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UPDATE: Deadline extended again for tablesaw safety comments to the CPSC

comments (93) February 27th, 2012 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
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UPDATE:  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has extended the deadline for submitting comments about tablesaw safety and flesh-sensing technology to March 16, 2012.

clockAs we’ve written about on, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is poised to issue a ruling on whether “flesh-sensing technology,” like the SawStop device, should be mandated on all tablesaws. The CPSC has invited the public to comment on the issue, but you have to do it by Feb. 12, 2012. If you want to send your comments or opinions, you have to follow some strict guidelines, as laid out by the CPSC. Here they are:

Written comments and submissions in response to this notice must be received by March 16, 2012.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CPSC–2011–0074, by any of the following methods:

Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic comments in the following way: Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
To ensure timely processing of comments, the Commission is no longer accepting comments submitted by electronic mail (e-mail) except through

Written Submissions: Submit written submissions in the following way: Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper, disk, or CD–ROM submissions), preferably in five copies, to:
Office of the Secretary
Consumer Product Safety
Commission, Room 502, 4330 East West
Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 504–7923.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this notice. All comments received may be posted without change, including any personal identifiers, contact information, or other personal information provided, to Do not submit confidential business information, trade secret information, or other sensitive or protected information electronically. Such information should be submitted in writing.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to

TO GET MORE INFORMATION about how the tablesaw industry and the government reached this crossroads, and get the scoop on an expected portable SawStop tablesawread an excerpt from an article that will run in Fine Woodworking's February issue

posted in: blogs, sawstop, CPSC, tablesaw safety

Comments (93)

HAGAR440 HAGAR440 writes: When I was growing up, my father advised me "Never put your fingers where you wouln't put your foot" Seems like good advice for the workshop, too.
Posted: 12:19 pm on March 3rd

Morongo Morongo writes: Quote JustThisGuy: "Without knowing why PTI made the additional 30 day request, it may be just as reasonable to conclude PTI has trouble meeting its deadline."

Well, PTI could be legitimately looking to uncover some material facts that they feel will benefit them and needs time to peruse the documents, but it might also be considered a somewhat tactical move, since PTI knows if CPSC denies a FOIA request or enough time to review materials PTI might have grounds for a complaint should CPSC's ruling be unfavorable.

Then too, CPSC may have welcomed a reason to delay because it provides them more time to get a majority (if not unanimity) on-board for a decision (recall the 3-1 decision to grant the extension, the majority may want to make their ruling unanimous for more political 'cover').

More likely, it's just extremely difficult to come to an up or down decision because (like this forum) both sides of the issue have legitimate positions that need to be given consideration and it's putting a serious strain on the rules committee on several levels.

Anyway, it looks like both sides have reason to want more time, but the CPSC makes the deadlines, it could have elected to deny the extension to PTI and stuck by the original deadline if it had wanted to.

It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Posted: 2:21 pm on February 29th

JustThisGuy JustThisGuy writes: Quote Morongo: "In other words, government has trouble meeting their deadline because government chose to allow an extension request, as stated."

I think we would need to know more about PTI's request for a second extension, if that information becomes available, before we conclude who had trouble meeting a deadline. According to CPSC, PTI made the 60-day request (link:!documentDetail;D=CPSC-2011-0074-0440) because the extension

"would allow PTI the ability to adequately analyze the reports underlying the Table Saw Study, give CPSC staff time to respond to PTI's outstanding FOIA requests, and give PTI the opportunity to formulate an adequate analysis of the information received."

Without knowing why PTI made the additional 30 day request, it may be just as reasonable to conclude PTI has trouble meeting its deadline. It might also be reasonable to conclude the Government was on track to meet its deadline, but chose to push the deadline as an accommodation to PTI's request for another extension. In all fairness to PTI and CPSC, perhaps 60 days' extension was not enough time for the work to be done. We'll see what happens as we approach the next deadline.
Posted: 12:38 am on February 29th

Morongo Morongo writes: Quote JustThisGuy: "if the reasons the extension to March was granted, I didn't see them listed."

Quote CPSC: "On February 1, 2012, PTI requested another 30-day extension in order for PTI to review Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to the CPSC. On February 8, 2012, the Commission voted (3-1) to grant the request."

The reason they can't meet their previous deadline is because allowing the FIA-review request bumps the deadline another 30 days and they chose to allow the request.

If they -hadn't- allowed the request, the old deadline would still be in force.

However, if their decision (in whole or in part) goes against the PTI and they hadn't allowed the request, their position would be politically untenable, as you might imagine.

In other words, government has trouble meeting their deadline because government chose to allow an extension request, as stated.

As to specifically what PTI is examining and for what reason, only PTI knows that (Tom may have news for us later, if airing it publicly doesn't compromise PTI's position).

Posted: 4:55 pm on February 28th

Tom Tom writes: Folks, I'm trying to get more info about PTI's request.
Posted: 9:12 am on February 28th

JustThisGuy JustThisGuy writes: @morongo:

I agree with you that there many possible answers and uncertainties to these issues over table saw safety, and probably no solutions that will be satisfactory to all. I went back to the CPSC statements on again, and unless I've missed something, CPSC claims all relevant documentation has been given to PTI; it extended the deadline previously to give PTI and others time to comment; and if the reasons the extension to March was granted, I didn't see them listed. I couldn't see how this was an example of Government having trouble meeting deadlines, but it could be the case here, and I'm hoping Tom will provide to us some reasons why that's so.
Posted: 12:41 am on February 28th

Morongo Morongo writes: @JustThisGuy:
It dependes on what the PTI requested documents under the FIA for.

They may have asked the CPSC to reveal the circumstances under which they were petitioned to make a ruling and the CPSC may have declined, which triggered the PTI to ask for the documents under the FIA (just as an example).

It's a very tricky position to be in for those who are decision makers.

On the one hand, the fact that they were initially lobbied to make a ruling could make it look as though they are in collusion with SawStop if they rule in favor and on the other hand, if they return an unfavorable ruling, it could look as though they were pressured by industry to withhold important safety advances from the general public.

In a dicey political situation like this, they might choose to take a 'middle' road and rule the technology as an OSHA requirement in commercial settings while not requiring it for domestic use, or some equally satisfactory political compromise.

Difficult to say, there will be unfavorable political fallout regardless of what they decide owing to the preponderance of valid arguments on both sides of the issue.

And of course, we don't know what else is going on behind the scenes.
Posted: 8:40 pm on February 27th

JustThisGuy JustThisGuy writes: Tom McKenna -- According to the notice on, the extension was requested by PTI:

"On February 1, 2012, PTI requested another 30-day extension in order for PTI to review Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to the CPSC. On February 8, 2012, the Commission voted (3-1) to grant the request. Through this notice, we are reopening the comment period to give all interested parties additional time to prepare their
responses to the ANPR. Thus, the comment period for the ANPR is reopened until March 16, 2012."

How does the CPSC voting to accommodate PTI's request translate into "The Government is having trouble meeting a deadline"?
Posted: 6:49 pm on February 27th

sawzall316 sawzall316 writes: The facts are as follows:

1.Incompetent man cut off his fingers.
2.Incompetent man had no training in the use of table saws.
3.Workmen’s comp. Insurance filed the law-suite in incompetent man's name against Ryobi.
4.Workmen’s Comp. Insurance wins the case and recovers costs and Incompetent man also gets $$$ through no action of his own.
5.Too many foolish woodworkers/tradesmen blame the Incompetent man for filing the lawsuit and totally ignore the fact that he did not, it was an Insurance company that filed the suite.
6.Government will issue a ruling in favor of the only tech available, the sawstop tech.
7.Again, more foolish woodworkers/tradesmen with adolescent senses of logic and immaturity argue nonsensicals against the only tech available to prevent harm.

The tech is over ten years old; at what point do you think it is reasonable for manufacturers to start implementing this technology? The patient runs out in six or seven years. Who wants to make a bet that all manufactures will magically start producing their version of SS-tech if they have their way because of silly baseless arguments?
Mr. Glass developed a wonderful tech and a silly bunch of crying little girls with to much unfounded pride, ego, and hyper-testosterone levels whine that they should have the right to blah-blah-blah. The tech exists to prevent harm regardless of blame, fault, responsibility, etc...It is a no-brainer.
The end blame falls on the manufacturers because they did not implement the tech early on; if they had, the costs would not be an issue today. Piss poor legal advice, is now coming to bite them on their backside. No jury on the planet will side with manufacturers given the fact ten years have gone by since the tech was established; it implies willful negligence by manufacturers. Ten years!

Posted: 4:05 pm on February 18th

Shmoogleflopper Shmoogleflopper writes: Ah, it's too late, you won't see this:

I am in management for New England's largest concrete form company. We purchased one of these SawStop saws. They do NOT work in any type of humidity. So, outside of a shop, they are useless. Try it, you will see.

