The Editors Mailbox

The Editors Mailbox

Blade brake inventor aims to compete with SawStop

comments (152) September 1st, 2011 in blogs, videos

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
thumbs up 263 users recommend

Video Length: 3:25
Produced by: Whirlwind

I was floating through the woodworking corner of the internet recently when I came across a website for a tablesaw accessory called the Whirlwind. It caught me eye because it claims to be a type of flesh-sensing safety device, so I took a closer look. The videos are certainly intriguing. (Check out the one I've embedded here, and go the company's YouTube page for more.) So, I gave the device's inventor, David Butler, a call to get more information. Here is what I found out.

First the nitty gritty on how it works. The device is a blade guard with intergrated dust collection. The lower edge of the guard has a capacitance touch sensor on it. Say what? That type of sensor, according to Butler, is nothing new. In fact, it is the type of sensor used in those lamps that you can turn on and off by touching the lamp stand. When your flesh touches the sensor, an electo-magnetic brake that stops the motor from turning is triggered. That brake brings the blade to a complete standstill in about 1/8 of a second. The brake works by introducing an eletrical current to the saw's wiring, so there isn't any need to attach some physical braking device to the motor. When the brake is triggered, the blade stops spinning. It doesn't drop beneath the table and it doesn't get pushed into a brake pad (both things happen on a SawStop). So, all you have to do after the brake is thrown is restart the saw. The blade isn't damaged.


Tablesaw Safety Quiz
Play Against the Grain: Crosscutting on the Tablesaw
Mastering Tablesaw Basics
Feds Draft New Tablesaw Regulations
Tablesaw Safety Goes Under the Microscope--Again

Now for some answers to questions you might have. The brake can be overriden in case you want to cut a material that would otherwise set it off. Butler told me that any electically conducive material, like metal, would set off the brake if it were large enough, but he hasn't done any testing to see what the lower limit is (in terms of size--for example, would a staple set it off?). Why, because he isn't worried about an occasionaly false trigger--the blade isn't damaged, so there is no harm.

Also, it is possible to mount the Whirlwind so that you can use a dado set or make other non-through cuts with the saw and keep the device in place.

The device can be retrofitted to existing tablesaws and, withouth modification, can be incorporated into new tablesaws as they are manufactured. Butler has applied for patents and is attempting to strike licensing deals for both options (retrofit, orginal equipment). That means it's not on the market yet. So, you can't buy one now. And, of course, it might not ever make it to market.

Check out the Whirlwind website. Butler is going to release a new prototype very soon. And finally, a few questions for you. Would you use a device like this? Keep in mind that many of us do not use blade guards now. That's a question I'm asking myself. Also, do you want any type of flesh-sensing technology on your saw? Or do you believe (and a lot of folks do--just read some forum discussions) that if you always and rigorously follow the tried-and-true safety techniques for ripping, crosscutting, etc. that you'll never have a need for any type of blade brake? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

posted in: blogs, videos

Comments (152)

MacGarnett MacGarnett writes: Very informative
Posted: 3:29 am on June 26th

Jamesjacob Jamesjacob writes: superb
Posted: 11:47 am on May 26th

Ashtonjames Ashtonjames writes: thanks for sharing
Posted: 12:16 pm on May 12th

FORNeil FORNeil writes: When younger I had little serious concern about injuring myself on my table saws. Now, entering the fourth-quarter, I'm less confident in my infallibility and would welcome Mr. Baker's guard or a similar blade guard that won't ruin blades and related equipment. I would like to see how effectively it works when cutting small/thin pieces.
Posted: 2:14 pm on November 16th

NotaMouthbreather NotaMouthbreather writes: WOW! I hope all the SawStop haters and Anti-gummint intrusionists will rush right out and cut the seat belts out of their cars, remove the airbags, never get another Tetanus shot, disable the smoke and CO detectors in their houses, drive drunk, eat some lead paint, huff some asbestos and get between a momma bear and her cubs. You've got rights, gosh darn it! Go ahead and lop off a few fingers if you wish.

(An aside to Mr. Butler: I think your Whirlwind is a FANTASTIC idea. That it can be retrofit to existing equipment should be a huge selling point for you. I hope you save as many fingers as Sawstop has.)

Posted: 10:50 pm on November 28th

RHF RHF writes: I would purchase something like this before I would a SS. I am sure the electronics could be improved to match those of a ground fault interrupter which is 2 nanoseconds and that is fast enough to keep you from getting shocked. I don't want government telling me what I have to buy but have no problem with protecting myself. Hopefully this is cheap enough so that everyone who wants one can afford it.
Posted: 1:45 am on August 21st

gregre052 gregre052 writes: I have followed the debate over Sawstop for quite a while. I expected the normal complaints whenever anything is new, but I am amazed at the resistance shown by people I would expect to be realistic, i.e. woodworkers.
When this technology was first introduced the company made clear that they fully expected there would be improvements. Look at a modern airliner or fighter plane and look at the Wright brothers. Clearly the Wright brothers did NOT invent a useful product. Clearly the industry following made it so much better it is almost unrecognizable. Improvement is expected. Putting forward a product that does not do the job is silly. Purchasing it is sillier. Write me a letter when you have seen your fingers on the floor telling me that you still like the cheaper version. I like laughing. But I didn't laugh when my fingers hit the dirt.
Posted: 9:07 pm on April 15th

Archon Archon writes: There's a lot of misinformation on this thread that seems to indicate the same lack of attention that loses fingers in the shop. The system above is triggered by proximity not a touch to the blade. There may well be NO tooth encounters before blade stops - which is precisely what you see in the video - NO blade encounter at all. The brake triggers BEFORE you touch the blade.

Instead of destroying a valuable blade and running up a very costly repair bill replacing the SS-style brake, you still have a usable saw that stopped very, very quickly, a reminder you were not paying proper attention, and all your digits. Better yet, if the zombies in our elected government do pass a law to protect us from our wandering minds and ignorance, the device can be retrofitted to an existing saw, something that can't be done with SawStop. Personally I would like that, since MY saw was shipped from China with a guard that simply couldn't be attached. So, any time I use it, I'm bloody terrified. Of course I feel that way about my chisels too, and I doubt that anyone can invent a chisel stop, or a kevlar glove fine enough to allow proper sense of touch.
Posted: 3:09 am on February 19th

golfer299 golfer299 writes: The fact that the blade stop isn't super fast shouldn't be a problem be cause the sensor is mounted on the blade guard and contact with the sensor should occur well before contact with the blade. Advantages: doesn't ruin the blade; should work the same with any type of blade. Disadvantages: Requires the blade guard to be in place and, in actuality, a decent blade guard with splitters/riving knive pretty much elimates the blade danger issue without need of an add-on. The vast majority of accidents must be a saws with the blade guarde removed. This is the advantage of Saw Stop in that it works(?) even if a blade guarde isn't in place. Does anyone have experience with Saw Stop with dado sets, fine toothed blades, etc?

Something for the Government to ponder: some time ago, lawnmowers were required to be equipped with an engine/blade stop device if the operator hand(s) came off the mower handle. How about a safety switch to cut power when the blade guard is removed? A lot cheaper with probably 90 - 95% of the effectiveness of these devices.
Posted: 9:53 pm on February 18th

jamierodg jamierodg writes: I'm not interested in a technology I can "add" to an existing table saw. I feel better about an integrated system designed from the ground up. I bought a Sawstop for three reasons: people do make mistakes no matter how careful they are, the lights go off at the wrong time, you slip on something, sneeze, or some idiot surprises you at exactly the wrong moment; secondly because it is a beautiful well built saw with trunnions that look like they could support a cannon; and third - because it is the one tool I have ever gotten because my wife truly wanted me to get it. You would never have heard of Johnny Cash's brother (who fell onto a table saw) if Sawstop came out in 1925.

The arguments against sound a lot like why ABS was going to increase accidents. My favorite is that this technology gives you a false sense of security. How many of you have the guts to do something that has a good chance of running your hand into a spinning blade? Carbide blade running at a thousand rpms... I do not feel secure despite Sawstop.
Posted: 7:43 pm on February 18th

Paul5 Paul5 writes: Yes, very funny and very sarcastic but it does make me want to buy one. Especially after watching the cutting all four hot dogs demonstration but I believe that I'd yank my had away after I lost the first one! But what to do with my current saw? Sell it to a rookie so that he can cut his finger off! I'd ask a few questions first to make sure the buyer has some basic safety skills and jigs, etc.

If the Federal Government really wants to increase safety they should reduce the huge patent backlog so these safety devices can make it to the market quicker. "...The average pendency for a patent today is 40+ months. Pendency is the time it takes the patent office to process a patent and there are currently more than a million applications stuck in pendency. This is a disgrace...":
Posted: 12:11 pm on February 18th

flg flg writes: I have been using table saws for over 20 years. I am both a Journeyman carpenter and cabinetmaker up in Alberta. I have gone through the apprenticeship program and can tell you that in training they take safety seriously on all machines. What i do not like is someone telling me what I need on my saw. Common sense goes a long way. If you are using any machinery and have second thoughts about the action you are about to preform....then maybe you should not proceed. If the machines are used properly, there should be no incidents.

In my opinion, like everything else, this is more about money than saving fingers. Do any of you really think these inventors are concerned about your fingers? If they were that concerned, the Sawstop (for example)would be more affordable.

Maybe we need licenses to operate this machinery then everyone would have to take a safety course. :)

I personally hate being treated like I am stupid and that I need a governing body to dictate what kind of machines I can use in my shop.
Posted: 10:26 am on February 18th

zacker01 zacker01 writes: ...aaanother thing... This guy was never instructed on how to use (or how not to use0 the saw.. was his boss a ninny? was this guy a ninny? like i said, use a jigg, even without a rip fence, its the safest way to cut.
Posted: 7:08 am on October 10th

zacker01 zacker01 writes: I like the whirlwind but, its only good for the cuts you can make with it attached to the saw. I always thought and still think one of the best ways to keep your digits intact is by useing jiggs and hold downs... a cross cut jig will keep your fingers out of harms way, feather boards will help keep your wood stable and going in the right directions, a sled for use with a dado that also has hold down to keep the board from moving about during the cut will help, as will sharp, clean blades. Sure the saw stop is nice but its cost will put alot of people in danger simply because they will be buying and using ollder style saws, even junky ones because it will be all they can afford...and when it stops, it does so much damage, whats the cost of repairs to your saw stop saw after it saves a finger? I know, I know, safety first and saving a finger is the important thing but, now you saws broke, it will be alot of $$ to fix, probably down for a week or so.. so what happens, MR contractor will break out his small Ryobi contractors saw and use that one agaon.
Posted: 7:06 am on October 10th

BurtF BurtF writes: "...if you always and rigorously follow the tried-and-true safety techniques for ripping, crosscutting, etc... you'll never have a need for any type of blade brake"

The problem is the word always. New ways (designs included)for improving safety are continuosly appearing. So it's not like the tried-and-true are sufficient, if they were, there'd be little need for new safety improvements.

The biggest problem with the tried-and-true techniques is that too many untrained people, be they workers like Osorio or the neighbor nextdoor with his first-ever table saw, use these machines with little or no knowledge of what is tried and true or they look for expediant short cuts and throw safety out the window.

So the misguided thinking becomes do what's necesary to protect everyone in every possible situation, no matter the cost. (Why do we have that engine interrupt bar on lawn mowers?) If you are a manufacturer you need a crystal ball or some day in the future someone is going to do something stupid and unsafe with your product, get injured or worse and file suit.

