops, they are suggesting that they will decide how to employ their shops' safety measures. If every new saw was manufactured with a saw-stopping mechanism because there was a consumer-driven demand for it, that would be capitalism and absolutely fine. The CD and DVD did not replace the cassette tapes because the government decided it to be so, consumers gravitated to that format enjoying the benefits. Plasma and LCD TV's were multiple times more expensive than standard tubes yet the adoption rate was high once consumers completed their own "testing" many years before the DTV transition.

To create legislation would be to assume that people do not have the ability to choose what is best for themselves. I don't accept the notion that people need to be saved from themselves. Let consumers become educated to the saw-stopping benefits and the market will decide.
Posted: 5:33 pm on July 6th

rbowe6 rbowe6 writes: As an educator I believe the machine fits a specific purpose. I'd have one at work and at home. In fact I think they are a better overall machine than the commercial Taiwanese "thing" I work with.

Well I have never had a car with airbags. I do fit very good tires, Bilstein suspension, very very big discs and 4spot calipers and other performance items but yet have not touched the mundane normally aspirated four cylinder engine. So there are a lot of things that will prevent a table saw accident too and optimizing setups, accessories and knowledge are paramount. How many extras can you think of that should also be legislated? Anyway I'd have a SawStop if I had to upgrade or had the room for one at home. I also work with engine lathes a lot and would love to see the technology on the ones I teach with.
Posted: 2:51 am on July 5th

rbowe6 rbowe6 writes: As an educator I believe the machine fits a specific purpose. I'd have one at work and at home. In fact I think they are a better overall machine than the commercial Taiwanese "thing" I work with.

Well I have never had a car with airbags. I do fit very good tires, Bilstein suspension, very very big discs and 4spot calipers and other performance items but yet have not touched the mundane normally aspirated four cylinder engine. So there are a lot of things that will prevent a table saw accident too and optimizing setups, accessories and knowledge are paramount. How many extras can you think of that should also be legislated? Anyway I'd have a SawStop if I had to upgrade or had the room for one at home. I also work with engine lathes a lot and would love to see the technology on the ones I teach with.
Posted: 2:51 am on July 5th

unTreatedwood unTreatedwood writes: This is an interesting discussion. However, I do not accept the premise of a couple of assertions here.

First, everyone points to the airbag as the comparative product. I actually have more experience with this device than anyone should have. Two years ago, under extremely icy conditions, while trying to get to a tennis match at West Point, I was driving in NE Pa during winter on their famously BAD roads. I ended up going down a hill in a 4-wheel drive, picking up speed. The front of my car hit and broke off a telephone pole on the opposite side of the street. Now here's the interesting part: even though I hit doing around 40 mph +/-, the air bag never deployed. I never found out why. (Mercifully, I was not hurt!)

But the moral of this story is: I don't know the numbers that caused us to require consumers to have air bags. I am not of the opinion that we should automatically accept the fact that they do what they are supposed to because someone says they do. As I said before, I don't know how prevalent the problems were that airbags were supposed to solve. Before I agree to your premise, I would want to find the answers to those issues/questions.

Then there is the notion that I already have a table saw that works great for me. I've had it for almost 20 years, and I keep my blades sharp. I don't work when I'm tired and while I had one incident with kickback, I never have come close to running my hand into the blade.

Those who "think" that this technology is on a par with airbags for comparison purposes forget: 1) that we don't replace table saws as quickly as we do cars, 2) the cost of the bags were not as restrictive as the sawstop technology, (yeah i know, "what's the cost of the accident?", some will ask) and are far more as a multiple per unit than airbags; 3)everything we do has some level of risk. That is why we get paid what we do. There IS risk, period. We live in a world where we think we can eliminate risk. Carpenters work with risk with almost every tool we use. If this is as effective as it advertises, then it will become the tour de force, competing with the best. If it competed on a price basis with other saws without the technology pricewise, or close, I would put it on my short list if and when I needed/wanted to buy another one. But just because you or anyone else thinks I can't be safe unless I have what you consider the state of art table saw, I'm going to tell you, that unless you are paying for it, I retain the right to make my own decisions, right or wrong!! That is what freedom is. It really IS doing what you want when you want in your shop. There is NO situation where I would condone you or anyone else having more right to tell me what I should be using in my shop. I have monetary risk, production risk, financial risk, as well as physical risk. As a businessman/carpenter, I get paid to deliver an excellent product while balancing all those risks. You can't possibly be able to tell me what's best.

