(semi-OT) SawStop : Hard Information

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There's a lot of heat in the debate over SawStop, but not a lot of data. In an effort to do something about this, I went surfing.
Since there is remarkably little hard information available on SawStop -- aside from what we get from the inventor -- the best source we have for both sides of the debate is probably the public comments on SawStop's petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to mandate the use of the device on table saws.
There's page after page of stuff that mostly translates into 'good idea' or 'bad idea', but there's also some hard information both from SawStop's inventors and the people who are unconvinced or in opposition.
First, a block diagram of how SawStop works is at: http://www.sensorsmag.com/articles/0901/10/main.shtml
The CPSC filings are at:
http://www.cpsc.gov/LIBRARY/FOIA/FOIA04/pubcom/REDUCEPT1.pdf (the petition, index and the first of the comments)
http://www.cpsc.gov/LIBRARY/FOIA/FOIA04/pubcom/REDUCEPT2.pdf (perhaps the most interesting section, containing the comments of Underwriters Laboratories and various companies and industry groups)
http://www.cpsc.gov/LIBRARY/FOIA/FOIA04/pubcom/REDUCEPT3.pdf (a short continuation of section 2)
In reading this over several interesting things come to light.
1) UL refused to act on SawStop, saying it needed more development and testing.
2) In its petition to the CPSC, SawStop misrepresented UL's concern, claiming UL said it didn't have the ability to test the device.
3) According to SawStop there is already an industrial chop saw on the market which uses a quick-retract safety mechanism. (I haven't looked up the references yet.)
4) As a technical matter, granting SawStop's petition would have violated the CPSC's mandate by establishing a design rather than a performance standard.
5) Despite claims made here to the contrary that no one is working on saw safey, the saw manufacturers have had an on-going 'multi-million dollar' program to develop a safety device to prevent major injuries. One difference is the manufacurers have agreed to pool their patents to make any such device widely available.
6) According to SawStop the royalty they are asking is 8 percent of the wholesale price of each saw. (NB: Based on my experience this is a rather high royalty for a 'big-ticket' item like a table saw. 1 or 2 percent is more common, I believe. --RC)
7) According to the power tool manufacturers, saw makers who tested SawStop reported an unacceptably large number of false responses -- both false positives (tripping unnecessarily) and false negatives (not tripping when it should. They also found a lot of other design issues and pointed out the SawStop would have particular problems with direct-drive or geared saws.
8) According to SawStop most woodworkers would need more than one module since the modules are matched to the blade type. A dado blade needs a different module from a regular blade, for example.
Anyway, read through the filings and you'll have a much better idea about SawStop.
--RC
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On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 07:15:03 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@TAKEOUTmindspring.com wrote:

[snip for space]
How DARE you burden us with facts!!!
Great work, actually. That 8% royalty is huge, IMO and IME. It would be "merely" rich if it were for the wholesale price of an entire product that the licensor had invented. Or 8% of it imputed value within the TS. For it to be on the entire price of the TS, to which the sawstop inventor had contributed much less than the full value, places it in a land I've never heard of before. Perhaps if TSs were entirely fungible. And perhaps if the license was exclusive. But for a non-exlcusive license on an improvement (versus an entire product), it is quite interesting. FWIW, if that is truly the bottom line deal that the sawstop people offered behind closed doors, then it tells me that the guy has a peculiar sense of reality -- at least in the realm of licensing, which leads me to color my view of anything else I might hear him say. Thanks for taking the initiative to dig this stuff up and to review it. -- Igor
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Yeah, I know. Violates the Internet Code or something. :-)
One of the wonderful things about the World Wide Web is the way it lets you go fishing for information on the spur of the moment. Potentially it has the ability to add a whole new dimension to our discourse.

Thank you for your kind words.
--RC
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igor notes:

Yeah, it is, partly because it amounts to about half the mark-up the retailer gets for stocking and selling the saw (mark-up on tools in the major table saw price range run from maybe 11% to 17%).
Charlie Self "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." Sir Winston Churchill
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On 17 Dec 2004 10:01:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

The question is, from what number?
I've got several large dealers, including the actual bricks and mortar for two large web vendors, in the neighborhood. The webbie's stores actually resemble indoor flea markets more than a spiffy retail operation like Woodcraft. In fact, the floor demos at one of them are often put together finger-tight! Both stores were in business before the web as discount tool dealers, both also have Home Depot stores across the street.
Both web vendors sell brands like Delta, Powermatic, and Jet locally for 20% less than the other guys, often at lower prices than Amazon / Tool Crib. The last time I checked, neither web vendor had filed as a 503(c) with the IRS. <G>
Barry
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Barry responds:

I don't know how they do it. Power tools in general have lower margins than hand tools and accessories, and the larger the tool, generally as above, the lower the margin. Of course, there are always exceptions, and some of these small dealers may band together to get a special deal better than that the larger dealers get (sure!). It's also possible that they stocked up when the manufacturer was offering the dealers a sale.
I don't see an HD across the street as necessarily a negative for a tool dealer. Increases interested traffic in the area.
Charlie Self "He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." Sir Winston Churchill
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On 17 Dec 2004 13:59:30 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