I'd use the brake but I don't want it or the SawStop technology dictated to manufactureres. Let the market pull them that way, don't let the courts push them that way.
Posted: 5:35 am on October 9th

Chris516 Chris516 writes: This is a good idea but for those of us who don't use the guard a better device would trigger the brake when our fingers came in contact with the blade insert.
Posted: 8:21 pm on October 8th

DELSPIN DELSPIN writes: I would ABSOLUTELY be interested in adding this type of product to my cabinet saw. I tried to buy a Saw Stop several years ago, but they weren't in production yet at the time. I can't substantiate replacing my Powermatic at this point, but I would LOVE to add Saw Stop or similar technology. Unlike some of my peers, I try to use a splitter and guard on all cuts, but obviously it's not possible every time. I try to be careful, but as a couple of my nine-fingered friends would say, it only takes a momentary distraction to permanently change your life. And I'm not arrogant enough to believe (in the words Oingo Boingo) "nothing bad ever happens to me". An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and my fingers are definitely worth the cost!
Posted: 1:50 am on September 18th

pmcgee pmcgee writes: If the detection occurs 1cm away from the blade, then the finger has to travel that distance before contact.
1cm in 1/8th second = 8cm per second.
That seems quite a possible hand speed, but also that the contact may not occur over the whole 1/8th second.

Paul McGee
Posted: 4:28 am on September 13th

NastyJack NastyJack writes: This is an interesting alternative to the Saw Stop technology and with more development may someday provide both commercial and home woodworkers with a finger-saving device at an affordable price.

However, the stated performance of stopping the blade in one-eighth of a second is simply not fast enough. A ten-inch blade on a typical table saw as a tip speed of about 2200 inches per second. Stopping the blade in one-eighth of a second sounds fast, but in reality, 275 inches of saw teeth will rotate before the blade comes to a stop. That corresponds to almost nine revolutions from the time the sensor detects a finger to the time the saw blade comes to a full stop. More than enough to take off a finger!

Posted: 1:45 pm on September 12th

KenBA KenBA writes: Yes, I would definately use it if the price was reasonable. I have been thinking about both a dust collector device for the table saw and a saw stop saw and this would do both.
I look forward to hearing more about it.
Posted: 5:33 pm on September 11th

JimKoren JimKoren writes:

Hey joe4liberty and other libertarian,

Don't mix safety in your own home with safety in the workplace. We all deserve a safe work environment. Those small businesses that don't provide a safe work environment are often greedy and leave it to society to pick up the cost. The lack of regulating "greed" has shown to be very costly. Just look at our economy today.

I DO care about your safety at home because when you cut off your hand I'll end up paying part of the bill. If you have insurance, my rate will go up. If you don't have insurance, my taxes will go up to pay for your trip to the emergency room. If you have no insurance but are wealth, you will be wasting societies wealth and, although small, my standard of living will go down.

God gave me only two hands and a non-perfect brain. So I purchased a SawStop so when my primary safety device, my brain, fails me, I have a backup.

Posted: 4:42 pm on September 10th

2dtenor 2dtenor writes: joe4liberty:

I am politically conservative with libertarian leanings. I need no soapbox lectures on liberty and responsibility. I understand what you are saying but you miss the point.

You sound very idealistic and there is nothing wrong with that, but your understanding of the way things "ought to" work, based on your political philosophy, comports with how things happened before - maybe - 1800. That is not the way things work today. If the cost of these accidents was borne entirely by the injured person (as would have happened before 1800,) then letting each individual make that choice would be acceptable. But that is not the case in the society which we have today. You can click your heels three times but you're still not gonna be back in Kansas.

You responded to the example of the guy working in the shop by pointing out that he can quit and get a job elsewhere. Really? Are you familiar with the current unemployment statistics?

You also said that he can make a claim against the shop owner if he is injured. Worker's rights are severely restricted by workers' compensation laws and the benefits available to most injured workers do not even replace their lost wages and benefits. However, the cost of workers' comp. premiums increases with every claim that is paid and that cost is ALWAYS passed on to consumers. Hire someone to put a new roof on your house; as of 2005, the rates for roofing contractors were between $38 and $50 per hundred dollars of payroll for comp. coverage and that cost will be passed on to you. Your otherwise $10,000 roof job will actually cost $13,800 - $15,000 if installed by an insured contractor. However, the majority of roofing contractors in Florida do not carry worker's comp. An injured roofer (or his widow) can sue the uninsured employer but the odds are that the worker (or widow) will never collect any money from the employer. Social Security Disability will pay benefits and you and I will cover that cost.

If an injured table saw consumer requires surgery to repair his mangled finger, either his health insurance pays the cost or the government pays the costs. If health insurance pays, that affects premiums for everyone else who has the same insurance; this is what insurance underwriters call their "claims experience." If the government pays the cost of the medical care, then you must understand that "government" means you and me and everybody else. . . . Who is missing the point about individual responsibility?

If you are going to use "facts" to bolster your argument, you should be more careful in checking out the facts. The average automobile in 1930 cost $600-700 and the average annual salary was about $1,350; you couldn't buy a car for one month's salary in 1930. And, you suggested that cars are not safer today. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rate of fatal automobile collisions per vehicle-mile decreased by a factor of about 17 between 1920 and 2000!

If you are all about individual responsibility, then you should actually like the concept of mandated safety devices. If the cost of a blade stop is included in the price of a new table saw, I must bear the cost of my own safety; if I cannot afford the cost of a safer table saw, then I don't get to use an unsafe table saw and take a chance on passing along to the rest of us the cost of my negligence when I injure myself.

It is easier for average citizens to criticize legal theory that they do not understand. It is always easier to be critical when arguing from a position of ignorance. I have worked as an attorney for more than 25 years and I can say with confidence that most - certainly not all, but most - decisions made in the law are based on good reasoning and common sense; you would understand that if you took the time to understand. I would suggest that you read some of the writings of Judge Richard Posner on economic theory, corporate behavior, and product safety, as well as the earlier writings of Judge Learned Hand concering the propriety of mandated safety.
Posted: 8:02 am on September 10th

mikeyannred mikeyannred writes: I like the concept and the demo. I hate to say that I might get it depending on the cost, but cost is an important issue. I would further like to see a live demo including how effective the dust collection is, and how much this guard interferes with the operator, if at all.
Posted: 10:55 pm on September 9th

saschafer saschafer writes:

You picked an exceptionally bad example for your anti-regulatory rant: From 1920 to 2008, automobile fatalities in the US have dropped steadily, year by year, by an overall factor of TWENTY. Because of safety improvements in both automobile and roadway designs, you are now only 5% as likely to die in an automobile accident, per mile traveled, as your great grandfather was. Even in just the last decade, fatalities have dropped from 1.55 to 1.13 per 100 million miles traveled, with electronic stability control being responsible for a significant portion of that decline (estimates are that ESC--now required on all new vehicles sold in the US--has reduced fatalities by around 18%).

On top of all of that, and despite all of the moaning and groaning about the cost of regulations, the inflation-adjusted price of a new car has actually stayed pretty steady over the years (both inflation and new car price increases have averaged a little under 4% annually). And this doesn't even take into consideration the fact that cars these days last much longer than they used to. (It's true that the buying power of the average American has gone down over the last few decades, but that's because a significant fraction of wealth has shifted from the middle class to the upper few percent of the population, and has nothing to do with the cost of regulation.)

In 1963, a friend of mine was killed in an automobile accident while driving a Chevrolet Corvair (the other three people in the car were injured but survived). He died because the steering column in the Corvair was (a) solid, rather than collapsible, and (b) extended further forward than any other portion of the vehicle's major mechanical components, thereby almost guaranteeing that the driver would be impaled in a frontal collision. That sort of fatality simply cannot happen today, because of changes in steering mechanism design (driven by regulation, of course--most auto manufacturers at the time were adamantly opposed).


Posted: 1:07 pm on September 9th

shoptroll shoptroll writes: Joe4Liberty
wrote that gov't regulation to prevent us from needing to think (my words) is called "the tragedy of the commons". This is not quite correct. The tragedy of the commons refers to the over explotation of public resourses. The most important example to woodworkers being how lumber stocks get depleted. No lumberjack wants the tree stock decimated, but as an individual lumberjack, his job is to harvest as much as possible and make as much money as he can for his family. The solution to this problem is regulating the harvesting of the resource. One of the few places where gov't really is needed.

Posted: 11:21 pm on September 8th

jlluft jlluft writes: A compilation of medical injury reports from emergency rooms across the country shows that an average of ten people suffer severed fingers from a tablesaw every day as reported in the New York Times. That is roughly 3500 to 4000 people each year who wish they had used this technology.
Posted: 8:37 pm on September 8th

joe4liberty joe4liberty writes: 2dtenor, it's called the tragedy of the commons, the fact that no one is held responsible when we allow the government to make our decisions and choices for us, and as a result the exact opposite of what we desired comes to pass. This is a result of a concept that somehow we can legislate ourselves into a richer more safe society. The fact is that you cannot legislate an end to accidents. Look at the safety devices implemented into the automobile industry in the past 80 years, yet the #2 killer of Americans is the automobile. The only difference is that a car now costs a full year's salary as opposed to a month's salary back in 1930, yet we are still being killed by the hundreds of thousands. But none of this is going to matter if you believe that somehow government regulation will somehow override human choice. I prefer to call it being a grown up. Read the various posts in woodworking forums if you need proof. How many woodworkers take the blade guard off of their table saw? Table saw guards are legislated, and in the end it did not override choice, all that it did was raise the cost of table saws. The exact safety benefit would have been gained by saw manufacturers offering them to those who want them.
No matter the question, liberty is the answer. If you think that the safety device is a good idea, you should use it - Period. Now to your heart-string pulling example; your example was about someone employed in a woodshop. That one is simple, the shop owner has the choice to supply such devices, and has the choice to provide training on the tools, and has the choice to oversee the employees to be sure that they are acting safely. The employee has the choice to work at the shop. If the shop is not safe, the employee should work elsewhere (there are even more dangerous jobs that the employee can pursue if he thinks that the shop is too safe – coal mining for instance). It is in the shop owner's best interest to provide the safest shop, and the best training because we have a thing in this country called a legal system. If the employee is harmed through no fault of his own he has the option to hold the shop owner accountable. Sadly the trend in America lately is to run contrary to common law, and hold those of us who are not responsible (consumers) to pay the bill in the form of mandated technologies that may or may not actually provide a benefit, yet will definitely cost more. Again, requiring saw manufacturers to put this guard on their saw, or sawstop’s device on their saw will do nothing considering that either system can be overridden – much like a seat belt.
I’ll NEVER buy a sawstop as a result of their shenanigans of trying to force us to buy them through legislation, but if I cut my finger off as a result, I will not hold the saw manufacturer responsible because they did not include the sawstop break. That is the other thing missing in America; the ingrained knowledge that with liberty comes responsibility. If our courts would stop holding others responsible for our decisions, I would not be writing this post right now. If you want to buy a Sawstop, you should not be allowed to make the choice to buy one, if you do not and cut your finger off, your saw’s manufacturer, and by proxy all of their future customers and shareholders should not bear the burden of that decision. So again, buy what you want, as mentioned, if it becomes available, I’ll buy it, but please don't force the rest of my wood working brethren to buy a product just because you and I think it's a good idea.

Posted: 6:29 pm on September 8th

2dtenor 2dtenor writes: There is a problem with saying that these types of safety decisions should be a matter of individual choice. If a 24 year-old guy with a wife and two kids is employed in a woodworking shop and he loses a hand, he may end up on Social Security Disability and his kids may end up on several government benefits programs. Those benefits won't be funded entirely by the Social security contributions he made in the past 3 or 4 years; that money's already been spent. So, who do you think is going to pay for all of that? Maybe if it's you and you lose a finger but nothing more, you won't end up receiving government benefits, but . . . there are lots of folks out there who get hurt in work place accidents that could have been prevented with appropriate safety measures in place. That is why the law requires these types of safety devices: the cost is ultimately borne by our society and not just by the individual involved in the accident.
Posted: 5:45 pm on September 8th

joe4liberty joe4liberty writes: The question was: would I use such a device? The answer: yes. While it is true that the best safety device sits between my shoulders, I believe in more, not less safety. Should such devices be required: Hell NO!, such decisions should be for each individual. As to the 1/8 second stop time, #1) 1/8 second is a LOT faster than the stop time done by a person manually turning off the saw with a finger missing, so it's a vast improvement over not having it, and #2) the sensor is not on the blade as with the SawStop, it’s on the guard which appears to be more than an inch from the blade. Thus, by the time the finger hits the blade, it may have already been a 1/8 second since the sensor picked up the finger (depending of feed rate of course). I have a European munti-function saw (Robland x-31) which is safer in and of itself, add this, and I'd be even more so.
Now to the big question; would it be under the work bench as much as on the saw? Answer, that depends on the design. From the video, it appears that there is a bracket mounted to the top. This would allow me to mount it to an arm suspended from the ceiling, allowing me to use it on 90%+ of the cuts that are made on the saw, including dados, and other 'blind' cuts. I have been trying to find a decent ceiling mounted saw blade guard for some time. I have become amazed by the lack of viable overhead / ceiling mounted blade guard systems there are out there, and am now assuming that I have to design and build one myself. If this guard became available, I would definitely incorporate it. If the designed offered a ceiling mounted system to use with it my answer would be: where do I send the check?