Most the magazines I get monthly and quarterly publish articles that discuss best practices, or favorite practices. I read and decide to adopt a procedure, or ...not. I want the freedom to do the same with this technology. After all, who's to say that if you can tell me I have to have this thing, you won't tell me I have to have the next "thing" as well. No thanks. We call that a slippery slope, and I don't work on steep roofs any more!! Thanks, though.


Posted: 2:54 pm on July 2nd

JFink JFink writes: I have to agree with Rob on this one, I'm kind of shocked at the number of people in this thread that are against technology that can reduce injury on a table saw.

The inventor wasn't a desk jockey that dreamed up a way to make a quick buck, he developed the technology to help make the most dangerous jobsite tool a little safer. And the argument that the saw is aimed at students in shop classes and woodworking schools? Frankly, I think that's laughable, and we all know it. Those students are more than likely operating the table saw in a MUCH safer way than most people on a jobsite, where push-sticks, riving knives, and blade guards are about as common as board stretchers.

The airbag example is perfect. I'm willing to be that the inventor of the airbag didn't come up with the concept as the result of his family dying in a horrible car crash. Somebody look at statistics and said, "hey, let's see if we can figure out how to make these things safer" - the sawstop was invented for the same reason. Airbags are not an option for your car - you buy any vehicle and it will have one for you and for your front-seat passenger. Where's the outrage about that? You're paying for that technology, but it's been marginalized because it's industry-wide. If the sawstop technology was adapted into all table saws, the prices would all shift accordingly, injury rates would go down, and everybody wins.
Posted: 11:31 am on July 1st

RYagid RYagid writes: Untreatedwood (and all who posted thus far), I appreciate all of your insights and think that there is tremendous value in this dialogue. It sure is a philosophical debate, and I think that’s okay. I’m with a lot of you when it comes to some of our government’s activities (legislation that impacts our industry). What I find most interesting, however, is that no one really has a problem with the SawStop technology, but only with the possibility of having a market saturated with saws that have the technology. This confuses me. I can’t figure out a way to argue against having safer table saws on the market and in your shops. I don’t think it’s a threat our freedom. Freedom, to me, is not defined by our ability to do whatever we want, with whatever we want, whenever we want to do it. That would lead to chaos. We need legislation, we need safety measures to be mandated and we need manufacturers to be pressured to make safer, better performing products. Air bags in cars help save lives. Can you buy a car without air bags these days? Would you prefer to drive yourself or your children in a car without air bags, just because it makes you feel more “free”? Saw Stop technology can prevent serious, life debilitating injury. I think it’s a useful technology (something that’s so rare these days). The cost is certainly an issue. If legislation does require manufacturers to integrate this type of technology into their saws, then DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, etc. are going to have to figure out a way to produce and sell the saw in a way that the market would tolerate. It’s a progression in the performance and safety of a tool, and that shouldn’t be stopped. I’d hate to see anyone (seasoned carpenter, trade school student, grandchild etc.) sustain a traumatic injury that could have been prevented.
Posted: 10:37 am on July 1st

notahemi notahemi writes: Everyone that has actually put his or her finger into table saw blade, raise the hand.
I have. I hope that give me extra insight into this. It should at least give me a real perspective. I’m 52. It happened over ten years ago. I was tired and in a hurry.
I can tell you that it will never happen again. How hard is it to simply keep your hands away from the blade. Stay away from the blade is the best "fix". The bad part is that I knew better. I work with tools for a living. If it flies, floats, has wheels or high voltage, I’ve fixed it.
“Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgment”

I can see the advantage of this device. Especially in a production environment. That being said, I wouldn’t want it on my saw. Repeat, not on MY saw. As people may have pointed out this is going to add to the cost and the manufactures, either for liability or by government mandated will pass that on to me.
I noted that he inventor didn’t put his finger into it hard, like would happen in the real world. He just touched the blade very gently with the tip. And he wet and chilled the finger first. Tricky. However I’m sure that the device would minimize damage to the finger though. Better than nothing for sure if a person wanted one on their saw.
Who knows, it might give such a sense of security that it would cause a few blades to be trashed.

