Friday, May 25, 2012

V3.21 - Table Saws: Done with FSBT

We were talking about the use of FSBT on smaller bench top table saws. Those are the lightweight 150 dollar saws that you see flopping around in pickup truck beds, going from job site to job site. Like I said last week, those saws are very lightly built - there just isn’t a lot of steel or bracing inside them and the force of the FSBT would be very hard for them to handle. Now, of course, the makers of those saws could beef up the guts of their saws to allow it to handle the FSBT. Yes, they could, but it’s very likely that the added weight would make the saw too heavy to be easily portable. Not to mention the added costs of doing so. So, if FSBT is required by law, it might put those manufacturers out of business. Sadly, that has never seemed to be much of a concern to any Gov.Co agency. Especially nowadays. We, the people, have given them way too much power over our lives. But I digress, sorry… Anyway, there is talk among the lawyers that handle this sort of thing that the CPSC might just write some new directives and force every saw to have FSBT. On one hand, I’d hate to see it because, as it stands now, the only workable FSBT belongs to Steve Gass. Enacting new regulations that force FSBT to be installed would make Mr. Gass immensely wealthy. Please understand, I have nothing against someone inventing something and the market going crazy over it and them getting very rich from it. (Think: “Pet Rock”) That’s what our country has been about from day one. However, I surely DO have a problem when someone invents something and then does everything within their power to gain the backing of the US Government and have them force manufacturers to buy his product. In my personal opinion, there is something just plain wrong with that. This is not letting the market forces do what they usually do. Unfortunately, it IS the way our society has become. I’m sure that there are some parts of Mr. Gass’s thoughts that have him just drooling at the very idea of the companies that turned down his invention, now being forced to pay him for it. Retribution? Payback? Who really knows. One would hope that his integrity would transcend those sorts of schoolyard shenanigans, but with him constantly being in the CPSC’s face and trying to push them in the direction he wants them to go… well, as I’ve said before, it just stinks. The greater good to mankind would be for him to release all claims to the patents of FSBT. THAT would show his true heart. Too much to ask for? Probably so. Till next time…. Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

V3.20 - Table Saws: Who Loses?

Continuing our discussion… OK, MY discussion… you’re just listening in on my ranting. Flesh Sensing Brake Technology (FSBT) is currently available on the product called Sawstop. That’s all well and good. When the brake engages, it utilizes a replaceable cartridge that I believe costs around $80 to replace. So, let’s say that you have a table top saw that costs you $150 and it is mandated that you install FSBT on it. Currently, a FSBT retro-fit package doesn’t exist, so if a law is made that you cannot use your table top saw unless it has FSBT – you’ve just been legislated out of a table saw. So, OK… someone (be it Sawstop or another company) designs and starts selling a new table top saw that has FSBT included. The first thing that happens, the initial cost of this saw goes up to accommodate the new FSBT. But for the discussion’s sake, let’s just say that some REAL - cheap manufacturer out there finds a way to still sell a small saw with FSBT for $150…and then your brake fires…and it costs you $80 to replace the cartridge… that would be over half of the price of a new saw. Now, seriously, how many times are you going to do that before you throw the thing away? Alright, back on target…So Mr. Gass is ‘helping’ the Consumer Product Safety Commission decide whether to adopt new product rules that require FSBT on some table saws. He hasn’t made a secret of his efforts. This is well-known in the industry. It still smells a bit unseemly, but to each his own, I suppose. Please don’t misunderstand, I believe the FSBT invention is right on par with automotive airbags or seatbelts. It IS a game-changer, but if Mr. Gass’s motives for working with the CPSC were as pure as he would have us believe, it seems to me that he would donate the patents to the open market and anyone could use them…for free. Will we see that from him? Do NOT hold your breath. I believe I’ve read articles that have him saying how this invention was so badly needed and such a great contribution to society, and in the next breath refuse to release it so that everyone could be safer. Sadly, the ultimate loser will be the consumer. How? Good question. As already alluded to, if FSBT is required, the cost of ALL saws will go up. Not good. There are some small benchtop saws wherein FSBT is totally impractical. The motor design, or the ‘guts’ of the saw, may very well not be ‘beefy’ enough to handle the sudden explosion of a FSB…and let me tell you, it is fast, loud and hard when it goes off. It has to be in order to bring a saw blade that is turning around 4000RPM to a dead stop in milliseconds. Till next time…. Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

