SawStop inventor Steve Gass defends the latest tablesaw verdicts

comments (115) October 6th, 2011 in blogs

AsaC AsaC, Contributor
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Steve Gass believes his amazing flesh-sensing, blade-braking technology should be mandated on all tablesaws. And the Consumer Product Safety Commision agrees.
Gass claims that his robust, sophisticated system will work on the smallest saws, and add less than $100 to their price tags.
Steve Gass (C) demonstrates SawStops braking technology on a hotdog in a Discovery Channel documentary.
Steve Gass believes his amazing flesh-sensing, blade-braking technology should be mandated on all tablesaws. And the Consumer Product Safety Commision agrees. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Steve Gass believes his amazing flesh-sensing, blade-braking technology should be mandated on all tablesaws. And the Consumer Product Safety Commision agrees.

Photo: Discovery Channel

After reading the Consumer Product Safety Commission's new ANPR (advance notice of proposed rulemaking), and finding many errors and assumptions, I had a lot of questions for Steve Gass, the SawStop inventor whose testimony and data both the CPSC and the court in the Osorio case relied on heavily. As usual, Gass was very forthcoming and candid, and quick, which any reporter appreciates.



Here are the highlights of our e-mail exchanges, which I found to be very enlightening, but left me of course, with followup questions (here's one: I find that a riving knife lets me concentrate on just one thing, keeping my fingers out of harm's way. And I'm sure that is making me less likely to run my hand into the blade). I'll follow with those questions later, plus Q&As with representatives from the rest of the tablesaw industry.


This issue will dominate woodworking headlines for some time. Bear in mind that I sent many of my questions all at once, getting Gass's answers all at once later, so I didn't always have a chance to consider a previous answer before formulating my next question. Also, I moved Qs and As around a bit to make this exchange more readable and kill some redundancy.

By the way, the PTI is the Power Tool Institute, an association formed by most of the other tablesaw manufacturers, in response to the entry of SawStop into the marketplace.

Christiana (that's me): How does an ANPR work?

Gass: It is the first step in the process of the CPSC creating a rule. It basically says they are considering making a rule and asks for public input on various questions that bear on whether a rule is warranted or not. When the ANPR is published, interested parties are given 60 days to comment and provide input on the questions such as you raise below.

Christiana: Can you tell me more about your role in helping the CPSC do its research and come to the conclusion that a standard is needed? 

Gass: CPSC certainly shouldn’t just take my word for things – nor have they. They’ve considered the PTI’s comments and submissions and the engineers at the CPSC have made their own evaluations. Furthermore, I’m not suggesting anybody just take my word for it. I have documented and backed up any statements I make. Will the PTI do the same?

I haven’t had any role in helping to prepare the ANPR or helping the CPSC do its research. The only thing I have provided to them is copies of our finger save data from which they can evaluate the effectiveness of the SawStop technology in mitigating injury. The vast majority of what is in the briefing package comes from internal data at the CPSC – especially NEISS, their injury tracking data base. I know they have purchased one of our contractor saws and done their own tests on it, but I didn’t participate in that in any way and don’t know what tests they did or what results they generated.

If you’re wondering why the CPSC is so interested, their own numbers tell it all: $2.36B in injury costs on a product having a retail market value of $300-400M. The piece SawStop brought to the table was that there was a solution that could in fact prevent these injuries. The CPSC contacted me when they heard about SawStop, not the other way around.

The CPSC started this process before I’d even invented SawStop. In fact they originally approached the industry in 1998 about trying to do something to make table saws safer. The industry’s response was that current guards were the best option and customer education were the only possible solution. See attached documents. It was only after I came up with SawStop that the industry suddenly developed an interest in riving knives – not because they didn’t know about them before, but because they wanted to have some improvement to offer the CPSC to fend off more stringent regulations.

I know it is kind of fashionable to suspect everyone is only in it for themselves. And, I guess many people will want to cynically believe that I’m somehow manipulating the system only to make a bunch of money. Well, the truth is I’m lucky that I don’t have to choose between doing what I believe to be the right thing and doing what’s in my financial interest. Like any other inventor, I hope to make money from my invention. I also hope to make all table saws safer. Fortunately, I don’t think those two goals are at odds.

Christiana: I'm disappointed in the Osorio verdict, and in the CPSC's briefing package. I still haven't seen anyone prove you can put the SawStop technology into a portable jobsite saw without doubling its weight and price, more or less. The jury is also out on how the electronics would stand up to the elements and other abuse in the back of pickup trucks and on jobsites.

Gass: You are welcome to come out any time and see our prototype [that incorporates the SawStop technology into a jobsite saw]. It weighs about the same as a Bosch 4100, so weight is certainly not an issue. I believe the manufacturing cost will be less than $100 over that of the Bosch, as there just isn’t much that you have to add to put SawStop on it. Even the PTI guys have testified that it would only cost $55 to add their version to a portable bench top saw.

Do you really believe that we or B&D or Bosch can’t design the electronics sufficiently to withstand the environment? Many power tools already incorporate electronics of comparable complexity and they seem to hold up okay. Every drill has electronics in it. Or, how about the fence position digital display on the Bosch jobsite table saw? That has a microcontroller, just like what we incorporate. The suggestion that flesh detection technology is somehow unique in this regard is simply nonsense. Back when we started, the PTI was saying you couldn’t seal the cartridge against dust either and low and behold, that turned out to not be a problem either.

As for the Osorio jury, I think we could argue about whether the law is wrong if you don’t believe that manufacturers should have an obligation to make there products reasonably safe - reasonable generally being defined as being where the cost of making them any safer exceeds the economic saving from reduced injury. But, that is in essence the law. I sat through all of the testimony in the Osorio case and I can tell you the jury made the right decision given the evidence before them and the law that they were instructed to follow. Ryobi said they couldn’t have incorporated safer technology and I testified that they could have based on my experience designing and building just such saws. But the jury didn’t just believe me, they also believed Peter Domeny from Bosch when he testified that the PTI had developed a system they could put on bench top saws for $55. Either system would have prevented Osorio’s injury from being devastating. So there were two relatively low cost possible solutions that could have prevented the injury and Ryobi used neither. How could the jury have reached any other conclusion but that the BTS15 was not reasonably safe?

posted in: blogs, Tablesaw, safety, sawstop, osorio, gass

Comments (115)

LauraHSilvas LauraHSilvas writes: This blade-braking technology is outstanding.
Posted: 3:22 am on March 1st

RebeccaShaw RebeccaShaw writes: Nice article.
Posted: 3:14 am on February 15th

Ray_SHARR Ray_SHARR writes: I'm English and live in France. I've read most of the above and, frankly, I'm amazed. I cannot belive that your courts have found Ryobi and its parent company guilty for the behaviour of an untrained worker who was badly let down by an employer who, it seems, didn't give a hoot for the safety of an employee. As I see it, the make of saw used had no bearing on the case, it was the employer who was mainly to blame. In all of the articles on this case that I have read I have only seen mention of injuries - no deaths(happily). You have one thing in America that causes more deaths and injuries than anything else and that is almost unfettered access to fire arms. Perhaps some one should take Colt or any other gun maker to court and use the same criteria as in this case. Make the gun maker liable for the actions of the people who pull the trigger, or better still the people who hide behind those magic letters NRA.
Posted: 7:06 pm on November 23rd

jareed jareed writes: Does this mean I will never dare to sell my 15 yr. old Delta Cabinet Saw for fear that I could be included in a lawsuit involving my old saw, or now that a precedant is set will it be buyer beware?
Posted: 4:02 pm on November 17th

BiffHoffman BiffHoffman writes: In the early 1970's, I worked with an advisory committee charged with developing safety standards for rotating shafts (power take-off). The committee was comprised largely of engineers employed by major agricultural equipment manufacturers. Over a beer, these guys would say they welcome government standards because it bolsters their defense in product liability lawsuits and, if the standard is a "government mandate" adopting the safety improvement doesn't put them at a competitive disadvantage -- competitors have to do it too. Of course, they wouldn't publicly take a position in favor of the standards -- probably because they were selling into a largely "anti-government-mandate" marketplace. I suspect the same it true here. Methinks the PTI doth protest too loudly.
Posted: 12:16 pm on November 16th

MDCustom MDCustom writes: There is a flaw in the cost vs benefit calculations.
Here are the agreed upon facts:
The cost for injury from table saws is roughly $3B/year
This from the annual sales of saws between $300-$400M annually

Increasing the cost of table saws out fitted with this new technology will not reduce the injury costs. They should just stagnate. Here is why I believe this to be so:

In the past ten years,assuming steady product sales, there has been $3-$4 BILLION dollars worth of machinery added to the marketplace that does not have the new technology. These tools will presumably continue to munch hands and fingers unabated by the new tech. No? now go back another ten years, or twenty! How many table saws are actually in use in North America?
Unless there is some incentive for people to trade in their old saws for a credit towards a SawStop, these tools will continue to be used. I think that without an incentive to have the old saws taken out of very shop and garage in the land there will be no reduction in the yearly injury claims.
I for one do not expect to just junk my cabinet saw and new portable saw just to buy new safer replacements.
Posted: 11:11 am on November 15th

kctalbot kctalbot writes: The more I read about this the more I agree with the proposed safety regs. I have a P66 at home with the splitter and pawls removed so I can see the work (I recently installed a small splitter in my zero clearance insert). I have, more than once, had some sticky maple pinch, get bogged down, and want to kick. I use Forrest WW2 blades and have the saw setup perfectly. It's not the saw, its the wood. Wood is not all the same. There is always the possibility that the piece you are cutting has it in for you. To these guys who keep saying "I take responsibility for myself and live with the consequences" or something of similar camber, I would agree with you IF it was ONLY our actions that determined the outcome. It's not. Having something bail me out of a bad piece of wood, would be a comfort and NOT a financial burden in the least. $100?? Seriously!? Big deal, sign me up! I spend more than that on wood for one project. I hope they make a retro for my saw.
Posted: 3:04 pm on October 8th

jthorner jthorner writes: In the 1970s I read Car & Driver magazine cover to cover every issue. I still remember how the writers and editors at the time bemoaned emissions and safety regulations for automobiles. Now a few decades later the fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles have dropped from the 5.5 to 6.0 range of the 1960s to less than 2.0 today. Meanwhile, our annual vehicle miles have climbed to about 3,000,000 million miles per year. (5.5-2.0) x 3,000 = 10,500. So, we are saving over ten thousand lives per year in the US largely thanks to improved vehicle design. I am quite sure that what partisans call "the nut behind the wheel" has not improved over these past 50 years.

I bring this up, obviously, because of the parallel with the arguments now being had over mandating something like the Saw Stop. "Improved User Education" is the argument manufacturers always use when the are trying to protect their profit margins instead of their customers.

Posted: 9:50 am on October 6th

frontrow1 frontrow1 writes: Debate on tablesaw safety, yet all is still silent on gun control, compulsory seat belts and motor cycle/bike helmets in your country, maybe saw stop can hook up with these guys
Posted: 5:19 am on October 6th

Namobo Namobo writes: My check for $55 to add stop saw to my Grizzly is ready. Where so I send it?

The unaddressed question is, what liability rest with individuals who sell their saws?
Posted: 11:55 am on November 9th

Wyler Wyler writes: I was just looking at Saw Stops site and noticed they do not use this technology for manufacturing any other power tools. Should we fault them for injuries involving jointers or bandsaws or any other tool using rotating blades.

I will be very interested to see what happens in court when someone is injured when using a Saw Stop product. I have to believe their attorneys opening statement will have the words "user error" and "negligent" in it.

Don't get me wrong I think the technology is great, but I think they too will try and pass the blame when something goes wrong.

We should take "accident" out of the dictionary because it's always someone else "fault".

