Friday, August 30, 2013

V4.35 - 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 (at 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. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

V4.34 - 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 s-l-o-w-l-y 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 table 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…and it just doesn’t seem ‘right’.

More next time…

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

V4.33 - Table Saw: Guards ‘n Sawstop

Last week we mentioned fences, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at one of the Table Saw’s most important safety features - the blade guard. There are several components of a blade guard. When talking about a conventional blade guard, there is the splitter, the housing, the mounting brackets and the anti-kickback fingers. One of the newer guard features that has come on the scene recently is the riving knife. While the riving knife has been featured on European saws for many years, it’s relatively new to the USA.

Pretty much every woodworker will agree that conventional guards get in the way and are generally a pain in the caboose, but the bottom line is – they DO work. If you use them properly and allow them to do their job, they will prevent you from injuring yourself. Sadly, most woodworkers think they are too smart, too experienced, too ‘whatever’ - insert your own descriptive phrase that means ‘Those are for other folks not me’ - to need one. That’s when they get complacent and find themselves missing a finger or worse. Guards are not just for dummys. As we used to say in the Navy, most safety rules are written in someone’s blood. Guards fit this saying very well. One can be sawing along and have a kickback which throws their hand into the blade and poof, all of a sudden, there is a stump where a finger used to be. It’s NOT a pretty sight. Guards WILL prevent that, but one has to be willing to actually USE them.

Nowadays one cannot talk about guarding of saws without mentioning a newfangled invention called “flesh-sensing technology”. The background of this is an invention of one Steve Gass and it is found on saws of his creation that are known as Sawstop. (note: for a video of how this works, just Google “Sawstop hot dog”)

The invention itself, is kinda kool, but the politics surrounding it have left many a woodworker confused and some even a bit hacked at Mr. Gass. Once you see the video, I’m sure you’ll be impressed. You’ll see a hot dog slowly passed across a saw table - directly into a spinning saw blade, then, faster than you can saw ‘wow’, the blade will disappear with a loud BANG! Then you’ll see the side of the wiener and it will have a small cut on it. The hot dog represents a person’s finger, which would normally be cut severely and it will only have a small scratch on it. A truly ingenious device that can, and has, saved many a digit, I am sure.

BUT…the method of how this invention has been presented to the market has soured many a folk. Details next time…

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you

Thursday, August 8, 2013

V4.32 - Table Saw: Drives and Fences

Ok, back to the mission at hand - Mr. Table Saw. We had introduced the Table Saw and left off talking about how the motor is connected to the arbor. One thing I might mention, there are several table saws that use a ‘universal motor’ (this motor has brushes inside it, just like your electric hand drill) and some of those motors have a cogged drive belt inside the motor unit. (most of them have reduction gears, not a belt) This gives some folks the opportunity to claim that the saw is a ‘belt-drive’ saw and cheat unsuspecting buyers. Now, technically, they are correct, but in the world of table saws, a universal motor that uses a drive belt is NOT the same thing as an induction motor, with a v-belt and pulley drive system.

Ok, to continue our saw drive information; the v-belt and pulley drive system has certain advantages over direct-drive systems. For instance: A- the maximum thickness of wood that can be sawed is greater, because it is not necessary to keep the motor down to allow for motor clearance under the table. All that is needed is room for the arbor pulley and that is a lot smaller, so the arbor itself can get closer to the bottom of the table - therefore, the blade can cut deeper. B- It is easier to change from one motor to another in case of motor failure or in case the saw is transferred from one shop to another with a different power supply. C- A belt-drive saw does not coast as long as a direct-drive saw when it is turned off. This adds to the safety of the belt-drive saw. D- Problems with the saw motor or drive system are far easier to troubleshoot on a belt-drive saw. E- If the saw motor is a true ‘direct-drive’, meaning the blade is mounted directly on the motor shaft AND the motor is an induction motor, it will be a quieter running saw. But if the motor is a ‘universal motor’ with a gear reduction drive, it will be much, much louder. The belt-drive saw is almost as quiet as the direct-drive.  

There are two methods of accurately guiding the workpiece past the blade: a rip fence and a miter gauge. The rip fence is usually guided by, and mounted to bars that are fastened to the front and rear edges of the table. On some smaller saws, the rip fence is mounted on the table edge itself. In either case, the front rail or front table edge will have graduated markings that tell how far the rip fence is from the blade. The rip fence is used for all ripping operations and is secured during sawing operations by lock knobs or clamp handles.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

V4.31 - Howdy, Mr. Table Saw

Yes, “Mr. Table Saw”…one of the brightest, shining stars in any wood shop, and one of the most necessary. In fact, most wood shops would be out of business if their table saw vanished.

Table saws have been known be various names such as: bench saws, variety saws or stationary circular saws. The table saw is one of the oldest known stationary power tools used in woodworking. It is estimated that better than 80 percent of all woodworking involves sawing, so the value of a clean-cutting precision tool for this purpose is of great value. Anyone who has used a handsaw making a cut and then used a table saw to do the same job knows the value that a powered table saw brings to the operation. Not only is there an increase in production and a decrease in expended effort, there is also a huge gain in accuracy because the machine is designed to minimize the possibility of human error.

The table saw IS the basic machine in any woodworking shop for performing the fundamental operation of “Straight Line” sawing. It is not a difficult tool to operate. Plain ripping and cross-cutting come naturally to most operators, and other jobs requiring more know-how are easily learned. In fact, there are only six basic saw cut in all of woodworking: rip, bevel rip, crosscut, bevel crosscut, miter and bevel miter. All other cuts, no matter how intricate, are combinations of these basic cuts.

The size of a table saw is determined by the largest diameter saw blade that it will accommodate. Popular sizes for home shops and schools can range from 8 to 12 inches. Table saws for industrial use can range in size from 14, 16 or up to 24 inches. Saw cutting capacity is determined by the blade size. For instance, a 10-inch saw will usually cut thru wood 3 and one-quarter inches thick; a 12-inch saw will cut to 4 and one-eighth thickness, with the blade at 90 degrees. The operation of the modern table saw is simple. The saw blade is mounted on a threaded shaft called an arbor that it turned by a motor. Some smaller saws have the blade mounted directly to the motor shaft. The blade projects through a table on which the work is rested. The arbor must be tilted to cut bevels, chamfers and certain types of miters. There is a handle to raise and lower the blade, a device to lock the blade at any degree of tilt or height and a scale to show the degree of tilt. Saws that have the blade mounted directly to the motor shaft are called ‘direct-drive’ saws. The arbor of most saws is coupled to the motor by means of a belt and pulleys.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.