Tablesaw blade safety device

Does a new sawblade-stop product really protect your fingers? July 29, 2003

A while ago, I read an article about a new tablesaw safety device that was able to detect whether the blade was cutting a finger or wood. This blade-stop is able to stop the blade in less than a second or so. Does anyone know what Iím talking about?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
He's in the process of putting his own saw on the market. It's in many of the woodworking magazines.

From contributor C:
I saw the SawStop at IWF in Atlanta two years ago. It was amazing. When I saw them this last August, they had made some improvements and it was still amazing! The cabinet they are putting it in looks like a PM66 to me (he would not confirm this), just painted black. When I need a new cabinet saw, I am definitely going to consider the SawStop saw. By the way, it stops much faster than a second or so. The video on the site seems too fast, but I have seen it with my own eyes and you cannot see it even move, just a very loud bang and the blade is gone!

From contributor T:
I have a saw stop and it is very sensitive. Not only is it good at killing every blade you put in it (once the system is activated, the blade is trash) it messes up the piece you're cutting and scares the living crap out of you. Anyone with heart problems could save their fingers, but end up with a rib spreader being used on them. I had to use some wire cutters and wire nuts to solve the problem of ruining 4 expensive blades a week.

From contributor C:

Contributor T, in saying it is "sensitive," are you saying it is firing without you touching the blade? I would think if you touched the blade 4 times in a week, you probably should not be in a woodshop. It is not supposed to fire by itself. Did you disable it with the wire cutters and nuts? That does not sound good for the reputation of the company. More info on your situation please.

The article is in Woodshop News, Jan 2002.

Contributor T, it seems to me that there is a replacement "shoe" that has to be installed every time the stop is activated. Is this so? And if so, where did you get the replacements and how long to get them? I think 1 trashed blade is worth a finger or two.

From contributor C:
There is a cartridge that sits very close to the bottom, back of the blade. It has an aluminum brake in it. When there is contact with the blade, that brake slams into the blade under spring pressure. The blade also drops below the table. It is extremely loud when it happens. All this happens in a few milliseconds. On a 24 tooth blade only about 2 teeth will contact the brake if it is sharp. They are having some problems with fine tooth blades, that may not be too sharp, stopping slower because they do not cut into the aluminum brake as quickly. The blade is no longer useable after it contacts the brake. They sell the brake cartridges. They should always have them in stock, but the idea is to have one on your shelf. You should never use it if there is no contact with the blade.

Are people using this without the guard in place?

I've wondered how much hand-into-blade contact there is when a fellow rips into the blade? Like the typical "hand slipping off the work piece" injury. Any comments?

I've seen the demonstration of touching the blade, but what about full bore contact?

It seems to me these things should be used in addition to, rather than as a substitute for, proper guards and splitters.

I've heard it time and again how a guard is more dangerous or causes more accidents than nothing at all, but frankly, I've never heard anyone with missing fingers make such an observation.

From contributor C:
I am sure the recommendation is to keep the guard in place. The demonstration on the site is impressive but when I saw if firsthand at IWF, they put the hotdog on a piece of 3/4 ply and forced it into the blade as fast as humanly possible. Way faster than you would feed 1/4 pine. He essentially was trying to hit the blade with the hotdog as hard as he could with the ply in the way. It still only produced the nick you see in the video.

I know the comments you have heard - they rank right up there with "I don't wear a seatbelt because I could burn to death" and "I can't see through safety glasses which makes me more dangerous than without them."

I'm a professional wannabe taking furniture/cabinet making night classes. This past week I missed class due to work obligations but this was sent to me by one of my classmates. Kind of makes the saw stop sound like a pretty good idea.

"I saw something Tuesday night in my woodworking class that I never hope to see again! Gentleman with over 50 years of woodworking experience got careless while making a cut on the tablesaw. He wasn't using a push stick or feather board. Board he was cutting kicked back. It went up and out and his hand got pushed into the blade! Makes me cringe as I type this picturing his hand in my mind. There was so much blood that it was difficult to see exactly what damage had been done to his fingers. At the time they were all still attached, but looked pretty chewed up. He was remarkably calm as he instructed two other guys in class how to wrap his fingers until the paramedics got there. Was such a good job that the paramedics didn't unwrap them before taking him to the hospital. I went and found a mop just so I'd have something to do. I talked to him last night. Said they X-rayed his hand three times and you could see the kerf marks from the saw blade. The doctor on duty in the emergency room told him that it was out of his league. They had him keep his hand in cold water while they waited 3 hours for the plastic surgeon. The doctors shot his hand full of Novocain and did what they could. He lost the first digit on his second and third finger, but they were able to save enough skin to pull over the ends. He blames himself for being so careless, but can't wait to get back to class in a couple of weeks."

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I too saw the SawStop at IWF in 2002, and even before that in Anaheim in 2001. Since the first time I saw a hot dog thrust into the blade, I have always held this to be quite an innovation in table saw technology. It's too bad they couldn't get the manufacturers to bite. This device would prevent many nasty accidents. Fact of the matter is that the tablesaw is the most dangerous tool in any woodworking shop. Every year 10,000 fingers are lost to tablesaws in over 17,000 accidents. That's a lot of grief that can now be avoided - albeit, at a nominal cost that I would pay for. It's unfortunate that Safety Stop has had to result to having their own saw manufactured. Now I will have to wait until there is a reputation of quality established in regard to the tool itself before purchasing a saw stop.

Comment from contributor D:
Earlier posts in this thread reporting experience with a SawStop machine predate design and production of the saws by SawStop.