Posted: 2:47 pm on November 6th

HobokenHam HobokenHam writes: Personally, I am thrilled to hear that the inventor of this technology is so moved by a sense of social responsibility that he is willing to contribute his invention FREE to all manufacturers so that we poor dumb woodworkers, dumb as the guy in this case, are protected from themselves so that we won't loose any fingers do to a lack of care or caution. And I thought It was all about money! Stupid me. Little did I know what charity exists in the heart of so many out there. You see, I grew up thinking we had to take care of ourselves, earn our own way, help our family and friends, best of all by being independent and taking care of themselves. But lately I have learned that I must pray to Washington, that they have the answers and my money. They will tell me not only what food is best, what organizations I must join, what doctors I must go to but what tool technology I must use because I am too stupid to figure it out myself. Yes, I am too stupid. I am too stupid. I am too stupid. Washington knows best. With them, nothing can go wrong. Nothing can go wrong. Nothing can go wrong.Nothing can go wrong. Come to think of it (whoops excus me Washington!) who needs Fine Woodworking. The Consumer Safety Protection Supremacy can tell me what I need. Excuse me, it's time to kneel towards TWH and pray....

Posted: 5:30 pm on October 31st

Mageddo Mageddo writes: There is no question here that the user was untrained, inept, ignorant, and had removed the existing safety equipment. This will add 200-400 more to every machine, at best, and for no valid reason. Is it nice - yes. Is it needed - no. Will the individual who holds the patent on it want to support the fed's finding - seems like "follow the money" answers that question.
What some of the writers do not seem to understand is that this is just step one -- pretty soon you will not be able to purchase any power tool until you have passed a government certified training class (based on who you voted for - aka Chicago), and those WITH equipment will not be able to purchase blades/etc without showing there certification card. It's pretty much like that in most of Europe right now, and a lot of "environmentalists" see this as another way to get the whole world doing things per their ideas.


Posted: 6:42 pm on October 23rd

calliper calliper writes: Im all for avoiding mandates in general, but Im also all for getting rid of tards that keep our profession a dangerous one...or just tards in general.
I don't really trust anyone but myself to do anything that requires extreme caution, I think the SawStop technology should be welcomed, especially since it seems like a very unrestricting safety device. I also am pretty certain that wet wood does not trip the device, but why the hell are you ripping wet wood in the first place? Some people just aren't professional, using wet wood, climb cutting free-handed, putting their fingers in the ONE spot the blade rotates in, cutting a board you know shows grain characteristic of bowing while cutting. I mean come on, at least 70 out of 100 woodworkers aren't the most ideal people to be doing the work anyway! Why not add some piece of mind when working around these idiots. I never want to have to help some bloody jackass into a hospital, that alone gets me excited to buy into this stuff. Our 82 yr old master cabinet maker finally ended his career from lopping off 2 fingers, and he even got them put back on! Guess what happened to our insurance?-from around $12,000 a year to $49,000! Everyone thinks they're too good to get hurt, and thats what eventually gets ya. Pride comes before the fall.
Posted: 12:00 pm on October 16th

tbw tbw writes: I'm very interested to hear about the sliding table saw Gass mentioned.
Posted: 2:19 pm on October 14th

Gerry2334 Gerry2334 writes: I'm thinking that if I could stand to make a few million dollars on my invention by forcing it (and the added expense) on the average intelligent consumer I might go for it as well. Am I the only one who sees this as a 'conflict of interest'? Does no one think maybe Gass should NOT have been.a witness at this trial. Most people I deal with every day at my job should NOT be near power tools because they have NO common sense using said tools. I cannot believe this ever goes to court. Get a grip.
Posted: 10:15 pm on October 12th

beem beem writes: O ye of little liberty, yours is the day of woe and misfortune. The age of Gass will descend upon us like a blade unto a pawl. Safety will replace freedom, capacitance will replace cognition, and the greed of one will replace the greed of many.

In those days, woodworker will war against woodworker, the stupid will be made whole, and there will be much riving and splitting of teeth. Woe unto to you who bear the mark of flesh sensing technology, for ye is destined to hand toolery.

I beseech you in the name of Samuel Miller, resist the wiles of the CPSC for she rides the beast of regulation, consuming all that is good and affordable.

An ominous cloud is on the horizon. The end of woodworking is nigh.
Posted: 1:29 am on October 12th

berferdt berferdt writes: The gov't wants to protect us from our own stupidity, but who is protecting us from theirs, and who told them they should or could?
The truth comes out; the cost of adding the SawStop technology to a saw Gass quoted as $100 or less. If that's the case, why are they charging $1000 for a POS that's really just a $400 saw?
I can just imagine the thing going off prematurly while using a $120 dado set, or any high buck blade.
If that's the only thing I will be able to buy in the future, I guess I'll just have to get much better with handtools.
It's good for them to forewarn us - for me, it's off to the saw store to fill future needs.

Posted: 12:12 pm on October 11th

BlueEnamel BlueEnamel writes: Here's a couple of comments:
1. Every patent claim can be challenged in court. Just because a patent is granted, it doesn't mean that it is valid. There are patents on mind reading devices, etc. If the patent claim(s) are weak, or too broad, or prior art exists, the particular claims can be dismissed. It all depends on whether the patent was written well enough.
2. If SawStop technology is mandated, is SawStop liable for any injuries that occur on a machine that has the SawStop technology on it? If so, then if another dumbass decides to disable/bypass the safety mechanism because he's cutting wet, pressure treated wood that continually trips the blade arresting technology, and he rams his hand into the blade, who is liable?
Posted: 10:21 pm on October 10th

masqu3rade masqu3rade writes: Based on everything I have read, One World Technologies should not be responsible for reimbursing the insurance company, that was their own fault for insuring a client that was so completely devoid of any sort of proper tool techniques and usage, not to mention his complete flaunting of safety standards. However, should there be a new mandate for incorporating this technology? I think that remains a valid issue for debate.

Gass is fairly accurate that table saw manufacturers were pretty slow to fully incorporate the riving knife until he introduced the SawStop technology. But, at that point it was more about losing market share and they had to include something to compete with safety offered by their new competitor. And, just from personal experience, when it comes to buying a new table saw I won't be happy about spending the extra money, but I'm only going to buy something with this new technology. I am a safe craftsman with no accidents on record but the risk/reward is simply to great to ignore (it appears that many other commenters feel the same way).

As far as him 'giving away the technology' for free because he cares, that isn't really fair to him. Many people could have tried to develop this technology (ESPECIALLY the large tool manufacturers; and they certainly wouldn't have been giving it away) so he deserves to profit from the introduction of this ground-breaking safety technology.
Posted: 3:53 pm on October 10th

pilot_151 pilot_151 writes: I agree with many of the comments here. Having read the above article, Steve Gass leaves me cold and disappointed. He hides behind the fact that he set out to develop a product (great and glad he did), but then being a lawyer, writes a patent that is so broad that no one could develop without years of research for a product to compete with him without paying him big bucks. He uses the injury figures to pretend that he is concerned about the safety and welfare of us woodworkers all the while he lines his pocket. If he was so concerned, he'd either offer up his idea without such the braod stroke, or would license his product at a reasonable cost. Amazing that he has been trying to get congress to mandate his idea and that he had nothing to do with this case.

Steven Gass, if you really want us to believe that you have our best interest at heart, please open your patent up and share for the good of woodworking without the driving up the cost of a new table saw. If you product is so good, then let it compete on a level playing field.
Posted: 12:26 pm on October 10th

StevePark StevePark writes: Here's my bottom line: if I can put a device on my table saw that will help to protect me from severe injury or death, for less than the cost of a good chisel, what posible reason could I have for not doing it? Legislation and litigation aside, isn't that the real question? It's not about the Government's taking away your freedom to hack your fingers off if you so choose, it's about using an existing engineering solution to reduce a known danger rather than hoping that a "you can kill yourself, so be careful" disclaimer is sufficient. Chain saws have had safety brakes for years; why is this such an issue for table saws?
Posted: 12:12 pm on October 10th

jasf52 jasf52 writes: This is so simple: If there is a way to improve safety at the cost described, it should be there. All this philosphical jargon is crap. I want the products I use to be as safe as possible. I am willing to pay extra. So much bs here......Hey, as it so happens, I do not use a table saw; I have a Radial Arm Saw that is a FAR SUPERIOR PRODUCT.

Posted: 10:44 am on October 10th

deh003 deh003 writes: To take it one step further; as a 30+ year woodworker with all 10 fingers, I am again disapointed in a legal system which promotes a lack of personnal responsability, and consistantly shifts blame to everyone else. On a sarcastic note McDonalds should have shifted their law suit to the coffee maker manufacturer for making a coffee maker that made coffee too hot! Hope this doesn't give them any ideas.
Posted: 8:43 am on October 10th

Garrick Garrick writes: Safety is important, but our society is getting mandated to death by bottom feeding lawyers and sob stories. There are a myriad of safety devices available for all sorts of technology that are available should we so choose. While safety belts and airbags are required, they were once options. Other safety features are options on cars still--antilock brakes, stability control, and dynamic cruise control. Antilock brakes are optional on motorcycles yet have been shown to save lives. Some table saws have flesh-sensing technology and others don't. Market forces and American ingenuity are pushing the development of new products and the American public adopts them as they see fit. Let people choose what they want. We don't need any more of a nanny state.
Posted: 11:35 pm on October 9th

oakcherrywalnut oakcherrywalnut writes: As more facts emerge, I can see a much more compelling argument in favor of tougher safety rules for table saws. The hysterical attacks on Gass and Osorio, and paranoid attacks on our supposed Big Brother government, are irrelevant when you step back and look at the big picture.

There is the financial argument: over $3 billion spent on table saw injuries each year, vs. a product that generates only $300 to $400 million in sales each year. And that $3 billion is mostly coming from health insurers, which in turn contributes to the higher and higher health insurance premiums we have to pay.

There is the stone age vs. technology age argument: typically our machines become more sophisticated and powerful over time, and unfortunately the manufacturers often have to be kicked in the butt to develop the technology to make them safer. The auto manufacturers required this kind of kick, and it was good. Today they actually boast about safety as a top priority in their product and advertising. Power tool manufacturers will also adjust, and we will all be the better for it.

Some of the comments on this forum assume that this controversy is all about "society" or "the courts" or "the government" trying to protect irresponsible people from themselves. This assumption is ridiculous. The reality is actually the opposite: the courts and/or government are being asked to protect the rest of us from those who would preserve a costly and dangerous status quo.

There are always those who would rather stay in the stone age with all of its comforts and risks. I couldn't care less if they do. But when their "freedom" to stay there adds $3 billion to the exploding cost of the medical care we all pay for, they start to infringe on the freedom of the rest of us. That's when we should all get very, very interested in the outcome.

Posted: 11:18 pm on October 9th

Hughie Hughie writes: Dear Asa

I read in detail the various files you made available dealing with this man who lost his fingers. I can understand why you assumed that the plaintiff would lose on appeal. BUT fortunately the law protects idiots and their employer's lack of responsibility from the results of harm from BADLY designed mashines.

You end your comments saying that FWW will submit a brief and it will be unbiased. May I suggest that you should NOT be a member of the group that composes the brief because you are clearly VERY biased. Perhaps you wrote this posting in the heat of the moment, BUT you have shown yourself very biased.

Table saws are dangerous! I have had only one close call which was MY fault but it could have been prevented with a flesh detecting system. Nevertheless the window in my workshop down stream from kick backs has been replaced several times. WHY did it take so long for table saws to be equiped with riving blades in N.Am.?

I am about to buy a Stop-Saw, simply because there is nothing as complete available.

Finally, thank you very much for your honesty/openness that thereby revealed your bias and frustrations.

