Woodworkers: have you had your fingers saved by a SawStop?

Several years ago a company began marketing a line of table saws called SawStop, with an ingenious mechanism that could distinguish between wood and flesh. If flesh made contact with the spinning sawblade, a brake would simultaneously stop the blade and use its own momentum to retract it below the tabletop in a fraction of a second, inflicting nothing more than a nick. Impressive demonstration here. I’ve never seen the system get tested with an actual finger before - until later in that video, at the 4:00 mark. However, he does it in a very controlled manner, just barely lowering his finger tip against the top of the blade. A real-life tablesaw screwup is likely to happen with fingers moving quite a bit faster than that, e.g. during a kickback or a stumble of some sort. I wonder if the system can still retract the blade in time to avoid a severe injury in those cases.

The saws are expensive - several thousand dollars instead of several hundred dollars. I’m sure some of this covers R&D, but I’ll bet a good portion is for product liability insurance. Either way, I don’t own one.

Do you? Have your fingers been saved from damage or amputation by this saw? Curious to hear your story.

The failures may have a bit of trouble typing a reply. :smiley:

Reported for possible spam.


I can’t tell if that’s an ingenious pun, or if you really believe I’m shilling for SawStop.

Why would this be spam? Machine Elf is a long time poster asking a reasonable question.

I don’t know if anyone can demonstrate that they saved a finger because of a SawStop but if I was a professional woodworker I’d want one.

Machine Elf, the costs of Saw Stop cabinet saws are comparable to similar equipment. I don’t know if they make smaller units, but quality cabinet saws start in the thousands of dollars. Rockler sells a 3HP 10" Saw Stop for $2900 , a Jet 3HP 10" sells for $2295. The $600 difference could easily be accounted for in the quality and utility of the machines, and of course the Saw Stop not cutting your fingers off.

ETA: I guess the spam remark could be humorous.

I’ve seen articles on Sawstop. I’m dubious that the blade could stop quickly enough to avoid significant injury.

this manufacturer lists rpms for their blades and gives a formula for SFPM (surface feet per minute). I guess thats how fast the blade is actually turning. Lets just say that blade is spinning fast. :wink: Even if Sawstop works in a 1/8 second, that blade will still chew somebody up.

I don’t think they’ve ever said you’d be injury free. That’s why it’s difficult to determine if someone actually saved a finger, they might not have severed a finger on a conventional saw. Still, it seems likely that that someone has ended up with a cut instead of an amputation since these saws have been out for a while and are being used.

I haven’t considered one, me with just a few hours of table saw usage per year (if that much) I can simply be careful. Someone using a saw frequently day in and day out is more likely to avoid serious injury using one of these. Nobody wants to lose a finger, but a single finger is a minor injury in the trade. There are plenty of guys with no fingers left on one hand or worse due a slip or trip, or hard as it is to believe, simple inattention.

Sorry, I’m withdrawing that.

This inquiry might be a decade or more behind-the-times.

A good many years ago, one of the in-depth news programs on network TV (20/20? 60 minutes?) had a feature about an apparent rash of lawsuits by professional woodworkers against their employers.

The gist of the feature was that there was a law firm watching Workers Comp reports and focusing on table-saw accidents, then helping the injured workers file big award lawsuits against the company owners. The meat of the claims was that, by not retrofitting their equipment with a Saw-Stop device, the owners were to be blamed for the worker’s damaged hand.

The law firm was basically breaking even on their trial wins and losses but was generally making a net profit off the research, which was paid for by – you guessed it – the Saw Stop manufacturers.

The network news feature was basically exposing the practice as ethically questionable. They were suggesting that the ultimate goal of the research + lawsuits was to scare the woodworking industry into buying Saw-Stop retrofits or replacing their existing equipment with Saw-Stop machines.

After that expose, the Saw-Stop lawsuits started being decided against the worker, with a lot of judges saying there’s just no device that can substitute for proper tool usage habits and the kind of training and experience that qualifies a person for a job in the woodworking industry. [As someone else has already noted above, the Saw-Stop is an expensive unit and a more expensive retrofit; one that the average hobbyist can’t afford and learns to do without – by learning proper work habits.] So while the worker could collect insurance for the accident, they couldn’t sue the employer for failing to install an expensive retrofit (or stand-alone machine) that the worker would not have needed anyway if he/she were using his/her brain and following standard shop training/practices.

Whenever we make something foolproof
Someone starts making a better fool.

Cool gadget, but apparently useless for chopping up a body Mafia-style.

that’s funny.

produced by IBM ViaVoice********

The device works within milliseconds.

The big problem is, it’s destructive to the saw, so although it’s a nice idea, it’s too expensive for everyday use (IMHO).

The hotdog demo answers this, I think - the Frankfurter is moving pretty fast into the blade, and only suffers a tiny graze - fingers are a little bit tougher than that, so should fare a little better.

I guess in the extreme case that the saw was running and you tripped and dived at high speed onto the running blade, fingers-first, you might still get a bit of a cut.

Did you watch the video linked in the OP?

I know a woodworker who uses one - he’s blind.

It’s only a $60 repair. If you can afford thousands for one of those saws, you can afford $60 if it saves your finger from being amputated. Medical costs from sawing your finger off are going to be more than the cost of the saw. Unless you’re a total klutz, how often are you going to run your fingers into a moving saw blade?

Twice. :smiley:

I’ve personally known two people who have lost portions of fingers on table saws. I don’t have the blade-stopping technology, but am extra-vigilant when using my table saw.

When they demo them, they use a hot dog. And the hot dog doesn’t have a scratch on it. (And if you go to a dealer with intent to buy, I bet they’ll ruin a $60 blade for you).

The video demos are impressive.

I’ve cut myself before just handling and changing a saw blade. The teeth are so sharp. Doesn’t take much contact at all.

But, I can see this device saving a lot of fingers. The only concern is people still need to be extra cautious around saws. Never depend on any safety device to save you.