Posted: 5:14 pm on September 8th

JP1972 JP1972 writes: APO makes the right doesn't require you to touch it to activate it. So, it isn't 1/8 of a second after contact with your skin; it is 1/8 of a second after sensing the presence of your hand.

I think both ideas are great. Let me ask all of you brave folks out there..."if your 14 year old daughter were taking a woodworking class at high school (if you could find one any more) would you want the table saw to have one of these technologies? Or would you want to rely on her brain?"
Posted: 4:50 pm on September 8th

JP1972 JP1972 writes:
Posted: 4:47 pm on September 8th

Spilperson Spilperson writes: I don't believe that 1/8 of a second is fast enough. You will have moved your hand, finger, whatever a significant distance into the blade and will likely still have a serious injury. It might stop you from losing a hand, but you might still lose a finger.

Still, it is a start. I hope he is continuing to improve the product. I would like to hear more about how it works.

I rarely use a guard. I am usually using a sled or a jig of some kind.
Posted: 10:14 pm on September 7th

2dtenor 2dtenor writes: Of course we are all supposed to use our brains and be the ultimate safety device for our bodies, but . . . how many of us have NEVER had any accident while working in the shop? Devices like this are not intended to replace our brains or relieve us of responsibility for our own safety, but they are intended to supplement all the precautions which we take, because you never get any "do overs" in the shop; once that finger is gone, it's gone forever.

Should this device be adopted by all saw manufacturers? I'm not sure that a blade stop in 1/8 of a second is going to significantly reduce injuries as would the SawStop. However, it is nice to see someone else working on competing technology. Isn't capitalism grand?

Should the law require manufacturers to adopt the SawStop or comparable technology? Google "Learned Hand formula for negligence" to see how that question would be decided in the courts.
Posted: 7:43 pm on September 7th

GrenadaBarefoot GrenadaBarefoot writes: Although my first choice would be to go to a european type table saw as they are far safer I would very much consider this blade guard system. One it has dust extraction and that would be great and the safety stop is nice especially since it doesn't destroy the blade and cost $100 for a new brake pad and you can use a dado blade. Then there is the ability to work on any saw.
Great idea, hope he has protected himself as well as Gass has!
Posted: 7:33 pm on September 7th

gstilwell gstilwell writes: This sounds like a nice invention-especially to counter the $-based saw stop with it's bogus testing hype. BUT, the safety sensor of any woodworking tool lies in the BRAIN of the woodworker. When you know it can hurt you, you respect it!(remember when your Mom told you not to touch the stove burner? You won't do THAT again)
If you think you're safer, you will take more chances(look at the number of auto accidents after seat belts were mandated).
(it's ok Son, we have an 'auto-touch-no-burn-finger' stove)
I do applaud the Whirlwind inventor, though.
Posted: 6:45 pm on September 7th

Blutt Blutt writes: I believe that any product that improves safety will have a place shops, maybe not my shop or your shop but somewhere it will be beneficial and therefore a good thing. What I am opposed to is any manufacturer, such as sawstop, that tries to protect us from ourselves through legislation. I believe that legislation that protects us from being harmed by the actions of others is typically a good thing but protecting us from our own actions only perpetuates what I believe to be an apparently increasing lack of personal responsibility. I believe it is self interest groups such sawstop that are distorting the purpose and goals of our political system and that the politicians, touting it as good for the common man, and lawyers, equating more laws with more profits, are only too happy to play along.
Posted: 10:01 pm on September 6th

RevBob RevBob writes: Sounds good, but.. It stops in 1/8 second and stays in place. If the blade turns at 3600 RPM then that is 7.5 turns. A 40 tooth blade would present 300 cutting teeth before it stops. The question is does this still present a real danger. It may not damage the blade which incurs a cost and lost machine time but is this really "safe". I don't own a Sawstop nor do I plan to, but it seems that 1/200th of a second or 1/3 of a turn at 3600 rpm (13.3 teeth on a 40 tooth blade) while rapidly retracting from the cutting zone will do far less damage.

Sawstop did offer to license the technology to all saw manufacturers and was refused by everyone. So he decided the technology was important enough to make it available to everyone through his own saws.

However it would be very nice to see Sawstop have some serious competition. We would all benefit from an add-on feture that would give true safety.
Posted: 8:22 pm on September 6th

tenleft tenleft writes: This seems like a reasonable alternative to the bladestop. The problem is that the only reason bladestop is going anywhere is because a lawyer is going to get very very rich from it. As far as I have seen the process being used to draft the regs that will require sawstop almost specify it by name. Getting them redrafted so they are a performance specification open enough to allow for something like whirlwind will take concerted effort. Who does such things? If they pass the hat I will contribute.
Posted: 3:40 pm on September 6th

sandylns sandylns writes: This sounds like a good idea. I see that it is intended to improve safety on construction jobs sites. These are the worst areas for accidents. However, until blade guards are made mandatory, accidents on construction sites will continue.
As for the commercial or serious wood worker, I can see a place for this without the expense of a Sawstop. If improvements can be incorporated into a Unisaw or similar saw without costing an arm and a leg (pun intended)I am sure wood workers would go for it.
Having been making sawdust for over sixty years I still say there is no substitute for a good fence and guard plus watching what you are doing. Sure, there are time when a fence can be a bother, using jigs and dadoes comes to mind. But, basic saw safety is in the hands of the operator. Not paying attention for even a fraction of a second can be fatal.
Posted: 2:04 pm on September 6th

jffwht jffwht writes: I love this! Especially since it is such a viable option over the lawyer's blade destroying technology. I'll buy this the second it hits the market! Products like this could keep the government working on more important items like, balancing the budget..or maybe not.
Posted: 1:51 pm on September 6th

REH REH writes: Well that's pretty cool. I think it will be interesting to see a final product and further details how it works. If it works by locking the motor we should see a durability test on the saw's linkage to determine if the device damages the the saw's drive linkage and/or defeats the stopping ability of the device if the linkage fails especially on higher powered saws that use drive belts. The web site shows the device mounted on a Unisaw with increased stopping time over the video claims above so I suppose it is working against a lot more spinning mass. At any rate if the device ever makes it to market I will investigate it further since it could be a retro fit to my 1990s Unisaw. I already use a Unigaurd so working with the gaurd has become second nature to me.

Posted: 10:55 am on September 6th

mmonnat mmonnat writes: As a non-professional, but fairly serious woodworker with more than 30 years of experience (and all of my fingers), I was pretty impressed with the concept. I am a Delta Unisaw user, and while I seriously considered the SawStop prior to the purchase of my new saw, I was put off by the expense. I did like the idea one poster floated about combining the two technologies -- would have been much more attractive to me probably than the SawStop alone.
Posted: 9:32 am on September 6th

Tuk2 Tuk2 writes: I think that if a device was available to save a severed finger or worse and doesn't require major attachment issues then everyone who REALLY values what you have in the way of digits should have one. If it does not damage your equipment or blades then there should be no excuse to not have one. I hope that this idea hits the mass markets for everyones safety and all saws will have it attached.

And finally, if everyone was always at the top of their game and was never tired or distracted we would never have accidents.
So those of you who think you are above accidents, your day
just hasn't come yet. It will, and maybe that day you will
have installed this system just the day before you had your accident and you still have 10 digits left. Stay well.
Posted: 7:13 pm on September 5th

Dzunner Dzunner writes: I find this to be a poor substitute for the Saw Stop technology. There is no way as a professional woodworker that I could use this device with any degree of accuracy as it renders any of the crosscutting or custom jigs and devices useless for such a small return in perceived safety. The best defense against accidents is expert training and for the user to be paying attention. I have had my share of accidents and have lived to tell the tale but I find this contraption to have too much hype for the loss of visibility one would need with the material and the blade to make any significant impact. I have also seen the Saw Stop activate its brake when the user was wearing a watch that came into contact with the table, so it is all a matter of how safe do you want to be to feel secure. To try an nullify the dangers of the tools we use is a realistic impossibility. Everything we use can maim or kill, but then again so is the average automobile if care and experience are not used.
Posted: 5:39 pm on September 5th

kingmanson kingmanson writes: If you get to the point, with this device, that you have made contact with the blade you have already bypassed the safety mechanism. The company that should license this technology is SawStop. If you put this on a SawStop saw you will likely never make contact with the blade and therefore save the brake and blade replacement. However, if somehow you do actually make contact with the blade, the brake and blade would be a small price to pay.
Posted: 11:42 am on September 5th

REDFOX2 REDFOX2 writes: I have been using table saws for the last 61 years as a hobby, I have never nicked any fingers and I wear safety glasses and use push sticks, a fence and miter guage at all times, I work in red and black cherry, maple and white oak and a few tropical hardwoods. I have watched builders shove a 2X6 length of spruce into a 10" saw blade with no fence or miter guage and then they wonder why the wood went into orbit over their shoulder. It is so easy to practice safety all the time. The best investment I have made in the last two years was the purchase of an Incra Fence Positioner and an Incra 1000SE Miter Guage. Also people have accidents by putting warped lumber into a table saw. I applaude any new safety device that comes along but I will wait and watch my fingers.
Posted: 9:16 am on September 5th

Beyond20kHz Beyond20kHz writes: As the satisfied owner of a SawStop PCS, one thing I'd like to point out over the constant concern over wrecking a blade with that system is that the only likely incident to lead to the brake being activated is that my hand contacted the blade. And, given what the event would likely have lead to should the braking system not have activated, I'll happily give up the costs of replacing the blade and brake.

That said, I hope to be in the position of still using the original brake cartridge 10 years from now.

This is not to diminish the fact that we should all be pleased to finally see a concerted effort behind these technologies and a greater emphasis on product safety. Kudos to Whirlwind for working to prove that there is more than one way to "skin this cat".

What I would REALLY like to see is some R&D efforts by the actual manufacturers to come up with some new ideas. Given that both Whirlwind and SawStop originated from what were essentially garage based companies, I'd like to see what the manufacturers would be able to do with the sorts of R&D money and resources they likely have at their disposal.
Posted: 7:18 am on September 5th

Carlkoz Carlkoz writes: I love the prototype of the whirlwind system a blade guard with dust collection that also acts as a electronic brake. The safety device looks like it works very well and does not damage the blade. I hope it is developed and its cost is not too high. I sure would like to have one.
Posted: 12:55 am on September 5th

ohgtogeorge ohgtogeorge writes: Well to all the seasoned woodworkers both with and without all their fingers I think this is a significant step in making the hobby and job safer for many. Fortunately I still have all my fingers and do alot of table saw work. I would seriously want to try one of these systems and would encourage others to as well. To the number counters: good for you you can count the number of teeth and speed of rotation but the sensor is in the guard itself, well away from the blade. Good on you David.
Posted: 8:28 pm on September 4th

Fabuladico Fabuladico writes: I would love to have this device mounted on my tablesaw. I think it has many advantages over Sawstop. Of course it wouldn't work for dado cuts, but that's still an advantage over conventional table saws with no safety device. Sure, I'd try it. Why not?
Posted: 4:34 pm on September 4th

abcabc abcabc writes: I would love this device. I believe in using every safety device to its maximum. I always use the blade guard, push sticks, full face shield..., but I have had kick-backs and can see the potential for mistakes. This device would limit the damage. I don't mind a nick, it is the major cut or loss that is a worry.

