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For all of us with shortened fingers...

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  • For all of us with shortened fingers...

    This is cool technology

  • #2
    There are a series of irate letters to Woodworker's Journal, the April 2004 issue, about Dr. Stephen Gass, the inventor of the Sawstop. I did not get the December 2003 WWJ, with the article "Can 30,000 Saw Accidents be Avoided?," but from what the letters say, Dr. Gass wants to get the Consumer Products Safety Commission to force saw manufacturers to include his device on all saws. The WWJ readers were irate, and I say "for good cause."

    Yep, it is cool technology alright, but I don't want to see any self-appointed savior of my fingers trying to shove his ideas on me, and make me live any aspect of my life the way he thinks I should.

    So, due to Dr. Gass' arrogance, I'll never buy a Sawstop. I'd rather be very careful and develop good, safe shop habits than rely on some electronic wonder that can fail.

    I could go on quite a rant about this, but the short version is that I think such "mandate this to protect them from their own stupidity" ideas are essentially un-American. None of the founding Fathers of this country were idiots, nor did any of them suffer fools gladly. They envisioned a country of informed and educated citizens. Ones with enough sense to exercise proper care and respect for a dangerous tool they might be using. Dumbing down the public destroys the country.


    • #3
      I will be the first to admit that I hate having things shoved down my throat but when it comes to proven safety devices saving someones finger(s) hand etc. I am all for it. I am very careful with my tools but one day a nasty kickback lost me half a knuckle, later I learned that several people were in the same boat or worse with their craftsman radial saws so bad that Emmerson recalled the gaurd and replaced it with a proper one.
      Radial Arm Saw Recall
      How about the poor fella that had a stroke while using his bandsaw and lost all the fingers on his right hand, can't be tagged as stupid or careless.
      The only way for this product to find its way into the market is for it to be included on all saws so it adds a few dollars to the cost of a saw and not a few hundred for a particualr manufacturer.
      I will leave you with this thought/question ...
      Do you have a airbag in any of your vehicles??


      • #4
        If the technology works, I wouldn't mind having it on my TS. The last thing I want to do is to lose a finger or two.

        - J


        • #5
          About 5 minutes after I posted the pissed-off rant above I got a bit clearer headed and calmed down a bit.

          First, I apologize to anyone who I may have offended who did exercise caution and respect for their tools and who, nonetheless was injured by an accident. Even with the best practices and attitude things can happen that lead to injury. However, this underscores my point, alluded to above, that the Sawstop is only a "device" and as such is itself subject to failure. So, even with the best "devices" protecting us, things can and will happen that can lead to injury.

          You all know very well that there are idiots out there that will view the Sawstop as a guarantee of safety and the false (because any device can fail) sense of security they get from the Sawstop will lead to lower vigilance and less attention to proper technique. Not only will injuries occur when Sawstops fail (and the tort lawyers will bankrupt Dr. Gass), but whole new types of dangers and injuries may well arise due to moron's new lax attitude with the Sawstop to "protect" them.

          If the Sawstop was simply being sold, like any other saw accessory, I'd be very much interested in whether or not it can be used on a radial arm saw (I have one, but no table saw). Perhaps the ultimate solution is to simply sell it as an add-on, like the Laserkerf or to convince manufacturers to offer it as an option. And give up any campaign to make the CPSC require it on all saws. Then it would be available for those who want it without the stigma of being something that is forced upon us. What I object to very strongly is Dr. Gass' (somehow a very appropriate name) desire to force the device upon us.

          Part of my anger about Dr. Gass' efforts stems from the fact that he owns the patents on this gadget. Sure, he is "protecting" us (from ourselves, to a degree), but he is going to reap rewards big-time if he succeeds in making the device mandatory. Because the Sawstop is, like any device, subject to failure itself and can not guarantee us 100% safety, and because Dr. Gass knows this, combined with his obvious financial interest in selling as many Sawstops as he can, I question the innocence of his motivations.

          My RS1000 has the newest blade guard Emerson makes on it. And at that I'm more than a little hesitant to use it for ripping. I think the anti-kickback pawls look too flimsy to stop a board that is being flung by the force of a 1.5hp motor. I have, before this topic was ever posted, thought about trying to add some really effective pawls to the front or rip-infeed side of the guard so it would have two sets of pawls. If I could do that, and if it would work, I'd rather replace a burned out motor that got bound up and fried than be injured or have the sh__ scared out of me by a kickback accident.

          FWIW, only one car of the three I own has an airbag, the Volvo 740 Turbo wagon I use to haul my three Great Danes around. I hate staring at that fat steering wheel and knowing that it contains something that can explode in my face. I don't like anything that has been forced upon the design of automobiles since the late 1960's. Except for pollution control and increased mileage standards, those I applaud. And I DO use my seat/shoulder belt religiously, but it is my choice to do so. Hated my mother-in-law's Toyota Camry with the automatic seat belts that strapped me in whether or not I wanted them on.

