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Lots of people argue about who first invented the table saw. Personally, I like to believe the account that it’s the brainchild of a mid-nineteenth century Quaker woman. But I feel a lot more certain about where the table saw’s been than where it’s going. Though we’ve seen some incremental modifications — especially some great safety improvements like the riving knife and SawStop’s flesh-detection capability — I really have no idea what we’ll see as the “next big thing” in table saws.

What do you think? What feature would you really like to see on your next table saw? Or maybe a better question to ask would be: What all-new feature would pry your wallet out of that buttoned pocket and open it up?

Let us (and all the manufacturers who’re certainly reading this) know in comments.

(Thanks, Cliff Beckwith, for the great CC-licensed photo!)

 

25 Responses to What’s The Next Step For Table Saws?

  1. Rick says:

    Lasers! Everything’s better with lasers! Eliminate the blade and go straight to burning the wood with a 1mm kerf laser.

  2. Cameron says:

    Sawstop system should be incorporated into bigger (contractor grade and up) saws.

  3. DeadGuy says:

    I like LASERs. That would be awesome. I think that incremental improvements are next – built in stock feeders, Incra style precision fences, digital readouts for everything, built in sliding tables, etc.

    LASERs would be the ultimate cool. Plus, the interrupt technology would be just as good as that on the SawStop – maybe even better. If you want to see a serious cool tool with LASERs, check out the laser bug zapper videos on Youtube – should be ready to market soon.

    I think the next big thing we’ll be using is 3-D printers for a lot of our construction. Once the materials catch up to the printing and scanning capability, you could build a fully functioning “anything” with a 3-D printer. There are already shops that build car parts and can even build moving models of nearly anything to use as a guide when rebuilding an antique.

    I saw one demonstrated that prints out an entire place setting of dishes in about an hour. When you are done eating, you throw the used stuff back in the machine to be cleaned, sterilized, melted and reused. It can’t take much from there to print out a good solid 2×4 in PVC or high density.

  4. David says:

    Why not a large powerful table-mounted oscillating saw like a giant Fein Multimaster. Better control. Better accuracy. Smoother cut. Better safety. What’s not to like?

  5. Pete says:

    No table saw needed, give me an affordable 4’x8′ CNC router. With the advancements in home brew CNC, it should be pretty easy to make,…

  6. fred says:

    Advances in technology are only one set of factors that are affecting how our table saws are designed and used. Other factors we need to consider are:
    1) A changing workforce has resulted from fewer if any opportunities for woodshop training in High School
    2) An increasingly litigious society striving to affix blame for accidents on those who have the ability to pay perhaps more than on those who are at fault
    3) A do it yourself – and hobbyist population who may be too impatient to take the necessary time to become adequately trained in table saw safety
    4) Ill informed (or worse) contractors who do not invest the resources necessary to adequately train their employee and continually oversee their safety
    5) The thought that technology is a substitute for training, experience and skill.
    6) A customer base for table saws who may not adequately be able to or wish to balance cost versus safety and quality
    7) A customer base for contracted work that may encourage cutting corners and hiring an ill-trained workforce

    In the shop we have increasingly moved to operations that ameliorate some of the risk of table saw operation. If we had a larger production shop – we might have moved up to fully automated CNC operations. As it is we use motorized feeders on our straight line rip saw and sliding tables wherever we can. We train and oversee new workers in proper techniques, what constitutes adequate margins of safety, and use of proper PPE. Our goal and record is that everyone should return home at the end of their day uninjured.

    I have been watching, with more than passing interest, some of the litigation that has recently taken place about jobsite saws – particular those that have cited some as being inadequately designed because that lack the Sawstop technology. There seem to be lots of claims and counterclaims – on which I have no expertise to comment. What I did note is that a recent jury award cited at $1.5 million was paid out to an injured worker who reportedly ignored several basic tenets of table saw safety. I have yet to purchase a Sawstop machine but think that we may all need to consider this option in the future. Even though I believe that the current crop of jobsite saws with their riving knives and more convenient blade guards – do improve safety, it only does so for those who are adequately trained and take responsibility for their own safety.

  7. bigboom says:

    How about an automatic blade changing system. something quick that would make it faster and effortless to change from a dado to a kerf. Kind of like an automatic cd changer in a car.

  8. DaveM says:

    The question of what are they needed for now rather than what features I think plays more of a role of their future relevance. With more and more track saws like the Festool system coming out the smaller contractor side is finding them cheaper and easier to move around. Now as for the mid to large scale side of things CNC is here and only getting more entrench in the production. Materials and methods of construction also play a roll in all of this things like SIPS for residential construction make more and more sense both in a consistent product and the bottom line. We’ll just have to wait and see how the economy along with everything else unfolds.

