I recently watched a video where a user cut a block of wood on a SawStop table saw and then reached into the blade to remove the cut piece. This activated the blade brake. Without their SawStop table saw’s flesh detection and active injury mitigation technology, that user surely would have suffered serious injury.
The user in the video demonstrated poor table saw technique and extremely poor judgement, and they were saved from their inexperience and maybe even overconfidence.
Would that user have made the same bad choices on a different table saw? Perhaps. A blade guard would have still been in their way, unless they removed it as they did with the SawStop.
I watched a different video, where an experienced woodworker shared about their table saw hand and finger injury. At the end of the video, they briefly mentioned that a blade guard or SawStop tech would have helped to prevent the injury, and then they question whether listening to a podcast had distracted them and contributed to their blade contact incident.
Table saws injuries can happen to anyone – beginners, professionals, and seasoned woodworking hobbyists alike. People were suffering table saw injuries before SawStop tech came along, and there are still many table saw injuries today.
Some table saw injuries might result from accidents, mistakes, a one-time lapses in judgment, or inexperience. Some injuries might be preventable, while others can be hard to predict.
I think that everyone would agree that all table saw users should learn and develop safe practices, but this won’t prevent all types of accidents.
Some detractors make the argument that SawStop safety tech creates a safety net that could lower some users’ guard, possibly leading to poor or unsafe practices, some of which can increase the chance of kickback. They argue that SawStop safety tech can lead to complacency, and this can increase the risk of injury.
Others point out that although a SawStop might help to prevent serious blade-contact injuries, it won’t do anything extra to stop kickback-type of incidents and injuries. Kickback is responsible for a lot of table saw accidents and injuries, including some that involve blade contact incidents.
All of the table saws that I’ve seen in the US market today – SawStop and otherwise – have anti-kickback safety tech, usually in the form of a riving knife and anti-kickback pawls. When used alongside safe table saw practices, these accessories can help to reduce the risk of kickback.
So while SawStop table saws might not go any further in preventing kickback than other brands’ models, it doesn’t do any less.
Does SawStop’s safety tech get in the way of skill-building?
I can understand the anti-SawStop arguments, about how it can make users complacent and potentially less safe, but there are flaws in the logic.
How many times will a user make an avoidable mistake when each brake activation costs $89 per cartridge, plus the cost of a ruined blade?
“It breeds complacency.” Perhaps this might sometimes be true, but couldn’t the same be said about experience?
What’s your take on this?
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong position to take, and am looking to better understand the “complacency” arguments.