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Many times when you blow a breaker, lose power, or even if the cord just becomes unplugged, you forget to turn off the tool. This can lead to the dangerous situation where the tool restarts unattended after you restore power. This may not always be a problem, but what if you left stock in contact with a blade or you left the belt sander face down on the table?

Woodcraft amusingly describes this scenario in their writeup of the SafetyGate:

Most belt-sander races aren’t sanctioned events. Accidentally pull the trigger, set the tool on your bench, and when as you plug the cord into the outlet, you’ve got yourself a track-side seat.

Sanctioned belt sander races are fun, but when an accidental trigger pull turns your workbench into the drag strip, the event ends with a damaged workpiece or trashed tool. Considering the potential of other tools, it’s easy to imagine how an unexpected start–when you’re plugging it into an outlet, or resetting a blown fuse–can be much worse than an amusing anecodote [sic].

Plug the SafetyGate into the outlet and your tool into the SafetyGate. If you leave the tool on when the power goes out, its patented sensor technology recognizes this and prevents current from flowing to the tool when power is restored. When this condition happens a yellow LED on the device turns on and you need to switch the tool off then back on again to make it work.

SafeStartSystems sells two versions of their SafetyGate product — a consumer and a professional model. The consumer model retails for $19 and the professional model retails for $24. Both have a 15A maximum rating, but the professional model meets several national standards including OSHA, NFPA and CSA standards. Plus the black and yellow coloring of the professional version looks much cooler.

SafetyGate [Corporate Site]
SafetyGate [Rockler]
SafetyGate [Woodcraft]
Amazon(B003OC37CO) [What’s This?]

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8 Responses to SafetyGate Prevents Accidental Restarts

  1. fred says:

    In our shops all the stationary equipment is protected with ARDs and relays to sense and shut down machinery on loss of a phase – just not safe for workers or the machine – any other way. I would also recommend retrofitting home shop machinery with adequately sized ARD’s (15 Amps would be too low for some machinery) and changing out to LVCs if that is an option for your tool

  2. kdp says:

    “There are seldom good technological solutions to behavioral problems.”

    -Ed Crowley

  3. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @kdp:

    That is a great quote!

  4. fred says:

    Here is another quote:

    “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. ”
    H. L. Mencken

    I’m not sure that the issue that ARD’s address is either a behavioral problem or one that is complex. The power goes out when the machinery is in operation – maybe mid cycle for some machines – it may not be obvious that it will restart when power is restored – so an ARD is a good safeguard. For loss of a phase – it is even more critical that we don’t rely on human intervention – as it takes a very short time to snoke a motor.

  5. Geoff K. says:

    So, if this gizmo isn’t built in to tools going forward, and I manage to cut off my fingers or have some other calamitous event befall me and the tool doesn’t have this component built into it, does this mean I get to sue and win because the technology exists but the manufacturer simply didn’t include it? I smell more litigation like the one against Ryobi: http://www.finewoodworking.com/item/26939/more-details-on-the-carlos-osorio-tablesaw-lawsuit

    Argh…

  6. brew says:

    Being in the trades, I found out the hard way (From OSHA) that these are required on all saws that will start automatically if the power goes off, then back on. Luckily I only got a warning for my little table saw not having one.

  7. ambush27 says:

    Smaller and cheaper than a magnetic starter? That can only be a good thing.

  8. Phil says:

    After experiencing a very short power interruption in my workshop 20-some years ago while using my table saw that not only shut down the saw momentarily but bathed my basement shop in total darkness right before the power came back and the saw restarted (Delta contractor table saw) causing some potentially disastrous wrestling with the board I was cutting I added two things: an emergency light for the shop, and a contactor/magnetic starter for the saw (I had the latter laying around). The light has an obvious benefit, since the area of the basement where the shop is has no windows, so even in daylight a power failure can be nearly completely dark. The magnetic starter has the safety benefit, and adding the big pushbutton on/off switches made controlling the saw easier than with it’s original little toggle switch.

    Another useful solution for this can be in those GFCI-equipped extension cords and power outlet centers. Many of these need to have the GFCI “reset” after plugging the thing in to apply power to the socket(s), and they will open the circuit if the power gets interrupted. This is unlike a typical GFCI receptacle or breaker where the circuit remains closed at all times, even during a power failure, and only opens when the test button is pressed or there is an actual ground fault. I have a homemade one that I use for working outdoors (it’s also a pretty long 12AWG extension cord) and while remembering to reset the GFCI plug after plugging it in can be a bit of a pain, it does have the benefit from having anything plugged in and operating get out of control if the power blinks momentarily.

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