Finger vs. Table Saw

In a match-up between a table saw, who do you think the winner is? My dad taught me at an early age to be extremely careful around power tools, especially his table saw.  When I was a little kid (and even into my early teen years), I would avoid even going out into the garage if I heard the whine of my dad’s table saw. I had a fearful respect of the tool that could turn a rough length of treated lumber into a anything from a fence post to a plank for the backyard deck, or even into a couple pirate swords for my big brother and me  (although mother was never fond of these particular creations).

But when my dad was at that saw, I was always careful not to disturb him. I could easily imagine his thumb flipping away from his hand along with a scrap of board. I even think blood was shed on the Altar of the Power Saw on one or two occasions, but this were usually just from flying splinters. Fortunately, my dad still has all ten fingers.

When I was old enough, even though I was a bit fearful, he taught me how to use that table saw, and I eventually became fairly adept at cutting whatever he asked without wasting a good piece of wood or losing a digit. But that uneasiness is always there when I hear the whine of a power saw.

But all that could change.

I recently came across a video on YouTube of the SawStop. In a nutshell, SawStop saws can detect the difference between wood and flesh by measuring the conductivity of the material being cut. When flesh is detected, an emergency stop is triggered, and the blade is halted within a few milliseconds, fast enough to prevent serious damage to whatever appendage happens to have found its way in the path of a spinning blade.  Of course, the emergency halt mechanism destroys the blade and the “crash cage” that absorbs all of that energy,  but the $60 replacement cost is probably worth at least one finger saved.

The video below illustrates the sheer awesomeness of the SawStop.

Father’s Day is coming up, and I’m thinking hard about getting one of these gadgets for my dear old dad, who taught me how fun and dangerous power tools can be. Then again, I’m a dad, too. And Father’s Day is coming up.

Learn more about the SawStop at