V3.19 - Table Saws: Suits & Laws

So, where were we? Mr. Gass has started his own company, yet is still participating in hearings of the Consumer Product Safety Commission wherein they are considering forcing every saw maker to incorporate Flesh-Sensing Brake Technology (FSBT) on their products…or they will not be allowed to market their saws. Who holds the particular patents for FSBT? Why Mr. Gass, of course. I have always thought that the surest way to get filthy rich was to create something that the government said everyone had to have, and one could only get it from ME. Obviously, Mr. Gass thinks the same way. Now, one follow up part to this is that once the FSBT exists, you KNOW what is coming next. Never mind that FSBT was only designed for, and works on an Industrial Table Saw. Oh, no. Our society has become so enamored with ‘striking it rich’ by suing someone, that there are now court cases in the system wherein the complainant says they got hurt on their table saw…. Because FSBT was not installed on it. What sort of table saw, you ask? I am so glad that occurred to you. The most famous of these lawsuits pertains to a $150.00 bench top table saw….and I have not yet told you the real punch line. The user REMOVED the factory-supplied guard, used the saw and got cut. Yes, you read that right. The guard was there, the user decided to take it off and got hurt. Not surprisingly, two words come to my mind: “Oh, well”. That this wasn’t just laughed out of the room when they first had a hearing, tells you how stupid some judges are. I wonder… if I decided to remove the brakes from my car and go blasting off down the road and hit a tree and hurt myself…could I then sue the car maker? According to the progression of lawsuits on table saws, I suppose that I could. Seriously tho, back to the idea that because FSBT is available, ALL saws should have it… that is also a bogus idea. There are some autos that have 4 wheel disc brakes. Do they stop better than rear drum brakes? Yes, they do. Should ALL cars be forced to have 4 wheel disc brakes? Probably not. The customer should have the option. Kind of off on another tangent, but I cannot begin to tell you how many times we (old Delta) made a change to a product and customers who had bought the previous model were all over us about sending them the new design. I often wondered how many times Ford sent out new parts to upgrade the older models, when they came out with a new model… Yes, laughing out loud - Not on your best day. We’ll talk more next time… Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

V3.18 - Table Saw: Sawstop part 2

Continuing with our saga about table saw guards and Sawstop in particular; The story, as I lived it and heard it play out is this: Mr. Gass spent a lot of time and invented his version of ‘flesh-sensing’ brake technology and he then proceeded to contact various woodworking machine manufacturers in his efforts to get them to add his brake to their saws and pay him royalties. It might be best to mention that Mr. Gass’ profession is as a patent lawyer. At this point the Sawstop story differs. Gass says that ‘someone’ told him “Safety doesn’t sell”. But according to the manufacturers, Gass wanted way too much money for an untested product. “Untested”..? Yes, because some engineers had some very good points. Such as: no matter how much lab testing is done, there is no ‘test environment’ that will run a product thru the ringer quite like releasing it to the public will. Sawstop was untested technology. Also, before the brake engages, the user gets hurt. Now granted, it is just a scratch, as compared to a possible amputation, but the hurt IS there. That fact scared some folks off. Kind of a side note, but all of the demonstrations I have ever seen of the Sawstop shows the item - be it a weenie or Gass’s finger moved very slowly into the spinning sawblade. In the real world, kickbacks, which probably cause most of the ‘finger into blade situations’, happen in the blink of an eye. What I’d like to see is what the weenie looks like after someone has taken a major-league pitcher’s wind-up and thrown it into the blade as hard as they could. THAT would be a more realistic test, in my opinion. Anyway, trying to trim a long story, no manufacturer took Gass up on his offers. So, as inventors are used to doing, Gass started his own company which featured the Sawstop saw as its headline product. This was great…no one wants your product- start your own company and market it yourself…. But then comes the part that has turned a lot of people off. At some point in the process, maybe before he started his own company, maybe after… Mr. Gass made an appeal to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to have them require that all saws MUST have ‘flesh-sensing brake technology’ on them. The CPSC has the power to force companies to comply with this… and since Mr. Gass owns all of the FSBT patents, he could write his own ticket and be wealthier than Midas in the process. If this strikes you as an ‘around the backside’ way of forcing companies to give him what he initially asked for… you’re not alone. The same thought has occurred to many of us…and the smell is revolting. More next time… Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.