This device is viable because it is retrofit instead of $2500 for whole new machine.
Posted: 3:37 pm on September 4th

usafchief usafchief writes: All the safety features on any tool are fine, but 2 things every body seems to forget.....The operator is the greatest safety device in any shop.... The are no accidents in any wood working shop, only stupid mistakes.... Yes, my left thumb is 3/8 of an inch shorter due to failure to use a push stick. My blade guard is one that is suspended from an arm that allows the guard to swing out of the way when not used. It is counterweighted and uses a paralell arm system.(I believe I made this after seeing one in Fine Woodworking more than 30 years ago) This allows me to use molding head cutters, dado blades and make my own cove moldings on the table saw without having to remove a guard... There are even ways to work safely without a riving knife,which I have been doing for over 50 years...... Leave stupidity at the shop door..............
Posted: 3:26 pm on September 4th

AJCoholic AJCoholic writes: Any new technology that promotes safety, or lessens the chance of an accident doing harm to one's body is great. However, I'll stick with my Sawstop saw. The guard on this thing will not be practical for all kinds of cuts, and those tricky cuts where you need to remove the guard, and get close it to thew blade are where this will fall short and an integrated system like the Sawtop does not (not to mention the difference between 1/8 of a second, and one or two thousandths is HUGE). I have been a full time custom woodworker for 20+ years now, no table saw injuries and even with the Sawstop I purchased last year (to replace a Delta Unisaw) I treat the saw like it is capable of cutting off my fingers.
My only fear is that newer woodworkers might not take as much care with the machinery, when such a device is in place - when it should really be looked at as an addition on top of safe saw use/practice, and not something to allow the user to let their guard down so to speak.
Posted: 2:35 pm on September 4th

hossman hossman writes: The number of teeth you hit has nothing to do with it.


If I am feeding my fingers into the blade at 1" per second I am going to feed 1/8" of my finger into the blade in the 1/8th of a second it takes to stop that saw. Period. Slower feed, shallower cut. Faster speed, deeper cut. How wide is your finger? How deep do you have to go to get all the way through it or deep enough to lose the whole thing?

The math is that simple. Stop overthinking.
Posted: 2:08 pm on September 4th

Brucegist Brucegist writes: This is encouraging, but I doubt that it will stop the blade quickly enough to avoid amputating a finger or two. I calculate that a ten inch blade rotating at 3600 revolutions per minute will move the blade teeth past the point of contact with a finger at the rate of about 236 inches in an eigth of a second. Even if the average RPM during the stopping period is only half of that, quite a few teeth would pass the point of contact in the 118 inches of travel.

How quicly must the blade stop to avoid injury? That is the first question that must be answered for any device to be successful.
Posted: 1:30 pm on September 4th

sawzall316 sawzall316 writes: Very cool! More inovation and ideas to promt safty. The compatabilaty with all saws now makes it very interesting and ups the antie relaivly with competing sawstop!
Posted: 10:57 am on September 4th

Woodfrogg Woodfrogg writes: Well this is an interesting approach for those interested in improving the safety of the saw they use.

This is fantastic, especially if you can not afford a saw stop but want to increase the safety of your saw. Heck, if you wanted to be properly safe with a saw stop you still would use a blade guard as you never want to touch a blade even if an explosive device stops it when you do. At least I don't want to ever touch a spinning blade.

I think if I was a shop owner with paid staff and wanted to see about decreasing my insurance costs I would ask my insurer if adding this to a saw stop would bring my costs down. If it was in my budget I probably would do it not matter what.

With this system on a saw stop you would achieve a layered safety system. First we have a way to detect if you are getting to close to the blade then if you get past that, the saw stop would stop the blade. Now that's text book industrial safety to keep the lawyers off your back and your staff safe no matter what stupid things they do on a table saw - provided they did not remove the safety equipment.

However, as a person who in his distant past use to be an industrial safety instructor/inspector . . . it will not improve the safety of an unsafe operator on a construction site, or in a shop environment.

The thing is you have to want to work safe to use this product or the saw stop. Seriously, if you always use a fence, the blade guard that comes with the saw and use push sticks you will be safe. This is why many of us are not willing to purchase these devices.

For example. . . how many of you commenting on this would do a reverse cut or my favorite which I see all the time on construction sites . . . . rip a 2x4 or 2x6 without a fence or for that matter without a fence and riving knife. I can't do it . . . period . . . . in my life I was trained and mentored how to properly operate tools. From my father to everyone else around me. I have always worked in an environment that if coworkers saw you do stupid things like this you would be approached and employers who would have fired you . . . . . . probably on the spot.

Bottom line. . . . unless you have had good training and a third party is present to enforce good practices on ignorant and stupid operators . . no removable safety device will protect you.

Take the case where the guy successfully sued for getting his hand cut and he operated the saw without a single safety device on the saw. All saws come with very clear instructions with pictures and some even with safety placards you can put up. This kind of person is not going to purchase something with safety in mind because clearly they don't care about safety and the fact that they operate a saw this way clearly proves it . . . except in a court of law :-)

When I use to give safety classes I always added at the end “You are only as safe as you want to be and of those around you. Nothing can force you to be safe but YOU”.
Posted: 9:56 am on September 4th

user-5873283 user-5873283 writes: You're certainly right that many of us use unguarded saws. I used my a contractor saw that way for maybe 20 years, but when I upgraded to a cabinet saw with a riving knife and an easy to change blade guard I started using the guard.

If the Whirlwind is easy to attach and remove, it may gain some adherents, but like the Shark Guard or any aftermarket device, it will have to be available with different mounts the many different models for saws.

As noted in other comments, 1/8th of a second is a long enough encounter with a spinning blade to do some damage, although the blade would presumably be slowing to zero during that time.

So... sounds interesting but let's see the details -- cost, practical extent of the protection i offers; ease of attachment & removal.
Posted: 9:30 am on September 4th

LexWoodWorks LexWoodWorks writes: Great technology for the jobsite...but not for my home shop. I really like my Sawstop PCS... its easily as good as PM or the Unisaw in terms of fit, finish and quality. I think the thing that get's me about this technology is the way the sensor operates...let's face it...using a plastic guard sucks. Does anyone really like using that thing?? I don't... Yes, the hood catches the 15% of duct that does get sucked up down into the saw (a good thing) but the loss of visibility and hence control of the workpiece in my mind outweighs the dust. The overhead air cleaner will take care of the airborne particles. I like to see where my saw is making a cut. Did I split the line or ? How is the blade cutting, Do I have the depth set right, did I miss a nail or a staple that's about to ruin my goes on and on...

I don't use the guard on my PCS...why? Because I paid $3k for the blade brake technology. If I'm stupid enough to put my thumb into my WWII and destroy it via the aluminum break...shame on me...but I'll still have all my fingers. I guess I look at the dollars for the brake and new blade as very acceptable when I think of the peace of mind I get when I use the saw knowing if I make a won't.

If I was ripping plywood out on-site all day with a makita jobsite saw I'd be on this in a heartbeat...but for furniture making...the sawstop seems like a better alternative.
Posted: 8:44 am on September 4th

journalopain journalopain writes: With the blade guard system you eliminate Sawstops down fall. If you were to trip and fall onto a running sawstop you would still get severely hurt. All the sawstop protects you from is when you have your thumb in the blades path.
Posted: 6:28 am on September 4th

journalopain journalopain writes: You can wire any electric motor to act as an "electric brake". I run a 3 phase saw with a VFD and I have my remote set up to stop the motor immediately. As this system is set up, it will stop the blade when you get too close to it. You don't need a violent brake to stop the saw in 1/100th of a second. With the saw stop it only stops the saw when you touch the blade. I would rather stop the saw before I touch the blade vs after I touch it. This system seems to be more of a gentle reminder than a violent "rescue". I would definately use a system like this.
Posted: 6:23 am on September 4th

sip sip writes: This idea sounds great and I would be willing to pay some money to have this added to my saw. The devil is in the details, however, and I would like to know all the details before finally giving my opinion. That said, how do we price a finger or two? This would be a long overdue invention if is marketed.
Posted: 1:32 am on September 4th

jerrysandiego jerrysandiego writes: Sorry but i am still a little skeptical that reverse EMF can be used to stop the inertia of a 10" blade on a cabinet saw - especially with a dado blade installed. Likely why Sawstop uses a brute force approach. i hope i am wrong. Maybe having the sensor in the blade guard compensates for this limitation. If it gets people using a blade guard, that in itself would greatly improve safety. Cuts like dado cuts usually require that the guard be removed. Unless and overhang guard is used I suppose.
Posted: 9:06 pm on September 3rd

dstenson dstenson writes: I love that we are starting to see the innovation that is being encouraged by the continued market pressure from the makers and supporters of Saw Stop. This is a great idea, add the technology to my existing saw guards. But I still want something that senses actual flesh to blade contact and stops that blade in the time it takes for 2 teeth to have contacted my skin. Guess I'm saying I want both...this latest idea to continue to keep my fingers from getting close (without damaging the blade) and a Saw Stop like system to be the fail-safe...the cost of the blade and the brake pad are irrelevant if my finger(s) have been saved. Also, check out the nearest construction site...tell my how many blade guards do you see in use?
Posted: 9:02 pm on September 3rd

lejones1445 lejones1445 writes: After watching all of the videos on the Whirlwind site I have to say that I would purchase this in a heart beat. Yeah, there are some drawbacks, especially when you want to use jigs that don't work with the blade guard, but in those instances you are just back to where you are now in terms of safety. The performance of this system where you don't have to actually touch the blade like in the SawStop system, just get your hand near it to trigger the emergency stop is terrific. In addition it appears to have superior dust collection capabilities. By the way, there is a move afoot in Congress to mandate some type of safety system like this for all new table saws. I don't care what your politics are, but if the politicians get involved, I would sure rather have the Whirlwind system than the brute force SawStop system.
Posted: 8:34 pm on September 3rd

nvman nvman writes: I did not read all the comments but it seems that the drawback of this system, is that you must touch the guard to activate the compacitance touch sensor. So if you kept your hand low enough and don't touch the guard, you can still lose a finger.
Posted: 6:35 pm on September 3rd

Aphyosemion Aphyosemion writes: I, personally, feel that anything that keeps me from losing a finger is worth investing in. I'm sure there are people that just don't believe an accident will ever happen to them, but I am not so confident of my own infallibility. There may be situations where you can't use it, but in most situations, either this or Sawstop would give me peace of mind. I would be happy to have either of them and I would use them.
Posted: 6:13 pm on September 3rd

EmileEssent EmileEssent writes: In the 1/8 second it takes to trigger the brake, the blade will still rotate about 9 times, assuming the 4600rpm. That sounds way too much for me to be efficient if my hand is caught travelling with the piece -- that is, at about 150mph.
Posted: 5:25 pm on September 3rd

1100stx 1100stx writes: To everyone knocking this please watch the video again. This would be superior to the sawstop because it senses your finger as it approaches the blade and with sawstop the blade is the sensor. In the end I prefer to rely on myself for safety and not gadgets.
Posted: 4:09 pm on September 3rd

nealaron nealaron writes: Very impressive indeed. I have been using a Sawstop for a couple years now and am very happy with it. It was time to upgrade to a cabinet saw from a 30 year old contractor saw, so it made sense for me to buy the Sawstop for both the quality of the saw and the added safety features. This seems like a great solution for retrofitting older saws and for the portable saw market. What it really shows, though, is that time and energy are spent solving the safety problems associated with the table saw design,. innovative solution s emerge. This is just the beginning.
Incidentally, in 40 years of woodworking I have never injured myself using the table saw. I bought the Sawstop because I recognize that accidents can happen to safe people, just as bad things can happen to good people. The only time I set off the brake on my saw was while cutting freshly cut bamboo on a cross-cut sled. Apparently, the moisture and mineral content was similar to blood. Sawstop replace the brake module for free, but I was out the cost of the blade. I didn't mind a bit - not because I can afford a new blade easily (which I can't), but because it proved the system works. A small price to pay for safety.
Posted: 4:01 pm on September 3rd

Loxmyth Loxmyth writes: On the plus side, this can be retrofit in the field, doesn't require redesigning the trunion, and doesn't require a separate brake unit for dado sets. And, yes, it doesn't risk killing the blade. And, yes, it can be attached to a cheap-a$$ jobsite saw.