    And yes lasers are cool;)

  9. John Seiffer, Business Advisor says:

    When I cut my thumb on a table saw (not a severe injury – I have a small spot that’s been numb since then but no loss of tissue or mobility) I went to a doctor who specializes in hands. He told me his belief that the table saw caused so many more injuries than other tools because with most tools you move the blade or the cutter and it’s easier to avoid it than when the blade is stationary and you move the work.

    Perhaps the future of the table saw is not a table saw but a different system. Eurekazone makes one. The Festool saw+guide+table set up is similar. Eurekazone calls it the “dead wood” concept where you keep the wood in place and move the saw.

    Check out the videos on their home page http://www.Eurekazone.com

    Disclaimer: I’ve never used the Festool. I have parts of the Eurekazone system but not the full setup, and I still use my table saw, but maybe if I had the full power bridge set up I wouldn’t.

    FYI my table saw is the Ryobi 3100 pictured above. A GREAT saw with lots of features and very innovative for the price. Now discontinued. Can’t figure out why it didn’t keep selling.

  10. Brad K says:

    Shaker not Quaker.

  11. dreamcatcher says:

    Rick,
    Lasers, yes but maybe not for cutting….
    check out http://www.lumberlinelaser.com

    Cameron,
    Sawstop already makes a contractor saw and a two sizes of cabinet saws.
    you can see them at http://www.sawstop.com

    Bigboom,
    Auto blade changers…that’s an old technology as exemplified in such specimen as this AMC “Oliver” dual arbor table saw circa 1903!
    http://www.owwm.com/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=10448

    DeadGuy,
    Check out the fence on that AMC “Oiver” saw…not exactly Incra but for 1903 they sure got the same idea going.

    I think the future of table saws will include similar technology as Sawstop but unique solutions from each manufacturer. SS is nice but it still has many kinks and drawbacks. It’s just the precursor to better solutions.

    I also think that digital automation will make it’s way into more table saws (see the systems offered at http://www.tigerstop.com). Why set the blade height/angle and the fence manually when you can just type in the settings you want and rip away. Sort of hybrid CNC, maybe you could even connect your computer (laptop, iPad, iPod, smartphone, or flash drive) to your saw to do so.

    I am curious if anyone will ever figure out how to get steeper angles and/or angles in both directions. I have an older right tilt and always wished for a left tilt, but once in a while I am glad I have right tilt. If I had both it wouldn’t be an issue. As for steeper angles, it would eliminate the need to cut steep angles on edge, which can be dangerous.

    How about including a scoring blade in more table saws to eliminate tear out? see the table saws at http://www.lagunatools.com

    I would also like to see an advance in dust collection. Thus far it just seems like an after thought with big holes in the angle slot….but not on the NEW Unisaw! (wish,dream,wish,dream) I would consider that a peek into the future of table saws… dual up front controls, riving knife.

    I hope this doesn’t show up as a repost, I tried posting it twice before but it never showed up for me…..am I being sensored on Toolmonger?!?

    DC

  12. rg says:

    I read John Seiffer’s comment with interest. I’ve also been thinking about the Eurekazone Smart system. It really looks like it would fill the needs of someone like me, and in many ways do a better and safer job.

    I also own an inexpensive table saw, which is pretty good for some things, but leaves a lot to be desired. For one thing, it takes up a lot of room, even when I’m not using it. The Smart system can be easily stored.

    One thing the Smart system looks like it would be much better at, is for my upcoming project of building new kitchen cabinets. I think it would be much easier to cut up 4×8 sheets and it handles the chipping problems with MDF better (from what I hear).

    Table saws have pretty much reached their limit, I think. Sure, you could add all sorts of accessories and gadgets, but I don’t know how much of an improvement it’s going to make. A well thought-out track saw system, on the other hand is a complete re-think which seems to offer a lot of advantages for a comparatively reasonable price.

  13. bigboom says:

    Dreamcatcher, Thanks for the link and the info. The way they did it on that saw looks fairly simple too. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you can learn on Toolmonger.

  14. Phil says:

    I’d like to see SawStop-like protection built in as a matter of course, but in a way that does not destroy the blade and require replacement of the stopping device each time it’s triggered. Enhanced dust collection would be nice, as most saws seem to have it as an afterthought, simply pulling air from the cabinet via the dust collection system. The cabinet will eventually fill with mounds of sawdust that needs to be taken care of.