Posted: 9:12 am on July 1st

unTreatedwood unTreatedwood writes: Rob,
We are all living in a world where virtually everything we do is now or will be dictated to us by some agency or czar somewhere in Washington D.C.. This is really a philosophical discussion about freedom. You tend toward those who are willing to give up freedom for safety or security. Could it be because it might help you and your peers to sell more magazines? Probably not, but you have some reason that allows you to give up another piece of your freedom. The notion that some person, in an office somewhere, who probably has NEVER even run a table saw is going to tell us that we now need to have Saw stop is diametrically opposed to freedom of choice. IF, and that is a BIG if, this product DOES provide more safety, and it is THAT effective and solves a problem widespread in our industry, then it really represents progress. (I could take time here to discuss the normal acceptance curve of a new product as it relates to television, cell phone, etc., but I dont have time.)

I am fighting for the right to pick that saw on my own, period. Our industry is going to experience a huge hit with this Cap and Tax legislation passed by the house last week, telling us what we can and do with respect to energy, whereby we are all going to adopt CA energy codes, subject to EPA penalties. I don't want any more rules and regs.

I strongly reject the concept that progress includes something that needs legislation to make it work to be accepted. IF this fills a true need, it will be around for a long time. But if it doesn't, why should I be forced to buy one? No one has answered that question satisfactorily, yet, including the guy who attempted to apply statistics and probability to the issue.
Posted: 5:15 pm on June 30th

RYagid RYagid writes: Thank you, Jmquinn32, for conducting yourself so well. Back on track― I agree with most everyone here when it comes to opposing mandates of certain technology. When it comes to safety features, however, I feel a bit differently. I think the SawStop is a perfect example of a progression in safety measures. Can we stop progress? Should we stop it? I don’t think so in this regard. I realize that the initial economic impact of this type of tool would be severe. However, wouldn’t the market eventually smooth itself out? (Economically speaking)
Also, I hate to see this saw labeled as a DIY tool, or one that’s only fit for a school shop. An accident can happen to anyone of us, at any time― even the most experienced of craftsmen. Kevin Ireton, the former editor of this very magazine, can’t count to ten on his fingers due to a table saw accident. I just don’t see how this technology is a bad thing, and I hope that it finds its way into all saws.

Posted: 2:31 pm on June 30th

jmquinn32 jmquinn32 writes: I feel an apology is in order. My attempt at humor was not meant to be at your expense, Roy_Harding. I was not questioning your professionalism at all. I was trying to agree with your position. You had mentioned that it is rare that one would cut extremely wet wood and I agree. My apologies. I am a fan of new technologies. I am not a fan of someone deciding one for me.

This is a great forum for sharing ideas. I did not mean to add tension, or worse insult, to the positions previously submitted.
Posted: 2:07 pm on June 30th

Roy_Harding Roy_Harding writes: The Sawstop sells well because it is an extremely well engineered saw.

The Sawstop technology does NOT and does not CLAIM to prevent kickback - the fact that it has a riving knife does that.

To whoever it was who questioned my choice of hobby and/or profession due to my EXAMPLE of cutting wet wood - read the whole post - I was making the point that the Sawstop reacts to moisture, and I went on to state "how often do you do that anyway?" Don't inflate your position on the Sawstop by attempting to question my professionalism (or lack thereof) - you have no idea who I am, what I do, nor how long I've been injury free; and, such self serving bon mots do NOT bolster your argument, they belittle them.

The Sawstop is an excellent saw. If I were in the market for a new saw, it would be on the extremely short list. But NOT because of its safety feature - it would gain a place on that list because of its extremely fine engineering. The safety technology works well - but I do not want even MORE legislation dictating what I must buy.