Posted: 8:51 pm on October 9th

beem beem writes: Fair enough, Asa. That's good news and I really look forward to your PTI interview.
Posted: 7:57 pm on October 9th

AsaC AsaC writes: Just to clarify, I'm not arguing against SawStop in general, either in this Q&A blog or the other one I wrote. And I'm not yet sure which side of the CPSC issue I come down on. Lots of interviewing still to do. My goal with these blogs was to ask the tough questions. You can be sure I'll be just as tough on PTI. That's a different blog, coming soon.
Posted: 7:20 pm on October 9th

DVMills DVMills writes: Mr. Glass,

Consider licensing the technology for $1.00 per saw. Perhaps even consider providing a retrofit kit for the 1985 Delta cabinet saw I have used for years -- nick free.
Posted: 7:15 pm on October 9th

gmiller25 gmiller25 writes: Some of the professional woodworkers I've spoken to consider a minute lost in productivity to be equal to $1.00. Now condider the lost time a Saw Stop costs to change out standard blade with its stop cartridge to the dado set with cartridge and back again. Guys in a production shop can't spare that time and money lost -- especially in the current economy.

Regardless of Mr. Gass' arguments for the Saw Stop technology, he still has a monopoly on the invention based on his "extensive law experience". He's locked in multiple patents, so why wouldn't he not be predudicial in favor of his own invention. Look at the millions one person will make from just licensing fees.

Does he plan to kick any of that over to the industry?, NOT.
Posted: 5:21 pm on October 9th

A320 A320 writes: The only way to ensure safety would be to invent a sure fire cure for stupidity and greed.
Posted: 3:44 pm on October 9th

cbf123 cbf123 writes: To "ajgilderson". It seems you missed the fact that it was the insurance company that sued Ryobi, not the injured man himself. The insurance paid out to cover the injury, then sued Ryobi to recoup their own costs.

That said, I do agree that the flooring company should have been found partly at fault for not properly training their employees and not using the safety guards.

It's not surprising that it was a flooring installer that ran into this. There's no safe cheap and fast way to do a long tapered rip cut on a 2" wide strip of flooring. The best option is likely a track saw, but that's not cheap or fast.
Posted: 2:39 pm on October 9th

CBSparks CBSparks writes: As a shop teacher in the St. Louis area I have had many close calls with my students. The 2 Saw Stops I have in my shop are the most important and most used power tools by my students. I see more woodworking in a class period than most pros do in a day. I would never go back to my Unisaw. The risk of injury to my students is too great even for my best students.
I am an expert in dumb acts with a tool, I have just about seen it all and you would be hard pressed to find a better example of what mistakes people make with tools than a shop class. You can argue all you want about the cost and Mr. Gass and his motives, but the fact is I have 2 young students who have the use of their hands because of his invention and I'm grateful.
It doesn't matter what level of training and how much experience you have you will make a mistake, I do every day. Every time I look up while prepping materials for a student at the table saw to keep an eye on my class while they are working on their projects. I welcome any legislation to require this system in all new table saws.
Posted: 8:57 am on October 9th

rlang rlang writes: This interview suggests that the Sawstop technology uses a microcontroller. Is the software written to safety critical development standards? There are Aerospace and Medical as well as automotive standards for developing safety critical software to ensure that it does what it is supposed to . . .
Posted: 8:21 am on October 9th

woodsurgin woodsurgin writes: I am happy to see the possible return of woodshop to the schools.
If we put the students in a mindset that they cannot get hurt because of the inherent safety of the Sawstop, then what happens when the go on and to use tools not so equipped. When I had shop at Reavis HIgh School, near Chicago, the paramount thing we were taught was safety. No tool was safe. We were taught an approach that worked well on any power tool. Their approach was that we were going to learn about safety first. What I have learned has, I'm sure, saved me from injury many times since being in high school in the 50's. You must approach the use of any tool, power or hand, that they can hurt you if you are not paying attention. There is a real danger of today's mindset that we are think we can create environments where you cannot get hurt.
Posted: 6:46 am on October 9th

ajgilderson ajgilderson writes: I think the real tragedy here is that the manufacturer is found liable. The employer is the party that should have been found at fault, by not training the employee. And the employee and employer would be jointly at fault for removing the safety guards. However, with no training, it is all the employer's fault.
It is my opinion that the employer (and their insurance) did not have deep enough pockets. The injured man's attorneys went for the biggest pile of money - regardless of if it was right. SHAME on the courts for this.
I have my saw with a nice riving knife, and feel very nervous around a blade. That is why I have all my fingers. Don't rush, don't remove safety equipment, and don't get complacent.
By the way, what is the effect on Arbor Run-out after a couple of saw-stop uses?
Posted: 6:08 am on October 9th

vondoom88 vondoom88 writes: Here is a thread about a guy who did something dumb and luckily survived. He admits it was dumb and shouldn't have tried it. Oh and he was using a Sawstop.!-%28WARNING!-GORY-PICTURES!!%29

Posted: 5:57 am on October 9th

jsheaney jsheaney writes: I think it is time to start promoting more safety features on table saws. The machines we are discussing are not the cabinet saws of the past used by professionals that know what they are doing. We are talking about machines that cost as little as $150. They are sold at big box stores by teenagers to wives as Christmas presents for their husbands. These are users that do not have Dads that taught them how to use these machines. They did not have shop class. They may have no real experience with power tools.

I really think it is disingenuous to talk about "common sense" and then go on to say ''my dad taught me" or "my shop teacher taught me." That is not common sense. That is education.
Posted: 2:06 am on October 9th

DNomer DNomer writes: I think you have to be careful in mandating things like this. I have seen so far two different realistic alternatives to Saw Stop, and I have heard of problems with Saw Stop and assorted variations in the material being cut. Whenever a government mandates something, it often accrues too much money for one company or an industry. Real answers require the engineering work to bring a product to market at an affordable price and with good reliability and longevity. If someone wants to convince us that he is interested in our welfare, just drop the price. Most companies are run by greed-heads, and I, for one, do not salute them. So the power tool companies are not being especially pro-active in this safety thing as they could -- shame on them; and our inventor is not being especially competitive, and instead desiring a legislative mandate. I would be utterly ashamed to ask for a legislative mandate for a product I came up with. I would rather let the market choose and try to actually compete on the merits.

As for medical costs, they are primarily determined by the giant institutionalized scam we have in this country called the medical profession. And while dealing with chopped-up hands is one of the things they do better than most, their price is a matter of deep shame, which does not seem to faze the practitioners. The cost of chopped-up hands from table saws is a tiny fraction of the harm they do to this society. I do not want to minimize the real injury that occurs, and the cost to the person who suffers a tablesaw injury. Even though I never suffered such an injury in several years of daily wood-shop work, I have a friend who really chopped the middle out of his right hand doing a dangerous thing with a dado cutter. He was lucky to regain the use of his hand, given the real magnitude of the injury. He abandoned his shop and now teaches woodworking safety.

My own views on shop safety have progressed over the years. My current views on such things as dust in the air, fumes and contact with finishes and resin, and various safety features of tools are much different from my younger years. Some of these issues are rather expensive to deal with, but we have to carefully consider the long term effects of our daily practices, including the chance of a particular injury. So while I am reluctant to mandate a specific solution, I urge each woodworker to carefully consider what you do each day, and try to keep healthy. I find myself reconsidering many of these issues when reading various articles here and there.
Posted: 1:58 am on October 9th

rhouser rhouser writes: I'm not a fan of the Osario decision, but other than voicing my oppinion I'm otherwise impotent to change it.

I'm sceptical of Mr. Gass's motives, but he's a lawyer and that's what they do. To his defence, and I never thought I'd be in the position of defending him, while he may be moving to take advantage of his standing in the market, he's certainly not the most abusive inventor/patent holder that I'm aware of.

And further to his credit, he believed enough in his product to bring it to market in a set of superbly designed saws. Having been involved in five technology startups I can't even imagine the challenges to bringing a line of power saws to market from scratch.

The other manufactures have had enumerable opportunities to either license from Gass or invent their own alternatives. Sadly in the decade, or so, since Gass first made his table saw patents availble most haven't even equiped their saws with Euro-style protection, which is notibly better than American safety measures.

But the one thing that the StopSaw has done that no other table saw has, is it's brought back woodshop into our public schools. All else aside, for this Mr.Gass deserves to be congratulated for his achievement. Our kids need to have the experience of building things with their hands and the StopSaw is enabling that.
Posted: 1:38 am on October 9th

beem beem writes: Imagine being the editor of a popular automobile magazine 50 years ago, a magazine that serves the average automobile driver and not industry leaders. Now imagine this same editor arguing against requiring the use of seat belts because the costs to the automobile industry and the automobile consumer would increase.

Now imagine this same editor being interviewed 50 years later about his earlier opposition to seat belts and being asked the following question:

Knowing what you know today regarding the successes of the seat belt, would you have thought or done anything differently?

Of course the advantage we have over our 1950s-60s counterparts is that we know more clearly today how such safety regulations work, that opposition to safety regulation from industry leaders has been almost universal even to this day, that from an industry standpoint - safety doesn't sell, that legislating safety measures and technology has always been resisted from industry and always will be, and that the benefits of implementing safety measures/features have historically outweighed their costs.

So predicting the response of industry to looming safety regulations is easy. Predicting the resulting benefits of requiring safety features designed protect the consumer is also easy. What's not so easy is figure out why an editor of a popular woodworking magazine, whose primary readership serves consumers of these power tools and not industry leaders, has aligned himself on the predictably wrong side of the aisle in this debate.

Mysteries aside, the safety regulations will go through in one form or another, the power tool industry will comply as they always do, woodworking as we know it will not disappear, and the number of saw-related injuries will drop dramatically.

So Mr. Christiana, would you be willing to answer the following question 10 years from now?

Knowing what you know today regarding the successes of sawstop-like technology in preventing serious injury, would you have thought differently about your opposition to regulations requiring this technology?
Posted: 1:09 am on October 9th

mcottrell mcottrell writes: ElaineP writes--

"...Flesh sensing technology should be mandatory, however, insurance companies and disability could simply stop giving payouts to people who are injured on unprotected saws. That way, the "Too Smart to Get Hurt" crowd can continue purchasing and using cheap saws, and society doesn't have to support them after they injure themselves.

SawStop's technology is radical, revolutionary, and should be required on all tablesaws. The next generation will scoff at those "Too Cool for School" who resisted adding "seatbelts" to tablesaws.

It would be great if the blade wasn't destroyed by the break cartridge, but no one complains about the cost of replacing an airbag after a car accident..."

What the hell does this rant even mean? "Insurance companies and disability (???) could simply stop giving payouts...." How many lawsuits would THAT lead to? Smith got paid, but Jones didn't--do you really believe that the greed-driven morons who constitute our legal and insurance systems could figure that one out?

"Radical and revolutionary?" By what definition? My personal definition of radical and revolutionary (and, as a Ph. D. physicist, one I have a difficult time imagining--not that you have thought of this) is one which would stop the blade instantaneously, with no damage to blade, machine, or user. Not likely to happen (if you have ever heard of the principle of conservation of momentum, you might understand--but I suspect you haven't).

"Break cartridge?" Interesting play on words (if you really meant it--but I suspect you didn't, or else you just can't spell, or you don't understand the difference between break and brake). The "technology" (God, please give us a different word) acts as a BRAKE on the blade, by BREAKing a part of the saw (the aluminum portion of the cartridge which absorbs the shock due to stopping the blade's rotation). I surely hope and pray that you are never a member of a jury which decides the fate of something like this.
Posted: 10:04 pm on October 8th

8fingersplus2 8fingersplus2 writes: People!

Come on! We used to use link and pin couplers on trains. We used to have hand brakes on boxcars. We used to have unguarded flat belts running throughout factories. Boiler inspections became official not because of injury but because of secondary property damage. Seat belts were too expensive, as were airbags. Electricity used to run open wire through twin porcelain tubes with no ground.

So you can't jam your hand in your lawnmower...or your table saw...isn't this a move forward?

I have an adz, and a flat ax, and wedges. I have mauls, and planes and chisels. I know the dangers of tools, but if someone could grow hundreds of fingers on injured people, I would put in $55 US. There was a time when grounded tools and appliances did not exist.

If anyone is so offended by such safety measures, there are always ways to make or modify machines to circumvent safety loops. Wire ties, clipped diodes, anything.