          What it comes down to is a matter of informed and intelligent choice and freedom. I'd probably buy a Sawstop if it were a matter of choice, because I'm aware of the dangers of power saws. [EDIT: That is exactly it. If there was no campaign to force the Sawstop on us, I'd not only buy one if it works on a RAS, but I'd probably be singing its praises to everyone that would listen. If Dr. Gass was not trying to force it on us.] I use my seat/shoulder belts because they are a matter of choice and I'm aware of the greatly increased saftey they offer. But I also know that, no matter what is there to "protect" us, accidents and injuries will happen in almost every possible activity, and I accept that.

          [ 03-30-2004, 08:43 AM: Message edited by: Scott C. ]


          • #6
            I guess he doesn't make enough money as a doctor.
            Anyway, If the bad doctor would like people to use his product then maybe he should sell add on kits for other saws, if the price were right I would consider it, it is always good to have cheap insurance, I've never had an accident, but anything can happen. The sawstop saws look nice, but the price is obscene. If all saws were legally required to be sold with this then the ryobi bt would probably run about $600, and as a result nobody in his right mind would buy one. The market in used saws would explode, there would be a black market in smuggled in saws that did not have the device.
            The doctor should go back to checking people for prostate problems and leave us alone.


            • #7
              Scott C,
              I agree that people should be allowed to make their own choices, good or bad. But there is a difference between airbags and sawstop. If I am driving my car and have a collision with an uninsured idiot and it is 100% the idiots fault but I cannot prove it, I will get sued, the attorneys will settle and I am screwed. If the idiot at least has an air bag then the injuries to the idiot will be minimized and I may save a few bucks.
              Basically, the US is being shafted by lawyers(not all lawyers). If Dr.Sawstop does not succeed in forcing this device upon all new saws, I guarantee he will hire a lawyer(a personal injury lawyer who is a democrat) and get as many people as possible who were injured by saws to form a class, and sue the saw manufacturers because of the injuries. Rather than have a long drawn out, and expensive lawsuit, they will settle and concede by agreeing to put sawstop on all saws.
              I am not a psychic(since there is no such thing) but when something involves a lawyer the future is easy to predict: We all lose!


              • #8
                That is VERY cool technology. However, I'm with Scott C. Don't force it down my throat, let me choose to buy it. I wear my seatbelt in my truck and my helmet and leathers while riding, not because I'm told to, but because I think its stupid not to.

                According to the FAQ, it does work on a RAS.



                • #9
                  Through a bizarre turn of events, I learned how much Sawstop was seeking in compentsation from the manufactorers to license his technology.
                  The amount was outrageous! This patent attorney trying to be a business man is his own worst enemy. This technology could easily be on every saw made today if he was not so greedy. Don't think for a second he is concerned for the well being of your fingers over his wallet.

                  The market place will determine how much the product is worth and so far it has spoken very clearly... 0.

                  [ 03-30-2004, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: emm ]


                  • #10
                    If people had this device on their saws would they become less careful? If you were less careful and the device failed, you lose fingers. What is better, no sawstop and being careful, or sawstop and the chance of being a little careless and sawstop failure?


                    • #11
                      SawStop does nothing to reduce kickback. I see many more accounts of kickback injury than lost/cut finger injuries.

                      SawStop cannot be added to an existing saw---the arbor/motor must be designed for the technology. Another forum I belong to had Dr. Gass post several times about his rational and motivation. He said all the platitudes and 'right' things---and then tried his bit with the CPSC.

                      You would also need to buy an extra cartridge---since once the SawStop fires, the cartrige must be replaced. Seems prudent to me the blade should also be replaced---since the sudden stop could very well cause a hidden fracture. I'd hate to turn on the saw after saving a finger to have the blade put out an eye.
                      Mac<P>Problems are opportunities in disguise


                      • #12
                        As I understand it this device, like an airbag, is a one time use product. For whatever reason, once it is used to stop the blade the saw can not be used again until the device is replaced. If something besides flesh can trigger this thing then using your TS could become a very expensive proposition. I haven't any idea what this device will add to the cost of a TS but you can bet the house it won't be a $50 add-on. Shop safety should always be a high priority with all of us but mandating this little gizmo on all TS's is way overkill, IMO.
                        I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


                        • #13
                          Just My 2 cent! I saw a demo of this device on a t.v. tech show awhile back. A hotdog was pushed into the blade as in the video post and it seemed to work leaving only minor damage. I thought great idea? But when accidently dropped on the blade from the top it cut halfway into the dog! The same was true if hit from behind! This device is set to stop and lower blade when contact is made but more so from straight on. Nothing is "fool" proof and should take the place of working safe. A good sharp blade can do damage very quickly, even if not at full speed! I agree accidents will happen but it should be consumers choice for the add on. Rick.


                          • #14
                            Ditto Scott
                            enuf said


                            • #15
                              Just a little anecdote for all of you. One day I was cleaning the cast iron table on my saw. Before starting, I lowered the blade to a point that I thought was below the table. I wasn't paying a lot of attention and stopped cranking when I felt resistance on the wheel. As it turns out, what I felt was a bunch of sawdust in the threads of the blade elevation mechanism. My carbide toothed Freud was actually about 1/32" above the table. I sprayed some rust inhibitor and then made some broad swipes with a thin rag over the table top. Next thing I knew, I had a deep slash in 4 finger tips and my pinky nail was gone!!! Moral of the story...these saws can be damned dangerous, even at a standstill and unplugged. Nothing will replace caution and common sense.