Table saws are one of the most versatile and powerful woodworking tools on the market. However, they are also the most dangerous tools, seconded only by chainsaws. National Consumer League (NCL) mentions that a table saw causes tens of thousands of serious injuries every year, costing billions of dollars. It is estimated that around 40,000 Americans go to hospitals every year due to injuries sustained while working on a table saw. Most of these injuries are finger amputations and hand injuries.
Table saw manufacturers install various components to ensure user safety, such as a blade guard, push block, and sensors that minimize injury chances and ensure that you enjoy a safe working experience.
While a blade guard or push block saves your fingers from coming in contact with the blade, they can’t stop the blade if your finger comes in contact with it.
In this article, we will explain how table saws detect fingers and how this technology works.
How do Table Saws Detect Fingers
The latest technology introduced by SawStop, a famous table saw manufacturing company, has made table saws safer to work with. This technology is termed Active Injury Mitigation (AIM) Safety Technology. It stops the blade immediately as soon as your fingers contact a blade. This results in only a slight injury, something that you don’t need to hurry to seek medical attention.
An ordinary table saw can’t detect fingers, and you can’t install the SawStop’s AIM to any other table saw. The structural changes needed to fit SawStop on any other table saw will cost more than buying a new SawStop table saw.
How does Saw Stop Work?
AIM finger detecting technology is based on 4 steps. Let’s see how AIM works.
The detection principle is based on the fact that the human body is an electrical conductor. The blade carries a small current that is harmless to human health. When your skin contacts the blade, the current signal changes, and this change activates the safety system.
An aluminum brake comes in the path of the blade within milliseconds. This forces the blade to come to a complete halt, and the power to the motor is shut off instantly.
Once the blade is stopped, the blade’s momentum drives in downward beneath the table to avoid any more contact.
The process happens in less than 5 milliseconds; this is 20 times faster than an eye blink.
Once you come out of the shock of touching the blade and realize that you have a slight cut on your fingers, you can get back to work in less than 90 seconds. All you have to do is replace the blade and brake cartridge.
The blade and cartridge are a small price to pay compared to your fingers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What other measures can I use to keep myself safe if I don’t have a SawStop Table Saw?
Millions of people don’t have a SawStop table saw with AIM. They use conventional table saws and complete complex projects without getting injured. If you take care of a few things, you can save yourself from major accidents while using a table saw.
- Read the user manual before you start operating your table saw.
- Wear safety glasses, hearing protection, and protective footwear when needed.
- Wear safety gloves when handling blades and wear respiratory masks if you are allergic to sawdust.
- Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s recommendation concerning kickback and how to reduce it.
- Keep your blade clean and sharp whenever you set to work.
- Always use guards provided by the manufacturer.
- Always use a push block and ensure that you keep your fingers at least 6 inches away from the blade.
- Always feedstock into the blade against the direction of its rotation.
- Do not reach around and over moving blades.
- Never feed the sheet faster than your blade can accept.
- Never lift the blade guard when the blade is running.
- Never cut stock with loose knots, splits, or foreign objects such as nails or metal pieces.
- Never leave a running table saw unattended. Always power off, lower the blade and then remove the plug.
Are SawStop table saws worth your money?
SawStop table saws are expensive machines, but they are worth the money if you want to enjoy a safer woodworking experience. It is a great machine for beginners and learners. If safety is your main concern, it is a good idea to buy a SawStop table saw. The performance and cutting power of the table saw are in line with other high-end table saws.
Does AIM work on a SawStop table saw?
Yes. Many people have reported that they have avoided accidents while using the SawStop table saw.
Is there any drawback to using a SawStop table saw?
The biggest drawback is the cost. SawStop table saws are costly compared to ordinary saws, but they bring a decent value for money. If you are looking for a new saw for your workshop, it is a good idea to consider one with finger detection technology.
There is nothing more important than your fingers. Even a slight injury to your hands can cause a delay of days and disrupt the deliverable timeline. Hence, paying a few bucks extra isn’t a bad deal when you have the luxury of ensuring your fingers’ safety.