Bare Hands Blog

 Feature Tool – SawStop Table Saw

By Shane Thomas

Unlike many of the common tool brands you think of today, SawStop focuses on one tool, the table saw. Perhaps that’s why it is one of the top selling table saws in the market. Or possibly, it is the one of kind safety technology SawStop has engineered into their table saws. You may have seen their popular hot dog safety demonstration. If you haven’t, a quick goggle search of “hot dog sawstop” should take you right to it. In it, they use a hot dog to represent a finger and pass it through the table saw blade. Miraculously the table saw detects the hot dog and stops on a dime, resulting in no damage to the beef frank. It is truly impressive how well this safety feature works. Most impressive is when SawStop creator, Steve Gass, demonstrated using his own finger. That is true belief in his product. This video can also be found online. 

So how does it work? The SawStop blade carries a small electrical signal through the blade. Any conduit that encounters the blade will alter the signal and trigger the blade brake system.


Given that the human body is a conduit, a finger would result in a change to the signal and the triggering of the brake system. Wood on the other hand, is not a conduit. Once the system is activated, an aluminum brake springs into the blade, while the blade’s angular momentum drives the blade down, beneath the table, and power is shut off. This all happens at incredible speed. The blade is stopped by the brake in less than 5 milliseconds according to SawStop’s website.

The SawStop is not just about its advanced safety features though. The company is proud to illustrate the engineering detail that gets put into their table saw in order to provide peak performance. Their website boasts that the sliding crosscut table, “is built from 6061 T-6 aluminum. That’s aircraft-grade. Why? Because that’s what we’d want in our tools. We figured our customers would want the same.”

New to Table Saws?

A table saw is a must have for a serious wood shop. When working on projects at home, I have often bothered my neighbor to borrow his table saw. The miter saw I have at home cannot perform all the cuts I need for my at home projects. The most common cut I need a table saw for is when I want to cut a long piece of wood vertically. This is often called ripping wood. To rip wood on a table saw you rise the blade of the table saw to the height of the wood. Then, using the rip fence as a guide, pass the wood across the table and through the blade. The rip fence is a wall that runs parallel to the blade, allowing you to keep your wood straight as you make the cut. The table saw can also be useful for crosscuts, which would cut your wood horizontally or dado cutting which can cut a groove into the wood.


First, you want to make sure you have the proper attire. Safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask are all a good start. You also want to make sure not to wear a ring, loose clothing, or jewelry when operating this tool, like many other tools. When using the table saw it is best to use the rip fence to guide your cut. Free cuts are more likely to cause an injury. Also, using a push stick helps to keep your fingers away from the blade, and if used properly can help prevent kickback of the wood.


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