Why you would want to is up to you..?

Just sayin'
Posted: 10:03 pm on October 8th

sawdust55109 sawdust55109 writes: From a woodworking perspective I find my riving knife and splitters invaluable as I don’t have this technology.
The cabinet shops that I know that have this technology all have said they get activations on glue lines and brads so I’m not convinced it’s the holy grail of mandated safety just yet.
From a moral perspective I find it alarming the continued “blame someone else” mantra caused by lawyers. I would bet that even if this guy had a one month dedicated training class on table saw safety he would have done the same thing.
You can’t legislate against stupidity and we ALL end up paying the price because of morons.

Posted: 9:36 pm on October 8th

ElaineP ElaineP writes: Flesh sensing technology should be mandatory, however, insurance companies and disability could simply stop giving payouts to people who are injured on unprotected saws. That way, the "Too Smart to Get Hurt" crowd can continue purchasing and using cheap saws, and society doesn't have to support them after they injure themselves.

SawStop's technology is radical, revolutionary, and should be required on all tablesaws. The next generation will scoff at those "Too Cool for School" who resisted adding "seatbelts" to tablesaws.

It would be great if the blade wasn't destroyed by the break cartridge, but no one complains about the cost of replacing an airbag after a car accident.
Posted: 9:23 pm on October 8th

mcottrell mcottrell writes: OK, Sheeple--

I want to know when Mr. Gass is going to invent a flesh-sensing technology for chisels, knives, handsaws, and any other sharp edge (not that modern tool manufacturers know how to manufacture a sharp edge--bought a cutting tool from Stanley lately?). Kitchen knives, lawn mower blades--hey: maybe even blunt objects--maybe something to prevent one from being struck on the head by an errant baseball bat at the hands of of some miscreant? Yeah--that will work. That should apply to two-by-fours as well, of course....and sticks, stones, or anything else which can be made into an instrument of injury.

Mr. Gass's claim to be protecting us from some imminent danger is just so much BS--he is simply trying to line his pockets by way of the bloated US court system. He has a good idea, and a technology that appears to work. Fine. It MAY protect stupid people from themselves. Fine. This does NOT mean that non-stupid people should be forced to buy the invention, and subsidize Mr. Gass's retirement.

I am also dismayed by the tendency to argue from the specific to the general (i.e., one stupid person was injured by a product; therefore, both stupid and non-stupid people need to be protected from that product, and the manufacturers of that class of product need to be punished). Let me give a counter-example. I own a vintage Delta Unisaw (manufacturing date circa 1956). I have been using various other saws since I was about 10 years old--I am now 57 years old. I was fortunate to have taken shop classes in high school, and to have been drilled in various aspects of table saw safety. The upshot is that, in 47 years of table saw usage, with no flesh-sensing technology, I have had exactly ONE table saw accident--which WOULD NOT have been prevented by either Saw-Stop, nor even by a riving knife! I was using a Delta tenoning jig on a work piece which was too small to be clamped adequately; the piece was kicked back, detached from the clamp on the tenoning jig, and fired backward into my abdominal area. I had a VERY large (and VERY sore) bruise which took several weeks to clear up. Was the Unisaw at fault? No--it performed flawlessly. Was the tenoning jig at fault? No--I, in a moment of stupidity, failed to adjust it properly to hold the small workpiece adequately. Should the rest of you be required to spend fifty or a hundred (or whatever the price might be) dollars to buy a (fictional) "safe" tenoning jig, because of my stupidity? Think about it.

And then think about the idiocy of some uneducated moron who probably can't read, and probably WOULDN'T read, the user's manual and the safety recommendations for his table saw, and who proceeded to use it with no blade guard, no rip fence, no nothing. And you and I have to pay for this idiocy? And line Mr. Gass's pockets?

And, by the way, I sure do wish that Mr. Gass, Fine Woodworking's editors, and Mr. Christiana, would learn simple second-grade grammar and usage rules, such as the usage "low and behold" (should be "lo and behold"), and "make there products reasonably safe" (should, and must, be THEIR products...), and other instances of illiteracy. If the participants, from top to bottom, knew how to construct simple English sentences, their (NOT there) cases would be a bit more compelling. Instead, they just appear to be ignorant.

Then again, litigation attorneys don't have to display any semblance of learning--they just have to be able to convince ignorant and stupid juries, and ignorant, stupid, and anti-business-biased judges that all manufacturers are inherently evil.

Wake up, folks. To all those ignorant (and perhaps stupid), untrained table saw users out there, get a clue. Power tools can HURT you. LEARN HOW TO USE THEM. Read the instructions. Go to the public library and read a book (if you can read). Ask questions. Take some responsibility for your own actions. STOP BLAMING SOCIETY FOR YOUR OWN SHORTCOMINGS AND YOUR OWN IGNORANCE (and possibly your own stupidity). And in particular, stop asking society to PAY you for being ignorant and/or stupid.

Yes, I am SHOUTING. Someone needs to.
Posted: 9:21 pm on October 8th

bigtim bigtim writes: DocJackson writes in his comment "why is it necessary that the safety device must destroy itself"
I suspect that the momentum of the spinning blade being "grabbed" by the brake, is in great part responsible for the speed with which the blade drops down below the table surface.
Since the brake can not move up it has to be the blade that must go down. Remember on the back of the spinning blade the teeth move up and if my calculations are correct they do that at a speed of approx. 2000" per second or 2" per milisecond.
My $0.02

Posted: 8:10 pm on October 8th

DDolphin DDolphin writes: Ley's forget the fact that the user violated a host of safety rules.

And we can all offer up dozens of scenarios which would defeat sawstop technology.

And I have mixed feelings about the government or a court mandating what I buy or how I sue it.

And I'll even try to buy Mr Gass's altristic intentions.

But can somebody tell me where I get this $100 (or better yet $55.00) retrofit to have that technology placed on my current saw? I own a contractor's saw - it's all I could afford and economics have gotten any better recently. The starting price for this type of saw is roughly $500. Is Mr. Gass offering to drop the price on his basic sawstop to $600 so we common folk can afford one??????

I still have all my fingers and toes but will admit to a few close calls but all of them could have been avoided if I hadn't forgotten to apply the one thing that seems lacking in this court case and what I feel is an idiotic ruling - some basic common sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I do like one writer's suggestion that we have to pass a safety test in order to operate dangerous equipment. Then, if one should decide to bypass the safety measures, they would hopefully be limited in trying to sue someone else for their own stupidity.
Posted: 7:43 pm on October 8th

vondoom88 vondoom88 writes: I think a lot of you are missing the point. How is this different than car manufacturers putting airbags in cars? Would anyone hear argue that airbags aren't needed?
Fact: Sawstop tech has saved many fingers.
Fact: The tablesaw is a dangerous tool. Anytime you are required to feed a 50-60 lb. sheet into a blade that's spinning towards you is dangerous. Picture yourself on the business end of a kick back of 3/4-1" MDF ,OUCH! I cringe when watching DIY network sometimes.
Fact: You can have all the training in the world but a split second of distraction can cost you dearly. This applies to anything not just a saw.

The tablesaw isn't the end all be all woodworking tool. There are better ways to breakdown sheets and well do just about anything a tablesaw can do. I switched to a track saw system and I don't use my tablesaw anymore period. Eurekazone had the answer I was looking for. The deadwood concept makes sense to me.
Posted: 7:14 pm on October 8th

DocJackson DocJackson writes: We seem to have skipped right past the issue of personal responsibility here: Why was someone who was so reckless as to remove all the safety devices from a table saw, including the rip fence, rewarded for his ineptitude??? This is how all bad legislation begins, with some idiot being self-destructive and some bureaucrat in some government office forgetting that government's job is to protect us from outsiders and each other, not from ourselves.

I also must question why the safety device must destroy itself to function. Since the curvature of a saw blade would guarantee that retraction of the blade would stop any cutting, running the blade into a metal block to destroy it doesn't add any functionality to the device whatsoever. Detect the contact and snap the blade down into the saw and kill the power. Nothing more required. It doesn't allow Gass to get rich selling replacement aluminum blocks, but it does exactly the same job, and I'll use my own finger to prove it. I'm sick to death of the government and much of the public stopping at nothing to make much ado about nothing.
Posted: 7:08 pm on October 8th

sssfox sssfox writes: A friend of mine was using my saw a couple of weeks ago and injured his fingers. He required around 15 stitches and broke a bone. His finger never contacted the blade. The piece of wood was kicked back and did the damage to his fingers. The wood bounced off the blade guard. If I hadn't hit the guard, it may have missed his hand or it may have hit him in the face. We will never know.

Luckily, he will make a full recovery.

When he was in the emergency room, they asked my friend how it happened, he told them he did it with a table saw, that's all. I'm guessing that when the statistics come out, his injury will be lumped in with the accidents preventable by Saw Stop technology. (table saw injury, hand). That is as good as most accident reports get unless they involve worker's comp.

I'm wondering how may other injuries of this type are buried in the reports. I'm thinking that every "table saw" injury is there. What percentage of table saw injuries don't result in blade/skin contact and/or partial or full finger loss?

I still believe that most hobby woodworkers, after the cartridge is triggered the first time and they have to replace the cartridge and blade, will disable the sensor. Most people think it will never happen to them. It is just human nature.

Posted: 6:14 pm on October 8th

TomL115 TomL115 writes: I speak as both a woodworker (40 yrs.) and a retired occupational physician who has cared for many workers who have suffered injuries similar to those likely to occur from a table saw. No matter how good your imagination, you cannot fully comprehend how devastating and life changing such an injury really is, even having walked that road close to someone who has suffered one. Can you really give "informed consent" to losing the use of your dominant hand? There is no honest woodworker who will not admit to close calls. We are all human and subject to fatigue, inattention and the "hurry-to-finish syndrome". Also, No man is an island - society has some interest in your hands staying intact. Even if you are not a surgeon or a concert pianist in whom society (parents, schools, even the nasty old government) has invested much time, training and resources, you have something to contribute, even if it is only that nicely turned little wooden bowl.
Posted: 5:51 pm on October 8th

boneshark boneshark writes: Once safety standards are revised it is comforting to know there is a technology that can be applied. I would certainly pay $200 to have the Sawstop technology (or an alternative developed technology) available for a retrofit. It is unlikely I would buy a new saw to obtain the safety.

American know how will result in alternative approaches and lesser cost application of technologies to meet the demand that will surely result (it always has in an economic model as ours). I would not focus on the fact that there is currently only one technology; both lower cost licensing due to demand and more innovation will surely result.

Progress and improved safety always involves change and the subsequent controversy; similar controversy happened with the mandated use of GFCI technology.

$2.8 Billion in injuries against a $300-400 million sales industry is a compelling case for change.
Posted: 4:53 pm on October 8th

AsaC AsaC writes: Hi again. I made a mistake in one of my questions. I hadn't read enough of the CPSC briefing package when I said that Steve Gass had "dominated the discussions." After reading the whole thing, I can't stand by that statement. Gass was the original petitioner that got this thing started, and he supplied some info to the CPSC, but the CPSC went far beyond that in conducting their own tests and research. So I apologize to Gass, and I'll have our web guys change my wording as soon as possible. As I mentioned earlier, this is a fast-breaking story, and I am learning as I go.
Posted: 4:15 pm on October 8th

jimwoodguy jimwoodguy writes: If I was in the market for a new saw I would opt for the latest technology available,including safety and any other features. What concerns me about new regulations and government mandates is the issue of turning my reliable tool that has served me well for 35 years, with no incidence of accidents, into a liability. Will older machines that were manufactured before this decision is implemented be deemed hazardous? Will there be a "cash for clunkers" program for old table saws, or will the billions of dollars worth of existing saws be reduced to $0 value, and have to be replaced at the owners' expense. It seems to be a current government trend to obsolesce our valuable assets in order to protect us from ouselves.
Posted: 4:03 pm on October 8th

RWoodCutter RWoodCutter writes: I have posted this before on other forums and will repeat it here. I am all for any improvements that increase the safety of powertools or even handtools for that matter.

