Buy a table saw now while you can still afford it

If you keep up with woodworking tools, you’ve probably heard by now about the Consumer Product Safety Commission looking into ways table saws can be made safer. This stems from a lawsuit filed by an individual who was hurt after using a table saw that had all of its safety devices removed.
I’m upset by this on many levels. First of all, if you remove all the safety gear (which is very good nowadays) from your table saw, and don’t observe basic safety rules, you deserve what you get. Second, there are lots of aftermarket jigs (not to mention shop-made jigs you can do yourself) that make things safer. Third, if you’re too dumb to figure out that you need to keep your digits away from a spinning saw blade, well…you don’t need to be running a saw. So in my opinion, this was frivolous lawsuit that should have never happened, much less have been won.
Now, because this person wasn’t smart or safe, future table saw purchasers will suffer. I’ll go ahead and predict that the CPSC will require more safety gear on table saws. And pretty much the only other thing you can do is add SawStop technology. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s essentially a technology that breaks a circuit (nearly instantaneously) when flesh comes in contact with a saw blade. (The demos are real cute – they use a hot dog as a finger surrogate.) The broken circuit, if you will, disengages the saw and if you happen to have come in contact with the blade you’re left with a minor cut, rather than missing a digit. Yes, it’s good technology. It’s been out a few years and I’m sure countless woodworkers and carpenters have intact hands that otherwise would not. I’m all for it.
What I’m not for is requiring all table saws to have it. Why? It’ll add hundreds of dollars to the cost of every table saw, no matter what level. Why is this bad? You pretty much take certain woodworking out of reach for average people because they won’t be able to afford a table saw. I agree, fingers are priceless. I won’t argue that. But for the hobbyist, it’s just not a justifiable expense. For a pro shop, it is.
And I don’t think this will stop with table saws. Lawsuits will follow for other tools where the blade is exposed (miter/chop saws, circular saws, etc.), which will in turn push the CPSC into action.
I’m not an alarmist, just a realist. And I don’t think this is a good thing.
Published in: on October 14, 2011 at 7:00 am  Comments (1)  

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