On the minus side, it isn't as fast to respond, and it works ONLY when the guard is in place -- which means it's unusable for many of the jigs or tenioning cuts or similar. So it strikes me as potentially being much, MUCH more effective in that jobsite situation than in the shop.

And even at the jobsite, I'm a bit skeptical. The guys who handled my renovation ran their saw minus guard for cuts that needed the open access to the blade... and for most cuts that didn't need that access, which means convincing them to use the guard is likely to be an uphill slog.

Which brings me back to the point others have made, that the folks who hurt themselves are most often the people who have been using the tool long enough to have started cheating on existing safety practices, and then cheating on their cheats... and who are under time pressure and so are more likely to work past the point of fatigue. That's certainly not all the accidents -- a friend of mine was indecently lucky and split his fingertip to, but not through, the bone when he tried to finish a cut without a push stick -- but there is some evidence that the risks are highest to beginners who don't know better and experts who should know better.

My table saw right now is a 50-year-old Sears 8" benchtop model (belt driven, outboard motor). No guard; no sign it ever had a guard. Wide throat; no way I can see to fit it for a zero-clearance plate. I'm frankly a bit afraid to use it without a crosscut sled, and I suspect the best long-term answer would be to re-purpose it as a disk sander.

So I'm pondering saw shopping, and _still_ trying to decide between cheap-and-cheerful (leaving more money for wood and for other tools) or going upscale a bit. And while I think I'm probably paranoid enough to use a saw fairly safely, I'm willing to pay a slight surcharge for something like SawStop, Just In Case. The best health insurance is the kind which keeps you from needing health insurance in the first place.
Posted: 3:00 pm on September 3rd

Loxmyth Loxmyth writes: On the plus side, this can be retrofit in the field, doesn't require redesigning the trunion, and doesn't require a separate brake unit for dado sets. And, yes, it doesn't risk killing the blade. And, yes, it can be attached to a cheap-a$$ jobsite saw.

On the minus side, it isn't as fast to respond, and it works ONLY when the guard is in place -- which means it's unusable for many of the jigs or tenioning cuts or similar. So it strikes me as potentially being much, MUCH more effective in that jobsite situation than in the shop.

And even at the jobsite, I'm a bit skeptical. The guys who handled my renovation ran their saw minus guard for cuts that needed the open access to the blade... and for most cuts that didn't need that access, which means convincing them to use the guard is likely to be an uphill slog.

Which brings me back to the point others have made, that the folks who hurt themselves are most often the people who have been using the tool long enough to have started cheating on existing safety practices, and then cheating on their cheats... and who are under time pressure and so are more likely to work past the point of fatigue. That's certainly not all the accidents -- a friend of mine was indecently lucky and split his fingertip to, but not through, the bone when he tried to finish a cut without a push stick -- but there is some evidence that the risks are highest to beginners who don't know better and experts who should know better.

My table saw right now is a 50-year-old Sears 8" benchtop model (belt driven, outboard motor). No guard; no sign it ever had a guard. Wide throat; no way I can see to fit it for a zero-clearance plate. I'm frankly a bit afraid to use it without a crosscut sled, and I suspect the best long-term answer would be to re-purpose it as a disk sander.

So I'm pondering saw shopping, and _still_ trying to decide between cheap-and-cheerful (leaving more money for wood and for other tools) or going upscale a bit. And while I think I'm probably paranoid enough to use a saw fairly safely, I'm willing to pay a slight surcharge for something like SawStop, Just In Case. The best health insurance is the kind which keeps you from needing health insurance in the first place.
Posted: 3:00 pm on September 3rd

Jthorn65 Jthorn65 writes: I love all the know-it-all complaints that are so far from accurate they are laughable.
ALL the silly "complaints" leveled against this product were once said about work gloves, eye protection, hardhats, dust masks and a host of other safety devices that have saved countless lives and limbs. If the know-nothing reactionaries had their way we'd still be using stone and bronze tools. Hey if they were good enough to build the pyramids they're good enough for you!

John T.
Posted: 1:50 pm on September 3rd

timrowledge timrowledge writes: RWoodCutter said:- " You don't need to stop the motor or the inertia of the motor, just disengage the pullys/belts"

Interestingly enough I've been working on an idea rather like this for a while. You can, with suitable design, do even better. The less inertia you have to fight the less time it will take to stop the blade and the less damage it would cause. Hell, just the noise of a SawStop cartridge firing at a demo was enough to give half the older guys watching near-heart attacks! A different sort of collateral damage…

I should write up what I have worked out and publish on the net somewhere, at least that way no one would be able to patent it for prior art reasons.
Posted: 1:44 pm on September 3rd

Rudolf_Hucker Rudolf_Hucker writes: Still not perfect but infinitely preferable to Sawstops clumsy, brute force and ignorance, system. Aanyone want to wager on Sawstop trying to prevent this coming to the market?
Posted: 1:26 pm on September 3rd

peavey peavey writes: Devices of this kind should be mandatory on new saws and are cheap insurance if they can be retrofit.

I've been using the same 1947 Delta cabinet saw since the middle 1950's. No guards of any kind, no riving knife and no cut fingers until two years ago. A careless reach to remove waste material resulted in two cut fingers, a thumb that had to be shortened by 3/4 of an inch and over $20,000 in medical costs let alone lost time .

Over 50 years of "being careful" and "knowing what I was doing" was down the tubes and I was lucky it wasn't worse.

If I bought a new saw it would be a Saw Stop as much as I don't particularly like their somewhat piratical business practices. If it comes on the market, I'll probably retrofit my old Delta with the Whirlwind or something like it.

All the "carefull" in the world can still us some backup.
Posted: 1:21 pm on September 3rd

BernieB34 BernieB34 writes: The gentleman in the video seems to reach under the table surface to change the height of the device. This causes me to wonder just exactly how is the device installed on a saw? How much metal work is required to install it? What are linkages are required between the shroud and the controls? The bottom line of my questions are, "Is this a consumer installed device?" If it requires "mechanics" training, I don't think it will sell.

On the flip side, as a senior (76), I am increasingly aware of my decline in attention span, and recently sold my table saw for this reason. And I really miss it. I retained a band saw in my shop, but am thinking of divesting that as well. So the more safety devices improve, the longer I can make sawdust!
Posted: 1:21 pm on September 3rd

Riffler Riffler writes: I agree with AuroraWoodworks. I would not waste money on this idea. As he points out the blade makes 10 full revolutions in 130 milliseconds. That is pleanty of time to cut some flesh and bone. It just gives the user a false sense of security. Besides, in cases where you are ripping narrow stock close to the fence you cannot have a blade guard in place. I will continue to use my existing blade guard and riving knife as often as possible and always think through any situations where the saw might pose a threat to my safety.
Posted: 1:17 pm on September 3rd

nealwol nealwol writes: Despite some of the shortcomings that others have pointed out, I would definitely buy the device for my Jet Contractor saw. I am careful, and I already have an after market blade guard, but for the added insurance for my hands and fingers, this device seems terrific. The problem with sawstop isn't technical - it's simply not available without buying a new saw stop saw. Since the manufacturers haven't thought of this, I give the inventor a lot of credit, and hope he makes a ton of dough from licensing it.
Posted: 12:26 pm on September 3rd

dvanharn dvanharn writes: 1. Many comments ignore the fact that this system triggers on the guard, not the blade, so the slower stop speed is not as important as with the moving blade tooth being the trigger.

2. One comment said that Mr. Butler was violating safety rules by trapping a short cutoff between the fence and the blade - not true! He is actually using a projecting stop attached to the fence in front of the blade. When the cutoff is made, the stick he is cutting is held against the miter gauge, and there is plenty of space between the end of the cutoff piece and the fence, just as there should be. Nice try at putting down the inventor!

3. Another comment mentioned slow movement into the blade when most people demonstrate the Sawstop system. When I worked at a now-closed Woodcraft store, most of the employees were given the opportunity to do the hot dog test. I too was concerned with what would happen with a slam of a hand or finger into a running Sawstop blade, so I slapped my hot dog into the blade. Whereas the slow movement produced no cut on the hot dogs, my "slap" produced a 1/8" kerf cut about 1/4' long and 1/16" deep in the dog. If it were my finger or hand that touched the blade turning at 3400 r.p.m., it might have bled a fair amount. However, it would not have required stitches, and a band-aid and a bit of antibiotic ointment would have sufficed for treatment.

4. If I were a building or remodeling contractor with unskilled or semi-skilled laborers using my portable table saw, I would used a device like Mr. Butler's this whenever possible.

5. If I could afford a SawStop cabinet saw to replace my older DeWalt hybrid table-saw, I would do it in a heartbeat. SawStop table saws are solidly built, have an excellent fit and finish, are vibration free, and the brake is a nice bonus.

Posted: 12:23 pm on September 3rd

RWoodCutter RWoodCutter writes: And for the small contractor saws, ban direct drive and use a belts. (see my previous comment.) This method would work with most large power tools, as all/most are belt driven. Rob
Posted: 12:21 pm on September 3rd

RWoodCutter RWoodCutter writes: Most big tablesaws use belts between the motor and the blade. You don't need to stop the motor or the inertia of the motor, just disengage the pullys/belts. Then you are left with just having to stop the minimal mass of the blade itself. At the same time that the belts are disengaged a simple hardwood block located below the table surface can be jammed into the blade to stop it. No damage to anything! No blade guard needed!

No manufacturers, get off you Ass and develop it without patenting it so everybody can use it.

Posted: 12:17 pm on September 3rd

JTSteve JTSteve writes: There's no cure for stupidity, nor should a manufacturer be liable for the stupidity of the users of its products. If the product is constructed so that it is inherently unsafe no matter who uses it or how they use it, that's different, but modern table saws come with blade guards and other safety features that make them safe if used properly.
I looked at the SawStop before buying a new table saw a couple of months ago and went with the new Powermatic with the riving blade that moves up and down with the blade, even when ripping. I felt that was enough for me, and I got a quality saw at a better price.
I think SawStop and this new device should be available for those that want them. Businesses should probably looking at them closely to avoid liability claims, but as a hobbyist woodworker, I choose to accept the responsibility for my own safety.
Posted: 12:05 pm on September 3rd

AndyW AndyW writes: This looks like a great option over the SawStop. Not only does the Whirlwind stop the blade with no damage and no parts to replace, it also is a super overarm dust collector and protective cage over the wood.
I hope David Butler gets this into production as an OPTIONAL choice for woodworkers. I'm not a big fan of creating laws to protect stupid people. Laws should help protect you from stupid people. If you don't know how to use a table saw, don't use it until you have the proper instruction. It seems that laws are created to protect stupid people from hurting themselves. Not that is just plain stupid. Go whirlwind. This will even give the Excalibur Over Arm Blade Cover a good run because the Whirlwind does what it does and more.
Posted: 12:05 pm on September 3rd

jimwoodguy jimwoodguy writes: I don't know how many saws are already in use today, but it seems unlikely that they will all be scrapped and replaced with Sawstops any time soon. The idea of retrofitting an existing saw, rather than selling it to someone else to misuse, sounds more practical and realistic than requiring all saw users to replace what they have from a single source in order to achieve an enhanced level of safety. This device is a step in the right direction. I don't think any safety equipment can guarantee no injury will occur to the user, not even the Sawstop, because as it's been pointed out, we are all capable of human error. Why would anyone argue that an alternative improvement in safety that is more attainable by more people is not worth considering?
Posted: 11:37 am on September 3rd

mitch mitch writes: to JohnOSeattle:

"They (SawStop) contacted all the saw manufacturers (of course) and were refused even at a nominal $100 per unit cost to the saw manufacturer."

one of the big problems is that the much touted $100 to adapt this to other saws is a complete pipe dream. that number is a best case scenario production cost per unit at very high volumes, i.e. pretty much all mfrs adopting the system. it definitely does NOT include the complete from the ground up redesign/re-engineering necessary and retooling for production. it was NEVER going to cost a hundred bucks per unit to include this technology on existing models. another thing i've heard suggested is that the $100 was just Gass' LICENSE FEE, plus all the aforementioned mechanical considerations.

as evidenced by the much higher price of SawStop's own products. yes, they are premium units that include other deluxe features not commonly offered as standard on other makes, but clearly a reasonable apples-to-apples comparison shows their blade stop system adds far more than $100 to the price of their saws.

in short, that $100 figure is BS.
Posted: 11:32 am on September 3rd

RobPorcaro RobPorcaro writes: Any safety device should be considered in the context of relative risk. That is, how much money and inconvenience are you willing to put forth to gain what YOU view as an acceptable level of risk? None of these devices is perfect and there is no such thing as total absence of risk, short of not using a table saw at all. And in that case, you might spend your time doing more risky things, haha!

