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OUCH!!! Gilpin's discussion of using wood with defects as a focal point reminds me of what I take now to be a huge mistake: a couple of decades ago I was tasked at work with removing a small-to-medium sized persimmon tree that had died from a severe borer attack. In the process of sawing it up I realized that it was intensely figured. My reaction?? "too bad it's trashed by those bug holes...". You may pin the "kick me" sign to my butt now.
When SawStop was introduced, I was working for an engineering firm which did accident investigations and expert witness work on products liability cases involving table saws. Here are some thoughts based on my experience there.
The tablesaw is the most versatile tool in the woodshop, and as a result, the most dangerous. Every tablesaw safety device except the SawStop device either limits the versatility of the saw in some way, or is defeated by one or more common modes of operation.
Because it can protect the user from blade contact injuries during all modes of operation, the Sawstop represents an excellent value for the safety-conscious woodworker (and perhaps an even greater value for the non-safety conscious!) It is, however, expensive, and therefore problematic for manufacturers in the competitive marketplace. putting the device on a current product amounts to an admission that all previous designs are dangerously defective; putting the device on only some models invites a similar comparison with non-equipped models. From a products liability standpoint, the manufacturers are damned if they do adopt the technology, damned if they don't.
I personnally anticipate that my next tablesaw purchase will incorporate the SawStop technology. For the time being, I will continue using my little Makita jobsite saw. When I purchased it used many years ago, the owner gave me the guard a couple of days after I purchased the saw. It still sits in my shed, having never been mounted on the saw, to my kowledge.
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