More SawStop Debate

I know that the SawStop technology seems to evoke a lot of debate.  A surprising amount of debate.

And I just know even mentioning the topic again is asking for trouble, but so be it.

Putting aside ALL the politics, the way it was initially marketed etc etc.  There is one line that comes up often from the negative corner that I am going to call out.

The claim often expressed is that SawStop technology will lead to complacency in the workshop/workplace, to the detriment of other safety equipment and practices.

I cannot imagine that this is the case.  If someone has invested in SawStop technology, they have already demonstrated a willingness to spend significantly more for their safety and other users of their workshop.  Someone who is typically complacent about safety equipment (or has an opinion (I’m not saying right or wrong here) that the safety equipment they have decreases their overall safety because of how it changes their relationship to the machine) I put to you is already neglecting / not using the safety gear that came with their machine anyway.

In some cases I will agree that the design of some of this so-called safety equipment is so bad that you are better off without it, but I hope that those who are deciding this are more qualified engineers than the product designers, or the legislators.

For example, even on my TS10L, which is an awesome machine, with excellent guarding (near identical to the guard on the SawStop as it happens), had anti-kickback cawls that I felt were substandard – they were too heavily sprung and actually caused more dangerous situations than not having them at all.  So they went, and I retained the riving knife with blade guard fitted, and use MagSwitch featherboards instead.

But back to the SawStop technology.

“SawStop technology will lead to complacency in the workshop/workplace, to the detriment of other safety equipment and practices”

I strongly disagree.  And any owners of SawStop are welcome to comment about their experience with this.  My reasoning is simple: would you decrease your normal practices wrt safety equipment on a tablesaw simply because of the existence of blade-stopping technology?  Especially when triggering it will, and does result in the destruction of your saw blade (and a decent one is worth $120+ (and if you use a SawStop, why would you use a cheap crappy blade?  I have compared many blades, and with respect to those who have disagreed with me in the past on this, I personally have not encountered a blade under $50 worth owning (I have also found blades up around $140 not worth owning either, but there you go)).  It also results in the destruction of the mechanism, again worth over $150.  Would you really change your work practices because of the inherent safety represented by SawStop and put $250+ at risk? Or would you continue to work as you always have done, as safely or as dangerously as ever, but with the backstop of the blade break? (sorry – had to use the pun!)

No matter how safe your car is with airbags, do you stop wearing a seatbelt?  Do you suddenly care less if you are likely to ram into an obstacle, or do you find you care just as much because that airbag will help save you, but your car still gets totaled, and you end up with a face full of rapidly inflating expensive pillow (and even if you don’t pay for it because you have insurance, you know you do pay for it with higher premiums – airbags cost money when they deploy, and the insurance companies are the last people to carry anyone else’s expenses!)

Can I controversially put to you, that the only people arguing that SawStop leads to a degradation of  shop safety practices are people who do not own one?  What would be really interesting is if someone who once strongly argued that viewpoint found themselves with a SawStop, and whether it really resulted in what they feared.

Anyway – that’s my 2c

I don’t own a SawStop, but I’d definitely love to have one in my workshop – a saw that allows all the current safety equipment that I use, with an additional electronic monitoring and powerful blade-stopping backstop when all else goes pearshaped – why in the world wouldn’t I want that additional non-intrusive technology?

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