Train people to use tools. The end.
Posted: 11:38 am on January 19th

JimKoren JimKoren writes: Also, to submit a comment, simply go to the following link and press "submit a comment":!documentDetail;D=CPSC-2011-0074-0440

Posted: 7:53 am on December 30th

JimKoren JimKoren writes: If we as consumers don't express opinions then we deserve the regulations we get. So please submit a comment:

Go to:

Search for
Document type: "Proposed Rule"
Enter keyword or ID: "CPSC–2011–0074"

Find "Table Saw Blade Contact Injuries" on the list and select "Submit a comment" at the right.

Posted: 7:51 am on December 30th

Formadel Formadel writes: Fui fabricante de móveis sob medida durante 28 anos. Hoje trabalho só em uma marcenaria pequena, com produção de móveis em chapas de MDF
Posted: 2:54 pm on December 18th

Schmudd Schmudd writes: I have to agree with "timrowledge" when he said that a device deemed mandatory by the government should have it's patent protection removed. If that were the case, I'm willing to be that this lawsuit would have had a different outcome as Mr. Gass would them employ every lawyer in the country - plus 2 - in order to prevent the safety device from being mandatory.

I am not against the idea of the saw stop device being made compulsory. I like the whole idea, and believe it should have been implimented a long time ago. I am against the government handing Mr. Gass a monopoly.

On the flip-side of the coin, there is risk in any undertaking of sheer stupidity (like running your hand into an unguarded moving blade.) It dosen't take any kind of instruction to see that what will cut trhough wood will cut through your hand. But, I feel accidents like this are nature's way of thinning out the herd.

Remember folks: Common sense is not all that common.
Posted: 9:34 pm on December 15th

stillhaveten stillhaveten writes: I am 54 years old and started working in my dads cabinet shop when I was 12. I could not use machinery untill after I turned 18. I had many opertunities to learn what and what not to do on saws. We didn't have blade guards, splitters, or any guards what so ever. We had gigs push sticks and COMMON SENSE and no inguries. I am so tired of the dogooders telling what I must do or not do in order to be safe in any walk of life.

That being said I do think that the saw stop is a good idea, and would consider it if I were in the market for a new saw. I do not need the government (no matter how good intentioned)regulating one more aspect of my life. DAMN the court for its stuipdity and irrationa descision in this and many other cases concerning product liability. We must take personal responsibility for our own actions. When freehanding lumber use a bandsaw its much safer, If that tool is not available use the proper fence or make a gig that will work. I am sorry that someone was ingured, BUT it is there own fault, stupidity is costly.
Posted: 4:25 pm on December 15th

WoodHoppa WoodHoppa writes: I just watched the latest episode of THIS OLD HOUSE and Tommy Silva did EXACTLY what the guy did who filed the lawsuit!!!!! Tommy always talks about being safe... so who's the idiot here? Was Tommy the supervisor for this guy?
Posted: 8:28 pm on December 9th

WoodHoppa WoodHoppa writes: I just watched the latest episode of THIS OLD HOUSE and Tommy Silva did EXACTLY what the guy did who filed the lawsuit!!!!! Tommy always talks about being safe... so who's the idiot here? Was Tommy the supervisor for this guy?
Posted: 8:28 pm on December 9th

WoodHoppa WoodHoppa writes: I just watched the latest episode of THIS OLD HOUSE and Tommy Silva did EXACTLY what the guy did who filed the lawsuit!!!!! Tommy always talks about being safe... so who's the idiot here? Was Tommy the supervisor for this guy?
Posted: 8:28 pm on December 9th

Morongo Morongo writes: Quote - Woodbridge:
"While Saw Stop is one approach I have seen how the marketplace and manufacturers when motivated will come up with equally effective solutions."

Granted, that is usually the case. However, SawStop was invented by a patent attorney, so you can be sure that the language is sufficiently wide-ranging in scope to entangle any would-be alternative inventions in lengthy and expensive infringement suits (see: patent number 6920814).

As I've remarked before, the safety issue is simply the 'face' that one sees, the underlying agenda is a twenty-year obstruction of any 'pretenders to the throne', as it were.

This control can be extended further by embellishing the original patents in the future and referencing the previous patents to do so, in effect stifling other, possibly better, forms of flesh-sensing technology for decades.

Once the industry licenses this technology, it becomes the de-facto standard and you can take it to the bank that the patents covering every aspect of SawStop flesh-sensing will be prosecuted vigorously against all new similar technologies owing only to the language contained in the original patent, not the similarity of the technology itself.

Realistically, anything that senses flesh at the saw-blade and stops the saw is in for a battle, regardless of how it accomplishes that goal.

The safety SawStop affords is great, the mandate to require it's use by all manufacturers endangers future development for years (requiring flesh-sensing tech on all saws insures either licensing SawStop, engaging in an infringement suit or ceasing production).

You should also be aware that table saws isn't where it ends, it's just the beginning (routers, bandsaws, jointers, etc. are all specifically mentioned in the patent language).

Posted: 12:45 am on December 9th

William05 William05 writes: For many years in this country from the beginning woodworker to the woodworker than was downsizing their shops their table saw of choice was incorporated within the Shopsmith woodworking system.

Currently there are hundreds of thousands of ShopSmith of all model types to be found in homes and shops across this nation. When it was first introduce to the power tool market in 1948 it was the best selling power tool in this country for the next four continious years.

The Shopsmith woodworking system is still being manufactured and sold throughout this country today and is still the first choice of many woodworkers of all levels due to the versatility of it's design.

Although the table saw feature on this machine is rather limited in scope due to it's tilting table vs tilting arbor design woodworkers have been safety using this machine for decades.

The safety equipment in question is not designed for and can not be adapted to function on this piece of machinery.
If the goverment decides to move forward requiring this piece of safety equipment to be the require standard in the table saw industry then it could possibly force the Shopsmith Corporation out of the market place with their woodworking system.

The Shopsmith Corporation over the years has been one of the woodworking industry's leaders in providing educational instruction and educational seminars to woodworkers of all levels in the fundmentals of power tool safety. No other piece of woodworking machinery sold in this counrty has ever had more instructional books or educational training materials written or published concerning them.

I have been a mechanical engineer for over thirty five years in the consumer goods industry, and a woodworker since I was about ten years old. During my engineering career I have served on hundred of product review and product safety committees both at the corporate and national levels.

My grandfather was a cabinetmaker for over 60 years. He was the first person to expose me to the art of woodworking. I first learned my basic woodworking skills from him on his Shopsmith 10er. The first thing my grandfather taught me about woodworking was that all shop accidents can be prevented with just a little common sense. Common sense he would tell me was the most valuable skill a woodworker can have. Thoughout my many years of personal woodworking these words have been proven many times over.

While I was attending engineering school I once had a professor that told our class that, the profession of an engineer was to design and make all things idoit proof. God's profession on the other hand was to continuely design and to produce better idoits. His conclusion was that God will always win this contest. After seeing the current legal and govermental findings surrounding this piece of safety equipment his words are now more truer to me than when I first hear them.
Posted: 12:00 am on December 9th

woodbridge woodbridge writes: I have worked in the safety business for 20 plus years and I am very invovled with the development of product standards.

There are continuous imrpovements to the standards for all of the products we use and in many cases these changes are put in place to deal with improper human behaviour.

Where there is a continuous pattern of unsafe human behaviour that cannot be changed through better education or awareness we seek technology solutions to elimante the hazard or mitigate the effects of the hazard.

30 or 40 years ago there were many electrocutions associated with the use of electrical appliances in barthrooms. When I was a kid it was drilled into me that electricty and water don't mix. People where electrocuted when hair dryers fell into the sink and they tried to get it out , or when taking a bath and plgging in a radio the radio fell into the bathtub.

All of these resulted from someone making a mistake due to carelessness or a momentary lapses of attention.

Then a device called a Ground Fault Circuit interupetr (GFCI)was invented and became mandated in new home construction through the National Electrical Code. I can assure yo at the time there was a great debate about the extra cost of these devices, how they don't always work perfectly in all circumstances, that they would only impact new homes and not extsing homes, nusciance tripping, etc, etc. At the time when first introduced these GFCIs were quite expensive, unlike today. Since them they have been mandatory in homes and the requirements to insatll GFCI's has been expanced to many other places inour homes. Not surprising over the years statistics have shown a huge reduction in these types of electrocution fatalties. Should we have continued to say well, that person did something dumb or they were careless, so they deserved to be injured or killed when a technology solution was available?

The requirement that is being considered is a performance requirement and does not nor would not point to a partuicular design or approach. The standard for table saws and most other products contains all types of performance requirements designed to improve safety.

