My answer would be that only you can answer that question. The good thing
is, if you decide to spend the money, you're not compromising on the saw
from everything I've read. I'm a Kelly Mehler disciple and believe that a
person cannot be 100% focused on using proper technique 100% of the time
over the course of their working life. And even when using proper
technique, accidents happen. Sometimes it results in a part flying across a
room (done that), sometimes it results in a kickback (see Stoutman's recent
experience), sometime it results in a finger getting nicked, and sometimes
much worse. In my opinion, if I had the money available, I'd spend the
extra $$ to get the SawStop.
When common sense and caution fail us, as they do all of us at one point
or another, the safety device would be nice to have.
I however can't get over the greedy inventor's attempt to legislate his
device into every saw in the US. When his invention wasn't snapped up by
all of the major manufacturers as he assumed it would, he lobbied to
make it illegal to manufacture or import saws without a safety device
(his being the only one that would meet the requirements) installed.
We've all heard this anecdotally. How much direct knowledge do you
really have of the inventor's greed and disdain for humanity?
Even if he lobbied to have the device made mandatory, maybe it
was because of his own blood-draining experience and was completely
Meanwhile, manufacturers of everything we consume lobby AGAINST
consumer safety, encouraging the government to let them use more
dangerous components and make more wasteful products. Do you have
a car or truck? How altruistic do you think the vehicle manufacturers
Well, we could certainly debate this ad nauseam. Please note that I did
not say that he had disdain for humanity, and if you choose to believe
that his motives for having his device mandated by law were completely
altruistic, perhaps you might consider that he did not offer to give it
away; he offered to license it.
Suffice it to say that I personally am tired of having new laws passed
every time some special interest decides something is in their or
everyone else's best interest.
Mike Berger wrote:
I have read a summary by a reviewer of what was reported as a summary
of an hour-long telephone interview w/ the inventor/principal of
SawStop which essentially recounts his/their supreme disappointment w/
the failure to achieve a licensing arrangement w/ any of the existing
vendors. Unfortunately, what wasn't revealed was any of the details
behind the position or requirements of the licensing to allow for any
judgement of greed or any other motive other than to know that no
agreement came to fruition. There was, apparently, an agreement w/
one manufacturer that led to a signed a document but something (also
undisclosed) caused that agreement to also fall through. It is open
record of the petition filed subsequently (still unacted upon but not
rejected as I understand it). One can not, of course, unerringly
abscribe motive to action, but certainly it appears at least
superficially as though a business plan was to try to force
accepatance rather than enter into production independently.
As for the red herring of the automakers, it isn't their job to be
altruistic--they're a business who's objective is to provide a product
attractive enough to find a market and to be able to do so at a
profit. That, of course, is SawStop's objective, too.
In April 2003, sawstop filed a petition with the Consumer Product Safety
Commission to make SawStop-like technology standard on all table saws.
If adopted by the CPSC, this ruling would carry the weight of law, and
make illegal the sale or manufacture of any new table saws without this
And I wonder if the recreational woodworker might be better off. In
the good old days people love to talk about, there were basically only
good tools. No cheap imported junk. If you wanted, needed, a tool to
do a job, you paid for it and got a quality tool. The tool had to pay
for itself because it was not cheap, like all the imported junk today
seems to be. You would end up with fewer, but much higher quality
tools. And you might learn to use those fewer tools more. Which is
more productive: four $2500 tools that work, or twenty $500 tools
that don't work?
I have a range of tools. And for the most part the higher priced,
quality tools work well and I am happy to use them. The lower priced,
imported from SE Asia tools don't work as well and I am always
thinking about replacing them. Maybe if the cheap imported tools did
not exist, I would be saved from myself.
