Another Table Saw Alternative Approach For Safety.

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Forum topic by crank49 posted 02-14-2011 07:48 PM 4842 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4032 posts in 3211 days

02-14-2011 07:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw safety saw stop whirl wind blade tablesaw

I have been thinking about all the uproar over table saw safety that I have seen lately, and I have really tried to comprehend all aspects of the problem in order to decide where I come down on this issue.. As an engineer that’s just how I look at everything; can’t help it.

As a conservative minded person I don’t like the idea of government getting involved with coming up with solutions for things like this. If most politicians knew how to do any real work they would have real jobs instead of trying to be everyone’s nanny. Regulating unsafe practices or outright banning dangerous equipment is arguably an acceptable role; but not coming up with alternate solutions.

It is obvious to me that Saw Stop’s solution is a pretty good one. It uses the spinning blade’s own momentum to actually stop itself by digging into a sacrificial aluminum block, and then uses the resulting reaction forces to this “crash stop” to snatch the blade below the table where it can’t do any more damage. Using the reaction to stopping the forward momentum to snatch the blade down like this has the advantage of absorbing a lot of energy to do useful work. From an engineer’s point of view this is a very good design. It is also patented in so many ways there is no way anyone can use any part of the concept without paying Saw Stop for the use of the technology. That is the root of the problem. The technology, or the liscensed use of the Saw Stop technology is so expensive there will no longer be any sub-$1000 saws on the market if this is the only accepted solution to table saw safety.

The only other solution I have heard of is something called “WhirlWind”. This, if I understand it as presented, is the use of photo cells or proximity sensors in the blade guard to detect anything on top of the workpiece and apply a motor brake if any thing breaks the beam. No where near as effective as Saw Stop, but potentially much more affordable. WhirlWind takes 1/8th of a second to stop a spinning blade. Stopping from 3600 RPM that is 7 1/2 revolutions of the blade. That can still do some serious damage to a hand; enough to slice through a whole pack of weiners I would imagine. It also will not work at all if the guard has to be removed, like for a dado or rabbit cut.

I am thinking another approach is needed. My only other idea so far would be to completely guard the top access to the blade and use power feed rollers to carry the workpiece past the blade; kinda like a power planer works. Or, perhaps a slider type carriage beside the blade; that’s being done in Europe I think. I know these ideas restrict the use of the saw for odd shaped pieces or with special purpose jigs.

Anyone out there have any other ideas? I’d like to know we all have several options going forward.

16 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3888 days

#1 posted 02-14-2011 08:18 PM

The Eurekazone guy has some good ideas to work around the tablesaw. He’s
got one ripping system that holds the saw over the work and you feed the
work in like with a flat automatic panel saw (a behemoth of a machine) without
the autofeed and huge motor.

The root of the problem, imo, is guys removing the blade guards and then
doing stupid stuff. When using a table saw I often don’t use the guard,
but I don’t do stupid stuff so I’m only half an idiot.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3121 days

#2 posted 02-14-2011 09:45 PM

My question is what happens if the SawStop technology fails? I don’t know exactly how it works but it seems to me that its possible for it to somehow fail. If that is the case and someone does get cut while using the saw then what?

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View BobG's profile


172 posts in 3202 days

#3 posted 02-14-2011 10:19 PM

Whoopin lawsuit Dan!!

-- BobG, Lowell, Arkansas--------My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am! Make more saw dust!!

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3211 days

#4 posted 02-14-2011 11:47 PM

The purchase agreement to buy a new Saw Stop saw, from what I have read, requires you to sign a contract that holds “Saw Stop” harmless. In other words, you agree that you understand the technology could fail, and if it does you won’t hold Saw Stop liable for any injurys that could result. And yes, it is a computer and it will fail at some point. It’s not a matter of IF, but rather of WHEN.

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3420 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 12:14 AM

I know this isn’t what you’re looking for, but I felt inspired to share my thoughts. I mean no condescension to the topic. I do think the Saw Stop is great technology and if there’s a 0.0001% chance my flesh will contact the blade multiplied by a 0.0001% chance that the safety system will fail (unless made by Toyota)...I guess those are good odds.

I plan on not allowing my flesh to touch the blade of the saw. For wood shops and schools I guess the Saw Stop is worth the price. As a hobbiest I use a splitter and guard whenever I can and use other safety precautions when I can’t. I’m 100x more concerned about kickback then me sticking my hand into the blade. Kickback will sometimes force a hand into the blade…that’s because you were too close to begin with and/or not using a push stick.

I would not complain if the technology becomes common place and comes with a saw I desire, but until then I’ll just be smart and careful.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View cam1297's profile


64 posts in 3451 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 12:38 AM

I think the saw stop is great and a worthy investment. However, I do just fine with the safety guards and Grrripper. The problem I have is the inventors philosophy. I know his intentions mean well, but he is very bullish about wanting his product on all saws. And then to have a user agreement that will not hold his product liable. I’m gonna go stick a fork in the toaster now to get my bread out. :-).

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3250 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 06:32 AM

Crank – what is this contract you speak of? I signed no such thing when I bought my Sawstop. In fact the only thing I signed was the store’s CC slip.