While Saw Stop is one approach I have seen how the marketplace and manufacturers when motivated will come up with equally effective solutions.

My work is more invovled with electrical and fire safety and I have watched the discussion on this table saw topic with interest beacause it is analogous to another safety issue.
Although I live in Canada I will provide tehe US statitics.

Each year in the US there are an estimated 146000 fires resulting in 4690 cases of injury, 480 deaths, and almost 900 million inproperty damage associated with stove top fires. The primary cause is leaving a pot unattended on the stove. Cooking french fries ina pot of oil is a common example. In all case it was a human factor (leaving the pot unattended) that resulted in the fire or death. This is an issue that has been known for many years. There is technology available, while not perfect in every circumstance, would significantly reduce the number of injuries or fatalties.

I have been dealing with appliance industry about the need to improve the standards for stoves to deal with this matter. It is interesting that although the product is different they came up with the same 1001 reasons why the product (in this case stoves) could not be made safer. One reason was that stoves were manufacturered for a global market and they could not have one design for North America and another for the rest of the world. Turns out however that in Japan and other countries this new safety technology is already in use with positive reduction in stove top related fires. The US Navy (where they have a very strong fire safety culture) have implemented a differengt tehcmnology approach to deal woth the same stive top cooking fire issue in all navy owned housing.

After lietrally years of having these dicussions it was apparent that the agenda was focssued on delay and obfuscation, to continue endless discusion, suggest that more public awareness was needed, encourage more research, but in the end do nothing.

I have seen when the market place is motivated how creative and inventive they can be to address problems and come up with new products or solutions. Unfortunately when the marketplace fails to respond the courts or governments intervene, and these interventions are never as effective as could have been acheived if people simply put a higher priority on improving safety.

Posted: 6:37 pm on December 8th

CharlesDParker CharlesDParker writes: Well silly me. I just purchased a New Contractor Grade table saw, Probably the last I will ever need, as I use the tools I buy around the house and property here in S. Mississippi. I read about the new saw design and decided I will just use my saw extra carefully and not go with, in my opinion, an un proven technology. Hopefully, when I make future cuts on my table saw, I will pay very close attention to what I am doing and keep my hands out of danger of the spinning saw blade.
Posted: 12:00 pm on December 8th

hazelnutcream hazelnutcream writes: I have no problem with the government mandating safety standards. It happens almost everyday in almost every facet of life.

I do have a problem with the government mandating that I buy products from an "approved" vendor.

If the government wants the SawStop patent to be applied to every tablesaw, then the government needs to force the industry to form a patent pool.

Posted: 6:50 pm on December 6th

toolatesmart toolatesmart writes: There are SawStops in the wood shops in the large retirement community where I live. Recently a resharpened carbide tooth blade with a coating was installed. After several weeks use it was checked with an ohm meter and there was no continuity from tooth to shaft meaning that the safety was not in operation. Someplace in the 100 page operating manual it does warn against using a coated blade. Sorry but it not foolproof or even idiot resistant.
Posted: 4:17 pm on December 6th

Bored_Cutter Bored_Cutter writes: Gosh --

I forgot to feel naked and unprotected without yet one more government-imposed 'safety device' at work for me!

I have been an active power-tool woodworker for over 9 years and yet I can STILL count to 10 using just my fingers.

Just how have I been able to easily avoid the dangers inherent in this craft? AND more importantly to that 'victim' Steve Gass and his agenda, just who do I think I am, stating that I don't need his VITAL TECHNOLOGY to keep me safe?

I am a simple man who uses three other 'technologies' that Mr. Gass did NOT invent:

1.) The Faithful Observance of in-place Safety Guidelines for all my tools.

2.) Healthy respect for the lethal potentiality of all power tools.

3.) Good common sense.

Unlike the necessity of seat-belts and airbags, my "cradle-to-grave" friends (and Andrius), power-tool accidents are pretty easy to either avoid altogether or else minimize by the simple use of those three things.

Here's the rub: one must actually pay attention to what one is doing, instead of moaning that a government didn't pre-emtively (or adequately) 'wipe your nose'.

"O$orio" acted stupidly. He did not heed safety precautions from his supervisor, he ignored common sense, and he chose to use the tool in a manner not consistent with its design or safety. $omehow, thi$ was pre$ented in court to appear as if the manufacturers' design had been lacking somehow. It is not.

Rather than ignore this stupid man's lawyers' quest for cash, the courts up-held the ridiculous cash award judgement.
"O$orio" (in my view) is nothing more than an ignoramus with some smooth lawyers who worked the system for cash. Ga$$ is doing little more than that.

Sorry, I will not drink the kool-aid. Why would anyone?
Posted: 1:26 pm on December 6th

Andrius Andrius writes: Would all the "Libertarians" who are ranting against this please cut out your seatbelts and pull your airbags out of your trucks? Those are also evil government imposed requirements that were predicted to be the demise of the auto industry. Guess what? Seatbelts and airbags have been saving hundreds of thousands of lives and sawstops will save hundreds of thousands of fingers.
Posted: 7:22 pm on December 5th

wmheinz wmheinz writes: This continuous barrage by FWW railing against this legislation leaves me wondering about your motives. I did a quick search of FWW reviews for the the Sawstop and see nothing but positive comments about the technology and performance. It's a bit bewildering why FWW would now be so aggressive in opposing legislation that would implement technology that would clearly help protect your readers - unless you're actually representing toolmakers that pay for advertising instead of those who pay for subscriptions.
Posted: 2:54 pm on December 5th

JManly JManly writes: I fall firmly on the "Government should stay out" side. However, it seems inevitable, that no matter what the government does, this safety technology, and equivalent competitive ones, are going to be part of our future. The US tort system will gaurantee that. As many have said, if you are a hobbiest, you are free to buy saws with or without it, as you see fit. Pro shops and public institutions may be required to "upgrade", either by OSHA or their insurer. If this happens, just think of all the nice, used machines flooding the market for us hobbiests.

The good news in all this, is that the SS technology does not in any way limit the capabilities of a table saw. Now, lets just hope the government doesn't start frowning upon dado sets, as in the UK, where table saws are designed to not allow them to be fitted.
Posted: 1:06 pm on December 5th

Galloway Galloway writes: I submitted my online comment to the government web-site with no trouble this AM. Took 2-3 minutes to compose, then just hit "submit".

Posted: 10:26 am on December 5th

WBPelen WBPelen writes: I have a backup camera on my car. Suppose someone backs into me and they do not have a backup camera. Assuming a camera would have thwarted the accident then it is not the driver's error - it is the responsibility of the car manufacturer for not installing one.

This is the natural extension of the Sawstop ruling. It can be applied to many other situation and will cause us to further devolve into a Nanny state. Prices will go up, people won't be able to afford basic products because they will require all the Nanny options.

NEVER will I buy Sawstop for this self-serving litigation which threatens so many other facets of our daily lives.
Posted: 9:49 am on December 5th

jbubet jbubet writes: I am a shop teacher at a small Montana School. Just two weeks ago a student of mine put his finger in the blade of the table saw. Thank Goodness it is a SawStop table. The boy just had a small red dot where the blade hit his finger. I have been teaching shop for 5 years and this is the first time the SawStop was activated. I love it!!
Posted: 11:29 pm on December 4th

joe4liberty joe4liberty writes:
Posted: 11:24 pm on December 4th

joe4liberty joe4liberty writes: Sawstop makes a durable, rugged, downright fine product that I will NEVER buy. Not because of price - given the safety factor, I find it to be a bargain, and was seriously considering buying one a couple of years ago. No, I will NEVER, but NEVER buy a product from a company that espouses using the guns of government to force consumers to purchase their products. I will not purchase a Chevy, nor Chrysler either thanks to the bail-outs... and finding a bank that wasn't "on the take" was no easy task either. At the rate that we are selling our souls to the government, it won't be long before I cannot buy a new product in this country. Anyone seriously wonder why there is so much out-sourcing going on in American business?
Posted: 11:18 pm on December 4th

WaterPenny WaterPenny writes: Why are so many of the contributors against government regulations? I know of no saw nazis that will enter you home and take away your table saw and force you to purchase another with the safety device. Any regulation will only affect saws manufactured and purchased in the future. You are free to continue to use your saw for as long as you choose with or without safety features or devices. It is totally immaterial that the law suit was brought by a careless person. What has been determined is that there is a safety issue for all users. It is also immaterial that a patent lasts for 20 years. You do not like it from the user's perspective believing there are numerous inventions out there and that patent holders are holding back innovation. The opposite is true when it is you invention and you have invested considerable amounts of time and money and you want to recoup your investment and make a profit. This is capitalism isn't it? How would you feel if your invention was stolen by someone who, and it could be a foreign company out of reach of US law, can produce it cheaper, maybe with inferior material, and you lose your livelihood? Please go get the video about the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper and what the major auto companies did to him and his invention.
Posted: 9:45 pm on December 4th

scottnelson scottnelson writes: Of course it is reasonable to seriously consider requiring manufactures to consider technology that would dramatically reduce terrible injuries, hundreds of millions of dollars in medical expenses and lost time. Too expensive at $100/tool? I think not.
Posted: 4:28 pm on December 4th

hoseman18 hoseman18 writes: This proposed regulation goes too far...naturally. The government knows no better.
If it were limited to schools and commercial cabinet shops no one would bat an eye.

