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December 8, 2004 5:22 PM   Subscribe

SawStop The videos are amazing.
posted by Mwongozi (55 comments total)

 
I too have marveled at these videos. Nice to see someone else finds them interesting.
posted by derangedlarid at 5:26 PM on December 8, 2004


That is absolutely incredible.
posted by Yellowbeard at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2004


Awesome.
posted by BradNelson at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2004


I heard about this on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday. Apparently, the tool industry has their reasons for completely rejecting this technology.
posted by jaronson at 5:37 PM on December 8, 2004


Yeah, pretty damn impressive, if a tad scrotum-tightening.
posted by scarabic at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2004


if i had this i'd probably HAVE to let it cut me at least once..
posted by glenwood at 5:38 PM on December 8, 2004


I predict that High School woodworking elective classes will become very boring without the essential, eternal tales of who lost what body part last year or the year before.

That, or those pesky "Do not attempt to stop chainsaw with hands or genitals" warning labels will go away.

Cool technology. I still would prefer - obviously - to avoid the rather sizable cut in the first place, but I guess it's better than losing the whole finger or hand.


What? They don't teach woodworking in high schools anymore due to lack of funding? Well, damn...
posted by loquacious at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2004


i was thinking the exact same thing, glenwood.
posted by puke & cry at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2004


jaronson: Did they discuss what particular reason(s) the tool industry gives for not wanting to use the technology?

I can imagine a number of valid or semi-valid reasons. Licensing for starters. Perhaps a false sense of security leading to relaxed safety protocols and more minor injuries. Perhaps also increased liability (funny how that works) for accidents happening from advertised-as-safer products.
posted by loquacious at 5:42 PM on December 8, 2004


Good thing those hot dogs are safe!

If the guy really believed in it he'd use his finger.
posted by joelf at 5:45 PM on December 8, 2004


Actually I use my table saw to cut hot dogs. So I guess I won't be buying one of these.
posted by joelf at 5:47 PM on December 8, 2004 [1 favorite]


joelf wins.
posted by glenwood at 5:49 PM on December 8, 2004


Next up: DrunkDriverStop.

The system automatically detects when the user behind the wheel is over the legal limit of blood-alcohol concentration and sets off the high explosives packed in the seat.

It could happen.
posted by bwg at 5:52 PM on December 8, 2004


If there's any guarantee that this device works, I'm thinking at some point it must have been tested with actual live human body parts. Numerous times. Where did they get the volunteers? And what do you have to pay someone to cut a gouge in their finger and to risk losing it entirely?
posted by Galvatron at 5:54 PM on December 8, 2004


Flander porn.
posted by NewBornHippy at 5:59 PM on December 8, 2004


If it works on electrical conductivity, wouldn't it be convincing enough to touch the side of the blade? I mean, it wouldn't be painless...

Or replace the blade with a sample without teeth....or... something. This is a great idea. My grandfather would love it.
posted by odinsdream at 6:05 PM on December 8, 2004


loquacious:
"The industry counters that the technology is unproven and may not withstand heavy use, and notes that it would cost tens of millions of dollars to retool assembly lines to incorporate it.

Industry sources say the major manufacturers also worry that adding the safety brake to some table saw models but not others would make them vulnerable to lawsuits."


(From the NPR link above^^^.)
posted by jaronson at 6:09 PM on December 8, 2004


The false sense of safety aspect that loquacious mentioned makes me a bit nervous. On one hand, someone learning to use a saw seems to be exactly the sort of person this thing is intended for, but they're also the sort of person that needs to develop a respectful fear of the thing's ability to take off a finger or hand.

I wonder what sort of bad habits it's possible to pick up when your wood shop class has one of these and your apprenticeship doesn't.

Galvatron: Someone who has already lost the functional part of a finger might not mind an additional nick for a hefty cheque and a sense of preventing the next guy's loss, maybe? Or there's always dead folk.
posted by mendel at 6:13 PM on December 8, 2004


Look, I am all for a hefty sense of fear when using power tools. I agree that this technology could lead to a false sense of security or even stupid action (I can just see the Jackass video now). However, surely you can't tell me that inventions like this are a bad thing?

This is right up there with flying cars and moon rockets for sheer fifties sci-fi dream inventioness. I look forward to a day when I can teach my children to have a major fear of power tools but know that, most likely, they will be largely safe using them.
posted by Yellowbeard at 6:24 PM on December 8, 2004


odinsdream: I don't think you could take shortcuts on the testing very easily. For example, a toothless blade would be a poor test, because it does not reflect the reality that blade/flesh contact is intermittent.

mendel: you could be right about people with a preexisting injury. But I don't think cadavers are an option. The device measures electrical characteristics of whatever is being cut; I would think electrical characteristics of the human body change significantly in death.
posted by Galvatron at 6:27 PM on December 8, 2004


So where can I see the finger test videos
posted by punishinglemur at 6:35 PM on December 8, 2004


This just promotes drinking while using power tools.
posted by willc at 6:38 PM on December 8, 2004


Thanks, jaronson, I should have checked the link, and the reasons were pretty much what I expected.

