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SawStop – Table Saw Brake October 22, 2006

Posted by Unreasonable in Matters Technological.

This seems so unlikely to work that I’m amazed somebody tried it.

How it works: The blade is electrified. The brake system has a sensor circuit monitoring the voltage. Since wood is an insulator, cutting wood has no effect on the voltage. Fingers conduct electricity well. When a finger (or hot dog) touches the blade, the voltage changes. The brake system shoves a block of aluminum up into the blade stopping it instantly. At the same time the blade is pulled down into the saw. You can turn the brake off to cut metal.

SawStopThe inventor tried to market the brake to table saw manufacturers, but couldn’t find any takers. It adds about $100 to the cost of the saw, and I think it requires some modifications to the saw design. He’s given up on licensing the technology and is now manufacturing his own saws (if I remember right, Jet is really manufacturing them, and SawStop is nameplating them). In addition to the brake the SawStop saw has more safety features:

  • riving knife to reduce kickbacks.
  • key on the on switch to make sure it stays off when you’re not around.
  • hands free paddle for the off switch.

It looks like a high quality saw. I used to drool over the Powermatic 66, but now I want this one. The 3 HP cabinet saw starts at $2800. There will be a contractor saw, but it’s not available yet. In the future they also plan to put brakes on band saws, circular saws, and miter saws.


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