The marketplace will decide anyway. When manufacturers can build a tablesaw with technology to prevent debilitating injuries as found on a tablesaw, at an affordable price, everyone will have one. Within a few years, you won't be able to find a saw without it. There is no need for government intervention in our home lives this way.
Posted: 12:57 pm on December 4th

evandene evandene writes: Hi guys and girls,
Remember how long it took before in North America the riving knife was accepted by users. (Not by the government) The riving knife is the most useful safety equipment ever invented on a table saw. The only reason why it took 30 years before implemented are we.

A new report shows that an average of 31,400 people are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every year for tablesaw injuries. This figure doesn't include accidents on the job.

We all said NO against the Riving Knife for so many years.
So I wish you all good luck and we talk again over 20 years about the flesh sensing stuff.

Posted: 12:35 pm on December 4th

jbueti jbueti writes: I am a high school woodworking teacher and find the Sawstop an invaluable teaching tool. Why? Because I can teach my students how to use the saw without the concern that they are going to lose a finger. This does not mean that my instructional methods change in any way; we still treat the saw with the same respect that we give to our other saw, a 12" 5 h.p. Rockwell. What it does mean is that after the kids are taught how to use the Sawstop, they can use it without my assistance, freeing me up to work with other students. This would not be the case without the saw, and the quality of the program would be significantly effected as a result. At a time when woodworking programs are being cut all over the country, we woodworking teachers need all the help we can get to prove that our classroom is a place where real education happens; not a place where less intelligent or problem kids are sent.
Posted: 12:16 pm on December 4th

AlanWS AlanWS writes: It seems to me that insurance companies are in the best position to make this decision. If their data show that the Sawstop actually does cut down injuries in a statistically meaningful way, they should charge Sawstop owners less for insurance. If not, they should not. This likely would affect contractors rather than hobbists, but the decision should be based on data, not lobbyists or jurors.

If the CPSC does write a regulation for tablesaw safety in such a way that it can be met only by incorporation of the Sawstop technology, that would be granting a monopoly. In such a case it is reasonable for the government to also regulate the level of royalties Sawstop would be able to collect.
Posted: 9:39 am on December 4th

peyote peyote writes: I've been a sometimes very active Libertarian for all of those 30+ years I've been making my living working wood that I referenced earlier. Free market wise the Worker's Comp. companies will take care of this with or without government mandates as far as cabinet and furniture makers, contractor's etc. That's how it works; Does anyone really believe that you will be able to purchase an "unsafe equipment policy"? People will continue to hire "under the table",disable costly safety features etc. to dodge these requirements just like they do now; There's no utopia. But even libertarians should concede that there will be fewer workplace injuries if this technology is in place.

I'll be honest about this. I don't really care much about Joe Six-Pack fooling around in his basement making bird houses; That's his business. I think it's in everyone's interest to make work environments as safe as possible.

That's why I don't have employees anymore. There isn't a blade guard in my shop (except on my jointer) and I wouldn't let anyone else work in there. You'll pry my Unisaw from my cold dead fingers...
Posted: 9:00 am on December 4th

Fabuladico Fabuladico writes: There have long been Federal Anti-Trust regulations. For the government to create a law that would in effect create a monopoly for SawStop, would be unconstitutional, and trust me, idiot proof a machine, and not only will a better idiot come along, but the previous idiot will simply find a different machine to injure himself on.
The idiot in question might just as well have injured himself on a compound miter saw, or a jig saw, or a band saw, or even a hand saw. None of the other saws have SawStop technology available to them. What then? No lawsuit? Trust me, he would have found a lawyer who would find some way to sue.
Hey, wait a minute! When I was young, I accidently cut my thumb (requiring stitches) with a hand saw! Did I miss my million bucks? Oh and hey, just the other day I hit my thumb with a hammer! Quick! find me lawyer! I can sue the Hammer company for not making the hammer safe to use!
I one time over filled a Zippo lighter and set my hand on fire. I got first and second degree burns and wore a gauze mitten for more than a month...Gee I shoulda sued Zippo I guess.
Posted: 1:29 am on December 4th

EskuratoJ EskuratoJ writes: go TuscanBill. The debate is already over and many here don't even know it yet. We will get safer saws (we are already since the table saw industry has been forced to address the issue since 2008). And we will be getting this technology. And it will save fingers... Lots of them... 5 years from now all saws will have sensing technology just like all the other safety features of modern life. Why? Because why build a machine that is not as safe as you can make it.. If the government doesn't mandate it the lawyers will eat any corporation up that shows the slightest weakness. It may not be pretty but it is the American way..
Posted: 11:55 pm on December 3rd

TuscanBill TuscanBill writes: I've been a woodworker for 30 years. I still have all my fingers and am on my third table saw. I started with a Craftsman, then went to a Powermatic, and now I own a SawStop. It's a great saw; well designed, smooth running and accurate. I bought it because, at 63 years of age I would just a soon keep all the fingers i was born with. The comments on this site are, of course, all about politics - government policy vs. Libertarian ideology. And let's be honest; the government is not going to make you buy a new table saw. This will only apply to new purchases. Keep your old table saw if you want. I would still have my Powermatic if the Sawstop didn't come along. This discussion is tedious to say the least. We have seat belts and airbags in our cars, safety brakes on our chainsaws, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in our homes and most of us (at least those of us who are responsible) make our kids or grandkids wear bike helmets. The flesh-sensing technology is where the industry is headed, whether the saw manufacturers want to admit it or not. It makes sense for any professional cabinet shop. A federal mandate will only speed up the process. Meanwhile, if the comments on this site are any indication, we will hear a steady stream of whining from all the freedom loving red-blooded American woodworkers who can't recognize a good thing when they see it.
Posted: 10:05 pm on December 3rd

mcottrell mcottrell writes: Ladies and Gentlemen--

Come on, sheeple! Do you want a drill-press-stop, a jointer-stop, a planer-stop, a lathe-stop, a hand-plane stop, or (naming the one tool I have ever injured myself with) a draw-knife-stop? What about chisels, and hand saws, and utility knives, and.....

STOP believing that your mistake is someone else's fault. The court case upon which this is all based involved an untrained worker, using a machine without not only guards, but without even a rip fence--and he did not even suffer a digit amputation, as I recall.

If you have ever used a hammer, a baseball bat, an automobile (which is a multi-thousand-pound missile loaded with gallons of volatile hydrocarbons), a kitchen knife, or any number of other lethal weapons, ask yourself whether you want the Government legislating how you use those items.

If the answer is "Yes, I want the Government to protect me from those items," then we are doomed.

Saw-stop is a fine invention (provided you are willing to destroy blade and arbor assembly). Should I be forced to use it? No--just as I should not be forced to use a "baseball-bat-stop" should such a thing be invented.

Get real. Life includes risks. If you engage in risky behavior, accept the potential consequences. Otherwise, give up your glass of (wine/beer/bourbon...), your daily drive to work, your dive into a swimming pool (gee--you might drown), your walk down the street (gee--some jackass decided not to yeild to a pedestrian...).

The list goes on and on. Saw Stop is ALL about making money for Mr. Gass. It is NOTHING about consumer safety.
Posted: 9:11 pm on December 3rd

ronaloha ronaloha writes: I believe in personal freedom to the extent that it doesn't harm anyone else and I am not in favor of more government regulation than absolutely necessary. I did not like it when seat belts and motorcycle helmets were mandated. But, I wear my seatbelt because it has proven to be safer. I also wear a helmet in a state where it is not mandated. I bought a SawStop for the same reasons. It equals all similarly priced tools in quality and the safety factor puts it in a league of its own. I didn't need the government to figure that out for me and I don't need FWW magazine to lobby against safety. I feel the articles related to this issue have been very subjective personal opinion and certainly not what I would consider reporting.
Posted: 8:14 pm on December 3rd

ronaloha ronaloha writes: I believe in personal freedom to the extent that it doesn't harm anyone else and I am not in favor of more government regulation than absolutely necessary. I did not like it when seat belts and motorcycle helmets were mandated. But, I wear my seatbelt because it has proven to be safer. I also wear a helmet in a state where it is not mandated. I bought a SawStop for the same reasons. It equals all similarly priced tools in quality and the safety factor puts it in a league of its own. I didn't need the government to figure that out for me and I don't need FWW magazine to lobby against safety. I feel the articles related to this issue have been very subjective personal opinion and certainly not what I would consider reporting.
Posted: 8:13 pm on December 3rd

chpskt chpskt writes: When I started in the woodworking business 40 years ago my father's employees had an average of 8 1/2 fingers. When I quit 8 years ago we were short on knuckle among 12 of us. I credit OSHA with the difference. This kind of technology is inevitable and it is a good thing. Talk about your nanny state all you want, but business won't take the safety of employees or consumers seriously unless the government forces the issue.
Posted: 7:25 pm on December 3rd

tnoble tnoble writes: This is a perfect example of the paridigm shift in our culture and how society as a whole has turned into a group of children who need our government parents to keep us healthy, rich and safe.

