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Over the summer we saw more movement in the constant SawStop battle, and we thought we’d share it with you. Honestly, we’re getting a little bit weary of the whole mess, but it’s still something we know many Toolmongers care about. I’ll just start by sharing the email that landed in our inbox over the summer, above. Take a look. We’ll wait.

For those who aren’t familiar with the whole SawStop mess, a quick rundown: SawStop is a sensing technology that, when incorporated into the design of table saws, stops the saw very quickly when it encounters “meat” (read: your hands, fingers, or body). It works, and it can definitely save folks from injury in many cases. But there’s more to this than merely safety. The creators of this system own a patent on it, and they want (from what we can tell) significant sums of money for licensing the patent. Also, the system is designed such that each time the saw stops (whether to save your fingers or, in the case of a false positive, stop), it uses up a “brake cartridge” which you must then replace. These cartridges cost upwards of $50 (the 10″ version is $70 right now, for example) — a significant percentage of the cost of the saw. Now the kicker: the owners of the SawStop patents are pushing lawsuits to mandate the use of the SawStop technology, essentially claiming that any saws that don’t include the SawStop feature are inherently unsafe by design.

Let me be clear that we’re not lawyers. We have no idea how this whole thing works legally. What we do know, though, is that a) many workers can’t afford to pay an extra $100-$500 per saw plus $50-$100 every time it stops based on the pay they receive for the work they do. It makes sense to us that these people would choose a more basic saw model and learn to be freakin’ careful with it. (Of course, they could start by not removing the damn guards on it, but hey — it’s their body, right?) However, we also feel like there are some applications which would really benefit from the SawStop system, regardless of the price. High school wood shops come to mind.

So with all that crap in mind, let’s take a quick look at the case referenced in the email above. The “Power Tool Institute” (read: a coalition of manufacturers who believe their saws aren’t inherently unsafe and don’t want to buy the SawStop technology) is happy to see this specific ruling because it holds individuals responsible for using their saws safely. According to the PTI summary of the case:

“…the plaintiff was an experienced carpenter who purchased a Ryobi BTS 20R1 table saw a few days before his accident from Home Depot. He never read the operator’s manual and never used the blade guard. He was cross cutting a piece of laminate flooring ‘freehand’ — meaning he was not using the miter gauge when he sustained a kickback of the work piece — and his left hand contacted the blade. He sustained a serious injury, including multiple amputations of fingers on the left hand…”

Unless they’re distorting this pretty heavily, it seems pretty clear that this guy screwed himself. It’s also clear to us that a lot of people do exactly what he did. It’s really easy to get lulled into complacency when 99% of the cuts you make work fine whether you’re using the safety features or not. Of course, all it takes is one bad roll to end up in the 1% — and end up missing fingers for life.

Our take-away from this: the SawStop is a cool feature. If you can afford it, you should have it. We also believe that SawStop should stop their BS legal wrangling, make a decent deal to allow the technology to be incorporated more reasonably into saws, and redesign the damn thing so it doesn’t cost as much as a saw every time it stops. Finally, we suggest that everyone take a step back and think about how much they like their fingers. From picking one’s nose to pointing at the neighbor who can’t nail a fence board on straight, fingers do all our favorite things. Seriously, folks, use the damn safety features that already exist.

Thoughts from the enlightened Toolmonger crowd?


74 Responses to More SawStop BS

  1. Chris Byrne says:

    Just one thought…

    It doesn’t matter how good the product is, how useful it is, how many it could help; no-one has the right to force someone else to buy their product, and attempting to use the law and the courts to do so is no different from extortion.

    Well, two thoughts…

    No-one should ever do business with an extortionist; no matter how good their product may be. I certainly won’t, and I won’t buy any products from any company that does.

    • Jerry says:

      Chris’s first paragraph reminds me of the comments I keep hearing about Obama’s health care deal. I was fortunate when I was being stupid with a table saw a number of years back and only trimmed off the end of one finger. It’s all better but still 1/2″ shorter than it was. Do I leave the guard off now? Not a chance! But, I just won’t be forced to buy something because some inventor thinks I should.

      • Brice says:

        And yet I’m forced to have seatbelts and airbags and anti-lock brakes… It goes on and on. The other day I was yelled at by some soccer mom because my kid didn’t have a helmet on while riding his bike. Of course he wasn’t actually riding it, he’s gotten a flat and was walking it home, the helmet was hanging off the handlebars.

        My personal opinion is we are getting to risk averse. Examine the situation, assess the risks, mitigate them, and proceed with the job. An engineered solution is not always required.

        • john tiedt says:

          You are complaining out seat belts, airbags and helmets, which if used, will definitely save thousands of lives each year in the world. As to sawstop, what you rather have, three amputated fingers or save $80 on a saw. Losing your fingers would cost your job and a lot of medical bills. Engineers are hailing Sawstop. The Powertool Industry is not pleased and will send people to write negative and disparaging comments against Sawstop. Helmets, sealtbelts and airbags were attached. Immunization shots and antibiotics were attacked when implemented. It seems that if thing good and safety oriented will have an opponet who will complain about cost. Remember your post may be real, however, I bet most of the posts are by “industry sock puppets” that are paid for the posting.

          • JC says:

            Seat belts, airbags, and other automotive safety devices which are legal requirements are so because of the negative impact (financially, physically, and emotionally) on other people (though one could argue that they were the direct result of insurance lobbyists). Proponents of helmet laws site these reasons as well, but they aren’t implemented in every State.

            The the benefits of SawStop seem to be rather one-sided (though, again insurance lobbyists may have something to say about it). If you injure yourself, you pay the consequences, not an “innocent” third party…generally.

          • dave says:

            Seat belts /etc can reasonably be assumed to save lives, but most tabletop saw accidents are not deadly. Vehicle accidents also occur because of recklessness of the other driver or road conditions they can’t control, while a saw operator is more in control of (his/her) own fate.

            We are going too far down the path of others deciding what is best for us, at our own expense. What is next, line all concrete sidewalks with 3″ of foam so if a little old lady falls then she won’t break a hip?

          • Black Soap says:

            When seatbelts were mandated, did a single manufacturer own the patent for seatbelts?

            Who had the patent for air bags?

            Who had the patent for bicycle helmets?

    • Black Soap says:

      Tell that to the Consumer Product Safety Council, who tried to ban all disposable cigarette lighters nation-wide (after finding that there is no design that is 100% child-proof) and is now in the process of requiring back-up video cameras on all new cars in the USA.

      Using the law to force adoption of your patented technology is an especially dick move, though.

