Striving For A Safer Table Saw Table saws are the country's most dangerous commonly used power tool. Forty-thousand Americans end up in emergency rooms every year with injuries — 4,000 of them suffer amputations, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Safety advocates say a new technology could prevent most of those injuries.
Special Series

Striving For A Safer Table Saw

The SawStop senses an electrical current in the hot dog. Courtesy of SawStop hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of SawStop

Despite Proven Technology, Attempts To Make Table Saws Safer Drag On

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/542474093/542547036" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

SawStop, a table saw safety tool, senses an electrical current in skin and triggers a brake when a finger comes into contact with the blade. Courtesy of SawStop hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of SawStop

Thomas Siwek, director of product safety at Robert Bosch Tool Corp., demonstrates a newly designed guard for table saws at a meeting with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Industry officials say the new guards make the saws safe. But consumer advocates disagree and are pushing for flesh-sensing technology such as SawStop, which they say will virtually eliminate the worst table saw injuries. Chris Arnold/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Chris Arnold/NPR

The SawStop senses an electrical current in the hot dog. Courtesy of SawStop hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of SawStop

The SawStop saw can sense a slight electrical current that human fingers (and hot dogs) create. When it senses the current, the saw triggers a safety brake, which stops the blade in less than 5/1,000th of a second. Courtesy of SawStop hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of SawStop