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Bosch develops tablesaw with blade-brake safety

For over a decade SawStop has gained dominance in the tablesaw market with its unique flesh-sensing, blade-stopping safety mechanism. And until now, no other manufacturer has had any similar technology on the market to compete with that. Today Bosch announced it will launch this fall Reaxx, a 10″ job-site tablesaw with a flesh-sensing blade-drop safety mechanism. It will sell for $1,499 (MSRP). I got a sneak peek at this saw in action during a media event hosted by Bosch in February, but could not officially comment on it until now. It’s quite impressive. To see the saw in action, watch this video provided by Bosch (note: turn down the volume).

The key to Bosch’s safe saw is a device that uses similar technology that Bosch’s auto-parts division uses to deploy air bags in automobiles. (Nice to have sibling companies sharing technology.) With this saw, when the blade senses a finger (or any flesh), the device fires a cartridge that immediately and oh-so-speedily drops the blade completely below the table surface, leaving the user with only a slight scrape or skin nick. Unlike SawStop—which ruins both blade and brake cartridge—the Bosch flesh-detecting Active Response Technology kills the power and lets the blade coast to a stop safely within the cabinet, preserving it for future use. After activation, the system can be reset in less than 60 seconds. The brake cartridge has two “activation” cells, so all you do is flip it over and use the other after an activation. Replacement cartridges will cost about $100. More good news: This safety device works for dado sets as well as 10″ blades—no need for separate cartridges. All necessary parts, instructions and wrenches are located onboard the saw, including storage for extra activation cartridges.

An electronic control module with four colored lights not only turns the saw on and off, but also gives you helpful input as to the saw’s state of readiness:

• Green means the saw is ready for use.

• Yellow means the system is set in bypass mode by the operator; this mode is used for cutting conductive materials that could potentially activate the Active Response Technology system. In addition, there’s no override key to lose or misplace, yet it still offers various lock-out options to prevent unauthorized bypass mode operation.

• Red means the saw is not ready and will not function until the user corrects an issue.

• Blue means the saw requires service from a Bosch-authorized technician.

A smartphone app allows you to program and lock out some of these features, helpful if you want to limit who can bypass the safety mode or operate the saw when you don’t want.

The 15-amp motor spins the blade at 3,650 rpm.

—Bob Hunter, Tools Editor, WOOD Magazine





TOOL NEWS: SawStop adds 110-volt closed-cabinet tablesaw

SawStop has added to its ever-growing lineup of tablesaws with a 110-volt version of its Professional Cabinet Saw. This new model, available in August, is essentially the same 10″ saw as the 3-hp version we reviewed in the May 2010 issue of WOOD Magazine (and won a Top Tool award), except this one has a 1-3/4 hp motor and 30″ rip capacity. This new saw features the same heavy-duty cast-iron table, steel cabinet, and cast-iron trunnions (which mount to the cabinet rather than the top, for easy adjustments), as well as top-notch dust collection. And, of course, it includes SawStop’s patented blade-brake safety system. Weighing just 367 lbs in its basic configuration, this left-tilt saw will sell for $2,299. It includes an aluminum T-square-style rip fence, but a traditional Biesemeyer-type fence is available. Also available as options are 36″ and 50″ rip capacity fences and rails, as well as a mobile base integrated inside the cabinet or an industrial mobile base the cabinet sits in. For more information, go to sawstop.com or call 866-SAWSTOP.

An accidental discovery

That cliché about how nobody expects to have an accident couldn’t be more true than in a woodworking shop. Here’s your cautionary tale of the day: I was changing bits on the router table shown here. The switch works by pulling the red handle up and to the right, and the idea behind mounting it on the front edge of the router table was that you could bump it off in an emergency.  I thought, what could be safer? Unplugging it to change bits would be overkill, right?

Pull-on, push-off switch

Pull-on, push-off switch

Then one late afternoon, I wanted to chuck a round-over bit. Like dozens of times before, I raised the collet close to the top of the table and fished the wrenches from the router bit cabinet. Leaning over the table from the front, I turned ever so slightly to the right and got the surprise of my life as the router magically turned itself on with the wrenches only a half-inch away. Thank goodness the soft-start feature on this router gave me the split second I needed to back away from the bit.

The mystery took about 10 seconds to solve. The fly on my jeans had caught on the switch and pulled it on as I leaned against the table edge. (Please, no jokes that end with “…or were you just glad to see me.”) The moral: Nothing slices fingers faster than a shortcut. Now I take the extra five seconds to pull the plug on this router before I reach for the wrenches.

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What Not To Do: Router Base edition

Welcome to What Not To Do, the first (and hopefully last) in a series of object lessons in workshop safety wherein a WOOD editor illustrates the improper procedure. Do not attempt to duplicate this at home. We are paid professionals.

Now, take a look at this editor’s hand and try to guess what is wrong with the picture:

Router Bit Injury

No, it’s not A. That is what later became known as “the lawnmower incident.”

Nothing wrong with B, a symbol of wedded bliss.

C is evidence of recent painting and perhaps some dirt under the fingernail, but signifies nothing worse than poor personal hygiene.

Ah ha! You’ve spotted it. D is this week’s lesson in What Not To Do.

His mistakes should be obvious from the photo. Let’s discuss:

The first thing this editor did wrong was to forget to turn off the router’s switch after using it in his D-handle router base with an auxiliary trigger in the handle. Secondly—you guessed it—when he borrowed the cord from the router to test it’s placement in his newly assembled router table, he left it plugged in. Thirdly, he never checked the switch or the plug when he returned to the shop a couple days later. And finally, when he moved the router to his table-insert-mounted fixed base, he plugged the cord into the router motor—switch still on—with his finger dangerously gripping the insert next to the bit.

His wife thinks it’s a shame that the bit wasn’t more stylized to leave him with a prettier profile on his finger (“Maybe a nice ogee,” she was heard to remark). But as it was, the straight bit stitched a nice line of cuts from the base of the fingernail about halfway to the second knuckle. The soft start was a finger-saver as the bit didn’t immediately spin into full motion before he had time to yank the cord again.

Fortunately, the urgent care center didn’t find an urgent need to add stitches to the ugly mess the next morning and sent him home with an updated tetanus shot and antibiotics. Two weeks later, the finger is healing well, but with a slightly lumpy scar.

Learn from his example, dear reader. Don’t get in a hurry like our excited young editor. Double check your tools before you begin to use them for the day. Ensure all switches are in the off position and all cords are unplugged before you begin to change blades or bits or to work on tools.

And we look forward to no further episodes of What Not To Do.

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TV in the shop?

There was an IRL race at the Iowa Speedway this past weekend. All the big names were there: Helio, Dario, and yes, Danica. I intended to get tix and go see it, but it’s one of those things that got put on the back burner until the race was sold out. So I decided I’d watch it on TV. I don’t have a TV in the shop, so I pulled an old one from the basement and set it up on the bench.

It was great being able to watch the race, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll do again. The TV was too great a distraction. On more than one occasion, I found myself running a drawer over the router table with my eyes on the TV. Or setting up to make a cut, stopping a moment to watch the race, then forgetting whether I’d completed the setup or not.

In the shop, nothing should be distracting me from whirling cutters, blades and tending to the details that can make the difference between a proper setup or ruining a workpiece. I’m glad I got to see the race… (Dan Wheldon won and donated his winnings to Iowa flood relief) but next time, I’ll be either in my easy chair in the living room, or better yet, in the stands.


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