  2. Jeff says:

    That’s what I love about America. A guy sees a need, and invents a wonderful and desirable product. And that’s what I dislike about America, his company tries to use non-market strategies to dominate rivals.

    I feel bad for the carpenter who presumably lost his ability to work after suffering multiple amputations. In hindsight, that SawStop technology would have been cheap, compared to losing your trade.

    That said, I’m still using my Ryobi table saw while dreaming of owning a SawStop.

  3. Scott Turner says:

    and they want (from what we can tell) significant sums of money for licensing the patent

    Unless you have some evidence for this claim, you should remove it. At the very least, you need to clarify what “significant” sums of money means.

    many workers can’t afford to pay … $50-$100 every time it stops

    This is a ludicrous. There’s not a woodworker in the world who wouldn’t gladly pay $1000 — much less $100 — to have an amputated thumb back.

    The saw manufacturers have been fighting any liability for making safe tools for a long time. It’s no coincidence that they only start offering splitters, blade guards and other common-sense safety features after SawStop was commercialized. They don’t object to paying for SawStop. They’re trying desperately to avoid any legal liability for the use of their products.

    • Jerry says:

      Having a bad day? How much money is a significant sum? How could they really clarify that? Significant sums of money may mean ten bucks to a homeless guy and few thousand may not seem significant to Bill Gates. The point being that anyone who tries to legislate that I must buy specific technology is stepping on my toes and I won’t buy their product – ever!

    • Len says:

      ” It’s no coincidence that they only start offering splitters, blade guards and other common-sense safety features after SawStop was commercialized. ”

      That’s inaccurate. Guards and splitters have been on saws for years before SawStop was in existance. Common sense has been around longer than that.

      I’m fine with SawStop. We just got one in the at our shop. During their demo/sales talk, they kept making the point, “we” need to test the material we cutting. Making sure it wasn’t conductive. There is a way to do this and if it is conductive, we can bypass the brake to cut the material.
      They also mentioned that the brake mechanism has a life expentancy but they couldn’t give us a figure.

      One thing I’ve noticed with the new SawStop is no one uses it. Everyone uses the old Unisaw. Possibly because no one want’s to be the first one to set off the brake.

    • Manure. I’ve got a contractor’s saw with a splitter and a blade guard, and it was bought so long ago that it cost a cool $100 new. Yes, back in the 1990’s this technology was available. It’s nothing new and hasn’t been in years.

      The SawStop stuff is a great invention. My son’s high school shop class saws all have it. But to try and define any saw that doesn’t as inherently unsafe is nothing more than a marketing gimmick that wants to have the force of law behind it.

    • Rick says:

      The issue isn’t paying for the cartridge when the saw stops to prevent injury but when it has a false-positive stop. If you use the saw on a regular basis daily and have false positives it will eat into profits of commercial jobs or up the costs of personal projects big time. It’s good tech but the cartridge design could be easily overcome via proper design and right now is just a way to force users of the saw to spend more $. In the case of a false-positive it isn’t saving a thumb so that’s not what was being said there. It would be different if you didn’t get said false-positives.

      Beyond the above if you want to force incorporation of a feature into a product it dang well better be cost effective, why shouldn’t it be when you are proposing it’s rollout on such a massive scale? Why shouldn’t they have to prove that when used properly the current safety features are ineffective (they aren’t ineffective people are just stupid)?

      I don’t know what say you bought but blade guards pre-date SawStop by over a decade. It was only prototyped in 2000 and on the market in 2005. blade guards were commonplace after 1995 and available even before that.

    • trae watkins says:

      Yea but as a non-pro that uses his saw about once a month this ludicrous.

      now if it did not ruin the brake (and probably the blade) in the process every time there is a false positive it would be something that I would want.

    • dave says:

      Actually what’s ridiculous is the idea that we should consider whether they’d get the thumb back.

      Anyone injured for any reason would pay $100 but that doesn’t mean we should dummy proof every single possible thing in life. Where would it end? Darwinism will always be in effect, you can never get rid of all the ways a person who isn’t being careful can manage to harm themselves.

      By all means let the tech be available, but only to those who want it.

  4. Carl says:

    “It doesn’t matter how good the product is, how useful it is, how many it could help; no-one has the right to force someone else to buy their product, and attempting to use the law and the courts to do so is no different from extortion.”

    I agree with this. This is not a public safety issue. Improper use of a table saw is not going to harm the neighborhood or community, it’s only going to hurt the person using it.

    I think the SawStop technology is fantastic and when I buy a saw someday I will buy one that has similar technology, but I don’t support forcing it on everyone.

    Some industries have an idea of basic technology patents – patents that are so fundamental that everyone unavoidably uses the patented process. In that case there are legal mandates for how much the owner can charge. I wonder if SawStop is trying to exceed that amount? If they are pushing for blanket industry requirements, then they obviously shouldn’t be allowed to. Also, this safety technology is not fundamental to the workings of a saw, so again they shouldn’t be allowed to.

    Okay, so no other point to this comment other than table saw safety features are in no way important to the public good, so there should be no legal requirement to use this. Nobody is responsible for safe use other than the user himself.

  5. Andrew says:

    Just as an FYI the Government has proven again and again that they have the right to mandate safety standards on just about anything bought, sold, or manufactured in the USA. Seatbelts, airbags, lead paint, asbestos, GFCI, safety glass, etc. These were all banned/regulated/enacted because it was deemed in the public interest for the government to step in and force industry to use certain standards. (I don’t necessarily agree with this policy in this case or in general but this is a fact)

    The reason table saw safety is in the public interest is because of the way healthcare works in the USA. Hospitals cannot deny care to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. So if you or anyone else chop your fingers/hand/leg/head off everyone else is going to pay for it. If you have insurance all of our preiums go up, (plus workers comp, or disability, or unemployment) if you don’t have health care guess what? our preiums still go up. This is because the hospital/doctor charges everyone else more to recover that money somewhere. The same way if I get beat off money on one roof job I have to upcharge the next couple in order to recover my losses.

    So honestly if it would have kept me from having to pay for this person’s surgery, disability, unemployment, I would much rather he had to pay $70 bucks right now to replace the blade stop, rather than whatever my portion of the bills are for the rest of his life.

    Just a thought and the reasoning behind the idea of regulation in the first place.

    And although it is a blatant money grab and extortion that the saw stop guys are using their exclusive rights to this tech and its licensing to charge whatever they want for it, its also the American Way. Its what pharmaceutical companies do, computer tech companies, (remember the blackberry patent infringment lawsuits?), hell even the music/film industry.

    In America we have made the value judgement that if you come up with an idea, item, process, or original writing, you have exclusive rights to it for a time. This is to stimulate and reward creativity and advances, which are often costly and difficult.