In this light, despite the limitations as it is currently designed, the Whirlwind has potential, especially for bench-top saws.

The many good points raised here demonstrate that any of these devices - new, old, or yet to be developed - has to be subject to the marketplace of ideas and experience to test its true worth. If Saw Stop's attempt to impose their device (which I happen to choose to own) on us by government fiat is successful, it will limit innovation.
Posted: 11:26 am on September 3rd

Stangage Stangage writes: So this device and the Saw Stop will stop the blade in 1/8 second more or less. SO?? What's it really worth other than keeping a couple of hot dogs from becoming 4 hot dogs.
Let's say the user of saw is daydreaming while running lots of crosscuts or rips at about a 1 foot per second feed rate. Not unusually fast but not so slow that you're going to get burning. 1 FOOT. That's 12 inches folks!!!! (1/8)X12 = ???
Altogether now 1.5. RIGHT!! That's a little over 2-1/4 of my fingers if I start at the pinky side or 1/2 the length of my thumb. Yeah! There's probably a discount when the Doc is reattaching more than 2 fingers but really now - when inventors start demonstrating their products with their hands in real shop situations then you will know that the product is worth more than just enriching some inventors. Good shop safety practices and due diligence is still the only safe way to go.
Posted: 11:23 am on September 3rd

unklegwar unklegwar writes: I see a lot of shortcomings with this device that the sawstop doesn't have:

Auxiliary miter fences
crosscut sleds
tenoning jigs
box join jigs
any jig with a high fence component.

SawStop doesn't suffer from any of those issues since the sensor is via the blade and not a cumbersome hood device (that seems to also be obscuring vision from the front).

It's a nice entry level safety device, but it's not up to what sawstop can do.
Posted: 11:08 am on September 3rd

unklegwar unklegwar writes: @WaltB - I'm pretty sure the reason the actual finger tests are done slowly is because even with Saw Stop, injury can occur. If you activate your saw stop system it's still going to hurt like hell, and it's NOT a GUARANTEE against injury. I'm pretty sure that no one's going to want to slap his hand down on a spinning blade.
If you don't like the inventor demos, just look up all the "saves". Those people were all using it normally.
Posted: 11:05 am on September 3rd

WaltB WaltB writes: The SawStop concept is interesting but I notice in all the demonstrations, especially the ones with his finger, are done at a very slow speed. I would be more convinced if he put his finger into the blade as an accident normally happens, quickly. When was the last time anyone, very cautiously, moved their finger or a hotdog into a saw blade.
His lawyer approach to getting his invention accepted is just not acceptable. If it has merit, given the cost, people will buy it.
Posted: 10:49 am on September 3rd

jhoffmannsafety jhoffmannsafety writes: Much of the recent controversy on the Saw Stop came after a judgement against a saw manufacturer for failing to incorporate a feature that would have prevented injury to the plantiff i.e. Saw Stop. In that matter the worker removed the guard and he and his boss did everything possible to set him up for an accident. So in that instance the "whirlwind" would have been for naught. And of course that would be true for all the other table saw users (frequently myself included) who work without a guard. The beauty of the Saw Stop is that it is a passive safety device and requires no action on the part of the user to make it effective each and every time the saw is used and for all practical purposes is invisible to the user. The Saw Stop may not be perfect and allow more injury than the Sa Stop folks would like you to believe but I'll pay to replace the blade and Saw Stop brake rather than an emergency room visit or worse any time.
Posted: 10:48 am on September 3rd

1oldsarge 1oldsarge writes: I think the key factor here is that is was designed for CONTRACTORS' SAWS. As was previously noted, the legally stickiest area is liability for contractors with employees, not the home woodworker. This is a good thing. Would it be useful for the home woodworker with a non-Sawstop cabinet saw? Probably. Would a large number of over-confident types discard it immediately because "it was in the way"? Oh, probably. Would they deserve whatever accidents occurred if they did? Yup.
Posted: 10:31 am on September 3rd

GLENNSKY GLENNSKY writes: I think AuroraWoodworks analysis is missing some variables. Since the action is triggered by a part of the hand that is still some distance away from the blade as it touches the guard time will elapse between the triggering event and a direct encounter with the blade. The question is, how far from the blade is a part of the hand in line with the blade when the stop is triggered and how far is that hand part likely to travel in the eitgth of a second. Plus in that time the blade will slow a lot so even if the finger gets there less damage is probable. So that is an incremental improvement for, I presume relatively little cost.

Having said all that, if the target market is on-site contractor saws, I don't see much penetration here. Are those guys safety conscious enough to buy and use this? I have my doubts. I kind of like it but I work in the basement on a cabinet saw.
Posted: 10:15 am on September 3rd

zyx_301 zyx_301 writes: This looks interesting. If it's reasonably priced I'll likely try it.
Posted: 10:07 am on September 3rd

JimS1954 JimS1954 writes: Folks have a right to earn from their inventions. Mr. Gass' efforts to earn may have been a bit too aggressive. Certainly, I don't like the guy. Still, one must also take into account the nature of the equipment builders to whom he offered his invention.

By buying his invention, they enriched him instead of themselves, and if any one of them bought it, they'd all have to, raising prices in a very price-sensitive market, without earning any of the money.

If Gass had been smarter, he'd have offered his invention for a very low license fee, and kept the cartridge income for himself. (The Razorblade concept...or the printer-ink concept....)

Still, he's produced what I've heard described as an excellent tablesaw. Perhaps he can make money at it, but I'd bet even at its very high price, he's losing money.

I like this product, though I'd guess it isn't ready for prime time yet. If the product, as one poster said, produces a number of scares without injury, it induces learning, and doesn't require rebuilding the saw and replacing hundreds of dollars in parts. I like that notion.
Posted: 9:52 am on September 3rd

iddoc iddoc writes: The video just made it to the net and already has generated a great deal of interest and response. I am a hobby woodworker and try to take as much precaution as I can when using my contractor type table saw. If it does not feel right, I don't make the cut. Having said that however, this addition to my saw would be wonderful.

Not only adds protection but ighting and dust removal at the same time. For thise of us who don't feel rushed in getting the job done, this is the way to go. I would buy one when available. The problems with the Saw Stop for the home user is the size, cost and power needs. This seems like a good option and hopefully at lower cost.
Posted: 9:47 am on September 3rd

KirkG KirkG writes: I just went to the website and see that it will work with large cabinet saws too.

Also, my primary concern of visibility has been addressed with the fact that this has an effective dust collection built in. Breathing wood dust is more of a danger to me than cutting my fingers, so I applaud that this is addressed too.

I would love to try one of these to see how much they impact my woodworking and how easy or hard they are to use. If it works as well as the commercial, then I would support it 100%.

I like the fact that it can be retrofitted to saws I already own, both big and little, and I like the fact that it doesn't cost $200 per use, plus lost time. And I like that it provides excellent dust collection.

Another benefit is that it probably will help train your workers to have better safety practices. I think they will be embarrassed to have it keep going off and calling attention to themselves. That is a signal that a business owner can use to determine who he keeps on the job.
Posted: 9:45 am on September 3rd

gordonlh gordonlh writes: So many have described the pluses and minuses very well. I believe it all adds up to "fairly useless", which makes it not worth even the lower price (vis-a-vis the SawStop).
Posted: 9:41 am on September 3rd

CuriousTheGeorge CuriousTheGeorge writes: I see it this way, four choices:

1. Do nothing and continue to use already existing saw with no safety features.

2. Sell old saw and buy Cadillac saw, buy extra blade, brake shoe and activation cartridge so I can keep working if the thing fires off.

3. Buy this device when it comes available. Keep existing saw, blades and accessories. Cost considerably lower than replacing everything. Get blade dust collection and work light that I don't have now. Use it as often as feasible when using the saw. Have multiple times the safety protection for my fingers than I have now.

It's a no brainer for me.
Posted: 9:38 am on September 3rd

KirkG KirkG writes: I like the idea. The damage that the Sawstop does to itself and blade is not trivial. Sure we hear all about , "If it saves a finger, it is worth it." Well, in 50 years, I haven't lost a finger and had a SawStop trigger 3 times. None of which involved a finger. Considering how long Sawstop has been available during those 50 years, that is telling.

When I can't use push sticks or guards, then I use Grip Tight Magnetic Feather boards, which protect against hand/finger damage AND Kickback. Buy them once and they continue to work.

I am concerned how well visability with this device will be once the saw dust starts flying.

Oh, and to the person who thought he was violating safety standards by cross cutting blocks that might pinch. He was using a spacer block on the fence. Another, common sense safety practice that real carpenters use. Another example where paying attention while forming opinions or working with machines is the most important thing.

Posted: 9:32 am on September 3rd

BizCoach BizCoach writes: This looks like a GREAT blade guard with the LED lights, the dust collection etc. But I'm not sure how well it will do for safety.

Comparisons in stopping speed between this and the SawStop are not useful until you know how far your finger can travel in the time difference. Since this one get signaled while your finger is not in contact with the blade you have some extra time to be safe - the question is how much.

For those who care the hot dog test is on the whirlwind website.

Also I'm not sure that having the sensor on the edge of the blade guard is useful. Part of me says with many set ups for thick wood the guard might be high enough to cause damage without touching the edge. Part of my says well if you touch the edge of the blade guard you're pretty likely to stop and pull your hand away before it hits the blade even if the blade doesn't stop.

If the price is right I might get one for the blade guard features - but I suspect it would be more than I want to pay since I have sharkguard already.
Posted: 9:20 am on September 3rd

HarleyhawkCA HarleyhawkCA writes: I would use it. It seems to solve two problems I have:
1. safety
2. dust control

I do use a Delta with the 1.5 hp direct drive motor and wonder how it would apply to my General 3hp cabinet saw.

Great idea, hope to see it in the market.

Posted: 9:12 am on September 3rd

nhampsha nhampsha writes: I started with a portable tabletop saw. That was disappointing. Then I bought a contractor saw from the widow of a high school shop teacher. Though a highly respected brand it was a piece of junk under the hood. When it broke down I gave it away on craigslist. I hope the kid who took it still has all his fingers. I shopped and shopped and finally bought a SawStop because it was the only one I found built to no-compromise mechanical standards. I'd had enough of sheet metal and pot metal parts. The safety feature was a very desirable bonus. With all due respect, anyone who rejects such a feature needs to reconsider. The saw is a precision instrument. Runs like a new Rolls-Royce.
Posted: 8:58 am on September 3rd

JohnOSeattle JohnOSeattle writes: What Mitch and Saschafer say above plus the dropping of the Sawstop blade away and down is not trivial. From the SawStop site-
{All this happens in about 3–5 milliseconds, or 1/200th of a second. At the same time, the angular momentum of the blade causes the blade to retract below the table and the power to the motor is shut off.}

5 milliseconds is 25 times faster that 125 milliseconds (1/8 second) figure it out, how far can something move in 25 times the time.