Everybody seems to be missing the real issue (including most reporters.) This is just on battle in a bigger war. Steve Gass has patents for not only the table saw but for most of the other power tools (jointers/planers/bandsaws), as well as a generic version that could be applied to not only typical stationary tools but also many hand power tools (i.e. Routers) just sitting in the wings for this precidences to be set.

Once this system is implimented into law, he will heading back to the CPSC the very next day and start the petitioning for all the other tools in the shop to incorporate similar technology.


So unless the other manufacturers have been sitting aside money for research or have this or similar technology ready to go, it could force many of them into bankrupcy unless they license his technology in the short term. Can you imagine the cost to redesign your entire product line?
Posted: 2:59 pm on October 8th

Little_Joe Little_Joe writes: I think the Saw Stop technology is GREAT!

BUT, it should NOT be shoved down our throats as a mandatory feature that ALL Table Saws MUST HAVE!

I feel that it should STAY as it has been... PERIOD!

Let fair trade, economic laws, and the right to choose Right stay in place!

Let the people/companies, that can afford it and want it, GET IT and LEAVE THE REST OF US ALONE!

We already have TOO MUCH government intervention in our lives...

That's my 2 bits worth...

Posted: 2:47 pm on October 8th

mstrrktek mstrrktek writes: There is the BIG problem with Mr. Gass, Mr. Osorio, and the court / jury / judge in this case ...... it is called lack of common sense, ignorance, and purposeful ommission of fact.
To illustrate my point, following is an excerpt of comment from Mr. Gass regarding the Orsorio verdict:

"As for the Osorio jury, I think we could argue about whether the law is wrong if you don’t believe that manufacturers should have an obligation to make there products reasonably safe - reasonable generally being defined as being where the cost of making them any safer exceeds the economic saving from reduced injury. But, that is in essence the law. I sat through all of the testimony in the Osorio case and I can tell you the jury made the right decision given the evidence before them and the law that they were instructed to follow. Ryobi said they couldn’t have incorporated safer technology and I testified that they could have based on my experience designing and building just such saws. But the jury didn’t just believe me, they also believed Peter Domeny from Bosch when he testified that the PTI had developed a system they could put on bench top saws for $55. EITHER SYSTEM WOULD HAVE PREVENTED OSORIO'S INJURY FROM BEING DEVASTATING. SO THERE WERE TWO RELATIVELY LOW COST POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS THAT COULD HAVE PREVENTED THE INJURY AND AND RYOBI USED NEITHER."[capital emphasis added]

I am EXTREMELY angry with this gas-filled Mr. Gass that is obviously only out to enrich himself. How about the NO COST solution of the moronic idiot that probably doesn't know how to read a manual, in English, that could have used COMMON SENSE and not USED THE SAW IMPROPERLY. How about THAT solution Mr. Gass? How about that? You conveniently leave that out, as did the jury, in making their decision.

All I can say is that it makes me even more convinced I want NOTHING to do with Mr. Gass and anything he makes.

Shall we REQUIRE similar technology on a bandsaw? A portable jigsaw? A sawsall? A drill press? .... and WHY NOT? After all, according to Mr. Gass I shouldn't have to be responsible for my own safety, or read a manual, right?
Posted: 1:22 pm on October 8th

Farkel Farkel writes: As a $55 or $100 add-on, saw stop technology would be a big seller. The problem is that the market is being manipulated so it is closed to sellers who want to sell and buyers who want to buy the technology.
Posted: 1:14 pm on October 8th

lilarry lilarry writes: Government rules, especially based on questionable jury verdicts will often have unintended consequences or more likely no effect at all as manufacturers game the system.

But in this case, the decision appears to be both silly and ignorant. Table saws are dangerous. So are drill presses, jointers, "side-winders" (yes, even Festool versions) and nail guns. The business of woodworking is dangerous. That's just the way it is. Workers fall off roofs, they have stuff fall on them, they put fingers, toes in harm's way.

In my mind, the question remains, if the blade guard were in place would the jury have come back with the same verdict. Is it that the saw was being used without protection?

We'll never know, but I believe that if the guard had been in place, and the worker had defeated the guard, we wouldn't be having this discussion. And let's say that's true. Because if it is, then the Sawstop is no solution. Why? I have used one, and there is a switch on it. It disables the technology so that you can cut wet wood or non-ferrous metal.

So if the switch had been in the "off" position - for whatever reason - (let's say the saw had just been used to cut some wet wood) and the same ignorant/uneducated worker had started to use said saw, we'd be, I believe in exactly the same situation...we'd need a Sawstop for the Sawstop. Or we'd have to change the way we do business (I'm sorry Mrs. Smith, we'll have to come back next week to finish, the plywood is just a tad damp and our equipment is designed so we can't cut damp wood...Sorry)

Posted: 12:55 pm on October 8th

Riffler Riffler writes: All of the comments are interesting but will not have any effect on the CPSC unless they are made in the official comment period to the Commission. How can we get our input in to them? What is the website or mail address?
Posted: 12:46 pm on October 8th

swingman swingman writes: I've said it before, but I believe it is worth a repeat:

With all the money government wastes on idiotic things, this is one where I, as a taxpayer, wouldn't mind the government making the inventor an offer he couldn't refuse, then open sourcing/putting the patent in the public domain.
Posted: 12:42 pm on October 8th

tommy_60 tommy_60 writes: Well my feelings have still not changed on this issue since the last time I commented. I like many others feel the Government has no place dictating what I can and cannot buy. Now it's a table saw; what's next? We are heading down a slippery slope here and best be very careful. This whole issue is getting out of control. Someone gets injured on the job because of there own stupidity and all of a sudden another small piece of our freedom is being chipped away.
As for Mr. Glass; "pa lease"! just stop it with the whole I need to save the world from itself and just admit you are someone who came up with a nice invention and has now found a way to force it down every ones throat.
Posted: 11:46 am on October 8th

Flash691 Flash691 writes: If all the safety devices provided with the saw when purchased were used and he still got hurt, I could see a case being made. Every saw manual that I have ever read warns you to not use the saw without the included blade guard and other safety features. The employer removed the safety features and should have first liability for the injury. Maybe the saw manufacturer should sue the employer for removing the safety features from the saw. If someone disabled or removed the SawStop safety features, would Gass be open to his company being sued as he is for other manufacturers?

I should be able to make an informed decision without the government choosing for me. Require the manufacturer to provide literature on the safety features and their proper use, but hold me accountable when I ignore it.
Posted: 11:31 am on October 8th

manaloof manaloof writes: So many issues wrapped up in this reporting and comment exchange. No summary answer is sufficient. Starting with the lawsuit...keep in mind that the employer is shielded from legal liability here under the no-fault nature of workers compensation statutes. The insuror who brought this case was likely motivated by the opportunity for a landmark judgement that would have far-reaching effect in reducing a significant source of loss costs for the insurance industry...and, the ruling, if it stands, will likely have exactly that effect. Sadly though, it is a severely flawed judgement...the saw was designed and mfd to current standards and mandates, and, it was used improperly and abusively. As a result of this ruling, the insurance industry gets the legal ammunition it was seeking to force a change in standards for mfrs, the machinery makers likely wind up with mandates from bureaucrats rather than solutions they could and should have designed on their own, consumers ultimately pay a higher price for the solution and the forgotten Mr. Osorio still settles for the statutory limit on his workers comp benefits.

As for the FWW coverage of the matter, I find Mr. Christiana's arguements uncompelling, at best,and even somewhat apologetic of what I would call the PTI's all-court press to make the issue go away with the use of mildly effective, but insufficient solutions. Mr. Gass comes across here as a reasonable advocate doing a good job of balancing his altruistic and financial interests, but, admittedly, I know nothing of the history of his actions behind the scenes or otherwise.

Finally, for the personal-freedom-lovers in the crowd, I offer this...if the big, bad feds wind up calling the shots here, the machinery industry need not scratch its head and wonder how things turned out so badly. The answer can be found by simply taking a look at the "man in the mirror." Government steps in where the private sector leaves chooses not to tread. And, personally, I'm glad they do.
Posted: 11:24 am on October 8th

Joe Y Joe Y writes: There are two types of people -- smart people and stupid people. There is a slight difference between them. Smart people do stupid things occasionally. Stupid people do stupid things more often.

The purpose for safety equipment is to protect both smart people and stupid people from harming themselves -- and maybe others -- with their stupidity.

Unfortunately, manufacturers will not implement safety equipment until the government levels the playing field by making ALL manufacturers implement it. It is how we got safety belts, air bags, and antilock brakes in cars.

And when every piece of machinery is supplied with safety features, economies of scale will drive the cost down.

An extra $55 isn't going to prevent anyone from buying a table saw. For a lot of people, that's only a month's worth of beer money.

But if a person really takes issue with the government dictating safety requirements to him, he can always do something realllyyy stupid and disable the feature when he gets his new saw home. He can also remove safety belts from his car, safety guards from his portable circular saws, and of course, the safety locks on his gun collection.

Then, when his child or grandchild suffers harm because of his stoopidity, he can proudly say to his wife that he safeguarded the child's rights to be free of government interference.

I'm sure she'll understand.

Posted: 10:43 am on October 8th

philphoto philphoto writes: I, like many of you, have been following these issues for years (retired now) and I am amazed at the time and money our government spends on issues they collectively know little about. I never like the solutions the government comes up with. I am amazed that we devote engineers, writers, lawyers, and countless administrative staff to a project that MAY save fingers and dollars. No proven, savings, no accurate dollar return for the effort. Some savings will result for certain, but how much will the taxpayers spend, to get those savings. Especially when we KNOW tobacco, and alcohol will kill, and maim thousands of people. We have proof that tobacco, costs our health care industries hundreds of billions of dollars every year, driving our health care costs upwards. Alcohol related use has losses equal to tobacco, and not just in health care. Few if any lawmakers are trying to remove those products from the market, and the cost benefit from removal would be enormous. Yet on a scale of much smaller return the cost benefit argument is being applied to the table saw.

There are choices available and the free market has solved the issue. Adopting those choices has not been as fast as some would like, but change comes and voluntarily. Education and encouragement is much less costly than force. The marketplace has presented other options -- Eurekazone, Festool, Shopsmith, Bora,and more. Personally, I am a user of Eurekazone system, since 2004. I like the complete solutions available. That is MY preference many other opinions and options abound, all are evolving and growing. SawStop sales are climbing with the growing concern for safety, likewise Eurekazone system of tools is growing in the marketplace. The fact that concerned companies are emulating and licensing Eurekazone concepts speaks volumes for the approval and a growing awareness of the need to develop a new way of woodworking. Dino, the inventor of the Eurekazone tools, is a crusader for safe woodworking. Dino developed the deadwood concept and the Eurekazone tools around it. Just because we have used the table saw for years does not mean it is the only solution. Yes, I had to adapt the way I approached my projects. I have had to rethink what I was doing, but the advantages were worth it. BTW: I can take my Eurekazone system anywhere, even on the back of my bicycle, and work onsite. Try that with your table saw!

I believed in the safe Eurekazone system so much, I became a customer, and now a volunteer demonstrator for Eurekazone. I do not receive any financial reward for my efforts. I am a deadwood concept practitioner, and evangelist, I teach woodworking and the deadwood concepts to youth, in 4H and Boy Scouts. Drop by Eurekazone and investigate for yourself. There are many other companies that have their own approach to deadwood concept. Look at them as well. Shopsmith, Festool, are two that come to mind right away. There are more, and at least investigate.
If you annoyed at what is happening, explore the options. All of them.
Posted: 10:30 am on October 8th

AsaC AsaC writes: Great comments here (most of them). Thanks. I can assure you that I came in with some opinions, as any experienced tablesaw user and industry observer would (covering these tools for 15 years), but I am learning as I go, and working hard to keep my mind open and remain unbiased. There are great points on both sides of this debate, and in my questioning of Gass I was hitting him with all the tough questions I could think of. You can bet I will do the same with PTI. Gass made some great points I hadn't heard before, and I'm very interested in the other manufacturers' responses.