As an ex-pro cabinet maker and current orthopedic surgey resident, I have seen table saw injuries and they can be quite bad, but so too are snowblower injuries, chainsaw injuries, skiing injuries, and for goodness sake motorcycle injuries. what about the hunter who removes the thumb guard from his cross bow and amputates his thumb with the bow string? I say we need to make cross bows illegal because too many good people are removing their guards and losing their thumbs! Better yet, I say we need to sue the cross bow manufacturer for making it so easy to remove the guard... Or maybe we should sue Harley Davidson for making an inherently dangerous vehicle! Come on people. Where is your self accountability!

To the people who support this judgement, do you honestly feel that you are helpless and need a big strong government to keep you safe?? If so then I guess I have nothing further to say except that I certainly do not feel like that. I personally am insulted that the people we elected to office believe that society as a whole is far too stupid to take care of itself and that we need them to intervene on our behalf to keep us safe.
Posted: 6:03 pm on December 3rd

casahanson casahanson writes: We had a hundred years of cars driving down the road without the benefit of safety belts, pre-tensioners, and airbags. But once they were developed and proved to work they became mandatory in all cars around the world. Remember, there wasn’t a single air bag in a European made car until the 90’s. So, just because you drove your old car without safety features for years without an accident, and we all know safety features on cars don’t prevent all tragedies, we also know safety features do save lives. So, I say keep your old saws and do what you want with them. BUT all new table saws should be as safe as they can be with proven technology. An extra blade and cartridge a couple of times a year is far cheaper than what society is paying for when so many need reconstructive surgery, physical therapy, vocational retraining and alike. Men and families have been destroyed by saw accidents. So, have an opinion and share it after you educate yourself.
Posted: 5:41 pm on December 3rd

I am an old wood worker and an electrical engineer.
I can think of many occasions when the saw-stop would not work.
What if the wood is wet? What if you have on rubber gloves? What if what you are sawing insulates you from the table.
I don't want an expensive blade ruined with a false positive.

Please don't do this. Consumer protection has its place, this is not it. I would pay extra to not have this assuming gizmo on my saw.
Posted: 5:25 pm on December 3rd

timrowledge timrowledge writes: Yay FREEDOM! I must be free to invade your house and shoot you without the dang gubmint getting in my way. Wait, that wasn't what you meant? Oh well, be careful what you demand. You might not like the side-effects.

Rather than specifying the technology to be used, any laws involved should specify the intended result and the degree of error acceptable. A SawStop unit will not prevent all table saw injuries - some other safety device might well stop some that it misses. What to do if they are mutually exclusive? A law requiring the tools to have some mechanism that reduces the risk of amputation would be a reasonable thing; the practical problem lies in making regulations that clearly specify what an acceptable reduction is and how to measure it and what happens if the device fails to live up to expectations.

A minor practical consideration on the legal side - I suggest that the patent/licensing laws be modified such that any device that is required by law(s) cannot be subject to any patent restrictions i.e. if someone designs a device and lobbies successfully to have it made compulsory in any manner, the patent coverage is removed and no license is required to use it.
Posted: 3:55 pm on December 3rd

Lucky43 Lucky43 writes: Like seatbelts, smoking, and helmets there will always be people who don't deem the benefits of using or not using worthwhile. Magazines who generate most of their revenue from the corporations who pay them for advertising are not the best source of unfettered opinions about any thing that may have an effect on those corporations bottom line.
While we all fear that our government interfering with our right to choose exactly what we want in what our hard earned money purchases, this should be a no brainer for any thinking person.
A saw that is extremely well made with a mechanism to prevent whoever may use it from doing any harm to the user, albeit for a little more money.
It's too bad that all the saw manufacturers cannot adopt on their own, this kind of safety feature without any government intervention, but it took the same kind of intervention for the car companies with the seatbelts and then it took laws to make the people use them.
Posted: 2:54 pm on December 3rd

golfer299 golfer299 writes: To propose a rule based on a single, unproven technoglogy is worse than using a saw without appropriate guards. I can envision the rule being passed; all saws incorporate Saw Stop; users find the system "false alarms", destroying the blade and cartridge; users then circumvent the system to keep it from false alarming.
Posted: 1:29 pm on December 3rd

shopratt shopratt writes: I believe it is a personal responsibility issue as long as I do not have to pay more for my medical insurance due to someone else's carelessness. More government regulation and intrusion into our personal lives is never a good thing.
Posted: 1:19 pm on December 3rd

EskuratoJ EskuratoJ writes: It is hard to argue with 36,000 hand injuries a year. We all know of people (men usually) where you go to shake their hand and they are missing a finger from a table saw accident. Are all of these bad, careless people? Or is there truly something about the way table saws have been made over the last 100 years that makes them more dangerous than they should be....

I don't understand the idea that freedom is the right to be free to cut off your own finger. That is not freedom. That is absurd.

Posted: 1:08 pm on December 3rd

peyote peyote writes: I have been a professional woodworker for over 30 years and have been around power tools both in the field as a carpenter and in cabinet shops. I have on occassion worked while utterly exhausted when deadlines and schedules required me to do so. I still have ten fingers and ten toes. It's simple, really; never take your eye off the ball, not even for an instant. I've seen people hurt and in every single case it was the result of inattentiveness. Saw Stop technology is a good idea in an environment where dumb and/or inattentive people will be working, which unfortunatelky is often the case in our industry. If I still had employees I would utilize it, but I don't (thank God!) and I consider it a complete waste of money for a properly trained and appropriately focused individual.

I saw a kid cut off three (!) fingers in a Jr. High School shop class...maybe that's why I'm so careful. THAT would have been a perfect application for this technology. Of course, Jr. High students would be sticking hot dogs in the saw just to watch it jump.

It's inevitable that this and similar technologies will be required in industrial settings and eventually on construction sites. I doubt I will ever use it and I expect to die with all my digits.
Posted: 12:26 pm on December 3rd

genethehat genethehat writes: To quote Jerfi2003 We are increasingly becoming a nation of children dependent on our government to "keep us safe".
Living in a Veterans home I see this all the time. Now they want to take away "Bar Soap" (whats next? the water). We served for one reason. It is called "FREEDOM" from government telling us what to do or say. I am on the side of get out of my live. When I hurt myself "it most often was my doing". After 70 years of woodworking I still can count to ten without taking my shoes off. Lucky, maybe
Posted: 12:18 pm on December 3rd

woody62 woody62 writes: This issue is both important, and the perfect subject for the lively ideas being expressed. I just don't agree with the way FWW is leaning towards opposing the safety reg. This smacks of the current political climate which goes something like, "I don't even care if it's good for me, get the government out of our lives!"

Safety trumps the rights of corporations to sell whatever they think the consumer wants or is willing to pay. The tone of FWW's updates, e.g., "How to Win 1.8 Million", is decidedly less than impartial. And with manufacturers that have a vested interest in the outcome spending their advertising dollars with Taunton Press, the editors need to do everything to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Does FWW urging its readership to weigh in on this issue with the CPSC represent democracy in action, or is it rallying its majority membership opposed to this regulation to fullfill a not-so hidden agenda?
Posted: 12:02 pm on December 3rd

fidolido fidolido writes: In response to JEFFE, we don't need safer cars, we need safer people. How many times have you been driving in the rain and someone blows past you as if you were standing still? And how many times have you witnessed someone shooting through a stop sign? We don't need safer cars, we need smarter people. The common denominator here is people. Just like guns don't kill people, people kill people. There are hundreds of thousands of things we can use to hurt ourselves from paper cuts, to limb crushing machines. And only a handful of idiots who do get hurt feel it is not their fault for their clumsiness, but the manufacturer who designed it wrong. I'll bet if you quiz any of these idiots about the safety manual you'll find 99% of them didn't even crack it open.