This discussion has turned from a woodworking perspective to a philosophical one - when I want philosophy discussion I'll head off to philosophy.com - I'm done here.
Posted: 8:58 pm on June 29th

djfidhdnc djfidhdnc writes: Will this debate ever end?
I actually think it's over. For the free market, get-out-of-my-face rugged individualists that oppose some Washington desk jockey (who doesn't know Lie-Nielsen from Leslie Nielsen) mandating their sawmaker or personal safety, it's time to note that the free market decided Sawstop is outselling all other table/cabinet saws COMBINED by almost 10 to 1 in some markets. I believe all manufacturers were offered this technology and turned it down. I do love those big yellow saws, but they might only be able to be bought on the used market fairly soon. From a practical side, this issue is probably a done deal.

Quality is great-setting depth of cut is like spinning a bank vault safe-which is nice since you need one to buy one, right?

Not really. I sense those not able to "afford" one are also sometimes those fortunately lucky enough to never have been injured, silly, sleepy or just momentarily careless enough in any aspect of their life to have to have to deal with the lifetime consequences of a mistake. Or they are those unfortunately hooked on their $6/day smoking habit($2000/year plus medical bills...) but say they can't afford their meds or newest workshop gadget We all do dumb or unfortunate things. When the consequences are so very drastic though, even the rarity of the episode justifies the precaution to not have to suffer a preventable consequence, and that's where society does have a right to step in and regulate, I think. I'm a doc,I'm a woodworker. Thankfully I can afford one. Over the next 40 years though, this purchase will cost me well less than $100 annually. I've seen victims of table saws (ghastly) and sawstops (great conversations). Very expensive injuries often in the tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, lost work ,work comp hassles,... not to mention the emotional results of deforming injuries that can never be repaired to their original state. The costs to society are not trivial either...NOBODY pays their own bills and those most resistant to some kind of regulation are often the first to demand some exorbitant medical care that they expect society to finance.....

Anyway, its late and I'm ranting. Sorry. Please be safe. Remember that kickback incidents cause a REFLEX extension of your arm into the sawblade-an event and response whose signal never even makes it to your brain. Ironic, huh, that this is a reflex originally designed to protect us I suppose, but which has led to lots of lost digits...

Can't wait to get my more middle of the road Sawstop professional cabinet saw that was just released......
Posted: 8:13 pm on June 29th

Hobgoblin Hobgoblin writes: This is really great technology. Anyone who wants it should buy it. Those of us, me included, who don't want it shouln't be forced to buy it.

There are enough laws on the books to protect me from myself. I don't need any more. And no, I don't always wear my seat belt. The argument for wearing seat belts and helmets wasn't so much that it would save lives as it was that it would save insurance dollars. Have your rates gone down since they passed those laws? And if you weren't involved, would you care if I went through the windshield? I don't think so, to either question.
Posted: 4:41 pm on June 29th

wbutler141 wbutler141 writes: Here is a technology that saves body parts, carreers etc.
Who wouldn't invest? Having used my father in law's 30 year old table saw (he was in the trades full time)and suffered kick back etc this is great.

There was a time when people didn't wear seat belts either
Posted: 4:27 pm on June 29th

THW THW writes: M Fournier: I have cut damp PT wood (copper rich) on my SawStop. It does not set off the brake. The saw is very well thought out. If something is almost conductive enough to set off the brake, then the saw will shut down without setting off the brake, signaling that you need to make that cut in bypass mode. If you have material that you suspect might be too wet, you can make a cut with the saw in bypass mode, and the saw will signal whether it would have set off the brake. If it wouldn't have, you can make the rest of your cuts in protected mode; if it would have, make the rest of your cuts also in by-pass mode. It's a matter of turning a key on the side of the switch as you start the saw. As several have said, you would need to be cutting wood that was dripping wet to make the saw fire the brake. That's pretty rare, and you'd surely know you were in a situation that was worth running a by-pass mode test.

Posted: 4:27 pm on June 29th

MFournier MFournier writes: What happens if you rip and damp piece of copper rich pressure teated wood?
I would bet it would trip the stop.

