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.

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