    So I’m not mad at the Saw Stop guys for finding a way to capitalize on human stupidity, and I do think its pretty incredible that the enormous tool companies with all their r&d didn’t come up with this themselves and are fighting such an obvious safety feature same goes for riving knives which were impossible to find on american saws for decades. (just like it was the auto industry that lobbied/fought against seatbelts/airbags).

    This type of legislation isn’t necessarily designed to save an idiot from himself, its to save society from the idiots.


  6. Champs says:

    My digits are easily worth $100 apiece.

    Per Wikipedia, SawStop wanted 3% of Ryobi’s wholesale, climbing to 8% if widely adopted by the industry. Looking at it from the other direction, that’s an 8.7% increase.

  7. Alex French says:

    I’m very happy to see some comments from both sides of this issue. There are a lot of things to like and dislike, but I’ve been very disappointed by the knee jerk anti-legislation coverage of SawStop on most tool blogs, including this article.

    • Chuck Cage says:

      I’m surprised to read this comment, Alex. If anything, this article expresses our frustration with the finangling of all parties regarding the SawStop technology; I can firmly state that we’re not anti-SawStop, nor anti-tool manufacturer. We’re *pro-user*. We’re also *pro-sanity*. Definitions, for clarity:

      Pro-User: We support the idea of applying technology that will protect people from injury, even due to their own stupidity (disabling/not using safety features, not learning to correctly use their tools, ignoring safety for speed). We’re sorta pissed off at both manufacturers AND the SawStop patent holders for dicking around and keeping this from seeing widespread application. Pointing at and blaming each other is BS, hence the post title. 🙂

      Pro-Sanity: We think that everyone should realize that it’s pretty damn easy to cut your fingers off with a saw. Try being careful — it goes a long way.

      Finally, we disagree that everyone would pay $100 more for saws. Sure, everyone would gladly pay $100 each to save their fingers AFTER the accident. But not before, which is reality. Seriously, if everyone would gladly pay $100 more to save their fingers, wouldn’t they also take an extra five seconds to use a push stick when cutting? Hint: Many don’t. (I would. Do.)

      • Alan Braggins says:

        You only pay the “plus $50-$100 every time it stops” AFTER an accident though (assuming there aren’t false alarms).
        If you can work out how to stop a saw blade in a small fraction of a second without using up expensive parts, you should sell the idea to someone who wants to compete with SawStop.
        The up front cost of something many people will assume they will never use is more of a problem – and if you have an existing saw you’ve been using happily for years, it’s not just the extra cost of the SawStop, it’s a whole saw you don’t think you need. Like a friend of mine who now has no thumb….

        • Shopmonger says:

          It’s not $50-$100 that just get the saw stop part back working,in many cases it ruins the blade, my blade costs $100……..and i Agree it is great to have something like this available, but it should not be legally forced…..

          • Bruce says:

            And this is discounting the fairly rampant mis-fires of the cartridge. Don’t get me wrong, we own a SawStop, and I’m missing the width of a kerf of a second digit from my own stupidity/ a shop which immediately THREW OUT the blade guard and splitter, but the SawStop technology ain’t perfect [spin up/spin down/dado blades]. And it’s EXPENSIVELY not perfect. If one leaves ALL the safety measures and guards installed on standard saws, it’s virtually impossible to lose digits. Just sayin’

  8. Dave D says:

    It would be one thing for a a performance-based standard be adopted to mitigate the injury to users from blade contact incidents, but it’s obviously quite another to enact a prescriptive one requiring the use one particular technology. Not only would that be patently unfair, I think it would tend to stifle development of other, possibly more effective or less expensive methods of achieving the same goal.

    I sure hope those using SawStop equipped saws don’t develop a false sense of security. SawStop certainly wouldn’t by itself prevent all possible injuries resulting from kick back. And since no system works perfectly 100% of the time, I assume there could be cases when SawStop cartridges malfunctions and fail to prevent blade contact injuries. Tool users, especially table saw users, better keep their heads in the game. As Chuck says, the best (self-imposed) regulation is “Don’t do stupid ****. “

  9. BJ Nicholls says:

    SawStop makes sense, but I’m not for it being mandated.

    As to using the safety features built into other saws, I have to say that those features are frequently poorly designed, interfere with accurate cutting and viewing, and are hard to assemble/configure. This is especially of the cheaper saws that I suspect generate more than their share of injuries. Do manufacturers bear some responsibility when they market products with afterthought safety features that beg to be left off the saw? I think so. Put a few bucks less into “styling” and a few more into thoughtful engineering.

  10. Ross says:

    I don’t know how many people have noticed that the current generation of saws from Dewalt and Bosch (possibly others too) have workable safety features. The saws have riving knives and blade guards that I’m actually willing to use on a regular basis. There is on-board storage for push sticks and the blade guards. Perhaps making some effort to get folks using these features and not doing stupid things with their saws is actually worth some publicity.

    • Dave D says:

      I have noticed (and applaud) the better guards and riving knives on the newer DeWalt & Bosch job site saws. I personally prefer push blocks with a grip like a hand saw that lets you exert better control of the feed than the plastic push sticks that are typically included with saws, but any push stick is orders of magnitude better than none, and I agree that providing for on-board storage probably promotes their use.

  11. Mike says:

    Just a bit more history to put this all in perspective:
    Sawstop began when Steve Gass invented the breaking system that we’re all talking about. His intention was never to actually build tools, just the breaking component. He wanted to sell the system to existing saw manufacturer but they thought that it was an unnecessary feature and not as single manufacturer wanted to incorporate it. He ended up founding the company just to bring the brake into reality.

    I am a carpenter by profession and have worked on a Sawstop, and on many other brands of table saws, and I have never had any incidents on either. If I did have an incident I wouldn’t mind having to pay $70 to replace the cartridge and even $120 to replace a good blade rather than lose fingers or even just lose half a day of work to go to the hospital and get stitched up. (Not to mention the money that you would lose when you wreck that really nice piece you were working on when you bleed all over it and the time it would take to have to clean all of your finger bits out of the dust collect.) Remember that that extra cost is only a one time thing, unless you make a habit of cutting yourself with the tablesaw. If that’s the case, you should want this feature anyway.