I understand the safety of this tool but if it locks up during a non-finger contact it is not much use.
Posted: 2:24 pm on June 29th

jmquinn32 jmquinn32 writes: Education was, is and always will be the answer not legislation. As parents, mentors and/or professionals, our job is to teach best practices so that individuals can make informed decisions. If mh1967 wishes to purchase a SawStop unit because he feels compelled to do so based on his research then he should do so, but it would be wrong to compel someone else to do so if their research does not bring them to the same conclusion.
There is as compelling an argument for such a device creating poor woodworking habits (like wearing gloves when operating a table saw) since those who use it exclusively may interact with every legacy saw as if its blade will stop if hands become engaged. To Roy Harding's point, if you are cutting extremely wet wood on your table saw, you may want to rethink your hobby or profession anyway and save yourself the SawStop investment.
I tend to side with SleazyRider's Darwinist mentality also agreeing that the shop with always remain a dangerous place for those without the respect/knowledge of its capabilities. Technologies should be chosen at an individual level not mandated by a government agency. If it is truly the best practice most all will gravitate of their own choosing. Natural market pressures should prevail.
Posted: 1:34 pm on June 29th

2Paul 2Paul writes: Careful people are careful, careful in everything they do.
Careless people are careless, careless in everything they do.

Perhaps you know yourself well enough to know whay kind of person you are. If I were a careless person, I would not operate a power tool at all.
Posted: 1:28 pm on June 29th

tsymyn tsymyn writes: Scritch, just to make a point, the SawStop is not "a little bit more." I'm not a professional woodworker or builder, my portable table saw cost $479 and is completely adequate for my needs. It's a big price jump from there to the safer SawStop. Airbags would only be a valid comparison if you could get a Corolla for $20,000 without but $40,000 with.

Laws are always a balance between freedom and safety. We gave up the freedom to decide how to ride in our own cars for the safety of seat belts. We've given up (or lost) many other freedoms in the name of safety. Table saws may be next. Someday I think it'll be red meat. We'd all be healthier if we were all vegetarians, right?
Posted: 11:48 am on June 29th

scritch scritch writes: To those who fear Big Brother telling them they must have this safety technology on their new saws:

Air bags are mandated. Would you really try to save a few hundred dollars on your next car by not having them? How about seat belts?

Child-proof tops on medicine bottles are mandated. Would you really try to save a few cents on your next prescription by not having them?

USDA inspection of meat is mandated. Would you really try to save a few cents per pound by buying uninspected meat?

Sometimes we don't know better than someone else. Sometimes we must accept mandates from someone "thousands of miles away" making us do something for our own good, even if it costs a bit more. We don't live in isolation, and sometimes personal freedom must be weighed against cost to society. I wouldn't think of taking away your current saw, but I feel it would be better for everyone if your next saw was safer.


Posted: 10:46 am on June 29th

randeaux randeaux writes: First of all VOCRN, if you listen to the video, while the steak is passing through, it is Without sawstop engaged.

And you should NEVER wear gloves while using a table saw.
Posted: 9:30 am on June 29th

Dubai Dubai writes: I find the comments standard to inventions that provide safety to the user and the public. With a background in Aviation I have lived long enough to witness many safety devices installed on aircraft that have prevented deaths. Always prior to application of the invention you would hear the same voices as heard here--just like when seat belts were first installed in cars. My next saw will have this safety device.
Posted: 9:22 am on June 29th

THW THW writes: I have a SawStop saw. The primary reason to buy one is that it's an excellent saw: solid, precise, smooth, accurate. I have not tested and do not intend to test the blade brake feature, but I know a good many woodworkers with years of experience who have cut themselves on their saws. None of them intended to, but all of them spent substantially more on medical bills than the $200 it takes to replace the blade and brake cartridge, and several of them couldn't work with their injured hand or fingers for weeks. Each of them could tell you what they might have/should have done to avoid the injury, but obviously that knowledge didn't prevent the injury.

The questions that people are raising about the saw here are readily answered on the web site for the saw and by understanding the technology. The saw measures the capacitance of the blade and releases the blade brake when that changes in a way that the circuits recognize as characteristic of the capacitance of a human body.