(And FYI - and I'm not trying to be snarky or ungrateful or anything - but please don't use TinyURL on Mefi. Those links get recycled eventually, effectively breaking them for later use, and could end up exposing us all to anus or something else scatological later. Plus, we can't tell what the link actually is, and a lot of people won't follow the link because of that.)

The NPR link is included here for posterity.
posted by loquacious at 6:42 PM on December 8, 2004


I cut off half of my right thumb with a table saw. It was on the job so I received a hefty workman's comp check. It was almost worth it. That is all.
posted by pepcorn at 6:43 PM on December 8, 2004


Not really, because after it fires it costs about $100 to replace the brake cartridge (?) and the blade. No one would set this off on purpose very often if they were the one who had to pay to reset it.

And there is no doubt in my mind that if I ever buy a table saw it will have this technology.
posted by Songdog at 6:46 PM on December 8, 2004


Friend of mine could've used these brakes on his Maxima over the weekend, heh.

Absolutely amazing. 5ms to stop a saw.
posted by socratic at 6:47 PM on December 8, 2004


If there's any guarantee that this device works, I'm thinking at some point it must have been tested with actual live human body parts. Numerous times. Where did they get the volunteers? And what do you have to pay someone to cut a gouge in their finger and to risk losing it entirely?

Actually, they likely use cadavers. A good friend (and former employee, and probably MeFite) used to work at a private vehicle safety testing facility in Charlottesville, VA. All they did all day was hit corpses with heavy things moving fast, or vice-versa.
posted by waldo at 6:49 PM on December 8, 2004


Heh. Am I the only one who went straight to the video, and wondered what the hell was going on? I thought the hot dog was really some sort of "special" material that somehow made the saw stop and pushed it back down.

(yeah I'm a dumbass shutup)
posted by neckro23 at 6:49 PM on December 8, 2004


Interesting point, songdog. The site did mention that something "engages" the teeth of the blade. Considering how fast the stop occurs, it must surely damage the blade. I'm wondering if it also damages the motor. Perhaps there's some kind of clutch mechanism to make that damage unlikely. It's a great idea, as I said before, even if the machine or blade does suffer each time the system is triggered, though I would have to guess it would be designed to minimize such damage.
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 PM on December 8, 2004


I don't agree with the false sense of security argument. Who is going to be careless about running his hand into a table saw just because it's only going to shred the first eighth of an inch?I'd be more worried about false positives, but as shown in the videos it's freaking great technology.

Where's Quonsar with the nicked wiener joke?
posted by planetkyoto at 7:09 PM on December 8, 2004


I have heard of it being tested on a finger. .someone (from another agency) I work with saw it.

My organization is buying some of these. .the downside is that they are backordered until next April. It is like three guys in a barn, now, assembling them.

It only takes one amputation to make a believer out of someone and Ihave investigated three of them. . .

If the saw DOES need to stop, the blade and the brake mechanism need to be changed out. .there is a honecomed piece of aluminum that slams into the blade, stopping it. . .and a serial port in the mechanism. . . .

People, kids especially, will at times do stupid things, and buying some of these saws will pay for itself in the long run and hopefully prevent a lot of suffering for kids and anguish for their parents.
posted by Danf at 7:25 PM on December 8, 2004


Yeah but you still get cut though.
posted by plebmaster at 7:26 PM on December 8, 2004


I suspect most table saw related injuries are due to kickback. I was narrowly missed recently by 4 foot long board that flew twenty feet across the room and stoved in the side of a wooden scrap bin. It would definitely broken ribs or worse if it had hit me.

That said, if I ever let my kids work on a tablesaw, it will have one of these gizmos on it, regardless of what the "industry" says. Unfortunately right now you can only get them on the single model table saw; they need to sell an aftermarket conversion kit.
posted by srt19170 at 7:40 PM on December 8, 2004


I'm not sure how this missed MeFi for so long. I was reported at least nine months ago...
posted by esch at 7:40 PM on December 8, 2004


Who cares esch, the point is these are the strongest hotdogs ever made available to mankind.
posted by Peter H at 7:52 PM on December 8, 2004


I was wondering if the hot dogs are frozen. Because if they're frozen then maybe that eighth of an inch becomes a quarter of an inch in nice warm finger flesh.

Its good and I'm sure there are some nine fingered people out there that would gladly trade a quarter inch gash for their finger.

Me? I'm still going to treat my table saw, mitre saw and circular saw like they want to kill me even when they aren't plugged in. Just like my pistols and bear traps.
posted by fenriq at 8:32 PM on December 8, 2004


I'm not ragging on Mwon here, it was great of him to notice that it hadn't been posted before.
posted by esch at 8:37 PM on December 8, 2004


There are electric bear traps?
posted by esch at 8:38 PM on December 8, 2004


I'm still going to treat my table saw, mitre saw and circular saw like they want to kill me even when they aren't plugged in. Just like my pistols and bear traps.

