Last month, while at the Woodstock Wood Show I had the opportunity to check out the SawStop table saw and chat with Eric Gewiss, the Marketing Manager.
Steve Gass, Ph.D., a woodworker himself, invented the SawStop technology in 2000. Mr. Gass met with existing manufacturers to have them include his SawStop in their product lines, but did not have any success. After a couple of years of trying, he, along with David Fulmer and David Fanning, built their own table saw and in 2004 the first product, the Industrial Grade Cabinet Saw was produced. Currently, says Mr. Gewiss, the 10” table saw is the #1 selling cabinet saw in the United States.
The goal of the company is to offer a complete line of table saws, which will fill the needs of many user types (and price ranges). They are also currently developing technology for band saws and jointers.
At the end of this year, a heavy duty mobile base for the cabinet saw will be available and a SawStop contractor-style table saw will be available through authorized dealers in spring, 2008.
The table saw, the product that is produced at this time, includes technology that recognizes the difference between wood and the saw operator. If the saw operator contacts the blade while it is spinning, the safety mechanism is activated and the spinning blade stops and drops below the table surface. This process takes less than 5/1000’s of a second. The resulting injury to the operator is usually a small nick in the flesh that came in contact with the blade as opposed to what might happen in a similar situation with a regular saw.
The SawStop cabinet saw has become recognized as the safest saw on the market and is also earned the reputation of being one of the highest quality saws in North America, as well. In Fine Homebuilding / Fine Woodworking’s latest 2008 Tool Guide, SawStop is recognized as “Editor’s Best Overall Choice” as well “Reader’s Choice” for the highest quality 10” cabinet saw.
If you haven’t watched the “hot dog demonstration” check it out on the Sawstop website.
(Here I am at the wood show with hot dog in hand. I unfortunately did not time my visit with a demonstration time slot and so I did not get to see the saw in action.)
When asked if there were misconceptions about the saw, Mr. Gewiss wanted to clarify a few of points. One, the technology is available only on the SawStop saw and it cannot be fit onto any other saw. Second, the brake cartridge is similar to an airbag in a car – it’s there when you need it but once it’s deployed it has to be replaced.
A third piece of information that Mr. Gewiss wanted to clarify was that the mechanism does not have false activations. If the cartridge deploys there is a reason for it. It may be human contact and it may also be due to attempting to cut material such as aluminum, carbon fiber or wet pressure treated lumber.
There is a bypass feature which allows the user to temporarily disengage the SawStop safety feature. The bypass mode can be used when cutting a known conductive material or to test the materials to see if they can be cut while in the safe mode.
The final misconception that Mr. Gewiss wanted to correct was that the brake cartridge costs hundreds of dollars to replace. The replacement cartridge costs $69 and it can be replaced in just a few minutes. Work progress is not put on hold for long at all.
I’d like to thank Mr. Gewiss for taking the time to chat with me at the woodshow. I look forward to hearing more about the contractor-style saw that will be available in the near future.
-- ~ Debbie, Canada (http://www.execulink.com/~yohan)