It will cut wet wood: it would take VERY wet wood to activate the brake, but there's a by-pass key that allows you to cut even aluminum, though obviously without the SawStop protection during that cut (it returns automatically to protected mode each time you shut off the saw). The steak-on-plywood scenario is like wet wood: the capacitance of an electrically isolated steak is not a great enough change to activate the blade. The capacitance of an electrically isolated human body, even a small body, is much greater than that of a steak, enough to activate the brake. As I understand it, even a piece of metal embedded in the wood will not activate the brake UNLESS the metal also touches the table at the same time that it touches the blade, which is unlikely since the large table insert is phenolic; it would have to be a very large piece of metal to touch both.

The web site and the manual make clear that the saw will almost always injure you to activate: dry skin is not an excellent conductor. The blade is stopped and dropped below the surface of the table in milliseconds, which in practical terms means within the rotation of five teeth of the saw (look at the pictures of the blade in the brake after activation). So the blade will break the skin, but not much more. Thus, if you're wearing gloves, it will cut through the glove to your skin, nick your finger, then stop, much more quickly than you can read this sentence.

Skeptics keep imagining scenarios in which you could do yourself serious damage, and SawStop certainly does not and could not guarantee that you won't. If you had the blade raised to its full height, reached your hand up to turn on a light just as your dog rushed up to leap on you from behind so that your hand dropped precipitously onto the blade, I imagine you would get more than a nick (though a lot less than if you had another saw). The point is that doing the things that one does hundreds and thousands of times with a table saw, with your hand moving at the speed that it is generally moving when you are feeding wood into the saw, you should be protected from anything bigger than what you might need a BandAid for.
Posted: 9:20 am on June 29th

turnertoo turnertoo writes: Occasionally I cut green wood fresh off my band saw mill, will that or cutting pressure treated wood be possible on this saw?

Have been looking for some time to possibly purchase this saw but can't find any dealers or show rooms anywhere here in the Albany NY area.
Posted: 7:57 am on June 29th

vocrn vocrn writes: Has anyone noticed that the frames depicting the blade cutting through plywood supporting what looks like a significant piece of ‘man-meat’ (yummm! steak!) continues to cut both steak and wood without any indication of stopping the blade, while the hot dog, held in the hand firmly pressed to the cast iron table of the saw stops immediately? What might this tell us? If an operator is cutting a table sized piece of plywood, making it next to impossible for the warm, wet flesh of the operator to firmly contact (i.e. make a good, low resistance connection) the saw table, the likely effect of any blade-finger or blade-hand contact is that the ‘real man-meat’ is cut going to be nicely filleted and cooked V-E-E-R-R-R-Y RARE, without even passing a match at 100 yards. I may be wrong, but that’s what it looks like in this (lawyer?!?!) written cook(ed) book. It seems like the ‘caveat emptor’ here might be to read any and all reams of ‘fine print’ very carefully indeed, and don't put too much trust in a technology that demands a lot of set-up. Just a thought.
Posted: 7:45 am on June 29th

SleazyRider SleazyRider writes: For those who don't possess a safe mindset, the woodshop will always remain a dangerous place, replete with finger-eating machines like the spindle shaper, jointer, or portable circular saw. If the table saw doesn't getcha, something else will. What's wrong with simply using the table saw in a safe manner? Stupidity has no place in the woodshop, and Darwinist in me suggests that the stupid or careless woodworker will eventually become extinct anyway, rendering this device obsolete.
Posted: 4:52 am on June 29th

maskedavengers maskedavengers writes: so i've been to the emergency room due to a table saw incident (lucky only stitches-but 1/2" would have made a difference). i understand the theory of the technology - but curious if you had gloves on if it would cut the responsiveness down - given we're talking about a situation where a split second would make a huge difference.
Posted: 3:38 am on June 29th

Roy_Harding Roy_Harding writes: I understand what you're driving at, mh1967 - and I agree with your logic, as far as it goes. Taking your logic to its' extreme, and realizing that the most dangerous activity the vast majority of civilians will undertake is walking across the street (check the actuarial tables), does it make sense to require full body armour before crossing the street? Or does it make more sense to continue educating people (look left, look right, then walk)?

What I am worried about is not the technology - it works. I am concerned that some government or institution (insurance companies) will MANDATE the use of the technology in all circumstances. A good argument can be made for mandating its' use in learning institutions - but I don't want the government poking its head any further into my private business.