  15. dreamcatcher says:

    Amen Phil,

    I am sort of a SawStop dissenter. I fancy myself as an expert table saw user and I could easily go the rest of my life without an incident. I personally don’t feel the need for a blade-to-skin safety device. But there are many amateur saw users out there who prove such a device useful and necessary. So I am for and against. That said, if the device were already on my saw and didn’t get in my way then I wouldn’t mind at all.

    !!!!!>My biggest fear of the SawStop would be a false triggering of the system. I imagine the suddenness of the scenario…..I’d probably crap my pants right there.

    DC

  16. Shalin says:

    Well, according to this blog post, the table saw may go through an evolutionary growth step:

    “Eurekazone’s new Powerbench aims to replace the table saw”
    http://www.core77.com/blog/object_culture/eurekazones_new_powerbench_aims_to_replace_the_table_saw_16697.asp

    product webpage (w/video, I think…): http://eurekazone.com/content/ez-one

    Looks clever and handy, but I’m not sure how it would stack up against some of the table saws out there…

    Thoughts?

    –S

  17. PutnamEco says:

    I would like to see power feeders incorporated in the saw it self along with auto adjusting feather boards. I like dreamcatchers ideas on digital automation, Just punch in the numbers, load wood, collect piece.
    While we’re dreaming, along with that multi bladed saw, with digital selection, how about an auto sharpening button. Press a button, instantly re-sharpened blade.

    What I really want now, is an Altendorf F 1

  18. fred says:

    @PutnumEco

    While we’re at the auto sharpening – why not programable variable tooth geometry to deal with different materials – and all of this retrofittable to my older Unisaw, Oliver and Shop Fox machines

  19. Cliff Beckwith says:

    You’re welcome for the photo – great site, btw! What do *I* want out of a tablesaw? One that says “hey, measure that one more time” before it cuts (grin).

  20. Jeremy Schulz says:

    I think sliders are really coming into style lately also. Smaller shops with one employee using more and more plywood. That and the tracksaws. Would love to see them come down in price.

  21. dreamcatcher says:

    Thinking about the SawStop device and what it does; it electrically triggers a spring loaded aluminum brake which collides with the blade and used the resulting momentum to drop the blade under the table, while simultaneously shutting off the power.

    What if it just shut off the power and dropped the blade under the table? It would eliminate the need to replace a $70 brake and $100 blade. Somebody get on that, please.

    DC

  22. fred says:

    @ Jeremy Shulz

    We shopped around for our slider. Already had a vertical panel saw – but as you say more and more sheet goods were in use. Wer’e not high enough volume to justify a fully NC setup. I wanted to buy an Altendorf but got what I considered a good price on a Shop Fox. that was lightly used.

  23. Average Joe says:

    How about a tablesaw that converts to a toaster? Jeez Louise folks, after a while we’ll have so much technocrap packed into a saw, the average person won’t be able to work on it. Just like motorvehicles. No thanks. I’ll continue to wear by glasses, use a push stick and keep my wits about me as I work. Price-less.

  24. ycf dino says:

    Hi guys.
    The track saws can do a lot but the answer is a complete system with no limitations. Here is an answer to very long rip cuts.
    the idea is to keep the wood under pressure at all times.
    First video shows that kickbacks are a bad history and the second video shows that no matter what you do, the cut is safe.
    We have to start thinking like machinists and stop shoving wood into spinning blades. The videos are just a prototype and I think it goes with the thread,
    thanks
    dino
    eurekazone

    http://tracksawforum.com/showthread.php?t=632

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JBr_q9KT7E

  25. Bruce says:

    As a long time time EZ Track Saw System user I can attest to the safeness, easiness, and versatility of the EZ System. I started with two 50″ tracks and the Smart Clamps in 2003 after meeting Dino at a Woodworking show and marveling at what he was able to do with nothing more than a track and two clamps. The deadwood theory is much safer than trying to push a 4×8 sheet through a table saw. I carry my tracks in the truck at all times and know I’m going to get accurate cuts without having to offset my measurements. I have since upgraded to the Ripsizer and Cabinetmaker, both of which are highly portable and accurate, making my jobs go much faster, EZer, and safer in less space. For a small investment you can get a feel for the system and decide for yourself if you want to upgrade with more extrusions or modules. Unlike other companies where you need a mortgage just to get started, the EZ System will work with any circular saw you already own without the expensive, proprietary saws that the other systems push. Go to http://www.Eurekazone.com to get more information and see some videos of an outstanding product!

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