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Prototype Safety Feature for Bench Saw Answered

I've seen a lot of 'ibbles on how to make bench saws but only a few wih saftey features. I've designed a protoype which I may include in one I'm planning to make. The image shows a simplified version of how it works. I'll be adding a push switch for the motor onto the foot bar so it only operates when its pushed all the way down. I'd like to get your opinions on it and where I could make improvements.


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Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

12 months ago

On the topic of safety features for table saws, I am wondering if you have ever seen, heard of, or read the Wikipedia article for, a product called, "SawStop?"


The curious thing about this invention, is the inventor, Steve Gass, is also a patent attorney.

As a consequence of the fact this invention was invented by a true-believer in patents, this invention has several patents, and it has been mired in patent litigation, pretty much since the original patents were granted, circa year 2000.

So, for the most part, the Wiki article for SawStop (r) is a kind of long saga of patent litigation. Boring, right?

The very beginning of the story is exciting though, because it involves a mutilation defying stunt. I will cut and paste that here:

Steve Gass, a patent attorney and amateur woodworker with a doctorate in
physics,[7] came up with the idea for SawStop's braking system in
1999.[8] It took Gass two weeks to complete the design, and a third week
to build a prototype based on a "$200 secondhand table saw."[7] After
numerous tests using a hot dog as a finger-analog, in spring 2000, Gass
conducted the first test with a real human finger: he applied Novocain
to his left ring finger, and after two false starts, he placed his
finger into the teeth of a whirring saw blade. The blade stopped as
designed, and although it "hurt like the dickens and bled a lot," his
finger remained intact.[7]

Steve Gass kind of reminds me of Robert Chesebrough (1837-1933), the inventor of Vaseline (r), generically called "petroleum jelly" today.

The reason why? Well, both inventors seemed to believe in self-mutilation, as a gimmick to spark interest in an invention.

In the case of Robert Chesebrough,


In front of an audience, he would burn his skin with acid or an open
flame, then spread the clear jelly on his injuries while demonstrating
past injuries, healed, he claimed, by his miracle product.[2]
Impressive, no? He took that show on the road! Burning himself multiple times, to get people excited about his invention!

I know this is a big distraction from your topic, about your idea, but are there lessons these other inventors can teach us?

I was already predjudiced against patents, believing these do more to inhibit innovation and basically stop good ideas from implemented in the marketplace, for 20 years, the period of the patent, at least. That is probably where I was going with my comments on the SawStop orgy of patent litigation.

What is the lesson to be learned from Chesebrough's campaign of intentionally, repeatedly burning himself, just to watch those wounds heal?

Maybe that injuries work better if they're small, and you space them out over a long time, giving those small wounds time to heal?

That is, I suppose, better than the kind of big injuries that can ruin a life, or end it, all at once.

I dunno. Chesebrough lived to be 96 years old. That is pretty old for the era he lived in.

Back to the topic of making table saws more safe, I noticed the Wiki article for "Sawstop" had some numbers regarding how fast it could stop a saw blade. Maybe speed is a metric for comparison? I mean, how fast can your invention move the saw blade away from human hands, and other body parts?