Also the sensing in the SawStop begins prior to contact. The white paper on is good reading esp. before forming an opinion.

I spoke with the SawStop people in 2001 & 2002 and again in 2008 when buying cabinet saws for my employer. First the owners/inventors are engineers and patent attorneys. They have a huge investment in time effort and dollars in this saw and the stopping technology.

They contacted all the saw manufacturers (of course) and were refused even at a nominal $100 per unit cost to the saw manufacturer.

Please also keep in mind that the SawStop saw is a very good saw in it's own right. There is a great deal of testing and engineering in the saw and stopping technology. The device described above is a working model and as in several of the posts above not ready for prime time.

The courts are not a good place to design machinery. OSHA says (in general) things must be safe, not how, but the interpretation has been - safe to the latest and greatest possible safety level. Once established as viable, it becomes the standard. Simple for the legal system, only.

Posted: 8:52 am on September 3rd

jimpath124 jimpath124 writes: Kudos. I am safety conscious and usually use the the guard. While we speak of safety and experience, it seems to me that most of the lost fingers come off experienced woodworkers, not beginners who are somewhat afraid of the spinning saw blade. I bought a Jet table saw at a great price not knowing the price was great because riving knives would become mandatory. The retrofit aftermarket riving knife would not fit my saw. My first table saw was a which had a great , very easy to use blade guard. Cabinet saw makers could have learned something from that.
Posted: 8:52 am on September 3rd

SNM1 SNM1 writes: I agree that if we take precautions when working around our power tools we should not need these type of safety systems. Those that take the blade guards off for all work should re-examine this practice. A lapse in attention, even for a second, can take a finger off your hand. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I will buy this device the day it comes on the market. I would have purchased Saw Stop if was on the market when I purchased my saw.
Posted: 8:50 am on September 3rd

mikeg7979 mikeg7979 writes: After watching the vidio, it appears this is a blade guard for those who can't feel a regular blade guard. Your finger has to come into contact with the blade guard for the saw to stop, unlike the SawStop where you actually come into contact with the blade. That difference makes the stopping time difference a mute question as you are comparing apples and watermellons. The SawStop works with no blade guard, a totally different concept than the WhirlWind, and needs to be able to stop the blade in 1/1000 of a second as contact has already been made. The WhirlWind on the other hand, stops the blade when you make contact with the guard, when your fingers are still a considerable distance from the blade. Other than the standard balde guards are extremely cumbersom and difficult to install and remove, I'm not sure how this is going to make a difference unless you are paying so little attention to what you are doing that you would keep pushing your hand towards the blade after it made contact with a standard blade guard.

We got our first table saw when I was a kid back in the early sixties, it never had a blade guard on it. I had wood shop classes in the sixties and the High School shop saw never had a blade guard. I've had my own table saws for over 30 years and have never used the blade guard. I'm not opposed to blade guards, just their cumbersome nature. If this one goes on and off easily then I would consider it, but then I would consider any guard that was easy to use.

Perhaps for the intended market, this is the right tool, but I'm not sure it does much for the experienced woodworker. If I've missed the concept of how this works let me know.
Posted: 8:49 am on September 3rd

Bentley999 Bentley999 writes: Seems that the demonstrator is violating another safety rule of not making small cutoffs which can be trapped between the blade and fence and thrown back
Posted: 8:42 am on September 3rd

Joe Y Joe Y writes: When seat belts were first introduced, they were very clumsy affairs. There were two separate belts, with two clips, two length adjustments, and tow locking anchors. Nobody wanted to be bothered with them, and some were afraid that their clumsiness would prevent them from getting out of the car quickly in a fiery accident. But they got better with time.

This device seems to be going in the opposite direction. It doesn't work as quickly as a Sawstop; and it appears to be limited in its versatility and clumsy to use. I anticipate that after a short period of time, it will go to the back of the workshop along with the poorly designed splitters and anti-kickback devices of the past several years.

My daughter in law purchased as Sawstop contractors saw for my son -- primarily because they have a 5 year old son who may someday use the saw himself. I've personally used it on several occasions. The design was very well thought out, the switches are positioned conveniently, and set ups/chageouts are done quickly, easily and with few tools. The flesh sensing technology is almost completely passive; there is only a few seconds delay for system reset when you first power up the saw for your work session. The purchase price may be a bit higher than comparable models without the safety feature, and the blade and cartridge changeout may be an expensive inconvenience if the safety feature engages; but if it saves a finger, hand, or even an arm, it is well worth it.
Posted: 8:36 am on September 3rd

PatriotWorks PatriotWorks writes: I'm all for whatever the Free Market dreams up.
If consumers purchase this product willingly ~ Great!
If it becomes mandatory...Forget it!
Anybody who suggests the safety BS installed on saws today is safe needs their head examined.
Safety switches on skil saws, routers, grind my gears.
I go out of my way to buy equipment without all the stupid safety BS or I bypass the insanity.
It is counter productive.
I go out to the shop to cut wood not to cut my fingers off.
There is something wrong when your fingers and hands are too close to your money maker.

Posted: 8:36 am on September 3rd

StevenLee StevenLee writes: I'd need to see the hot dog test. Does it really stop the blade fast enough to prevent a finger amputation. I felt four teeth of my Forest WWII blade cutting through the bone of my thumb, so I'm skeptical it will really prevent injuries.

I do admire his work, though, and wish him luck.

Posted: 8:25 am on September 3rd

lliberer lliberer writes: Hope it will work on radial arm saws too.
Posted: 8:16 am on September 3rd

MichaelKellough MichaelKellough writes: An 1/8th second to stop the blade is enough time to sever a finger or more.
Posted: 8:14 am on September 3rd

ropetyer ropetyer writes: This is such welcome news. I was planning to sell my 2000 Delta Special Edition contractor's saw and put what little I could get for it toward a SawStop. I'd also have to sell my 6" Frued dado set cause SawStop requires an 8" dado. I really like my saw but as I approach retirement, I'm becomming even more safety conscious and want the added physical and mental security of a saw stopping device. I will definately refit my saw as soon as this becomes available. As others have pointed out, it's not perfect but it is a heck of a lot better than what I have now!
Posted: 7:58 am on September 3rd

kenerv1 kenerv1 writes: We can always use a device that works better and costs less. Most of us think following rules is safe enough until we have an event that we do not know how it could have been prevented. I had a really close call, despite "doing everything right". My concern with blade guards is their interference with good vision of the blade and the cut.
Posted: 7:51 am on September 3rd

ebunn ebunn writes: I almost always use the blade guard and riving knife that came with the saw. There are situations where I must remove it but it always goes back on. I would definitely be interested in purchasing one of these if it would work with the saw.
Posted: 7:50 am on September 3rd

Paul_Ebert Paul_Ebert writes: I do my best to always use my tools safely, but I know that being human means I will have lapses and make mistakes. It's good to see innovation towards mitigating such use error. It will continue to be a key decision factor in my new tool purchases.

I like the idea here, but an awful lot can happen in an eighth of a second even if one's not yet in contact with the blade. So, I'd be concerned about that.
Posted: 7:50 am on September 3rd

Bob vO Bob vO writes: Sorry; meant to say 'without' removing the Whirlwind. Also, the LED lights appear to provide plenty of blade visualization.
Posted: 7:45 am on September 3rd

Bob vO Bob vO writes: I've been woodworking since I was a kid and have been using a tablesaw of one kind or another for more than forty years. I've never had a blade guard [almost all my tools are used], have a healthy respect for safety procedures, and have never had even a close encounter with safety problem using any of my tools, not even more than just a few paper cuts. Ten years ago, I lost half my left thumb and severly damaged two fingers, all of which required about three years of surgeries just to get my hand to the point where it is merely ugly, but useful. I was making many repetitive rip cuts of left-overs to glue up panels for cutting boards, but I decided to do it on a Sunday evening after dinner when I should have realized my brain was not as aware as it needed to be for such work. I still have no clear memory of the accident until feeling my hand slapping back onto the table top, bleeding profusely.

My point, even the safety conscious can allow themselves to wander just a few split seconds to cause a terrible accident. Having something like the Whirlwind system in place assures that lapse of concentration never results in disaster. I've watch all the video on their website and see that with the alternate mounting system, the Whirlwind is completely suspended above the blade allowing even dadoe cuts with removing it. ABSOLUTELY, I would buy one as soon as it's available.
Posted: 7:40 am on September 3rd

Cowboy59 Cowboy59 writes: Fellow Woodworkers,

I have seen articles on this item previously and here are my thoughts. Any device that promotes safety is good but one must also consider the ease of use, convenience, etc. A safety device that is too cumbersome will soon be abandoned. As for this device, until we can see one up close it is difficult to say. My first impressions are that it's single biggest issue is that it requires the use of the guard. Many cuts, especially when using smaller sized pieces, require the guard be removed. Guards significantly limit visibility and can limit the use of other safety devices, such as the Gripper push block. The second concern I have is the speed. At 1/8th of second, as one previous commenter pointed out, the blade can still cause significant damage.

I personally bought a SawStop several months ago because my wife wanted our 14 year old son to not have any fingers lost as he learns to woodwork. After, having read many reviews and researched the product, the device works as claimed. It is true that it is expensive and wrecks the blade, but it reacts in 1/1000th of a second and does not require use of the guard and the saw is right there with Powermatic with regard to quality. I will gladly buy a new blade to save my finger or hand. Just ask two acquaintances of mine who have missing fingers.

I am not pro SawStop per se', but I am pro safety and like high quality tools. If this new device proves to meet those two criteria then I say we all win as we will have more choices.
Posted: 7:39 am on September 3rd

DeaconDoug DeaconDoug writes: I continue to be hopeful that someone will come up with something that not only works but that will be extremely practical. Most of us who have been at this for a while will look at this devise and see that it will be in the way for a variety of cuts that we make on a regular basis (as noted by a few others). How easy it moves out of the way and can be reset without fuss will be key. If doing so is even remotely a pain, most of us will take it off and leave it off.

Some will say than we deserve what we get, but the problem is not that simple. When we are making a peace for someone, time is money. Like many others, I am very careful every time I step up to my saw. I will always rely on that sense of respect for all of my saws no matter the safety innovations.

Another potential problem with a safety devise that has to be removed for many kinds of cuts is that those who are less experienced could become complacent and/or less careful b/c such safety exists. When the devise is removed for one of these cuts, there could be an even greater potential for mistakes.

I think that if the devise is not practical ie. does not get in the way of most cuts, I, personally, will not buy or use it and rely on my own healthy respect for my saws.
Posted: 7:33 am on September 3rd

jhausch jhausch writes: I worked on the controls portion od a machine for cutting plastic "flash" from some large plastic castings. The designer used an induction brake motor for the blade. One thing we noticed is that during an emergency stop is that the inertia of the blade spun the nut off the arbor. I wonder if that is an issue here?

I like the design and the integrated dc and led lights. I wish him the best. He is going after the right market due to the lawsuit....job site saws that contractors have (and are used by their employees)...
Posted: 7:33 am on September 3rd

Dick_Summe Dick_Summe writes: An 1/8 of a second may not be quick enough to prevent cuts if the flesh is headed toward the blade. My saw runs 4300 rpm so it turns nine revolutions in 1/8 second. With a 60 tooth blade that is 540 teeth that pass by the flesh while it is stopping. It seems to me that the SawStop clearly offers superior protection, though more consequential.
Posted: 7:27 am on September 3rd

bobharring1936 bobharring1936 writes: I think it is great that this safety problem is being addressed by other inventors. Just spend a few hours in a Rocklers or a Woodcraft store and see how many experianced woodworkers are walking around with 9-1/2 fingers. I was lucky. All i suffered was some nerve damage causing numbness in one finger. All it took was for my wife trying to get my attention. She did.
Posted: 6:42 am on September 3rd

Lex_Boegen Lex_Boegen writes: I like this, but unfortunately it would have to be removed for many operations, such as using a tenoning jig, box joint jig, etc. Still, some protection is certainly better than none. I like the ability for it to be retrofitted to existing saws (I have a Bosch saw), so if the price was reasonable when it came to market, I'd buy one, even with its short-comings.