Ha, sincerely no offense meant, and I'm not sure why but somehow the set to Straw Dogs just vividly came to mind. Paging Mr. Hoffman!
posted by Peter H at 8:47 PM on December 8, 2004


Airbags? Yes, I heard that once upon a time an airbag caused a lawsuit ... proof that we should all be driving around with metal dashboards!
posted by R. Mutt at 8:48 PM on December 8, 2004


Bah, i'm going to choose to ignore you naysayers and lust over this hardware for all of the fears and phobias that it would allow me to overcome.

i desperately want that bandsaw. To not fear losing a thumb would allow me to make some really cool things i think.

Maybe not, but it's still really cool tech.
posted by quin at 8:53 PM on December 8, 2004


How in the HELL does this work? I mean, it cuts through the wood just fine. Then all of a sudden it stops? Well, what if I were cutting very light wood? How would it know it's not a finger? It's leprechaun magic, I tells ya', stolen from ye wee folk.

This is awesome.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:57 PM on December 8, 2004


It's leprechaun magic, I tells ya', stolen from ye wee folk.

I've got a sawbuck saying it wasn't Owen Meany, CD.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:00 PM on December 8, 2004


Well what the hell does it do to a perfectly good saw blade? If you use proper saw safety, you don't need that.

I have no idea what proper saw safety is.
posted by jefbla at 9:26 PM on December 8, 2004


Civil, apparently skin has a unique electrical impedence. And when skin contacts the hot dog, this impedence (not sure if that is the correct word) is transferred. A microprocessor in the brake unit constantly monitors conditions.

I carried a blade and brake mechanism around for a few weeks, showing people and trying to get my district to buy off on them . . I appear to have succeeded. . .

It costs 80 bucks to make the saw work again after a braking incident.
posted by Danf at 9:44 PM on December 8, 2004


It costs 80 bucks to make the saw work again after a braking incident

Still cheaper than a hospital bill and a worker's comp/disability check.
posted by mrbill at 10:59 PM on December 8, 2004


Much less expensive than a workers comp check. The industry will be all over this if there is some investment oppourtunities, which is very likely.
posted by Keyser Soze at 11:39 PM on December 8, 2004


I dare you to put your wang in it.
posted by eatitlive at 12:13 AM on December 9, 2004


Civil, apparently skin has a unique electrical impedence

Oh yeah, that's really clever!

(I clearly just went to the site and downloaded the videos, thinking their technology was some State secret or something and obviously didn't read the article.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:55 AM on December 9, 2004


I'm still going to treat my table saw, mitre saw and circular saw like they want to kill me even when they aren't plugged in. Just like my pistols and bear traps.
Very very good advice. Even if the device was 99.999% reliable, the outcome of treating tools such as these with anything but the utmost respect is often a new nickname (eg "lefty").

Very cool though, both the gadget and the link.
posted by dg at 2:20 AM on December 9, 2004 [1 favorite]


im a bit behind here, but yes, this is amazing. great link.
posted by jonvaughan at 6:35 AM on December 9, 2004


Lots of you seemed to have missed the last video. This is a high-speed video of the braking mechanism impacting the saw. As you can see, it's nicely shredded.
posted by Mwongozi at 6:37 AM on December 9, 2004


This mechinism is pretty expensive. It adds a good $600 to the cost of an $1800 saw. There website compares their saw to the PM66 and General cabinet saws which makes it look competative but the saw stop saw is not in that class. It should be compared against the General International or Jet saws.

That said it does work are described but your average hobbyist would be much better served using that $600 to buy good dust collection. I can see a big demand in the school market.
posted by Mitheral at 6:55 AM on December 9, 2004


The most significant downside (for both the saw industry adopting this technology and someone purchasing the machine) is the false positives. You're gonna be pretty ticked when something legitimately being fed through the blade triggers the safety mechanism. You are now out of business until you spend the money for the the replacement parts (and install them).

It seems counter-intuitive, but I bet there are liability concerns too. There is a difference between selling a product that is inherently unsafe (chainsaws, table saws, etc.) and one that has a supposed safety device that fails.
posted by spock at 4:43 PM on December 9, 2004


I just read the review of this saw in Fine Woodworking magazine (print version: too tired to see if it is online). I'd been following the development before that.

What impresses me most about the production saw, is not the technology to stop the blade but that the designer addressed a number of other safety issues: a riving knife that raises and lowers with the blade and a blade guard that apparently works. The riving knife (splitter) is what prevents kickback (mentioned by srt19170) and a blade guard is the second line of defense against hand-blade contact.

The furniture school I attended had a number of added features to each table saw for safety -- the stock items were simply inadequate. Still, we had many occasions where we removed those features, included to make speed tenons. (Safe, really, but looks incredibly dangerous!)

I would look for this to be less necessary on a band saw, as less force is being applied to the piece to move it into the blade, so your hand is less likely to meet disaster. On the other hand, I met someone who lost part of finger on a belt sanding station. How you ask? He nicked his finger on the belt, promptly stuck his finger in his mouth, forgot about it... the finger became infected and a portion was then removed to prevent the loss of his hand.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:23 PM on December 9, 2004


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