    To everyone who says just use the safety features and be careful, remember that most of the people who use the tablesaw don’t own the tablesaw. How many laborers, apprentices, and subs are going to be on the tool whether it’s on a job-site or in a shop? Do you want to defend your decision to not spend the extra money on the saw and the cartridges when they take you to court because they have injured themselves? Even if they have done something reckless and stupid, I would much rather be able to show a judge that I have done everything in my power to prevent that accident from happening and it’s not because I was too cheap to protect my employee. Even if you are the one using the tablesaw, there are always going to be times where you are working tired or distracted and having a safety net wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    I’m also of the opinion that, especially with jobsite saws, the manufacturers have cut costs on every single component and made an inferior tool to increase their profits. I have no sympathy for the large corporations who are now crying foul, and trying to enlist their customers support, in an effort to continue to sell the same crappy product that they have putting out. Are they trying to protect the consumer or their bottom line?

    That’s my opinion, agree or disagree.

    • JKB says:

      Seems to me then, that commercial users should lobby to have SawStop incorporated in commercial grade saws. Not all saw, but expensive commercial/worksite saws that will be required by workers comp insurance and to mitigate negligence liability for not training those you permit to use the saws properly.

      You make a good argument for professional users to require this option. As such, professional users should be eager to pay for the advanced features.

      You do not however, make a good argument for the increased cost in the hobby/single user market. Such users can take an informed risk and not be subjected to prohibitive costs for professional safety features.

    • Bruce says:

      See, the thing here is that if you have laborers who are going to bypass or not use the existing safety measures, what makes you think they won;t simply use the bypass on the SawStop? I’ve worked in at least two shops where everyone, every time, would hit the bypass no matter what they were cutting. Not until a *training program* was instituted did the practice stop. Train your employees, and make it a loss of their job if they bypass safety features.

      A Judge/Jury is going to look at your training and education programs even IF you buy a SawStop and someone is injured.

      The SawStop is not a panacea.

  12. Barks says:

    The Senate in California recently killed (or let die) an attempt by Glass to have the state mandate the use of his technology on all saws sold there. A problem with this is Gass’ demand for exorbitant royalties, which would distort the market and hinder further progress in developing safe tools.

  13. James Z says:

    I do believe it should be manditory for professional uses, there is a lot more liability involved.

    I think this technology should be incorporated into other tools aswell. Not necessarily maditory (for non professional use), but say as an inexpensive addon.

    I’d pay 70-100bux for the addon no problem. Im not even a professional carpenter. Even if i had to replace the addon each time i triggered it.

  14. Michael W says:

    My viewpoint, as a professional woodworker, is that it should be up to the end user. I have no problem with anyone else buying a saw equipped with this technology, if it makes them feel better. I do however, have a problem with someone mandating a “safety feature” that I don’t need. More people get injured with kickbacks than actually get hit by a saw blade anyway. Why the heck would anyone with a shred of common sense get their fingers that close to a blade anyway? All modern saws sold here in the US have all they safety gear they actually need that can be provided by the manufacturer. All of it’s useless unless the operator is paying attention and using common sense (as we saw in the Ryobi lawsuit)

    I personally would rather use common sense than rely on an electronic sensor. One of these saws will fail at some point and then where will that user be? Hiring a lawyer, I’m sure.

    Bottom line – if you like the tech, great! Buy a Sawstop saw. Just stop advocating it’s mandatory use by everyone. It’s stupid regulatory stuff like this that’s clogging up our life and making people less responsible for their own actions.

  15. fred says:

    With nearly 50 years of using table saws both in a home wood shop and in commercial use, I may have been lucky (although I think good training and situational awareness has helped ) to have never had an accident requiring medical attention . I am not so arrogant, however, to believe that an accident could not happen to me or my workers. I am much in favor of using better technology to improve safety – especially when a compelling case can be made.

    Nonetheless, this still seems to be a complex issue.
    I’ve thought about it along several line:.

    Intellectual Property

    • The inventor has a right to earn on his invention and should be able to set a price for licensing the technology as he sees fit – this is not extortion. While I understand that the US Government stepped in during WWII to suspend patent rights for technology that was considered vital to the war effort – this is not the case here.
    • If others can invent something that adequately addresses the problem via a completely different route then there would be some competition – but riving knives and blade guards don’t seem to be quite the same as the Saw Stop technology in efficacy.

    Potential Societal Benefits

    • Mandating auto seat belts and other safety features – as these were phased in – was based on a public good – with the notion that as a nation we would save on the costs of injuries and deaths that could be avoided.
    • Safer saws would presumably have a similar benefit -although table saws may be less ubiquitous than automobiles – and the potential for death may be lower with table saw injuries compare to car crashes.
    • One argument with the seatbelt mandate –was that it spread the cost of implementation over the fleet on new autos – making the cost per car much less than what it would have been for an optional seat belt installation. I’m not sure if this argument is valid for saws – unless there is some sort of volume discount offered.


    • If applied to all new saws manufactured after some effective date – this would still leave many more saws in use around the country. What to do with these saws in private hands will be an issue. Will owners be able to continue to use them in commercial use (where will OSHA come down on this issue).
    • What about applicability to different sorts of saws? We have a small shop with a dedicated rip saw – with power feed, a big sliding table saw with a scoring and cutting blade, and several cabinet saws – one with a sliding table and one with a power feeder. We also sometimes bring a Unisaw to a jobsite and more often use a Makita or Bosch jobsite saw. Will all of these need to be junked and replaced?
    • If it is societal benefit that is being pursued, then one could argue that there should be no distinction between commercial and homeowner use. What about all of the homeowners who own saws now – will these tools need to be recalled or rounded up? Will it become illegal to sell one?
    • If applied equally to all of us who use table saws commercially – the costs would be passed on to clients as the new tools are amortized. If done in a way that the playing field remained level ( e.g. contractors required to convert by a set date) then this would just look like a uniform price increase – sort of like those incurred with rising gas prices. But is uniformity likely? Not if other government regulation is a basis for comparison – as it will likely be based on how big (# of employees etc. ) you are. It will certainly not be applied to the large number of un-licensed or tiny contractors who fly well below the “radar screen” of government regulation.

  16. Rick says:

    The SawStop is a tool, and I consider it to be a very good one.

    Unfortunately, SawStop’s founder is also a tool, and not a very good one..

  17. Daniel says:

    I have two things, really, to say about this. One, the manufacturers are probably not against the technology or the incorporation, they just don’t want to pay what this guy apparently wants for it. I guarantee that as soon as the patent expires every saw will have it. SawStop is trying to make every last buck before the patent expires and is pricing itself out of the market.

    Second, SawStop better seriously look at the risk they’re putting themselves in by trying to mandate it on every saw. The more products out there with this technology installed, the greater the risk that somebody is going to misuse it or the brake won’t activate and they will lose a finger or three. The lawyers will go nuts then blame Glass and his company naming them in a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit for building a defective product. Nobody wins in this, except the lawyers, of course.