Keep weighing in. You guys are adding a lot to the debate, as I knew you would. I'm listening, and you can be sure the industry is too.

Posted: 10:26 am on October 8th

Just4Him Just4Him writes: I think we're all missing the point. Mr. Gass is taking advantage of an opportunity just like anyone else would. The problem is with the court system allowing a person, in this case it was Mr. Osario to bring a lawsuit against anyone when he blatantly used the product contrary to the safe operating procedures given in the manual. Our court system is allowing people to sue and everyone else suffers for it. A person breaks into a home and gets hurt while comitting a crime and he sues and wins. Someone else sues because he was using a saw that didn't have the latest technology to protect him when he was using it wrong in the first place. I like most others who use a Table saw remove the blade guard to be able to see better what I'm doing. I use a push stick or a piece of scrap wood but if I get injured it's my fault not the manufacturer of the equipment. We have become a lawsuit happy society and courts are awarding people for their own stupidity when something goes wrong. Let's wake up before the government steps in to regulate everything.
Posted: 10:24 am on October 8th

toolslut toolslut writes: I think we can all assume that everyone posting here is a wood worker who reads – FWW, FHB, books, and even directions. We, as a whole, understand the inherent dangers that come with woodworking.

While lawyers from the insurance company and manufacturers are getting rich, where is the employer’s lawyer? We hear about the two big parties involved; that is, the insurance and manufacturing company (the ones with money), but not as much about the one that had direct supervision over the injured. Did Oscar remove the guards without the employer’s knowledge? We have read in past stories about the lack of training Oscar received. With the web being so accessible - PDF documents with operating instructions (in many different languages) are readily available. There simply is no excuse for this lack of training.

Posted: 10:23 am on October 8th

MDCustom MDCustom writes: I too, would be interested to see the court transcripts.

Did the Defense team ever ask Mr Gass his opinion on whether having removed all the safety guards on the saw Mr Osario was using at the time of his injury, contributed in any way to his injury? (As all of us woodworkers are clearly aware)

Also, did the defense ask if Mr Gass' SawStop technology has a 'bi-pass' enabling the flesh-sensing technology to, in essence, be 'removed'?

If the saw guard, fence and flesh-sensing are all 'removed', and a worker is injured, Mr Gass has just assured himself a HUGE lawsuit. By allowing his technology to be turned OFF, he can and should be found negligent in an injury case. He will have no defense- he has testified in court already the the table saw, without its safety features in place, is dangerous (including his own!).

To reiterate one posters comments- It is called the LEGAL system, NOT the JUSTICE system. Lawyers argue about the LAW. When and where does Justice prevail?
Posted: 9:54 am on October 8th

Edvin Edvin writes: I own a Sawstop and purchased it for the safety feature. My objection to the regulation is that I do not want the government telling me what I can buy. If I want to buy a tool that is dangerous, that is my right. I use guns, drive cars, mow my lawn, work with high energy electronics, and do any number of things that could kill me. It is part of living in a free society. If people want to be safer, there are other non-governmental institutions to serve them, e.g., Consumers Reports, Underwriters Lab, Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, woodworking magazine reviews, etc. We need much less regulation, not more. Where will it end? They may even try to tell us how much water to use when we flush or what kind of light bulbs we can have, or even that we must buy health insurance! Can you imagine if the automobile were just being invented and the builders proposed that we have a road system that would allow two vehicle to hurtle head-on at closing speeds of over 100 mph and we would keep them from running into one another by painting a white line down the middle of the road? God deliver us from nanny government.
Posted: 9:48 am on October 8th

Wooden_Pipe Wooden_Pipe writes: This is just another example of the courts gone crazy, The Jury was probably on "information overload" , and took the side of the poor work over the money grubbing company that has provided Job for many people over the years. While not holding the Employee non-accountable for the action that he took. At which many people will suffer for not being able to take up a trade/hobby because it is to costly. Those that are left will have to up your cost labor hours to pay for the higher insurance cost. The home /business will think twice about the work "Is it needed or Wanted?" .
I am all about safety and safety products but it will not do any good if it is not used, disabled or removed.
Ask Eric Giguere, his story is amazing web: He was buried alive,died brought back alive. If all the safety equipment was used it would not have happened same as with the table saw!!!!
Posted: 9:48 am on October 8th

JoeTee JoeTee writes: Many commenting here are 100% absolutely correct! Having knowledge, training and respect for power equipment is not questionable. I would never bring someone with little or no experience into my shop and allow him to operate equipment. Totally asking for trouble.. I recently rec. an e-mail of a guy at the shooting range, he has a 'hang fire' and promptly looks down the barrel. Well the round in the chamber then fires and puts a hole in the brim of his hat...this is an example of no training and no respect for the implement!
This Osario needed proper training, period! Gov't. should keep their distance this is not a matter for some congressman to decide. They, (the gov't. should not tell me what to utilize or what not to utilize).

And yes, I've used a saw stop a few times time and found that it is not a high quality product, how about concentrating on that instead of your wallet Mr. Gass?
Posted: 9:47 am on October 8th

IrvinGomez IrvinGomez writes: I'm a hobbyist, so take my opinion with a huge grain of salt: I would gladly pay $200 extra bucks for a table saw (any saw) if I know the possibility of losing a finger (or worse) is eliminated.

I love my fingers.
Posted: 9:44 am on October 8th

swingman swingman writes: I've always thought the last sentence in this old article was worth the initial bookmarking:

"The general public had better start thinking long and hard about whether they want to live in a society that shares risks, or a society that attempts to eliminate all risks through the elimination of personal freedoms and individual discretion."


My take: when the hypocrisy of using "social cost" as justification for seatbelts, but then not mandating seatbelts on all school buses is addressed, call me back and we'll talk about attempting to eliminate, by mandate, all risks of table saw use.
Posted: 9:33 am on October 8th

mbpm mbpm writes: Cost is easy to think about. Value takes more work. I'd like to know what anyone who has lost a finger thinks the finger is worth. I knew a really good art director at an ad agency a few years ago. Woodworker for 20 years. Incredibly careful, and yet his own admission - just a split second of distraction and he nearly lost his thumb. What is that thumb worth? Medical bills, lost work time, inability to do so many little things for the rest of his life. I wonder what he'd pay today to have not had that injury.
If I invent something that prevents that injury and I live in America where wealth is the only measure of a man - where do I price my invention? Cost of materials + 10%? I don't think so.
So an industry sees a technology and it looks pricey. Of course they push back to lower the price. Is it really wise to not offer their models with this as an option so they show they are doing their best to max safety? Yes it costs a lot more. The consumer can decide.

I understand FWW's need to be an industry defender - BUT I am surprised that FWW has missed what I think is a huge opportunity here. The Sawstop issue will go on for years - but the industry could be out front tomorrow if FWW would get all manufacturers to add big, permanent multi-lingual stickers on every saw: Before using this saw every user must watch a 15 minute safety video and pass a 20 question test.
FWW would provide the safety video on the web by repurposing what they already have on the shelf. It would be quite manageable to set up a safety test and monitor the results as well as help contractors to login and see who has passed the test and how long ago.
Manufacturers would have to be thrilled to see this kind of national registry of safety conscious users of their products - and they may find that their legal department sees value in a defense that can point to who had every possible reminder to be safe and who ignored the reminder. They would have to be happy to add a little to their ad budget... maybe take a few dollars from their legal budgets.
Posted: 9:23 am on October 8th

boomerzimm boomerzimm writes: Full disclosure: I own a Sawstop and that may cloud some people's judgement.

I also think the ruling in the law suit is ridiculous but I understand the argument.

The worker trained or not was doing something that was fairly unreasonable with a machine that is known to cause injury. If you hand an untrained person a loaded gun as part of his job (assuming it has to be loaded and unlocked to do said job) and he points the dangerous end at himself and pulls the trigger who's fault is it? Probably not truly the gun manufacturer. Some amount of training is the key and that falls on the employer.

Either way there is an injury. I think we are all assuming Mr Osorio had no form of training. If he knew he was doing something unsafe he is just asking for an accident. If he was not trained the employer has some responsibility. If the tool is found unsafe the manufacturer has a hand in it as well.

All that aside we seem to have a simple argument here, whether there is personal responsibility in your actions or not.

The personal responsibility crowd should argue that it it totally up to Mr Osorio and not the insurance company (those individuals who pay insurance) or the government (those individuals who pay taxes) to help him with his medical expenses. Further they should argue that it is not our (society as a whole) responsibility to support him or his family in any way if he can not continue to earn a living.

We as a nation are not prepared to do that and until we are the personal responsibility argument should be out the window because there is no true personal responsibility. Insurance and a social net are like a blade brake. Nice to have but I still don't want to test it.

Of the people writing here almost all have had some sort of training on a table saw. Most know and generally practice some form of safety precaution when using a power tool. Only a few people will argue that these precautions can prevent any accident. Almost all of us have had close calls that we chalk up to learning. However if you are injured at any point in your life by actions taken of your own volition power tool or not. You expect to be able to be treated at the hospital like any other person. This is the point; if there are reasonable ways to help prevent that situation from becoming costly/deadly why wouldn't you take them. It is us as a society to decide what is reasonable.

Believe me if this issue went another way, say your insurance for owning a table saw increased to cover all the costs associated with table saw injuries and put the responsibility for bearing those cost directly on the table saw operators, people would be clamoring for a way to keep the "dumb" people from hurting themselves. I'd also have to guess that there would be a whole lot less people using a table saw for personal use.

On another point I think that Mr. Christiana's argument that not having flesh sensing technology focuses the mind is just daft. Driving on ice focuses your attention but people still crash.

On my saw there is still a spinning blade, yes I know it should stop and fall bellow the table if I jamb my hand in it but I don't want to find out if it works. I still use a push stick. Some people won't but would they have used one anyway.

this is for aschaffter:

Money is the only way to get things done in Washington. Campaign finance reform is the solution to that problem and that is a whole other kettle of fish.

Keep making splinters
Posted: 9:14 am on October 8th

bfried bfried writes: Fingers and hands aren't cookies. If you put a device on the market for sale you have to design it for the most idiotic user possible so that he can't unintentionally maim himself in the process of interacting with it. Assume some moron will do everything wrong, and you will get the design right. Toyota calls this "baka yoke" which means stupidity prevention, and it is a key part of how they design their manufacturing process. As for the cost and effort of coming up with a solution, it seems to me that the equipment makers are avoiding the costs of having to innovate. There are a thousand ways to solve any problem, and the solutions themselves get cheaper once you start making and subsequently improving them. It's a little thing called engineering. (-:
Posted: 9:10 am on October 8th

JP1972 JP1972 writes: By the way, for those of you who are wondering why I thought it was balanced and fair, it was because the author was upfront about his own bias and didn't try to hide it from the reader. So, the reader could put his remarks in the proper context. There was no deception here.
Posted: 9:10 am on October 8th

SteveinOttawa SteveinOttawa writes: Answer me this. If the untrained laborer was using a Sawstop table stop but the safety feature was bypassed, then how is that saw any different than any other saw in the world? Now all that has to happen is for someone to cut their hand in bypass mode and the committee will recommend that saws should NOT have a bypass mode. They have already acknowledged that intelligence or stupidity are irrelavent and all that matters is technology being present. Choice is being removed from the consumer and that's just wrong.

I work in the electronics industry and am familar with how standards bodies like ANSI work and the first thing you find is that standards CANNOT be based on a patented technology. All standards must be patent free which is another reason why this ruling and mandate are wrong.
Posted: 9:05 am on October 8th

swingman swingman writes: With regard to the Osario case, lawyers routinely abuse the judicial system as a part of their business model.
Posted: 9:02 am on October 8th

JP1972 JP1972 writes: Excellent article. Great piece of balanced reporting on an important topic.

