The Benefits of the SawStop System

We frequently get asked by the customers at our lumber yard in Franklin County, MA for recommendations about various types of woodworking equipment for all kinds of purposes. Over the years we’ve recommended all kinds of saws, drills, jigs and just about any other type of equipment you can think of. We routinely recommend table saws that use the SawStop system as saws that give you the utmost safety and comfort when woodworking.

SawStop is based out of Oregon, and was founded in 1999. In the nearly 20 years since, the company has developed a sterling reputation for its patented automatic braking system that stops a saw in its tracks within milliseconds if it senses a body part, such as a hand or finger.

This is an important feature to have on your table saw, as the table saw is far and away the most dangerous woodworking tool you have in your shop. This is because of the way you use it—the operator of the table saw is holding the saw rather than the wood, which means if you’re not being careful enough, you could guide your fingers into the saw as well as the wood. Some statistics indicate there are about 10 finger amputations per day that occur as a result of table accidents in the United States, so clearly this is an issue that needs some attention.

Why the system is so beneficial

The SawStop saws apply a little bit of electric voltage into the saw’s blade. The system constantly monitors the current running through the blade, and if the saw notices a change in the current (which occurs if, for example, a body part comes into contact with the blade), then it activates the automatic braking system. This shoves an aluminum brake block into the blade, which absorbs the energy of the blade. This all is able to happen because of the difference in electrical conductivity that exists between wood and skin.

An oscillator on the saw powers a 12-volt, 200-kilohertz pulsed electrical signal, which gets applied to a small plate on one of the blade’s sides. Through the process of capacitive coupling, that signal then gets transferred to the blade. The plate on the other side of the blade then takes that signal and sends it to a threshold detector, so if someone comes into contact with the blade, the signal dips below the threshold. If the signal gets lost for more than 25 microseconds, the detector then fires.

Manufacturer information indicates the saw will stop in five milliseconds or less when the current changes. Its angular momentum then forces the blade to retract back into the table. This results in the operator of the saw only sustaining a minor nick, rather than a more significant injury that could require stitches, an amputation or other serious medical intervention.

For more information about the benefits of SawStop systems, or to learn more about any of the products we carry, contact Forest Products Associates today at our lumber yard in Franklin County, MA.