  18. TominDC says:

    A few years ago, maybe less, I read an article about track saws. I bought one, and sold my table saw, which made my fingers nervous and tended to tip and jam when cutting large pieces. My router can do any of the other tasks for which I used the table saw. I get better cuts using the track saw, and can achieve terrific bevels. Best of all, my pinkies are never at risk.

  19. Dr Bob says:

    If the government wants to mandate this, they should mandate a safety standard, but not a specific technology from a single vendor to meet it. But one must consider the cost of regulation and enforcement vs. the cost of injury and loss of a thumb by number of incidents.

    Now, I think Saw Stop’s approach is monopolistic extortion and like many here, I wouldn’t reward them with my business.

    The bigger question is how broad is their patent.

    If it is so broad that it excludes others from inventing alternative devices/methods that achieve the same objective, that is unfortunate because it restricts creative competition which would eventually result in better, cheaper alternatives.

    I certainly hope manufacturers are working on alternatives that wouldn’t infringe on their patents.

    As for the “being freakin’ careful with it”, I have a early 50’s belt-drive Craftsman table saw, which I use rarely, but it scares the heck out of me every time I use it. I never get my hands within 6 inches of the blade, precisely because of that fear. So a good dose of fear or respect can motivate that “being freakin’ careful with it”. I’d rather doubt a Saw Stop could be retro-fitted into that relic.

  20. Techmonkey says:

    Most of the accidents I have ever seen with a table saw happen with kickbacks. My dad had his finger partially severed from a kickback (re-attached with no problems), my shop teacher from Jr. High got a finger taken off at the first joint because of a kickback, got to see a 1×4 stuck in the shop wall once right after it tore through the operator’s jeans, lucky idiot.

    I only saw someone being nicked by a blade once and that was a bandsaw. So, I do not really see the need for a blade stopping mechanism, just snti-kickback features.

    Also, why does it have to bury the blade in an aluminum block? That has got to be a bugger to remove after it deforms. Why can it not be a disk brake arrangement on the lower half of the blade, along with the recessed bunker?

  21. PeteWW says:

    Some devices are intrinsically unsafe, and should be respected as such. For example, knives and guns.

    Attempts to add features to make devices less unsafe often make the even more dangerous. For example, I recently bought and used a 5 gallon fuel can with the “safety” spout. I probably spilled a gallon on myself and the floor in my frustrated attempts to put gas in my car. The four gallons that did reach the intended destination did so because I disabled the valve and used a home-made funnel.

    Sometimes safety features will lead to complacent and unsafe behavior. In other words, the operator trusts that the safety feature is 100% reliable and will forgive his stupidity. If it was 100% reliable, then all reps would routinely demonstrate the device with his hand instead of a hotdog. Unless and until the manufacturer can routinely demonstrate this trust, the device should not be mandated.

  22. Gary Z says:

    Two points… I have a small table saw from Sears that was purchased by my Great Uncle in the 1940’s. It has an upper saw guard and miter bar. So the safety features have been in place for years, and stupid people have been not using them for years.
    Second point. I sell and demo the Saw Stop. Even with the brake system that does work to save injuries, I still tell people to use the guards. No tellin’ what crap would hit the fan if some yahoo cut up his hand because of a defective brake.
    Before any of you chime in and ask if I use the safety guards……My Dewalt always has them in place.

  23. John says:

    Saw Stop is a scam pure and simple, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t destroy itself and the blade every time it false triggers. If it were meant to be a real safety system it would just drop the blade down below the table, without attempting to stop it. That would minimize injury just as well without doing any damage, all you’d have to do is reset the blade and go. But that wouldn’t provide a continuing money stream for Saw Stop. Maybe it would be possible to make an actual safety system that worked in a similar (though non-destructive) way, but you can be sure that Saw Stop and their 50 patents will keep it off the market. Saw Stop is all about raking in money, and nothing else. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing otherwise.

  24. Gary Z says:

    If I’m not mistaken there are companies that are developing alternatives. One may be on the market now. I thought I read about it in Wood Magazine.

  25. Tom says:

    The crux of this issue is SawStop’s use of government legislation to force purchase of their product. I don’t agree with this method, but it is widely used. If we want to go this route then the use of government legislation to limit the cost of this product is equally fair(it’s for the public good). IE the government will set the rate SawStop may charge for use of the patent, and cost of the brake device.
    This whole debate will end soon as the patents expiration date(s) are soon approaching.
    The whole excessive licensing fee debate sounds like a jilted lover. Every company he approached rejected the idea, and now they will pay. (rejection totally predictable, because if they adopt it they admit their old design is “unsafe” and they must buyback ALL old saws or face lawsuits for leaving defective products in use)
    For those on the side of don’t force me to buy….. what if health insurance companies started saying they will no longer pay for injuries while using non-SawStop table saws? If you wish to be covered a rider and additional charge can be added to your policy. Why should others pay for your behavior? I pay extra because I skydive and fly home built aircraft, they say it’s risky behavior. All activity involves risk but if a new development can reduce that risk why not use it?
    For busness/industrial/educational use a SawStop is a no-brainer. If I were buying a new cabinet saw; SawStop definitely. Why because someone told me I had to? No, I’d buy it because my ego is not so big as to deny I could ever make a mistake. It amazes me how often I hear people at work say I don’t need no gloves/safety glasses/face shield/welding helmet/dust mask etc, and it’s not like the company is charging them for the stuff!

  26. Methadras says:

    I have no issue with the SawStop tech. However, I do have an issue with the makers of the tech trying to mandate it as a function of legislation to every other manufacturer of power tools that would or could use it. I also have a problem with SawStop saying that without it, every tool is an inherent dangerous too. People must be responsible for themselves and what hey do. If they want the benefit of a SawStop then they will buy it and let market evolution determine whether enough people think it has merit or not. But to push it as a matter of law? Where SawStop tech and patents would reign supreme without competition? That’s a whole different argument entirely and one I am not willing to entertain.

  27. Alan Beech says:

    The need for some technology to protect users from saw accidents is easy to identify. just look at the relevant staistics; there are too many accidents causing maiming.

    US accident rates among woodworkers are at least 50% higher than Europe.

    Sawstop is NOT the only technology available. A US inventor has created a infr red light based system which is just as effective as Sawstop.

    Why does no one talk about this tech. Its cheaper, its as effective and it can be retrofitted to a blade guard.

    Time to ignore Sawstop and look around at other possible solutions to avoid the legislative blackmail of the Sawstop owners.