Nice job FWW
Posted: 8:56 am on October 8th

Mike03A3 Mike03A3 writes: @aschaffter

Before you get too agitated over Sawstop's lobbying, which he apparently just started, you might want to also check the opposition:
Posted: 8:41 am on October 8th

Notsodusty Notsodusty writes:
Posted: 8:26 am on October 8th

Riptooth Riptooth writes: Hey Guys. I'm very curious about the physics of stopping a big table saw instantly. What internal damages may occur to the big stationary type saws, the stress on the whole system must be large. There is allot of inertia in a 7 HP General 12" tablesaw like in my workshop. Can the integrity of the saw be damaged, by using a device like the SawStop system on it? I'm no engineer and would like to know my saw has not been compromised in other ways. Should this be a concern?

Posted: 8:25 am on October 8th

pisdoff pisdoff writes: Whatever your opinion on Sawstop, the lawsuit, Steve Gass etc. there is one pervasive argument that just doesn't make any sense.
If you replace Sawstop with seatbelts, let's see what we get.

The sob that invented seatbelts made money off it, he didn't care about saving peoples lives.
The results of that invention speak for themselves.

If you take the profit motive out of inventing, then you will basically kill off inventions.
The guy has a good idea and he's trying to make a buck off it. Can you get any more American than that?
I don't believe the Osorio verdict was correct, but I wasn't on the jury either. If and when I see the complete transcript of the trial, then I'll make a definitive verdict of my own.
I also don't believe the saw manufacturers (or any manufacturer for that matter, including Steve Gass) have our best interests at heart. They are running a business and that requires bottom line decisions.
You are the one who votes for your best interests by voting with your money. The market follows the money, not the other way around.
Posted: 8:11 am on October 8th

Scott4M Scott4M writes: First I must take issue with those numbers he kept bandying about. I am not sure what the $2.36 billion includes (for instance just hospital or does it include follow up, physical therapy, lost time, unemployment, worker's comp etc.) but regardless of what it includes or doesn't it is a specious argument at best. He is completely ignoring the value added by table saws by the work that they do and contribute to our society. Most parts of our lives on a day to day basis are directly impacted by end products produced with a table saw.

Second, the Saw Stop itself is just not a good saw. I have used one extensively as well as many other brands and sizes of saws both old and new and the Saw Stop is just a junky Chiwanese saw with a fancy gloss black paint job and the Saw Stop technology. It is WAY over priced for the quality. I would not give up my 1945 Oliver 270 (which has a riving knife by the way, the only old saw that had one, which Oliver used from the 1920s at least) for any crappy far eastern saw with finger protection technology or not.

I have no problem at all with the concept of Saw Stop, in fact I applaud it, but as others have pointed out Mr Gass is duplicitous as it concerns his desire to see others use his technology. If he bothered to make a really good saw (or if anyone did these days) it might make me consider buying one but as it stands now there is no chance.

And finally, I know nothing of law but how Mr. Osario's trial came to be a mandate on whether Ryobi should have included flesh sensing seems like the the prosecution dropped the ball. As you pointed out, it seemed almost a forgone conclusion that an appeals court on reflection would overturn that decision. The accident clearly was in no way connected to what brand of saw he used and how that manufacturer made that saw. It seems like a Supreme Court case may be in order.

Life is dangerous and I'm not sure what ever happened to people being responsible and educated as opposed to engineering the danger out of everything. Instead of better driver training in this country we add more and more safety features for when you do crash and as Mr. Chistiana pointed out we do draw the line somewhere even at that. What's next, flesh sensing technology on my shapers and jointers?
Posted: 8:02 am on October 8th

robinmcc robinmcc writes: I've had a SawStop cabinet saw for several years. I replaced my Jet with it and I like it a little better...but I would NOT have upgraded just for the increased quality. The safety device has activated once (my stupidity, not my finger) and while it cost me a blade and a cartridge, I was very impressed.

I'm sorry that this rulemaking isn't being done by OSHA. I think that employers need to be held to a higher standard than individuals just because I think we need consumers to retain more personal responsibility than employees.

Finally, if you've ever had to put the SawStop into bypass mode, you'll know that it's not just flipping a switch. I suppose people could disable the device somehow, but that would just be stupid. Oh, yeah, I forgot that's how I lost a blade and cartridge...
Posted: 7:57 am on October 8th

LexWoodWorks LexWoodWorks writes: In reading the article and Christiana's comments I'm left to wonder how objective FWW really is? Particularly his comment at the front end...

"I'm disappointed in the Osorio verdict, and in the CPSC's briefing package. I still haven't seen anyone prove you can put the SawStop technology into a portable jobsite saw without doubling its weight and price, more or less. The jury is also out on how the electronics would stand up to the elements and other abuse in the back of pickup trucks and on jobsites."

No one needs to guess how much the "other" manufacturers spend with FWW for advertisements - it's a lot. AC's comment sounds like some PR response from Delta or WMH Tool Group. FWW needs to be an advocate for the men and women who practice the Craft day in and day out. They need to point out the simple fact the SawStop tech saves fingers, dollars and time wasted due to a significant injury. All this other gobbly-gook about who should have licensed what and when how much it's all going to cost is not forward thinking. It's disappointing that FWW can't take a stand and just say the obvious..."SawStop Technology should be implemented on every table saw sold in America".
Posted: 7:55 am on October 8th

bill117 bill117 writes: What will happen to all the old saws out there? They all have different style boxes so the new parts would have to be made specifically for each model. Will the government break down my front door to confiscate my old Delta? Ridiculous. Everyone just keep your eyes on the blade and the stock and take responsibility for your own actions.

My only accident in 55 years of woodworking was on a 16 inch sanding disk (sanded my fingertips to the bone) should we outlaw sandpaper?

Posted: 7:51 am on October 8th

Heron Heron writes: I have followed this subject for years - The technology is great, but is it really necessary? 99% of accidents happen from stupidity and not the technology in use.

If the supplied safely equipment was in place and the user used the equipment in accordance with manufacturers instructions, then the likelihood of the accident happening was virtually nil.

If you are on a job site or even in the workshop and you are working with green or wet wood the Saw Stop (SS) will trip as the wood touched the blade, therefore you have to override the SS in order to cut that piece/s of timber - so what is the point having the SS fitted in this case - it negates the argument.

If you have the safety equipment removed, and you do not touch the table top of the saw, with the saw switched on and the blade running, then you just touch the blade with your finger - GOODBYE Finger. The SS cannot prevent acts of stupidity.

What is next - you drive your car into a lamp pole - are we now going to have to have cars fitted with sensing equipment that will not crash into lamp poles.

Must we have safety guards fitted to chisels and hand saws, because they are sharp and incorrectly used will cause injury.

The courts and the law must be realistic and in touch with the real world and stop this stupid and unnecessary litigation - people are causing accidents just to get rich quick.
Posted: 7:42 am on October 8th

scooteruk scooteruk writes: Let's see:
I do not believe there are any 'guvrment' mandates to buy or use this product at this time.
Salespeople at both Rockler and Woodcraft have told me that SawStop is the number one selling cabinet saw. I do not know if this is true and would really like to know what the sales numbers are for all tablesaws.
If true (big if-but certainly SawStop is at least a competitive force in the industry) then, the market is setting the rules, not the 'guvrment'.
That makes sense. If you are in the market for a cabinet saw (not a frequent purchase I might add) and you have a choice and can afford it, why wouldn't you choose a product that offers this safety? By prudently exercising a strong sense of personal responsibility by limiting the massive costs and pain associated with a tablesaw injury I am making my life a little better not only for me but my wife and family and customers and everyone else who gets the fallout of a bad injury.
My next saw is a SawStop. I just can't get my 1969 PM66 to die.
Posted: 7:34 am on October 8th

GNiessen GNiessen writes: I firmly believe that many poor contractors would simply put the saw in override mode to avoid the risk of discharging the cartridge in the SawStop and incurring the cost and delay. Given that the man in the lawsuit had removed all of the other safety measures, it seems likely he would have deactivated the flesh detect also. So I still find it amazing they found for him.

But I agree with Mr. Cass that the technology should be made available from all manufactures. I would pay a couple hundred to have it on my saw, but they do not offer it. And I could not afford the extra $1,500 the SawStop would have cost (back when I purchased it).
Posted: 7:08 am on October 8th

Finefurnituremaster Finefurnituremaster writes: Having heard both sides of this, and using Unisaws and larger, more powerful saws for more than 30 years, I have a couple of comments.
First, one of the purposes of government is to make our collective societal lives better, and to make decisions that the market will never do, because of cost, greed or whatever. Think seatbelts and clean drinking water. In this case, it is clear there are several better solutions (riving knives and Sawstop technology) that the market would not adopt, until forced to. I see the real question here as one of cost to society, not to the individual. $3B of injuries (increasing society's health care costs - yes, we all pay for that) vs $400M sales of machines (goes into the manufacturers pocket)

Second is the lawsuit. Simply put - my opinion is that this should not be an issue. The government has not mandated the change, and the saw was not defective, and the person un-trained. This shouldn't be paid.

So in short: Sawtop or some safer technology - yes
Lawsuit payment: no

An addendum: my experience as a business owner for many years tells me that if mandated to use sawstop technology, someone will come up with an alternative that is not covered by the patent, if the cost of licensing it is too onerous.
Posted: 6:57 am on October 8th

ctrpt ctrpt writes: @aschaffter-power tool institute's lobbying expenditures are twice more than sawstop. They've been at it longer as well, just trying to keep their status quo.

It comes down to this:
Change is hard for some people to accept....I think it is time for a lot of people to accept the fact that improvements in safety and technology will occur and should be allowed to occur. Will it cost more money? Yes, it should it takes time and money to develop a product. I'm not an admirer of Steve Gass, but he's living the American Dream. He invented, marketed and sells an excellent product that happens to have a very unique safety feature. Remember, he went to the major table saw manufacturers first before deciding to make his own saw. They blew him off, and I'm sure he has no sympathy for the situation the companies that comprise PTI finds themselves in now. There is always an element of risk in anything we do: driving your car to the grocery store, walking down a flight of stairs, etc. I've always been of the mindset that if risk can be eliminated or at least mitigated why not do it?

That being said, the lawsuit is odd. The part about the saw cover removed? Understandable-they never use them on the tv shows, but put a disclaimer that they were removed for clarity's sake. Does having a tv camera and an audience make it safer? Of course not. No rip fence? I find it incredible. If someone out there knows the details, I would like to know if the rip fence for the Ryobi saw was on the jobsite, or was it accepted practice for the employees of the flooring contractor to not use one? Or was one provided and the employee chose not to use it? If this is the case the wrong entity got sued.

Finally, the cost of healthcare affects everyone. There was a guy in our local area last summer participating in a motorcycle ride event protesting the state law on wearing helmets. Ironically enough, he was killed during this ride not wearing a helmet in what would have amounted to a minor fender bender. I don't like government intrusion either, but until more of our population develops some common sense, I think you have blame these people (Orsario included).
Posted: 6:55 am on October 8th

rhouser rhouser writes: The Osorio case was in large part a miscarriage in that majority responsiblity should have fallen on the employer and Mr. Osorio himself. Tablesaws, indeed all power saws, have been well known to cause serious injury for nearly the whole of the past century. My grandfather was a contractor his whole life and lost the tips of three fingers to a worm drive power saw before I was born; everytime I use a power saw of any form I still see those missing fingers. BTW, he's been dead more than 30 years and I'm well over 60 myself. Any reasonable person should know of the inherent risk of injury that exists anytime a power saw is used.