I think SawStop saws are great, but I think people are putting too much faith in the process. It seems like more of an excuse to be more careless. If I know the saw will stop once it gets a nick of flesh, then I don't have to be careful, and I can do whatever. I can remove the guard, I don't have to use a push stick, or anything... the saw will stop if I get too close. WRONG attitude, and you deserve to lose your fingers.

What if the braking system shatters the blade and it goes shooting into your face? You won't sue Stop Saw, you'd end up suing the blade manufacturer.
Posted: 11:59 am on December 3rd

nhampsha nhampsha writes: You can list me in the group that is opposed to government mandates of specific products or devices, e.g., health insurance, SawStop blade brakes, ethanol motor fuel. Or,the opposite, the outlawing of specific products, devices, processes, or otherwise legal, beneficial activities such as drilling for oil. That said,it is hard to be opposed to the benefits of making something like a tablesaw safer. I suggest that the way to approach this is to mandate a performance standard, set a date for compliance, and let the various manufacturers figure out how to do it on their products cost-effectively. I'm a SawStop owner, it's a high quality machine in my opinion, that replaced a series of major brand name, big reputation, cheaply built junk. The fact that it is safer is a welcome bonus. You get what you pay for.
Posted: 11:37 am on December 3rd

fidolido fidolido writes: I believe the government should stop telling us all what we should do and mind our own business. There is no such thing as a safe machine and the more crap you put on it in the name of safety, the dumber people get. People get hurt for the simple mistake of carelessness.... You hear it time and time again... I was distracted, I was thinking of something else, my mind wandered for a moment.

I hate the idiots who hurt themselves on a table saw then want to blame the manufacturer for their stupidity. Yo, moron, you have no one to blame but yourself for your carelessness. Even in some of the videos, you see saw guards missing, fingers dangerously close to the blades...improper use of cutting tools handled wrong.

StopSaw has a good thing here and if you want to spend the money, that's your choice. But keep in mind there are more hazardous tools out there than a table saw. That nail gun you throw around, plugged in, charged up, powered on, fully loaded, lying there pointed at you. Yeah, accidents happen all the time, but 90% of them could have been prevented had the owner just spent a little time to exercise some 'common sense'.

And our government spends millions of dollars telling us what we should already know.
Posted: 11:30 am on December 3rd

Jaytease Jaytease writes: First off, let me agree with AndyGoodson about the quality of the comments here. FWW definitely isn't like reading comments on a political blog (and that's only gonna get worse in 2012...) But in response to Jeffe, the loss of fingers isn't close to an isolated incident, and these rules won't make a tablesaw perfectly safe. In 2001, about 36,400 people went to the emergency room for tablesaw accidents. Just about anyone working as a carpenter for any length of time knows someone who has lost a digit, or has come close themselves. Anyone working professionally has cut stock when they were tired- you can't just leave when the job needs to be done. The safety guards that come free with the saw are almost universally total crap- I know the risks, yet I remove them and put them aside because they get in the way too much.
I totally support new regulations. No one is going to keep you from having an old unisaw in your garage shop, but for any commercial shop with employees there is no excuse for the risk. I'm glad that government rules have forced car makers to add seat belts, airbags and crumple zones too, because they've certainly saved me from flying through the (laminated safety glass) windshield.
Posted: 11:12 am on December 3rd

don_m don_m writes: Hey I have a great idea! Why don’t we pass a law that would require us all to hard wire all of the safety equipment on our power tools to a specialty alarm system at our local police department. That way when we are foolish enough to remove these devises from our tools and place ourselves in grave danger, the police will immediately be notified so they can send out a specially trained team of experts to reconnect the safety equipment , and gives us a serious lecture on the dangers of such a foolish decision. In addition to saving us from ourselves, just think of all the new jobs this will create in law enforcement and job safety training. Not to mention the brand new bureaucracies that will be formed, and tax payer funded public employees that will be hired.

I am going to laugh right out loud when the day comes - and it will; when Saw Stop is fighting a multi million dollar law suit against some fool who sawed his fingers off after by passing the their brilliant flesh sensing system. The argument will of course be that there wasn’t a back up , to the back up, to the back up system; preventing morons from starting the machine in the first place. And you all know that Saw Stop will lose that suit; don’t you!

I want the government OUT OF MY LIFE!


Posted: 10:49 am on December 3rd

ahood ahood writes: I am growing quite offended with the extreme tone FWW is taking on this issue. Where are the instructions for the concerned reader to enter a comment in support of this regulation?

The most interesting article I have read in FWW on this topic was by the person who actually read the trial transcripts. I recall he said that every argument posited on this site in favor of PTI was presented by PTI lawyers and was shot full of holes by the opposing side. His term was that the PIT was out-gunned. My interpretation of that is that the PTI was wrong and it lost.

I find it arrogant the any reader can spend an hour perusing a few news articles and believe they now better than the men and women who listened carefully for days of testimony and then discussed the issue amongst themselves. I have not seen any argument that causes me to question their judgement.

I think that FWW should take a step back on this and acknowledge that its readership is divided and stop stoking the fires for the PTI.

Don't take umbrage at the accusation that you are acting as a shill for the PTI because regardless of your intent this is how you look. And it is very sad to watch.

I have never considered cancelling my subscription, but the tone and stance FWW is taking on this issue is causing me to seriously reconsider my association with your magazine.
Posted: 10:47 am on December 3rd

jeffe jeffe writes: I and several of my friends have had car accidents (among other types in my 69 years, that's for sure!). Rather than have my govt. piddling around with what really seems an isolated incident (think how long the table saw has been in use, how many other horrible accidents by experienced woodworkers has happened!..for that matter other accidents in the shop.). So why doesn't the govt. cause to have made a vehicle incapable of having accidents? The car is a much more dangerous machine, a perfectly safe car would save lives instead of fingers!!!!
Posted: 10:21 am on December 3rd

AndyGoodson AndyGoodson writes: First, I would like to note that this is one of the more intelligent and well thought out stream of comments I’ve read on this or any woodworking site. One of the reasons why I am agreeable to paying slightly more for FWW is the quality and this is a good example of that extending beyond wood working mechanics and into a considerably sensitive topic (slight pun intended).
I appreciate the discourse between Moshup_Trail and Tom and will have to note that I am in strong agreement on the issue of FWW being one-sided on the topic of tablesaw safety. In fact, I was beginning to think that I was the “one percent” in leaning toward the benefits of this potential CPSC ruling. While Moshup has provided the detail to support his assertion, I will merely note that I have perceived FWW as being strongly opposed to this ruling since the first lawsuit article on the topic last year.

As far as this being a significant cost driver, I wonder where it will actually land and whether economies of scale might cause any cost increase to be negligible. And with respect to waiting for industry to catch up to demand for flesh sensing technology; how many emergency rooms will be visited while we wait?

Posted: 9:51 am on December 3rd

jthorner jthorner writes: I well remember how Car and Driver and the other car magazines regularly moaned and groaned about safety regulations in the the 1970s. Luckily, the regulations happened anyway. Today the traffic dealths per mile travelled on US roads are half of what they were fourty years ago.

Some of us are alive today thanks to these regulations.

Remember the guy who died recently when he smacked his head on the pavement during an anti-helmet law motorcycle rally?

The mainstream tool industry has shown almost no safety progress over the years unless forced do so by regulations and/or lawsuits.

Posted: 9:31 am on December 3rd

pjlimon pjlimon writes: Fine Woodworking and many bloggers make the comment that the government has no right to mandate a feature, no matter how useful, that significantly raises the price of a device. I don't really have an opinion on the rights of governments to mandate, but I do have a comment on whether the device in question, the SawStop technology significantly raises the price of a table saw. A quick look on the internet tells me that a 10", 3 hp, 220 volt saw with a 52" extension table and fence costs exactly the same whether it's a Delta Unisaw or a SawStop saw. So, where's the beef?
I find that Fine Woodworking's blaring headlines "...significantly raise the price." to be misleading. I generally like your magazine, it has taught me a lot about woodworking, but please, get your facts straight.

Posted: 9:30 am on December 3rd

tombijak tombijak writes: Passing legislation/laws that substantially raise the cost of table saws will result in more job site injuries. Why? Circular saws were used for many of the cuts that are now being handled by low cost/widely available job site table saws. If job site table saws become less accessible due to a major cost increase, the cuts will once again be made by circular saws.

I believe circular saws are potentially far more dangerous in the hands of the untrained/unskilled than a table saw with our without the new safety features under consideration.

I'm sure there are more table saw injuries today on the job site than there were years ago when table saws didn't have the price/form factor making them widely available. Are the powers that be smart enough to factor in the relative dangers of table saws versus circular saws for rip cuts?