  28. David says:

    OK, so now I am in the market to replace an entry-level Delta table saw which I have taken about as far as it will go (oddball-shaped miter slots, poor dust collection, short arbor, etc.). I went into my local Woodcraft store and, of course, for anyone who couldn’t afford the $3,600.00 Delta Unisaw, I kept hearing everybody saying “SawStop, SawStop, SawStop”. So I took a closer look. It is important to mention here that my hop is small–about 9′ X 15′, and located in the NON-walkout basement of a town home. So, obviously a 500+-lb. Powematic is out of the question. Hence a good quality contractor saw is what I have had my eye on. The store had two SawStop models on display: The professional cabinet saw and the 1½ HP contractor model. The latter was priced at $1,600.00 and was displayed with a mobile base, 40T carbide-tooth combination blade, cast iron table top and extension wings, a “Pro-T Glide” (Biesemeyer-style) 52″ fence + right extension table, and what appeared to be a good dust-management setup. I began to think:

    “$1,600.00 for all this? Maybe not so bad.”

    But then I looked at the pricing list.

    Apparently the MSRP of $1,600.00 is for the SAW & EXTRUDED ALUMINUM FENCE (NOT DISPLAYED) ONLY, and DOES NOT INCLUDE:

    • The cast iron wings ($100.00 extra each or $180.00 for the pair); only the stamped wings are standard.
    • The “Dust Collection Panel” ($49.00 extra), without which sawdust and chips are apparently left to fall to the floor and make a mess of the saw’s insides,
    • The mobile base ($160.00 extra)
    • The Pro-T Glide fence ($425.00 extra)

    Please forgive my ignorance, but this is my first time shopping for a table saw other than at a DIY store, but in my limited experience, the things you pay extra for on a table saw are things like dado sets, upgraded miter gauges

    Now SawStop makes an excellent saw with groundbreaking safety technology, and therefore costs somewhat more than, say a comparable saw such as the Grizzly G0732 or G0661 ($795.00 and $825.00, respectively). OK, I get that.

    But DOUBLE to TRIPLE the cost of the Grizzly saws, and for a stripped-down saw at that? To purchase the SawStop as-displayed, I would have to spend an additional $814.00 ON TOP OF the cost of the saw itself–almost enough to buy the 2 HP G0661 outright!!!…and that’s BEFORE we even get into the $230.00 you’ll lose ($90.00 for a replacement brake cartridge plus $140.00 for the Forrest WW2 blade that’ll be ruined) every time the cartridge fires.

    Tell me, guys: I expect to pay extra for things like tenoning jigs, specialty blades, deluxe fences…but is it customary for the leading power tool manufacturers to niclek-and-dime like this: calling out as extra-cost “accessories” those things which ought to come standard with a new saw when you open the box?

  29. fernando says:

    First of all I’m not paid by either party, and am an amateur builder and sometimes easily distracted when working with power tools, I have had accidents with them all and yes I continue to use them, but it hurts when I think about it. although I haven’t lost anything, but came very close as I mushroomed the tip of my finger. nothing bad but its sensitive now .. a couple years back I was in the market for a table saw, I’ve researched them all and yes prices were in mind but I’ll buy what I want if that’s what works for me, now I’ve seen J*t, D***a,Craf****N,and others. now I talked with people and as they gave me their inputs I took everyone into consideration, well I was at a showing for sawstop and while seeing the demo I started thinking, hey I use my hands for work and my fingers are what pays my bills. so yes I was sold on sawstop, now I bought during a promo. well it works, nicely designed and pieced together right, yes I worry when the cartridge goes off as blades are expensive and to think of spending almost 200 for a false trigger, umm yes. but I bought it anyways, well one weekend I was using it and booom it went off, now I looked and nope not on me, false shot. now I cried knowing my forrest blade got damaged and cartridge. that was not good. now I had to buy another cartridge and luckily the hardware store had one but I paid for it knowing I needed it. my blade which I thought was bent well it wasnt,had it resharpened for under $50 but still paid for it. now I know it’s not a positive thought but regardless u always need a spare for these occasions. well I called sawstop, and I send the cartridge for review, which resulted that it grounded by metal, most likely from the particle board as I was also told that sometimes metal shavings from manufacturing but who knows, but my very long story cut short, they have extremely good customer support as they made sure there was no faulty issues, they sent me a replacement, master switch which is easy to replace, they sent me a new cartridge, and they sent me a new blade. now they didn’t have to but they did. now that’s good customer service. I am glad I bought it as they could’ve easily said hey it happens, or just sell me another, but nope they stand behind their product and ensure full safety that they practically supplied me for a just in case. now ever since that incident, I haven’t had an incident. knock on wood. now it’s true hey let companies sell their product how they please and because people will buy what they want regardless. now if it’s for profit or money than yes it sucks because even though they lose on sale they gain on others success because of the patend. but hey moneys moneys wherever it comes from. look at apple and Samsung apple tried suing for a product that Samsung made and lost the fight. now what people doesn’t know is that apple buys all their screens and wifi equip from Samsung, hello same concept as Samsung still profits on others success, now at the end apple lost and made themselves look dumb from this. so if sawstop creates an idea and pushes forward y not id rather lose a tool than a finger, because just the emergency visit is the cost of what got damaged. plus mental, physical and money one would lose in the long run, so I do support what sawstop does. and while my hands is what makes me money my insurance rates are lower knowing I take safety precautions. to each their own and every tool is an accident waiting to happen. obviously you get what you pay for.

  30. Chris S says:

    You Americans really kill me. Your values are so backward. Your founding fathers must be rolling in their graves. You value your freedom over your safety, and that just seems silly to me. But I’m not here to troll. I just don’t understand it. I hope this eventually makes it into every saw.

    That all said, I haven’t seen the pricing on these things. The initial demo video from the inventor said it was around $60 for the saw stop mechanism. But it could be a lot more than that, by the sounds of it. If the manufacturer/inventor wants them in every saw, then they should be priced responsibly, meaning, if it costs $60 to make, it shouldn’t cost an extra $500 to have it in your saw.

    • Chuck Cage says:

      @Chris S: You’ve hit on the part of this that’s frustrating, but I think you’re off base in tying it to American values — or at least those specific values. No one here thinks that the SawStop idea is junk, or that it’s something that should be banned from use — or that it’s not worth a couple of bucks in practice. There’s a big jump, however, from that to requiring its installation on every saw, especially when the technology is held hostage by patent, essentially requiring every saw manufacturer to pay the SawStop patent holder significantly more than $60/saw (hence the huge price differences).

      Also, though it’s certainly arguable, I think many here have made a good point in the idea that the number of incidents here are small, and those incidents can mostly be prevented by reading the manual and following proper safety procedures.