Further, I do not believe Mr. Gass is as benevolent as he makes himself to be. If his motives are as he describes then there would not have been the necessity for him to try and end run the PTI's own work by seeking to inspect it in the context of Brandon Landrum v. Delta International Machinery Corporation. The case is ongoing in Alabama and Mr. Gass is employed by the plantiff as an expert witness as he was in the Osorio case. Thankfully the Alabama Supreme court denied the plaintif and Mr. Gass access to the PTI's work. Sure it could be said that the trade secrets thus divulged might have in some way benefited the plaintif, though the AL Supreme court didn't see it that way. But, the greater benefit might have been to Mr. Gass. It's hard to know how he might have used that information aside from aiding his testimony. It is not unheard of for a lawyer to use foreknowledge of a competitor's work to amend existing patents to strengthen a perceived monopoly position. Frankly I think that he's still smarting from the rejection he received by the industry when he first brought his patents to them and he's doing all he can to get payback, financially and emotionally. I also think that his invention is masterful, a safety benefit to be sure, but it is bulky and a brute force solution. I'm hoping for something a little more elegant and non-destructive comes from his competitors and soon. Now that the light has been cast on the path the other manufacters need to get in gear.

Personally, I will continue to use my Craftsman 10" table saw as is and probably will for the rest of my life, but if and when a reto-fit flesh sensing technoloy becomes available for it you can bet that it'll be on that year's Christmas list.
Posted: 6:51 am on October 8th

davidpugh3 davidpugh3 writes: I've had a Powermatic Model 66 in my shop for 41 years. It's a great saw. I've never been injured by it. Knock on wood. I've worked with a Sawstop in another shop for 8 years. That saw is much better. It does superior work. As craftsmen we want to do the best work we can for the least cost. At the same time we need to keep working for our families. The best way to do that is by using the best tools. If the law mandates that we all do that- are we harmed?
Posted: 6:42 am on October 8th

unTreatedwood unTreatedwood writes: Mr. Gass is an arrogant attorney who has learned just enough about woodworking to put himself in a position to take advantage of uninformed court results and a regulatory tidalwave from Marxist driven agencies. In short, he has the perfect storm to soak us all. He has taken out patents on ALL power tools, just in case you consider him to be benevolent. If the ruling agency thinks his table saw is the answers to accidents and is going to force us to use it or something like it, then just wait for the application to hit all other power tools. The attempt to destroy our industry will continue, along with other idiotic rules and regulations that are already driving tradespeople out of the job place. This is so contrived and jaded, it makes me livid. On the other hand, knowing what kind of fools are in the driver's seat, I bought a brand new table saw at the beginning of the year and will never put a penny into Mr. Gass' pocket. Small satisfaction for such a large ego.
Posted: 6:29 am on October 8th

rhanno rhanno writes: WTF? I hardly feel my Freedom in any jeopardy based upon the requirement to wear a seatbelt or install a GFCI in my bathroom. And if the PSC improves the safety of the table saw at a reasonable cost I don't feel threatened that the black helicopters will be coming soon to take my (non-existent) guns away. You've got to have a particularly wimpy notion of Freedom to get worked up about such rules. Get worked up about the real threats out there: 401K money or the Koch brothers.

That said, the ex post facto declaration of damages for a manufacturer not installing an available safety technology is a slippery slope down which we've been plunging for decades. Perhaps the complainant should have included his dada and shop teacher for not inculcating sufficient respect for the power in power tools.

Full Disclosure: I've been (barely) bitten by steak knives, screwdrivers, handsaws, chainsaws, power drills, bicycles and automobiles without suing anyone. Unsafe At Any Speed was the first book (after a couple of 007s) that I purchased with my 25 cent allowance.
Posted: 6:28 am on October 8th

MrLoki MrLoki writes: Mr. Gass hasn't told the entirety of the matter, and this latest article on his technology only reinforces what many already realize about his methods. The original licensing fee he proposed to other makers was SUBSTANTIALLY higher than he's now claiming. Grizzly's own Papa Griz (Shiraz Balolia)has a much different recollection of the original negotiations and fees than Mr. Gass purports.

Sawstop didn't get the reception (or fee) they'd sought from other saw makers, and when that potential revenue stream withered, Mr. Gass decided to lobby for mandating his technology through bureaucratic edict. The technology is wonderful, but his methods are despicable in my view, and why I will never buy one of his saws.

When the day comes when a contractor saw's starting price is upwards of $1000, we can all thank Mr. Gass for making a once affordable hobby into a whole other league of capitalization. His $800 saw, sold with a $2000 saw brake, speaks volumes as to the true sincerity of his concern with preventing tablesaw injuries.

Posted: 6:28 am on October 8th

mike_emm mike_emm writes: I'm with BluhminOnion (above). Next my car will have tree-sensing technology. After 40 yrs of using all types of tablesaws and never an accident (touch wood), I can't believe we've come to this. Big government is making me want to be a Libertarian.
Posted: 5:30 am on October 8th

bob3318 bob3318 writes: Someday someone will be injured on a SawStop saw. How many of you had your computer fail. Do you really believe this circuitry will never fail. Mr Gass, the judgement against you will make the Osario verdict look like a joke, but considering the fact that a smart laywer will have set up his corporate structure to isolate himself such judgement. Guys, look at the miter saws and the radial arm saws that don't currently have SawStop technology. Myself, I am old enough that I expect my Unisaw will be the last tablesaw I buy. Those of you who are just starting out, you have my sympathy.
Posted: 4:10 am on October 8th

mrpedal mrpedal writes: Kinda feel like there are two different discussions here, and the court ruling has used one to mandate the other. Wish the court proceedings were public (are they? a link would be great if so).

I just got a SawStop cabinet saw, and I feel kinda dirty now. I was impressed at the saw, even sans finger save tech. However, that tech was the deal closing point to justify the 300-1000 price difference over the other saws I looked at. In this price range, it was like paying you deductible ONCE, up front, to avoid trips to the ER or worse. Not tough to justify.
Before the that windfall of $$$, I was looking at a Bosch 4100 BECAUSE it had a riving knife, and was at the top of what I could spend. A SawStop contractor was 1900bucks, and not even close to being in the picture due to the 1300 price difference. It was going to be 4100 or something less $$$- or no table saw.

I think Asa is onto something- the data isn't there to judge if injuries go down with mandatory riving knives on saws- that could do plenty of good without litigation forcing licensing of SawStop level tech. R&D of similar tech for a company would still take years to get ready, esp in light of current massive settlements like this one. Imagine if you rushed your finger save tech to market in good faith, at a huge cost, only to be hit by $$$$ damages where someone circumvents it in some way.

If you are the person who removes the rip fence, and the blade guard, and are unskilled to boot- you are the same person who puts the $1900 SawStop contractor saw in bypass mode and still mangles your hand.

Devils advocate side: it's good tech, but no company would go on record saying someone else's licensing fee is 'reasonable'. I wonder how many companies already have similar tech, created or copied, that they are holding onto till SawStop's patent runs out, only to avoid paying him? I get a feeling some companies are really good at that game too. This settlement kinda forces them into some hard choices, probably to the good of the consumer/user of all saws.

But I wish it didn't involve a large settlement for a party I find 'negligent' from a company who didn't break any laws.

I like my saw. I don't like this ruling.

Posted: 9:10 pm on October 7th

btplank4316 btplank4316 writes: I think this is all part of a bigger picture. My brother used to work for a water heater company. Somebody got scalded and they would listen to the plaintiff's attorney say that adding a tempering valve to the system would have prevented the injury. We've had to pony up for the cost of seatbelts, airbags, bicycle helmets, kneepads, motorcycle helmets, GFI circuits, OSHA, EPA, and a lot of other things and initials, ad infinitim.

Taken individually all of these safety advances only cost a little bit, and only add a little government intrusion into our lives. Taken collectively you would probably not want to see how much all of this adds to the bottom line of our existence, both in terms of monetary cost and loss of personal freedom.

I am just really angry that our legal system (note: I did not say justice system) tends to favor less personal responsibility and more government intrusion while happily collecting their fees that enrich themselves and cost the consuming public. It is also sad that we have reached a point where we have been trained to believe we can act irresponsibly and the lawyers will find someone to sue so we don't have to live with the physical, and or, financial consequences of our stupidity.

Completely aside from the Orsorio vs. Ryobi lawsuit - where does all of this end? How much is too much in terms of monetary cost for safety? How much government is too much? What is the tipping point? Can Mr. Gass answer these questions, and at where would he say to draw the line against personal liberty?

And another thing. Doesn't he realize he is disrupting Darwin's theory of natural selection which declares only stronger and smarter specimens of a species will survive? If we keep protecting people from the consequences of their decisions, or completely eliminate their need to reason, Darwin will look like and idiot. Ok, I'm kinda' kidding about that one.

Posted: 8:06 pm on October 7th

Gimeabrake Gimeabrake writes: Seems a switch in focus is in order...
Rather than arguing how much Mr. Gass is making on such a device - should you buy it [which is perfectly ok by me - business is business after all...]
Perhaps better to ask the question "how much have I got to lose?"
Posted: 7:50 pm on October 7th

aschaffter aschaffter writes: Like the drug and guns programs, how about a swap program- I turn in my Unisaw and get a Sawstop in exchange.

Ask Mr. Gass about this:
Posted: 7:44 pm on October 7th

aschaffter aschaffter writes: Like the drug and guns programs, how about a swap program- I turn in my Unisaw and get a Sawstop in exchange.

Ask Mr. Gass about this:
Posted: 7:43 pm on October 7th

SteveBB SteveBB writes: He's rent seeking.
Posted: 7:33 pm on October 7th

Ronb1957 Ronb1957 writes: Well I personally run an aftermarket splitter on my Unisaw. 30 years and yes I still have my fingers. So far. There is a reason the blade insert is red all the way around the blade.
Tell Mr.Gass, all those companies and the people using the saws will use his device only if it is free. Then see how righteous he is then. See how much he really cares about the safety and welfare of others when he himself has nothing to gain. Bottom line:
It's all about the money. From both sides.

Posted: 7:18 pm on October 7th

cbf123 cbf123 writes: I don't see a problem with the gov't regulating tablesaws. They control safety standards for vehicles, aircraft, electrical power systems, etc. so why not this? Heck, they already specify safety standards for the electrical components, why not the mechanical ones?

The "let me do what I want" argument only holds water if there is no societal cost when people make a mistake. I'd be fine if someone buying a saw with no protections also meant signing a waiver that you're on your own if something goes wrong. And that means Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, etc. would all be null and void for any injury related to the saw.

As for blaming the employer--absolutely there is no excuse for not training employees. However, even with proper training accidents do happen.
Posted: 6:50 pm on October 7th

BluhminOnion BluhminOnion writes: Too disgusted to write down anything constructive. The government shouldn't dictate what equipment I can buy, and it shouldn't award huge cash prizes for people who have accidents when using machines after dismantling all of the equipment required to run them safely. Mr. Gass is at best a snake oil salesman who decided to game the system when he found that most people would rather not buy his product.

America: The Land of Opportunity... to sue someone.
Posted: 2:38 pm on October 7th

cliff7brown cliff7brown writes: I'm not sure the Osario decision was fair, but it is perhaps the only way manufacturers can be motivated to act.

I love to get a table saw with this technology, but the cost has prevented that. The other table saw manufacturers have not offered it up til now, because fear that offering the feature would be a tacit admission that they've not acted responsibly in terms of making their products safe (opening them up to lawsuits).

So the only way this becomes widely available is through regulation or litigation.

Unfortunate, but true.

Posted: 12:44 pm on October 7th

chucktown chucktown writes: I think it's great to hear Mr. Gass weigh in and also to see
things from his perspective. Unfortunately though I am still having a problem with where the blame lies.
Flesh sensing technology, riving knives, guarding, anti-kick back pawl...and so on do not and will never excuse stupidity or a lack of training. Having respect and knowledge of the
equipment you use is paramount. As an employer you should
be training your employees on safety and proper use of tools
in the work place. Blaming the tools for cutting you is simply
a lazy and irresponsible act. Did the oven burn your cookies too? Osario might have had a better chance if was trained properly on how to use the tools provided and if they had their guarding still in place. They should have sued the company he works for and not the saw company. Just saying...
Posted: 10:25 am on October 7th

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