It would be nice if a kick-back detector could be developed that would stop the saw blade non-destructively, like this flesh detector does. I am always conscious of where my hands are when feeding wood into the saw, but kickback is the biggest danger I think that I face, not shoving my mitts in the blade.
Posted: 6:42 am on September 3rd

petropolis petropolis writes: I liked the ideia and woud like to have one. Congratulations.
Posted: 6:40 am on September 3rd

dickgl dickgl writes: I would hope that there is a continued evolution to this device. Truth is that if we had safety devices surrounding the blades on our table saws we would never be able to make half of the cuts that we need to make in our shop. After 40 or so years of custom working wood I understand the risks and have to take them in order to accomplish the tasks at hand.
Posted: 6:39 am on September 3rd

StanfordWoodworking StanfordWoodworking writes: This is a MUCH better implementation than is the SawStop of flesh-sensing, shut the saw down technology.

A SawStop trigger is a violent, torque inducing trauma to a piece of equipment.
Posted: 6:37 am on September 3rd

acer1966 acer1966 writes: I like that, regarding kmpres question about gloves.
As far as I know you should never wear gloves operating a table saw.
Posted: 6:19 am on September 3rd

tincup57 tincup57 writes: Overall I like the idea. Most of all, "flesh" doesn't have to come in contact, only close as I understand it. Agree with APO, doesn't matter how many teeth go by before the stop if your hand, thumb, finger isn't in contact with the blade. I wish this man more luck getting it on the market than the up hill battle Saw Stop had with the major manufacturers. The technology makes sense and is long over due, no matter who produces it.
Posted: 6:12 am on September 3rd

JeanFredBoulais JeanFredBoulais writes: There are many uses for a table saw and many safety technologies available. This one could probably suit well for certain types of usage. I can see great advantages for contractors in the building industry having many workers on a site, some experimented, some not so much. For woodworking classes in highschools too, this type of technology would also suit well as the learners can make mistakes and learn from them with no harm done to them and to the material.

For experienced craftmen (which I am not) I guess it can be another ballgame.
Posted: 6:09 am on September 3rd

cbrazik cbrazik writes: I like the idea and hope it does come to market.
Posted: 6:04 am on September 3rd

mc2 mc2 writes: i agree with jg0258. my crew would do the same thing. i'm much, much more concerned about kick back from my table saw
Posted: 6:01 am on September 3rd

kennyswood kennyswood writes: Well I think all of you make a good point.The thing I like is there are others working on the problem and maybe they will come up with an answer that doesn't cost the simple woodworker a ton of cash for saftey.Just my thought.
Posted: 5:40 am on September 3rd

ruby50 ruby50 writes: What started this whole thing was the idiot contractor who took off the guard AND the fence, lost some digits, and STILL won an award. Will he use ay sort of voluntary blade stopper?
Posted: 5:30 am on September 3rd

rdwile rdwile writes: This is a very insightful and elegant solution to this problem, using available technologies - the true definition of innovation. I would definitely consider adding one of these to my shop cabinet saw when it is available.
Posted: 4:29 am on September 3rd

kmpres kmpres writes: Nice idea. It has many advantages over Saw Stop which most people like in theory but not in practice (only works in Saw Stop machines, cannot be retrofitted to many saws (like Shopsmith), tends to destroy blades, cannot be restarted immediately after, etc). Butler's device keeps hands from contacting the blade at all which makes it safer than Saw Stop, unless you're foolish enough to slip a hand underneath the blade guard on tall cuts. One problem I see is that if the contractor is wearing gloves while using the saw his body capacitance may not be enough to trigger the circuit in time to stop the blade. Have there been any tests on this?
Posted: 3:23 am on September 3rd

KCkipp KCkipp writes: In response to jg0258, a sliding table saw isn't that much safer than a contractor's saw or a cabinet saw. In the 16 years of owning both a cabinet saw and a sliding saw, I probably have come closer to cutting a finger off on the slider because the blade guard hangs down from an arm that extends across the table and rides higher than a blade guard on a standard table saw. If you are not paying attention, it is real easy to run your hand into the blade. The key words here are "paying attention". Doesn't matter what kind of saw or safety device you have if you don't pay attentiom to what you are doing.

Personally, I am impressed with the Saw Stop, I don't like the inventor's attitude, and there needs to be more technologies available to chose from before OSHA butts in.
Posted: 2:57 am on September 3rd

MDCustom MDCustom writes: I like the idea. Kudos to David Butler for coming up with another solution to the 'problem'.
Having cut my thumb in June of this year after more than 20 years using a table saw, I have been considering my options.

Although it happened on my cabinet saw, I also have a portable saw to carry to job sites. This would work well on my saw.

I wish all the luck to David and hope that he finds a partner to manufacture and distribute this guard. I also hope he makes a bundle in royalties!

I like that the blade guard rises and falls automatically with the height of the blade. The only problem I can see is if someone leaves the guard too high allowing room for your hand to get under the blade. You can't eliminate stupidity- But in the US you sure can make a ton of money on lawsuits because of it!

I will be watching for this product to become available. I am thinking that Rockler will pick it up as it is already their blue colour.
Posted: 5:53 pm on September 2nd

bob3318 bob3318 writes: Many years ago, a fellow worker designed a system that would rapidly stop an induction motor by applying a DC current to the field windings. The problem with doing this is the incoming line voltage had to be disconnected before the braking current was applied. How fast the motor stopped is something I no longer remember other than it did stop rapidly. I would back any flesh sensing system that wasn't being aggressively promoted by a individual who didn't stand to recieve a monetary gain.
Posted: 12:02 pm on September 2nd

saschafer saschafer writes:

Yes, electromagnetic braking does work with induction motors, although it's not as simple as it is with universal motors. There are a couple of different techniques that are used; a regenerative brake uses the motor windings, but an eddy current brake is independent of the motor. I don't know enough about the specific characteristics of the different systems to be able to say which would be most appropriate for braking a table saw.

With any kind of electromagnetic brake, regardless of the type of motor, the effectiveness of the braking varies inversely with the rotational speed, so the electromagnetic brake only gets you part of the way to a full stop; you always need to have some kind of friction brake to finish the job.

In general, there is likely to be more risk of overvoltage than overcurrent. In order to reduce the current in an inductive circuit, you need to apply a reverse voltage, and the more rapidly you want the current to go down, the higher the voltage needs to be. So you eventually reach a limit where either you can't generate a voltage high enough, or the insulating materials in the circuit can't withstand a voltage high enough.


Posted: 11:53 am on September 2nd

SR1 SR1 writes: i thought the idea of a blade guard was that it kept your fingers away from the blade so it shouldn't need the electronics to work. However i only know one person who uses one since they are in the way. people who don't make mistakes should never need a SawStop or similar. Personally i am glad i got one, so i don't suffer as badly someday when i do make a mistake
Posted: 11:39 am on September 2nd

mitch mitch writes: i like the concept, but see at least one shortcoming: if you're pushing wood thru with your thumb on the trailing edge of the stock, down below the level of the guard, it'll go right under the sensor and into the blade.

every blade stop technology is going to have some compromises. i like that folks are plugging away at the problem.
Posted: 11:05 am on September 2nd

jerrysandiego jerrysandiego writes: I have a question. It appears that this is being demonstrated on one of those low-end universal motor table saws. How does this work on an induction motor found on contractor saws on up? Can you bring an induction motor to a stop so quickly? I don't recall the physics anymore around an induction motor but I would think the current required to reverse the electromagnetic field strong enough to stop a 10" full kerf blade would damage the motor.

I am a Sawstop owner. So much negativity around Sawstop by the old timers who want status quo. Purchasing one is a personal decision. Don't think the government should get involved in this issue BTW. Maybe if it were safety issues for the masses but not this relatively small population of table saw users.
Posted: 10:58 am on September 2nd

ypsigreg ypsigreg writes: I second all of the points goodguy makes.

If available for a cabinet saw, I would purchase it.
Posted: 10:55 am on September 2nd

jg0258 jg0258 writes: Most saws come with a blade guard. It is the first thing that it is taken off so that you can align your cut, make kerf cuts, etc, and they do the same job as this gizmo, let you know your fingers are too close if you touch it. This is no substitute for the Saw Stop technology. And no, I am not a Saw Stop "shill" nor do I own one, nor do I care about Gass' personality. In fact even if I could get a Saw Stop I would not, the safety technology to prevent accidents has been around for years, and that is an European style table saw with a sliding table. When I upgrade my table saw this is what I will get, not only are they safer, they are far easier to use with sheet stock.

What I find funnier and more nonsensical about this, is that it is marketed for contractor's saw, how many of you have seen a contractor site with a dedicated dust collection? and how about that cable to power the guard? how many extensions will a contractor have to use to power it? If used without the dust collection the plexiglass will eventually dull and you won't be able to see a thing, and off the guard goes.

I make my purchases on analytical thinking not on emotional feelings, if that makes me a "shill" so be it, happy to be one.. :-)
Posted: 9:27 am on September 2nd

chucktown chucktown writes: I saw this a few months ago and I like it better than the Saw Stop technology for all the reasons goodguy points out.
APO, your right on, the guard stops the blade and you touching the blade so counting how many teeth go by in an eighth of a
second is pretty irrelevant. I think in the end that none of
these technologies are an excuse for using tools responsibly
and properly or for training your employees to do so as well.
Take control of your equipment and use your noggin' and you
couldn't be safer.
Posted: 9:12 am on September 2nd

goodguy goodguy writes: This is better than saw stop for several reasons:
1-It retro fits existing saws including the most common portable saws where accidents are most likely to happen since those saws are the ones that hurried construction workers and home-hobbyists use.
2- Does not ruin the blade as it stops.
3-Does not require expensive cartridges for every stop.
4- Adds extra dust collection at the blade.
5-Senses proximity through capacitance touch sensor, not blade contact, therefore operator learns from mistakes without ANY injury, even a small nick. This allows shop owners to train help without accident-report paperwork for every little cut, insurance forms to file or trips to emergency room.
6-Provides extra task lighting.
7-Doesn't line the pocket of a greedy manipulative lawyer.
8-It is less expensive, therefore more accessible to more people, especially amateurs or neophytes with limited budgets.

We already see Gass's paid shills infesting online forums, such as this one, with their bogus counter-claims. There are probably many saw stop owners who sincerely believe their technology is better, since they already paid for it. Either way, the superiority of this capacitance touch sensor system is obvious.

I'll support this guy's invention and buy one as soon as it is available. I'll even buy a cheap portable saw to go with it.
Posted: 4:08 am on September 2nd

saschafer saschafer writes:
I concur with @AuroraWoodworks: The capabilities of this device are such that it probably adds some level of protection over a conventional guard arrangement. But the suggestion that it's competitive with SawStop is a bit of a stretch. SawStop stops the blade with the amount of violence that it does because there just isn't any other way to do it fast enough. (Aircraft ejection seats have the same kind of engineering constraint: Only a rocket or explosive charge can move the seat away from the fuselage fast enough to be effective.)

So, as a homebrew device it might be worth considering for a retrofit, but unless and until it can promise performance that is reasonably on par with SawStop, it has no commercial viability.


Posted: 8:34 pm on September 1st

APO APO writes: It appears to me that the blade is stopped by making contact with the blade guard. This keeps your flesh away from the blade spinning blade and since it detects your flesh before getting to the blade it makes no difference if the blade travels approx 400 teeth before coming to a complete stop. A person would have to make an extra effort to get their pinkies into the blade with this system. I like the idea of the blade stopping without having to touch the blade....
Posted: 8:12 pm on September 1st

AuroraWoodworks AuroraWoodworks writes: The blade stopping in about 1/8 second sounds good until you run the numbers. Assuming an arbor speed of 4700 rpm and a 40-tooth blade, that's around 400 tooth encounters after flesh is detected before the blade stops.
Posted: 6:50 pm on September 1st

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