Hard to say. Your example of four $2500 versus twenty $500 is a bit extreme
perhaps, and somewhere in between lies the truth. If all the tools were the
same quality and adjusted price as in the good old days, I wonder how many
of us could not afford to be in this hobby at all. I started out with a
cheap benchtop saw, later upgraded to a Delta contractor saw If I had to
start off with a $2500 saw from the start, there would never have been a
They filed a petition. Do you really think it rationalizes
your original comment as quoted below? Do you have inside
information on how much was being asked for royalties?
I'll bet you use an unsafe table saw just to spite them :-)
> I however can't get over the greedy inventor's attempt to legislate
this device into every saw in the US. When his invention wasn't snapped
up by all of the major manufacturers as he assumed it would, he lobbied
to make it illegal to manufacture or import saws without a safety device
(his being the only one that would meet the requirements) installed.
It's pretty clear from the sequence of events and from interviews that
the original business plan did not include manufacturing saws but
licensing the technology and that the prime inventor and his investors
envisioned a much more receptive audience from the major manufacturers
than they received.
That the petition was filed at the time it was and would have had the
effect if enacted upon of legislating the requirement to use their
device (as there was/is no other that would meet the criterion laid
out in the petititon) would have certainly provided them w/
significant leverage to obtain the licensing agreements they hadn't
been able to achieve otherwise.
One does, of course, have to impugn motives, but it's relatively easy
to understand how the conclusions are reached. Whether they're truly
accurate or not isn't so easy. "Greed" perhaps has a stronger
connotation than the true motive force, but it certainly isn't
difficult to conclude that there was a strong interest in gaining a
return on the significant investment which had been made in the
product and the (what must have been almost overwhelming)
disappointment and undoubtedly some anger over not having it accepted
One has to presume that if the licensing fees were sufficiently low
one of the manufacturers might have bought it simply as a competitive
edge whether they actually chose to incorporate it in a product or
not. That, of course, wouldn't be in the best interest of the
inventor/investors, so one again has to assume the fees were high
enough to at least be part of the decision process in deciding to
reject the technology in toto. Of course, it's likely that the
licensing costs were only a small part of the overall decision -- I
personally expect that the consideration of potential liability issues
was more than likely the overriding factor that ended up being a "deal
breaker" but I'm also sure you'll never get a manufacturer to agree to
So, my take is that "greed" is perhaps too simplistic a total
characterization but I'm almost equally upset of the technique of
trying to use legislation/regulation to force the acceptance of a
product as the poster to whom you're responding. I'm for the
marketplace settling such competitive issues, not the regulators. Now
that they have entered the market on their own I've begun to mellow a
little, but I still fret over what CPSC may eventually do w/ the
Nothing at all. It's entirely obvious that *any* company of merit using
tablesaws in its business will be forced by the insurance industry to adopt
the Sawstop or a competing technology. It's already happening. Considering
the litigiousness of American society, it will happen much sooner than
later. There's just too much liability not to do otherwise. We're not so
quick to head into the courts up here in Canada, but it's happening here
too. Ask Robin Lee if he's replaced his fleet of tablesaws with Sawstops
yet. Last Saturday after seminar with Peter Boeckh at the Toronto flagship
store, I spent a few minutes examining the Sawstop in the next room.
I think you over estimate insurance companies. If there is an
"industry" where the pressure would be on to use the SawStop or
something similar I would think that high schools and Vo-Tech schools
would be it. The combination of very inexperienced users and low
"worker" to supervisor ratio would seem to me to create an environment
where liability would be high. However I can assure you that none of
the representatives of the 4 insurance companies that quoted on my
district's insurance required, or for that matter had ever heard of,
the sawstop - I asked each and every one of them, and also the
insurance broker that was working with us to obtain this year's
I'm not trying to rationalize. One assumption is that they're doing this
for the greater good. Another assumption is that they're trying to make
a buck. The fact that they attempted to make their invention the 'law of
the land' could be an action spawned by either motivation.