I’m not saying there’s not any fine print in the manual or warranty card – in fact I’m sure there is (too lazy to check right this moment). Just that there was no signing of any such agreement…

BTW, I’m fairly certain that any such language or “agreement” wouldn’t hold if the technology failed to work as expected in an obvious way – the lawsuit(s) would probably be successful. That being said, I think you’d need a lot of stars to align (unalign?) to have a failed stop, including failure of the self-check system followed by failure of the detection mechanism or brake mechanism, with the LACK of user error. It’s just not terribly likely the way they have designed the system – electronics can do all sorts of fun things but really, electronically-speaking, it’s not a very complex system.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3211 days

#8 posted 02-15-2011 11:45 AM

Live4ever, I don’t own a SawStop, and have no direct personal knowledge of the contract. I simply stated “I have read” about it. It was discussed in a comment in another thread in this forum a couple of days ago, but I can’t find it right now.. I agree that if there is simply a statement that the manufacturer is not responsible for injuries should the system fail to protect someone, then that wouldn’t hold up in any court.

I personally like the Saw Stop design. I think it is genius. I think the saw itself is top quality. I would love to be able to own one, but I don’t have a spare $1500 right now. The reason for my post, however, is to try to get some alternative thinking going on. Thousands of DIYers got started woodworking with $100 to $500 table saws. I’m one of them; I have a $450 hybrid saw. I fear this market will dissapear if the least expensive table saw allowed by CPSC regulation costs over $1500.

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 3083 days

#9 posted 02-15-2011 05:05 PM

Crank, Testimony in the Osorio/Ryobi case put the cost increase for consumers Between $50 to $200. The manufacturers/Ryobi/PTI had every reason to testify if the cost would be greater because “higher cost” was one reason they refused to licence Gass’s invention. The cheaper saws would have to be made sturdier, but saying the cost would increase to over $1000 and now over $1500 might be hard to substantiate.

IMHO The significance of “flesh detecting technology” can’t be overstated. If as “I have read” the new “riving knife safety standard” was the industries response to Gass’s CPSC petition, then, Gass is responsible for most of the table saw safety advances since the 1930’s. My Dad’s 1934 Companion has safety features similar to the almost new saw Osorio was using. It’s clear the saw manufacturers would have done little on their own to improve saw safety without Gass/Sawstop. A blade preserving design (most likely using a Gass patent) will probably come out soon.

Sounds like you got a good deal on the hybrid. -Jack

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3121 days

#10 posted 02-15-2011 05:49 PM

I got an idea. How about some kind of prosthetic super durable glove or artificial hand that you can slip on when using the TS. You wouldn’t need any computer or flesh detecting technology. Worst case the blade would cut into the fake hand… I am sure they can make something like this that still gives one the ability to grip and handle the work piece as if they were using their own hands…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 3272 days

#11 posted 02-15-2011 06:21 PM

Jason you said:

“I would not complain if the technology becomes common place and comes with a saw I desire, but until then I’ll just be smart and careful.”

My suggestion is that even when FST becomes common place you should still be smart and careful.

Dan, what happens if the technology fails? You will be in exactly the same situation you would be in if you bought any other table saw on the market today.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3888 days

#12 posted 02-15-2011 06:22 PM

I think one could train a capuchin monkey or perhaps a dog to feed the
work into the table saw, under supervision of course, and thus remove
the threat of injury to oneself by never actually touching the machine.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3154 days

#13 posted 02-15-2011 06:24 PM

Dan Said:
”I got an idea. How about some kind of prosthetic super durable glove or artificial hand that you can slip on when using the TS. ”

I think we call those things ”push sticks.” ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 3272 days

#14 posted 02-15-2011 06:46 PM

Artificial hands are what you get after you touch a running non SawStop blade.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View tommyt654's profile


122 posts in 3689 days

#15 posted 02-16-2011 02:35 AM

Well a simple power feeder eliminates the use of a hand as well. I recently purchased on for my shaper used at a greatly discounted price(less than $300) and I plan to have it available for all my tools by making a mobile stand for it. Its not that the technology wasn’t available but rather the fact it wasn’t incorporated into the saw. Powerfeed units have been around for ages but due to their expense most homeowners and small workshops could not afford to buy one for every machine, So in comes the master of alll woodworking to save us all from something we don’t need. What most folks need is just common sense. And when his saw fails there goes the alledged technology thats gonna save us all. Only an attorney could pull this ploy of on the public by using scare tatics (sound familiar,think WMD’s) and now threatens to use the Gov’t as well as the insurance agencys (they work hand in hand to force us to pay). One days folks will wise up,but in the meantime I think the sawslop just a boat anchor in waiting:):):). Oh Irrelevant Jack the riving knives have been used in europe for yrs long before being implemented here and it wasn’t anything Gass did that was something the CSPC and manufacturers were working on long before Gass as I recall. Furthermore you really think the smaller jobsite designed tablesaws would hold up to the break/firing mechanism like the ones in a sawstop. Why do you think he made them like boat anchor, Ryobi as well as all the other tablesaw manufacturers did the right thing and passed on his technology because its doomed to failure. Eventually someone somewhere will cut a finger or thumb using it because it failed and then its just like I have been saying for yrs,just aboat anchor in waiting because its overpriced and newer technology being developed by other manufacturers will be more efficient and less expensive as well as more than likely better in the long run than the sawslop:)

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