Also, adding costly technology like SawStop to a $1,500 stationary/shop table saw makes more sense as the percent cost increase would be much less than the percent cost increase on $300 job site saws. I hope the unintended consequences of increased (and more dangerous) circular saw usage on the job site is carefully considered before actions are taken. They need an economist to make clear the price elasticity relationships and they need a safety expert to make clear the dangers of circular saw usage versus table saw usage before making decisions.
Posted: 9:12 am on December 3rd

Moshup_Trail Moshup_Trail writes: Look at this like the question of requiring a new safety feature in automobiles. Before you make it a requirement the the technology needs to become widely available (as opposed to a high-end, proprietary technology). For example, anti-lock brakes are still not required in US vehicles although most have them. In the EU anti-lock brakes have been required since 2007. Anti-lock brakes were first introduced in airplanes in the '50s!

So, should flesh-sensing technology be required in table saws? Yes, but not yet. Let the market do what it does best - drive manufacturers to build what the public actually buys, and innovate to create competing technologies. Saw-Stop's proprietary technology has already found a wide market and the trend will continue - without government regulation.
Posted: 6:44 am on December 3rd

supermonkey supermonkey writes: For what it's worth, DrBob4390, my comment was intended as sarcasm. I agree that using a table saw - or any tool for that matter, powered or not - involves a certain amount of risk.

With respect to the worry that the proposed legislation will enable SawStop to gouge the competition with costly license fees, is there any reason why other manufacturers can't use alternative methods? Is SawStop's patent so generic as to rule out any remotely similar device? Also, would other manufacturers face such a high cost to implement flesh-sensing technology that the cost impact to future table saws would be drastic?

This scenario is a nice modern illustration to a concept discussed in Superfreakonomics: Simple, inexpensive fixes often are the most effective. As illustrated in the book, contrasted against the cost of completely redesigning instrument panels, steering wheels, and windshields, one of the most effective safety solutions in the automobile industry was the relatively inexpensive seat belt. Why pour so much money into reducing the effect of a head hitting a steering wheel, when you can simply (and cheaply!) prevent the head from hitting the wheel in the first place. In another bit of coincidence, various seat belt designs each had their own respective patents!

Nevertheless, all the other expensive changes were eventually introduced, but the lesson is sound. Rather than mandate expensive and relatively complex solutions (e.g. flesh-sensing auto brake technology), why not concentrate on simple, effective, yet inexpensive solutions (e.g. riving knives)?
Posted: 4:12 pm on December 2nd

dag2000 dag2000 writes: Advances in consumer product safety should not be held hostage to the flaws, perceived or real, in the patent system.

Like a few others, I have found FWW's coverage one-sided. Even though FWW doesn't come out and instruct people to come out against the new proposed table saw regulations, the headline "Time to tell the government... " has a bit of a "storm the castle" tone. Though no reference is made to 'dad burn revenuers' it is effectively appealing to a libertarian/contrarian part of the culture that instinctively opposes the involvement of the government.

As far as Gass's motives, if anyone thinks that the corporate parents of Ryobi, Jet, Powermatic, etc. would be any less aggressive in protecting their intellectual property, s/he is fooling themselves. And they too would do so in a public relations campaign that would falsely stress their pure motives of user safety. The only difference is that, whatever his motivations now, there is strong evidence to believe that Gass was and is substantially interested in increased user safety.

Advances in product safety that do not confer competitive advantage to a single player will be fought by industry. This can relied upon like gravity. And industry will always be grateful for those who cry "Keep your hands off our (insert unsafe product here)."

For profit businesses cannot be relied upon to act in the best interests of their customers (unless the customer is a large shareholder). That's the reality of our economic and political systems. If you doubt that, read about the Ford Pinto, the A.H. Robins Dalkon Shield IUD, the Bjork-Shiley Heart Valve, Guidant Heart Defibillators, Playtex Super-Absorbent Tampons, etc., etc., etc. Without a vigilant FDA and CPSC there would be far more death, injury, and general human misery.

If you want a table saw without this safety feature you'll only be able to buy one used for about the next 40 years.
Posted: 11:12 am on December 2nd

DrBob4390 DrBob4390 writes: For those who have forgotten, this proposed regulation came about due to a lawsuit by an individual who: 1. did not read the safety precautions provided by the manufacturer of the table saw he was using and, 2. did not have any of the manufacturer supplied safety devices installed on the low-end table saw that he was using. As a result, this individual seriously injured himself (DUH!!!).

I must agree with John Como...all power machinery has the capability of maming anyone who does not read and follow the safety instructions that came with the machine from its manufacturer. I disagree, however, with Supermonkey...dovetail/back-saws have the potential of serious injury if the user is stupid enouth to get his/her fingers or other parts of the anatomy in the path of the teeth on the blade. That also goes of chisles, knives and planes. If it is sharp and you are STUPID enough to get your flesh in the path of the moving blade, you are going to draw blood.

Unfortunately, the United States Governmnet cannot regulate stupidity!
Posted: 8:08 pm on December 1st

beem beem writes: I appreciate that, Tom, and understand the editorial separation. However, giving a less than favorable review of a particular power tool is quite a bit different from providing a critical look at the entire power tool industry. Nevertheless, you're right, I have no evidence demonstrating you've pulled punches in this debate as a result and perhaps overplayed that accusation - my apologies.

Having said that, I still disagree that FWW has dealt with the power tool industry evenhandedly. With the exception of your most recent blog, the coverage has been disproportionately focused on the CPSC, the Osorio court case, and Steve Gass (see below). My problem is not with editorial opinions but with sufficiency. I think FWW's overall coverage of the power tool industry's role in bringing this situation to where we are today has been insufficient.

We still haven't seen an interview with PTI representatives or a single story/blog featuring the power tool industry's role in all of this. We do, however, have the other three constituents covered quite well:

Time to tell the government what you think about tablesaw safety (November 29th, 2011, Tom McKenna, senior editor) -

Appeals court upholds Osorio tablesaw verdict: Feds consider landmark safety standard (October 6th, 2011, Asa Christiana, editor) -

SawStop inventor Steve Gass defends the latest tablesaw verdicts (October 6th, 2011, Asa Christiana, editor) -

CPSC Drafting New Tablesaw Regulations (June 15th, 2011, Ed Pirnik, Senior Web Producer) -

Tablesaw Safety Goes Under the Microscope--Again (February 4th, 2011, Tom McKenna, senior editor) -

Defense Outgunned in Osorio Tablesaw Lawsuit (July 23rd, 2010, Patrick McCombe, contributor) -

How to Win $1.5-Million: Lessons from the Tablesaw Lawsuit (June 30th, 2010, Patrick McCombe, contributor) -

More Details on the Carlos Osorio Tablesaw Lawsuit (May 3rd, 2010, Patrick McCombe, contributor) -

Posted: 7:48 pm on December 1st

Jerfi2003 Jerfi2003 writes: I just went to the CPSC site and logged my comment. I would encourage all red-blooded Americans to view this no differently than voting and do their part. We are increasingly becoming a nation of children dependent on our government to "keep us safe". The final ruling by the CPSC will have ripple effects that most of us have never even dreamed about. Don't get me wrong, safety is very important. Let's take this opportunity to keep the government from making a law that we really don't need.
Posted: 11:55 am on December 1st

Tom Tom writes: Thanks for the compliments, beem. But I have to defend FWW against one of your statements earlier:

"FWW like all other consumer magazines is a delivery system for advertisers, and advertising revenues are what generally pay the bills not subscribers. As such, it's never a good idea to piss off your primary revenue source, which in this case encompasses the power tool industry."

To be frank, our business model does not rely primarily on advertising, though it certainly is a factor. To maintain editorial credibility, we have a big separation between editorial and advertising, and have never held back punches in tool reviews because they include items made or sold by advertisers. As a result, we've had advertisers pull their ads because of poor showings in our reviews. Editorially, we have not taken a side in this issue, either; rather, we've tried to present both sides as fairly as we can. And when we send our comments to the CPSC, we will also be fair.
Posted: 11:43 am on December 1st

beem beem writes: Quick note: I hadn't noticed Tom McKenna's blog article, "The Story Behind the Government's Pending Tablesaw Ruling," before posting my earlier response below.

A big thank you, Tom, for providing this informative account before the Dec. 12th deadline. Well done!
Posted: 11:20 pm on November 30th

beem beem writes: Thank you for the response, Tom. I'll just say the following and move on.

This issue has been frustrating because it once again highlights, at least for me, the degree to which the corporate world directly and indirectly dictates the *possibilities* of almost everything in our daily lives. FWW like all other consumer magazines is a delivery system for advertisers, and advertising revenues are what generally pay the bills not subscribers. As such, it's never a good idea to piss off your primary revenue source, which in this case encompasses the power tool industry.