Neither do they!
One of them has a sign at the traffic light out front that says "Attention Depot Shoppers..."
Barry
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Barry ...
<<I've got several large dealers, including the actual bricks and mortar for two large web vendors, in the neighborhood. The webbie's stores actually resemble indoor flea markets more than a spiffy retail operation like Woodcraft. In fact, the floor demos at one of them are often put together finger-tight! Both stores were in business before the web as discount tool dealers, both also have Home Depot stores across the street.>>
I know one is Coastal. Who is the other?
Lee
--
To e-mail, replace "bucketofspam" with "dleegordon"



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On 17 Dec 2004 10:01:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

That's getting close to the auto industry range. I wonder if there are volume discounts and/or rebates ? "High end" audio gear (which can run into the 6 figures) and expensive flyfishing gear is usually in the 25 to 35 percent range.
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wrote:

$8000 bicycles can run 35%.
Barry
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Ba r r y wrote:

(Seriously) How do you spend $8k on a bicycle? I recall saving to buy a $36 "Sting Ray" knock-off in about 1968, and spending about $300 for a Liberia 10-speed in 1977. $8k is much more than just adjusting for inflation... ;-)
-- Mark, who has a $4k laptop and $3.5k desktop because of the features required by a software developer
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Mark Jerde wrote:

...
Ask Lance, et al.
Custom-built alloy frames are a good start...
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Mark Jerde wrote:

Well, a stock Trek Madone has a suggested retail price of about $7600. Custom can get expensive.

--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 00:13:28 -0500, "J. Clarke"
The owner of the shop I work at would dance a jig if we could sell an out of the box Madone SSL for that. <G> Once we hit the $7000 line, most customers seem to want a Calfee or Seven with custom geometry, or a Colnago, Look, etc... This means a whole lot more work for us, laying out the entire build.
We typically sell a Dura Ace equipped Madone SL for ~$5300, it seems that not a lot of people want a $7600 Trek.
Barry
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On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 03:04:20 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

A $3-4000 titanium or carbon fiber frame, $2000 on the tippie toppie drivetrain, $1800 for carbon or titanium wheels, and maybe another $500-750 on sundries like computer, pedals, saddle, handlebar, tires, etc... A heart rate monitoring system and or power tap, sometimes with altitude data, can run $200-900. Some of these bikes are so light (sub 14 pounds), they're under the limit for races like the Tour de France.
The Seven Cycles bike that John Kerry was often photographed riding was probably $5500-6000 new, possibly more, as every Seven is custom fit and built for the individual rider. The off the rack carbon Trek Fuel 100 mountain bike that Bush crashed was probably $4500.
Personally, I ride a Trek carbon bike, with wheels I built myself, that lists for about $3500. I can't tell the difference between my bike and the 2x priced bike when riding. I _can_ tell the difference between a $2000 and $3500 bike.
FWIW, Calfee Designs now makes a carbon fiber tandem, with custom geometry to the riders, that lists for almost 20k. High end bicycles can get as crazy as Harley's, only the owners often are in better shape. <G>
Baryy
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On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 03:04:20 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

Q: How do you spend double on an item via Ebay? Q: How do you spend $10,000,000 on a small jet and another $8,000,000 to outfit it?
A1: You don't shop around to determine value first. A2: You get the newest, fanciest alloys/gearing/cabling/seats/ suspension/tires/electronics/veneers, etc. which are always 4x-400x the price of the normal goodies.
-- Sex is Evil, Evil is Sin, Sin is Forgiven. Gee, ain't religion GREAT? --------------------------------------------- http://diversify.com Sin-free Website Design
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On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 03:04:20 GMT, "Mark Jerde"
You get a good discount ?
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Thanks for taking the time to post all of this.

From the text : "It is always on, unless the operator activates a bypass switch to allow cutting of metal or metal-cla materials."
This answers one of my questions. I wondered how it would allow an operator to change the blade of the saw without firing the second the operator touches the blade. My assumption was that when the power switch is off, the sawstop is disabled. I am not sure if this is the case because some injuries happen after power is turned off and the blade is free wheeling to a stop. So I guess maybe the sawstop is not disabled when the power is off and to change a blade you are supposed to activate the bypass switch? Does it make sense to offer / legislate a safety device with an automatic, built in, easy to use bypass? Maybe. Maybe not.
Frank
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Frank Ketchum wrote:

One would hope that it doesn't fire if the saw is not spinning (considering that it has a computer onboard that's really not that hard to implement). The bypass switch is for cutting metals and other stuff that triggers the sawstop. Of course you may not know that something is going to trigger it until after you've replaced a cartridge.

--
--John
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Right, except I don't recall seeing any sort of sensor which monitors whether the blade is in motion or not. It looks like the only sensors are the ones which detect a capacative change in the blade (ie, a finger or hotdog touching it). It would also need to know if the blade is spinning or not. This is why I believe the bypass switch is there. I of course am uncertain which is why I raise the question in the first place.
Frank
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