      Also, please keep in mind that Toolmongers are an international audience and appreciate your respect in not throwing nationalistic insults. I’d venture to say that none of us know as much as we’d really like to about other countries’ culture and norms. Maybe rather than attacking another country’s system you could speak up and share some about your own. We’d love to hear it. 🙂

  31. Pedro Datoolmen says:

    How many people have to loose a finger before USA courts do the same thing that happens with samsung and google and such, if the technology is in teh inetrests of saving lives and injury rule that this ahole gets 5% on everyone who makes this life saving tech.

    Otherwise he aint worth shite and rest assured everyone will have teh machine ready the day his patent ends at 1/10th the price

  32. Bill says:

    Shopmonger : no one is forcing you to use it!!!

  33. Neil says:

    I had my finger get pretty chewed up on a sawstop table saw. The cartridge failed to stop the blade as advertised. Instead it continued to spin around at least one full revolution because there was aluminum on every tooth of the blade. It also chewed deep into the stop and did not collapse it as seen in there ads. Of course it would have been much worse if it didn’t work at all, but their advertising misleads you into believing you won’t get more than a nick. It chewed off the end of my finger just before reaching the bone. I still have nerve damage.

  34. Will Grove says:

    i have been considering the investment in a Sawstop. it sounds like it worked 90 or 80% of what one would hope it would work like. so do you consider this a save or a fail for the system? if you have all your fingers, it seems like a win. What was the nerve damage? i value your opinion.


  35. Jeff says:

    In an article I read on this issue, one of the saw makers,I think it was Bosch, said that they had developed a non-destructive blade brake but figured that the inevitable legal battle with Sawstop over patent infringement would be so expensive that it wasn’t worth the effort.

    • Jeff says:

      I read the same article. It was Bosch, but apparently they have changed their mind. They are bringing it out as a modified version of their job site saw. It is called the Reaxx Saw. It uses their patented air bag technology. The Cartridge is $100 but has 2 shots in it and the saw uses the same cartridge for dado blades.It actually costs more than the comparable Saw Stop model but Bosch is not price fixed, like Saw Stop. Now I am waiting for the technology to end up in a cabinet saw.

  36. Gord says:

    I had 2 near misses on my old 10″ rockwell beaver before I got a sawstop contractors saw. One was my fault, but blame is really a moot point. the sawstop wasn’t cheap, but it isn’t a cheap saw; it’s a high end tool, even without the brake. It’s easy to use and I’ve had no misfires. I certainly don’t begrudge the cost of the brake; the big guys should have thought of this 20 years ago, but didn’t bother trying to improve. I’d like to see saw brakes made mandatory; I know 2 people with less than 8 fingers and 2 thumbs from tablesaws.
    I won’t use a regular saw again; my fingers are too important.

  37. Chuck says:

    Some of these comments sound a little too “rah-rah” for Sawstop. I’ve noticed it on other sites too, wherein the comments extoll the benefits of Sawstop without addressing the real issue. Some of them even imply that Sawstop prevents kickback injuries, though I can’t imagine that’s true. I’d be curious to know the story behind these glowing comments.

    I taught myself to use a table saw, from books and vids and the internet, and happily I’ve never had any sort of close call. But I never remove the blade guard or splitter unless using a dado set, which is much less risky anyway. I use push sticks and blocks, and my hand never gets any closer than 12 inches from the blade guard. Doing this, I actually can’t imagine how I would ever cut myself. That other people cut themselves, really amazes me.

    I’m in the camp of those who don’t see the need for Sawstop on my own saw. I could have bought one back at the beginning, but chose not to, and have no reason to regret my choice.

  38. Noel in Northern NY says:

    I really wish the first question the judge ask before thinking of going to trial or selecting a jury in suites like this one is: “did plaintiff use sound, logical judgment in doing what they did prior to any injury occurring?” Or simply put – is/was there some level of personal responsibility he/she did no consider or engage in which would have precluded potential personal injury,

    Or in layman terms: did the plaintiff do something stupid and ignorant, and is now attempting to make significant gain in doing so and trying place fault on someone other than him/herself

  39. John M says:

    It would be interesting to have comment direct from Steve Gass since I am not certain of the following. However, it is my understanding that Mr. Gass’ involvement in the lawsuits alleging defective design of table saws not SawStop equipped is as a paid expert witness. That is, he expresses his opinion as an expert in table saw technology when called as a witness in an individual trial. The defendant manufacturer’s lawyers get to cross-examine him and to call experts of their own to express opposing opinions.
    This would seem to differ from the SawStop company hiring their own lawyers and seeking to have all saws not SawStop equipped declared illegal and/or unfit for use.
    At the same time, Mr. Gass’ and/or his company seeking to influence legislators (as in the California situation mentioned by one Toolmonger) comes pretty close. However, all of us, whether living person or dead corporation, are allowed to talk to our legislators and express our opinions regarding pending legislation. It’s the American way.

  40. Joe navarro says:

    Dear Toolmonger,
    You comments just make it very clear that you shouldn’t have this platform because you don’t have a clue. You apparently don’t know anything about Buisness or understanding that this happens everyday. What’s wrong with capitalizing on what you invented. And to compare the price of a limb to the price of the replacement cartridge without knowing the cost of making this REPLACEABLE piece. This whole technology was first, a very risky an expensive venture. All Saw Stop is doing is tying to get a return on their investment. It’s just that simple and for you to throw them under the bus for inventing a perfect machine that’s saves many dollars and a mans job and lively hood is ridiculous.
    Please understand that this is business and they have the right to protect their technology just as pharmacudical companies do who are protected for many years and some with exception go longer. As far as licensing yes get what you can. The last time I checked we still live in a capitalistic county! The company that is going to obtain their licensing are going to at least double their revenue.
    I believe this is easy enough for anyone to understand you don’t need a degree in business to get it $$$$. Ill bet you own an IPhone which is protected and the price point is marked up by at least 75% and you buy the associated products that go with it and all of these company’s buy licenses all at variable pricing dependent upon the circumstances. I’m sure this applies to Saw Stop as well. So, really who here is laying out the BS toolmonger. Last thought how many times do you think a customer will need to buy a replacement cartridge therefore the price of making a fairly substantial replacement product that doesn’t fly off the shelves has to command a fairly expensive cost however in the big picture this is simply very cheap when encompass the return.
    I say learn a little of the basics of business coupled with some common sense then you might have a credible forum.

  41. Rod says:

    First this will detect but cannot determine if the conductive capacitance incountered is a body part or a wet spot in wood. That is why there is a shut-off switch for the system.

    In a factory or school environment I see this as a good improvment idiots preforming dangerous processess, on controlled materials.

