Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Table Saw and a Rant on Sawstop

In my last post I alluded to my saw no longer being parallel to the rip fence.  So this past weekend I did some scroll saw work that I needed to complete and worked on my table saw.  I have to admit the fix was not easy to figure out.  I first looked at the blade being parallel to the miter slot.  It was off by about .05".  Not a lot but since I had the equipment set up I fixed it to .01".  This actually made the blade to the rip fence worse. I was out of adjustment on the fence by over an 1/8".  One of the best things I have learned, is the best reference on tools are the instruction manuals.  So I pulled it out and looked.  It said if I had run out of adjustment on fence to take it to a certified repair shop.  So my thought was if I was going to have to replace it then I might as well try and fix it.  I have DeWalt contractors table saw with a rack and pinion fence system.  I figured I had jumped a tooth so I loosened a couple of bolts moved over one tooth.  This gave me enough adjustment to fix the fence.  It was surprising how easy it was to jump the tooth.  So I really tightened everything down.  The table saw was one of the first tool purchases I made so it is over 15 years old and I have adjusted it once.  It is still making saw dust.
The goal, one of these days, is to upgrade to a cabinet saw.  I would like to have the flesh detection technology.  I still have all my fingers and have had no major injuries with a table saw, but this is just an added layer of protection.  That being said, I have looked at SawStop table saws and their technology.  When they came out, I was skeptical. When a person won a lot of money for being injured because he was misusing a table saw, I was pissed.  It all came down to the fact that his saw did not have the flesh detecting technology on it.  This was before the contractor's saw was even out on the market.  Bosch, just recently, advertized that they would be releasing a contractor's saw with flesh detection technology that will not destroy the blade.  I was excited, finally, SawStop had some competition and hopefully bring down the cost and stimulate the development in other tools.  Making this technology more accessible to the general public.  It now just came out SawStop is suing Bosch for patent infringement.
I have to admit, the flesh detection technology has saved many from serious injury.  I work in a large scale cabinet shop in the sample shop.  Although my team has not dropped a blade, I know of several injuries that were avoided within the company.  I have no problems with the technology, I have a problem with the method to which SawStop is forcing themselves into law.  They have tried to get legislation and laws passed.  To my knowledge they are stalled in bureaucratic discussions indefinably.  I also have a problem that thousands of people get injured on table saws for doing stupid things are suing for millions.  I am a firm believer that one needs to know how to properly use the equipment they use.  I have a problem that SawStop is going unchallenged in development and marketing.  These saws are still outside the budget of a DYI'er.  I also believe they missed their biggest market, large manufacturer.
In my sample shop I have two table saws, one a SawStop, mandated by OSHA, and the other is a panel saw.  I feel the panel saw is much more dangerous than the cabinet saw.  It is much easier to get you hand near the blade and the pieces being cut are much larger.  There is no flesh detection technology available on these saws yet.  I have to get rid of the panel saw and get something that has this technology for the sample shop.  Thankfully, a company just licensed the technology and will selling a panel saw in the fall.
So what is my opinion on SawStop suing Bosch, I hope Bosch wins.  I want to see competition in the market.  SawStop has had a good run and now they need a little pressure to improve and drive costs down.  I have nothing against the products of SawStop.  I am actually considering them when I upgrade my saw, however I would like to see some other options.  This is one of the places were I think the patent has suppressed technology and slowed the development of this technology in the woodworking arena.

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