No, I'm not suggesting a conspiracy at all. There's no need for one. What I'm suggesting is just the opposite. It's business as usual, an unfortunate reality that we've all bought into (pun intended) and it seems there's not much we can do about it other than voice our concerns.

There are plenty of so-called bad guys to go around in this drama. It's just too bad that the biggest one in the crowd has been comparatively and conspicuously ignored.

By the way, I'm not at all diminishing the great work that FWW does. Quite the contrary. It's because of FWW's high-quality content and reputation that this particular "delivery system" is so important for all concerned.
Posted: 8:55 pm on November 30th

Fjakobsen Fjakobsen writes: First - let me say thanks for the coverage and providing a link to the CPSC. While I have not decided myself how to comment - I would like to know people's perspective on the following: In my case - I purchased a PM2000 Cabinet Saw approximently 4 years ago. I purchased it because of the reputation, and longevity of the underlying company, vs Sawstop. And I did so - knowing the risks, and having had not one, but two minor "close call" injuries over 20 years, due exactly to what people have mentioned are the key causes - being in a hurry, or carelessness. With this lawsuit driving this kind of publicity, and the potential liability exposure all manufacturers now have based on this precedent, what do you think the odds are that once a technology is decided upon for how to best protect, a "forced recall" will be issued to upgrade all purchases since Mr. Gass obtained his patent?

Also - I noticed thru all the comments that Mr. Gass seems to have no guilt or feelings of culpability in this case or the other pending cases. In my opinion, while he may well have invented how to put all the pieces together into a usable combination, he seems to have maybe of been a little greedy in his licensing agreements. It's interesting that Sawstop has chosen to only release saws to market that have the device, and basically eliminate their litigation risk for injuries. Perhaps Mr. Gass could look to the greater good of woodworking, and develop an aftermarket product?
Posted: 5:45 pm on November 30th

supermonkey supermonkey writes: In the interest of safety, I've decided to sell all my power tools and go back to hand tools. I couldn't possibly cut my finger with a dovetail saw.
Posted: 3:08 pm on November 30th

Tom Tom writes: beem, this is a touchy subject, as you’ve noted. I think FWW has been as fair as possible in our coverage. In FWW issue #224, which comes out after the CPSC’s deadline, I wrote an article that tells the story of how this whole issue developed. Unfortunately our interviews with PTI representatives were used for the print article and never made it online. However, I’ll post the text of that article in a related blog. You’ll see comments from both the PTI and SawStop (Stephen Gass), and get insight into how we’ve gotten to this point with the pending CPSC ruling. You’ll also see some details of the Osorio vs. One World Technologies lawsuit that brought this to the fore.
Posted: 10:52 am on November 29th

beem beem writes: On October 6th, Asa Christiana blogged his interviewed with Steve Gass regarding the Consumer Product Safety Commission's ANPR (advance notice of proposed rulemaking). On his reading, Asa found the ANPR document problematic, containing "many errors and assumptions," which apparently prompted his interview with Gass.

I found the ANPR document, while customarily repetitive and dry, to be exceptionally well researched and methodologically sound. We never really learned from Asa what he specifically found to be erroneous or assumptive in the ANPR report, but we did learn how well-versed and prepared Steve Gass was in answering Asa's "tough questions."

My concern, along with a few other FWW subscribers, centers on the stance of FWW with regard to this issue if not in letter at least in tone. That is, I think it's safe to say that anyone following FWW's coverage of this issue understands that they've been far from champions of a governmental mandate for implementing saw-stop-like safety measures on the power tool industry.

By extension, FWW has been unusually easy on the PTI (Power Tool Institute), which represents the interests of the power tool industry in this matter. This lopsided editorial coverage has been my central concern/complaint from the beginning. Thus far, the journalistic hot seat has been reserved for those pushing for safety regulations on an industry that has predictably ignored a proven, decade-old technology that effectively prevents the most common and devastating of all table saw injuries.

To quell such concerns and clarify his position on this issue, Asa made the following response in a comment on October 9th (

"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."

I just want to reiterate my enthusiasm and support for Asa's upcoming interview of PTI and his commitment to asking the tough questions across the board as a matter of policy. I also hope that this interview will be made public in a timely manner, allowing FWW subscribers who wish to submit comments to the CPSC a more complete picture before the December 12th deadline.

In short, to simply accommodate the PTI by providing a link to their website "to help people submit comments" is a very poor journalistic substitute for doing the real editorial work that FWW subscribers expect. I have no doubt that FWW will do the responsible thing for it's subscribers and all woodworkers who have a stake in this important issue.
Posted: 3:47 am on November 28th

John_Como John_Como writes: What about band saws, "CHOP SAWS", routers.....garbage Where does this end?
Posted: 11:39 am on November 27th

4_me 4_me writes: I totally agree with Ralph Barker
Posted: 7:06 pm on November 26th

mgreene93 mgreene93 writes: The government should keep it's hands off my table saw!!! Soon you want be able to breath without the government having something to say about it. Whatever happened to FREEDOM??
Posted: 7:02 pm on November 26th

pawunder pawunder writes: I fully support an effort to require the use of an available flesh sensing technology or a requirement for the industry to develop and install a substitute technology that would accomplish the same injury prevention purpose. All manufactures should be required to comply by a date certain (no longer than several years out). I view the PTI as a self serving band of companies who have shown little interest in safety in the past. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide a minimum cost add-on riving knife. Most manufacturers provide or engineer in minimal or no safety devices for dust capture and control. I do not believe their whining that costs will "skyrocket" or that tools will "disappear". The manufacturing capacity and output of table saws is concentrated in a few companies and despite licensing fees the cost efficiencies of volume production and sheer competitiveness will keep price impacts to a minimum.
Posted: 3:25 pm on November 26th

georgeconk georgeconk writes: The core technology - the flesh-sensing - has been in the public domain for many years. Gass relied on it. He has patented the braking mechanism. As a patent-holder he can, of course, set a high or low price for licensing. But the mechanism is not a major technical breakthrough, so others can come up with their own designs. David Butler seems to be doing that. See this video:

As to the "stupidity" factor: any one of us can be careless, fatigued, etc. It is more efficient to build in "fail-safe" technology to save ourselves - and others - from ordinary human imperfections.
Posted: 8:44 am on November 26th

Blueskies Blueskies writes: I'm sure that Mr Gass does have a passion for saving our fingers, and I would never diminish his accomplishment in doing that. But Morongo has a great point that others seem to be missing (that included me).

Our patent system is patently screwed up and Mr Gass is in the catbird seat for the foreseeable future by holding the keys to this invention. Any new system that even remotely resembles Mr Gass' will be tied up in litigation for years.

Want to hear about how screwed up our patent system is? Go here and listen to an informative yet very entertaining program that aired on NPR a few months ago:

This should be the focus of every woodworker's ire, not the debate over whether people have the right to take the chance of cutting their fingers off.

Posted: 8:11 am on November 25th

HusbandofaGolfer HusbandofaGolfer writes: I went on the government site to leave my comments but was unsuccessful at the task. After 2 attempts for which I received an error message that the gov site was having problems while both times totally wiping out about 10 minutes of work, I moved on.

They don't really want comments do they?
Posted: 3:53 pm on November 24th

user-3187934 user-3187934 writes: And I ran across a Youtube video alerting me to the fact that Emerson, the current owner of Craftsman radial arm saws, is issuing a free blade guard upgrade, table and handle for my 70's craftsman.Clearly, they don't want to be looking at a $1.5 million settlement against Emerson, like Ryobi experienced.
Posted: 1:28 pm on November 24th

user-3187934 user-3187934 writes: It was the bogus and ad hominem arguments in FWW blogs against Sawstop and its inventor that convinced me to give up my old Unisaw which had been tweaked to perfection and get a Sawstop. Now that I have one, I suspect that Gass didn't mind that the saw manufacturers didn't license his technology; he has created such a masterpiece of design, safety, accuracy and finish that it embarrassingly outstrips Powermatic and Unisaw, even without the Sawstop mechanism.

Even leaving aside the cost and disability associated with hand injuries, the pain is daunting enough.
Posted: 1:22 pm on November 24th

RalphBarker RalphBarker writes: A stupidity-sensing mechanism attached to the mouths of politicians would be far more useful.
Posted: 11:29 am on November 24th

Morongo Morongo writes: As I wrote in the petition, I've seen this agenda before with software designed for plasma cutters in the sheet metal industry.

Granting that patent ended up stifling the industry for 20 years. As long as the patent was in force, newer and better systems held off marketing until the patent had run it's course.

This smacks less of safety than it does of exerting control over a segment of the power tool industry and by virtue of the patent language, discouraging alternative/better systems that may be developed in the interim.

Twenty years is a long time to wait out a patent.
Posted: 12:07 am on November 24th

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