Whirlwind – a New SawStop?

At first glance, and from the initial videos I wasn’t too impressed with this competing product to the SawStop technology, but going a bit deeper there seems to be some significant advantages.

The Whirlwind is another flesh-detecting technology to render woodworking a safer pursuit, but almost immediately the differences come in.  This isn’t a copy of the Sawstop, it is a very different approach, based (loosely) around the common 6″ rule (don’t put you hands closer than 6″ to the blade!)

For one, the original videos I watched gave a blade-stop time of around 1 second.  This has been improved to around 0.25 second which is still a completely different ballpark to the 0.005 second of the SawStop.  However.  The Whirlwind does not require skin contact with the blade to activate, meaning the blade has still stopped well before the hand can reach the blade at normal operating conditions, is non-destructive (vs ongoing false (and real) trigger costs, replacement blades, and brakes of the SawStop), and retrofittable to different saws (which is awesome).

The thing that I found I liked was not the splitter-mounted version of the guard (which has the flesh-proximity detector incorporated), but the overhead version which makes it (in my opinion) compatible with a Suva Guard – a popular and universally usable aftermarket blade guard system.

Suva Guard

(Available from Carbatec fwiw $269)

Back to one point – this is a non-destructive system.  The blade is stopped before the hand can get close enough to the blade, and then the operator can reset the system and restart the saw without having to replace anything.

The lights you see are to focus the operator on the job at hand, and specifically the point where their attention should be.  Dust extraction is integral to the Whirlwind as well (again, visions of the Suva guard)

There are still features of the SawStop that I really like, but in one respect given that I already own a tablesaw that won’t be getting replaced any time soon, the possibility of a retrofittable safety flesh-detecting system is rather appealing.

Unfortunately, the product is not yet available – the company is seeking to partner up with a manufacturer, but at least it seems that it may be a product that will be on the market in the near(ish) future.

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