As far as soaking the finger goes - I can think of two reasons:

- to lessen the pain experienced if a nick did happen; and/or

- to maximize the effectiveness of the technology (the Sawstop senses moisture levels - which means that if you are cutting extremely wet wood you must turn off the sensing mechanism - not something that happens often, whens the last time you cut extremely wet wood?).
Posted: 8:53 am on June 28th

Lary Lary writes: Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this thing works. Two little additions would have been nice in the video. The first would be a close up of the finger after the encounter with the blade. It would heighten my amazement. The second would be an explanation of why he puts his hand into a cooler full of water before he puts his finger into the saw. I may be alone in this, but I do not want to keep a bucket of ice water beside my saw so that I can dip my hand before each cut.

Posted: 6:46 am on June 27th

mh1967 mh1967 writes: With all due respect, this technology is a godsend for everyone (religious or not).

If p is the probability that a table saw cut does *not* result in a severed finger, then the probability that n (independent) rip cuts lead to zero severed fingers is p^n.

So, what is a good table saw user? p = .99999? That seems pretty high to me. Suppose 10 cuts a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. That is 10 X 5 X 50 = 2500 cuts per year. In a decade that is 25000 cuts on a table saw.

.99999 ^ 25000 = .778 (approximately). Ok, let's call this 3/4.

So, the probability of no severed fingers in 10 years of work is 3/4. Or, the probability of cutting a finger off is 1/4. Pretty high if you ask me.

Of course I am inventing these numbers. What if p = .999? Then the probability of no fingers cut off in 25000 cuts is effectively zero.

If one has the money for a sawstop, then the issue is simple: either you think that you are so good that p is very, very, very close to one; you are extremely risk-tolerant; you put little value on a severed finger; or, you rarely use your table saw.


Posted: 12:19 am on June 27th

Roy_Harding Roy_Harding writes: I agree with unTreatedwood. The existence of this technology is a godsend for schools and teaching shops - and maybe its use there should be mandated - although I'm open to discussion on that point. On the OTHER hand - like unTreatedwood, I've been woodworking for over 30 years - and beyond the occasional splinter, and cut fingers when "showing off" how sharp I can make chisels, I've never been hurt.

I'm worried that this technology will become a "requirement" - not necessarily by legislation, but by the insurance companies who underwrite my shop insurance.

I have friends in Europe who are being strangled by EU rules regarding such things as riving knives (which my saw is equipped with - at MY choice), short rip fences (which I still don't like), and various and sundry other REQUIRED safety features.

All that being said - I have used a Sawstop (in a technical college while taking a course) and beyond the safety considerations, it is a very nice saw, solid and well built.
Posted: 4:51 pm on June 26th

RYagid RYagid writes: A little background info is in order: My understanding was that Steve Gass attempted to get legislation passed that would require all table saws sold in the U.S. to be outfitted with SawStop technology. Since he holds the patent on the technology, this would essentially give him the market. That legislation hasn’t passed, but to some people it’s a threat to their freedom. Untreatedwood, I understand your frustrations to a degree.

What do others think? Should we have the freedom to cut our fingers off if we so choose? Should safety features on power tools be an option and not a mandate?

Posted: 9:17 am on June 25th

unTreatedwood unTreatedwood writes: In my mind, the point is NOT whether it works on a finger, or hand or whatever gets into the saw. There have been enough testimonies about its credibility that I had no doubt that the sawstop technology was valid and working. This is an issue of another regulator or genius toolmaker or legislator telling us what we need to do to do our business. I reject the whole ploy. the guy who invented this is an attorney by trade. He knows what he needs to do to get this placed and be assured he is pulling every stop to get this done. I resent the fact that someone can stand there thousands of miles away from where I run my table saw and have for 30+ years, and tell me what I have to do. I, for one, have had enough of people telling me what I have to do. I am very happy it's out there, especially for schools and teaching shops. But I sense those who would REQUIRE this technology, as is happening in so many other walks of like, would only be happy when their solution is the one mandated by the new power tool zsar. Yuck.
Posted: 2:56 pm on June 24th

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