The fact that they were licensing it for $$, not placing it in the
public domain, supports the latter. That they were trying to FORCE the
public to license their product via governmental coercion after their
efforts to market the device failed - that is what ticks me off.
I have no inside information on how much they were asking in royalties.
I do however have Google; in at least one instance they were asking 8%.
Reasonable? I can't say. Apparently the big manufacturers didn't want to
pony up that much, or perhaps it had more to do with liability concerns.
I do still use an unsafe saw. Not to spite them, but to spite the evil
saw. My ever-sore, tingly, disfigured, sawn-to-the-bone left thumb is a
constant, nagging reminder each and every time I turn the saw on to keep
it, and all body parts attached to it, safely away from the spinning
blade. It's a very effective safety device, albeit an expensive one.
I would pay for a sawstop device, but only if I had the ability to
disable it when necessary. It still won't handle wet/green wood without
Besides... what if I WANTED to cut some hot dogs on my Jet? Can't do it
without buying a new Forrest blade and sawstop cartridge every time.
I don't dislike the sawstop device, or any other safety device. I do
dislike, despise even, being strong armed by someone who wants to sell
me something. Call me libertarian, but I believe that letting the market
- AKA peoples spending decisions - determine what products make it into
I'll decide for myself what safety devices are right for me. Not some
bureaucrat or snake oil salesman.
And after all that, sawstop found some investors and are now producing a
good quality, safe saw. They'll probably do very well financially. That
should have been the path they took first.
Mike Berger wrote:
The cost/risk analysis is certainly weighed heavily in the favor of
prevention by the high cost of a single incident...
My thought is if I were buying for a commercial shop and certainly if
I either were going to have employee(s) or others besides myself using
it I'd consider it almost a given.
For home shop it gets more subjective -- usage typically is way down,
time pressure of production, etc., are generally far less, etc., so
risks _should_ be lower. OTOH, there's the possibility of less
experience/familiarity, may be more likely rather than less to make a
poor choice of operation or how to most safely perform a given
operation, so risk _might_ be as high or even higher...
All in all, if have the budget, from what I've seen of the saw at a
single show and from reviews, seems hard to say you could go wrong
with going that way. The only negative I've ever heard (other than
the diatribe kind of stuff) was one reviewer a couple of years ago
commented that his test machine turned off on its own a couple of
times while using it--not a hard-stop false firing, simply the on/off
switch dropped out. One would presume this was either an isolated
faulty switch or the problem has been resolved by SawStop by now--I've
certainly heard no more about it.
IMO, $0.02, ymmv, etc., etc., ...
Those False Stops could be tough! I was told that replacing the module
after a STOP runs about $65,00 and I'm sure there is shipping and tax
added to that. BUT then I did see a live demo and sure looked like it
would be hard to find that "smarter idiot" to defeat it.
(from an idiot that filleted a finger tip himself)
My .02 worth
I'd like to see how much the contractor saw version ends up costing,
now due out at the end of the year according to their website. Plenty
of saw for a home shop so long as it has a good fence on it.
Have you ever seen a sawstop on the used market? They don't have
any dissatisfied customers that I've ever heard of. If you can
afford to pay the extra, you're right -- one injury prevented will
make it worth all the additional cost and more.
Howard Swope wrote:
The quality of the saw is excellent, you won't be sorry having it as a
saw. As far as the safety mechanism, there's always a lot of
discussion on how necessary and/or worthwhile it is. Someone who
practices safety to begin with should never need the SawStop mechanism
because their fingers will never be anywhere that they could be
harmed. Further, lots of people have reported false trips of the
mechanism and at about $200 per trip, that can add up since you have
to replace the cartridge and blade. If you don't have an extra on
hand, you're out work time as well.
In the end, if it's worth it to you for the peace of mind, then do it,
you'll be happy with the quality of the saw and hopefully, you'll
never need the SawStop mechanism. Lots of us though have been doing
this for decades and still have all our fingers and toes, just because
we know what we're doing.
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