    For you fearfull people that are afraid of things but to lazy to learn how to use them safely – don’t get out of bed because the whole world is full of things that will hurt you

    For everybody else it is a case by case choice what materials MAY you be working with and if you try to use some junk that triggers the safty device is >$100 ($70 for the cartridge and $30 for the blade) oops’ exceptable ? In the real world my money is that for most of us, 2-3 false triggers and the safty device will be disabled. Then some idiot will ‘borrow’ use of the saw and hurt himself because he thought he’d be safe – after all that what the advertising claims LOL.

  42. Jeff says:

    I’ll go ahead and give a few “glowing comments” on Sawstop. I have absolutely no affiliation with Sawstop but have purchased 5 of them both for myself and the Cabinetmaking and Carpentry classes I teach. It’s quite apparent to me that most of you making negative claims and accusations toward Sawstop have no first hand experience with using or even seeing one operate for that matter.

    First, let’s address the false-positive read and inadvertent set off resulting in you having to replace the very expensive brake cartridge (sarcasm). If I was looking for model shop to count brake replacements, I think I would probably start with a High School shop where teenagers are using the equipment on a regular basis…wouldn’t you agree? Yes…so let’s use my shop as a case study. Are you ready?? In 10 years with teenagers running 5 sawstops we have replaced 3 brakes at a whopping cost of $240. Two were set off while cutting treated wood, the other a student touched the side of the blade. So the argument about false-set offs is BS and you’re obviously speculating ignorantly!

    Second, just a quick note on the kick-back comment as it concerns sawstops: The riving knife and safety guard set-up on the sawstop DOES nearly eliminate the possibility of a kickback if used properly.

    Third, Let’s go back the the inception of Sawstop when the only product they had was the breaking system. None of the big boys (then) would even offer it as an option on their saw. So, they built there own saw. If I owned the company, I would want to run their asses in the ground also..so would any of you!

    Now, if some dumbass wants to buy a cheap saw, take the guard off of it and use it for what it was never intended for and cuts off half of his hand it’s totally on him. I am by no means in favor of legistation forcing this device onto other manufacturers. However, I have no problem whatsoever with Sawstop running their asses out of business because they can’t compete with their technology (and refused to adapt it into their manufacturing!)

    I know most of you won’t believe it, but once again, I have no affiliation with Sawstop. Anyone who own’s one of their machines will agree that it is the best saw on the market, bar none!

  43. Busted Clock says:

    To the last comment (Jeff, as I write this), I’ve read through this entire thread and haven’t seen a single negative comment about the basic SawStop technology. There have been complaints about false triggers, and those complaints are absolutely legitimate. I am a student at the second largest school of fine woodworking in the US. We have four SawStops that are used heavily, all day, every day. Nobody has come close to losing a finger — you can be kicked out of the shop if your hand is anywhere near the table insert when the saw is spinning. Nevertheless, we’ve had to replace three blades and cartridges in the four month semester, for entirely unknown reasons. That’s $450 out of the school budget.

    Regardless, even the false triggers aren’t that big a deal for a lot of people. The ONE consistent negative in this thread is not the technology, it’s the heavy-handed tactics SawStop engages in trying to force everybody to pay extortionate prices for their technology. SawStop apparently realizes the open market won’t support the price they want for their technology. Rather than taking the economically sound route of finding a price that allows for good market penetration, while still allowing for a reasonable return on investment, SawStop is trying to bring the full force of the government to bear, to force buyers to pay their price. This is simply wrong.

  44. Erich says:

    I am a novice learning about table saws. First, the comment about a cost of $60 or $100 for the Saw Stop technology is not based on real world pricing. A solid portable table saw from a top manufacturers might cost $300 – $500. The cheapest Saw Stop table saw I have seen is $1,500.

    Second, it is not at all clear to me that a properly used Saw Stop is safer than a properly used portable. I will gladly spend the additional $1,000 if it means I will be safe. But I do not want a 300 pound machine that is not portable and is not in reality safer.

    “Jeff the shop teacher” mentions false brakes on treated wood, that is a serious problem, leading to, as with other saws, bypassing of the Saw Stop safety feature.

    My goal now is to better understand the safety features already available on quality portable saws. Buying decent push sticks alone seems half the battle for safety, but that is just a guess.

  45. Brian says:

    Pricing: yes, they are expensive. I think the $60 to $100 difference is an estimate of what the technology will cost at much higher production quantities. Most of the controversy is that the government was considering mandating similar techology in all tablesaws which would have leveled the playing field, but a lot of people are philosophically opposed to government mandates and would rather point with their last remaining pinky finger than support a mandate. So the Saw Stop remains a specialty product with a specialty price.

    Functionality: if you stick your finger in the blade, it will stop and you will not lose your finger. But it will not stop you from being run completely through by a split out kickback or have your noggin cracked by a flying piece of wood that you didn’t hold down safely. It’s just one fix for one problem. If you are a novice, you might want to take a shop class to learn all about saw safety.

    Going without it: of course you can. Woodworkers have been going without for almost two centuries. A lot of them have lost digits, too. If you are the kind of person who is always “present” and paying attention to what you are doing – always – then you don’t need it. But you have to look into your own mind and think about that because if you are spacer, you might lose a finger. A friend of mine was one of those kind of spacy guys who was always thinking of three things at once and he lost the tip of his middle finger in a saw. It happens in less than the blink of an eye, so if you cannot fully attend to what you are doing, you might want to re-think the value of the Saw Stop.

    False breaks: Jeff the shop teacher cuts a lot of treated wood on a table saw? Why? I’ve cut truckloads of treated wood and only rarely have used anything other than a hand-held circular saw. Again, think about your situation, not Jeff’s. Will you be cutting treated wood on your table saw? (Especially on a $1500 table saw?) If not, then ignore this argument. If so, then maybe a Saw Stop is not for you.

    Personally, the first safety feature I would look for in a table saw would be a sturdy base. If your saw shifts while you are using it your workpiece can pinch between the blade and the fence or just get skewed on the blade and get kicked back at you. Those folding bases with the wheels look really handy, but they seem kind of wobbly to me.

    Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Saw Stop or any other tool manufacturer or seller. I am just a busy-body with opinions based on experience.

  46. Brian says:

    By the way, if you want to be really creeped out about safety, get a load of this. I just saw a video the other day where an old boatwright was using a carbide-tipped circular saw wood blade in a hand-held angle grinder to cut planking that had been pried up a bit from the underside of a large wooden boat. Upside down, in a tight space, with other planking at each end of his cut, at an odd angle across the wood, no guide, and turning three or four times faster than a circular saw blade is meant to turn. Made my hair stand on end…

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  49. Mike says:

    Lol, Sawstop. Test! 🙂

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