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Woodcraft Supply, LLC, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of woodworking tools and supplies, announced on March 30, 2015, that they had added the SawStop Jobsite Saw to their product line.

SawStop table saws come with flesh-detecting technology that stops the blade from rotating within 5 milliseconds of coming into contact with skin, significantly reducing the risk of injury. Inventor Steve Gass demonstrated the technology to major table saw manufacturers in 2000, but none of them took him up on his licensing offer, so Gass developed his own product line and started selling his safer saws in 2004.

Woodcraft stated in a press release that they were pleased to offer customers the SawStop patented safety technology in a portable table saw.

Safer Saws

In 2010, woodworker Carlos Osorio was awarded $1.5 million in damages for his personal injury lawsuit against Ryobi saws. Osorio claimed Ryobi was negligent for failing to implement SawStop-like safety technology on their products, which would have likely saved him from losing a couple of his fingers and having to go through months of medical treatment and therapy.

Most saw manufacturers have continued to resist using SawStop or similar safety technology on their products, claiming it would make the saws too expensive for consumers, and also noting concern about increased litigation.

Woodcraft stated that the SawStop Jobsite Saw would “bring an added level of safety to a work site away from a shop setting, such as for home repair and maintenance,” and added that the saw was perfect for the “space-challenged woodworker with a small shop or garage work area.”

Woodcraft already offers several other SawStop products on their site, including cabinet, contractor, and sliding crosscut table saws.

Bosch Offers Competing Technology

Other personal injury lawsuits followed Osorio’s, with plaintiffs claiming that table saw manufacturers needed to upgrade their safety technology. Manufacturers have been feeling the pressure, but so far, none have followed in Steve Gass’ footsteps—until recently.

Bosch just announced a new product called “Reaxx,” a table saw that includes a safety mechanism similar to SawStop. There are some key differences between the two, but both stop the blade from causing any significant injury to the operator.

Whereas SawStop senses skin via an electric current and releases a braking system that stops the blade within 5 seconds and also drops it below the bench, the Reaxx uses a cartridge device that fires when the blade senses skin, dropping the blade below table and killing the power to the saw. SawStop sacrifices the blade, as the braking technique bends it, but the Reaxx system saves the blade. Rather than stopping it, the technology just gets it out of the way and lets it come to a gradual stop under the table. The system can be rebooted in less than 60 seconds, whereas those using SawStop must replace the blade first. Reaxx does have a limit on the firing cartridge, however—after two uses, it must also be replaced.

Regardless of which system is used, both allow the user to come away with minor injuries rather than losing fingers or suffering severe avulsions because of a kickback or other problem during cutting. Both are also paving the way for additional saws that meet upgraded safety demands.

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