Bob Lang, Executive Editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, was quoted in yesterday’s USA Today newspaper. He advocates more education for woodworkers about new blade guards, and opposes mandatory technology such as SawStop.
Why do table saw injuries happen?
For the record: I totally agree with Lang’s position, for the following reasons:
- Many, and possibly most injuries in the shop, happen because the person using the table saw removed the blade guard for being “inconvenient”. It is a given that the guard must be removed to make certain cuts; but it also should (must) be replaced.
- The person using the table saw does not know how to use the machine properly; this includes proper knowledge of situations that could result in finger amputation, for example.
- Or the worker is simply too tired, and therefore not paying attention to the procedure at hand.
I have stated in the past that I would be willing to retrofit my table saw with a safety feature that is reasonably priced. What is this price? I would guesstimate in the neighborhood of $100 to $150. Lang estimates that technology such as SawStop will likely increase the cost of a saw by as much as 40%.
I hope common sense prevails
I hope that The Power Tool Institute and UL (Underwriter Laboratories) will develop guidelines that will eventually be adopted by CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Should any guidelines be mandatory? I believe that voluntary guidelines are best, until new and competing technologies to SawStop are developed and implemented commercially. Whirlwind is one such technology I have written about in the past. This will likely contribute to driving down the cost of any technology implementation. Meanwhile, better education is likely to result in significant reduction in injuries at our table saws.
What do you think?
Let me know what you think about this issue, in the Comments section below, or via e-mail — simply click on my signature line below.
— Al Navas