48 Follow-up on Flesh-sensing Saw and Tool Crate Reveal!


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A listener from Madison, WI gave us a great follow-up to the table saw that stops instantly when it senses flesh. Scott sent us pictures too:

“Hi Amy, Alicia, and Kayla,

I just wanted to follow up on some of the gray areas around the

flesh-sensing saw technology. I have owned one for a few years.

The saws actually sense an electrical current that flows through the

blade, a current which changes if it contacts your body. The blade stops

and is retracted below the saw table in about 5/1000 of a second. There

is a lot of video online of people setting them off on purpose,

including of the inventor very cautiously putting his finger onto the

blade. It doesn't even break the skin!

The propulsion mechanism is a spring.

I've attached a photo of a new cartridge and one that I had the

misfortune of triggering, although it was through accidental contact

with my aluminum miter gauge, not my skin. You can see a few key things

in the photo:

First, the lower unit is obviously the one that was triggered. The chunk

of aluminum is the actual braking mechanism--it's driven into the

spinning blade to stop it. The row of little holes act as a crumple

zone. If you look closely, you can see that some of them are deformed a bit.

Second, the spring is exposed. The whole thing pivots around the large

circular hole, which fits over an axle. When the spring fires, it drives

the block into the blade, and the blade is also being driven (by its

rotational momentum) into the block, which is how it retracts under the


Third, in the second photo, you can actually see that there are some

carbide teeth embedded in the block. In general, when these things fire

the blade and the cartridge are both throw-away items. In theory you can

have the missing teeth replaced and the blade checked for straightness,

but it's more cost effective to replace all but the most expensive

blades. This was a rather costly dado set, and when I priced it out the

repair option was basically equal to replacement cost.

You can also see a data port on there--it looks just like the port that

was on your PC back in the 90s. There are a ton of electronics in the

saws. They actually have a boot-up cycle, and there are a bunch of

diagnostics that they run, including making sure that the gap between

the blade and the brake is correct. There's even a chart you use to read

error codes based on combinations of flashing lights. From what I can

tell looking at online forums, if people have problems with the saws

it's that they fire too much rather than not enough. I'm not familiar

with a case of one of them failing to fire.

You can also boot up the saw in what they call bypass mode. You would

use this to cut conductive materials like aluminum. It's also possible

that some very wet treated lumber might be wet enough to conduct current

at a level that would fire the saw.

At present the only brand available is SawStop. Bosch tried to introduce

a competitor a few years back but it got pulled from the market due to

patent infringement.

The saws are expensive, that's true. I decide to get one because with my

insurance, every time I go to physical therapy it's over $100 out of

pocket, so in the long run avoiding an injury is going to be the cheaper


Thanks for the podcast!"

Coupled with the “first year of homeownership” task list, having an energy audit performed is also something to consider. This will help find energy leaks and how making upgrades in those leaky areas will save money in the long run. There are rebates for windows, doors, and heating systems among other things. Things homeowners can do to help include:

Installing or replacing weatherstripping

Caulking of windows

Wrapping pipes in unheated areas

Changing furnace filters (also a maintenance task)

Residential Construction Program at the Wood Technology Center update. The program has two full cohorts and we’re looking to increase the offerings to include journey level classes starting in the fall.

The contents of the Tool Crate are revealed. Much to Alicia’s chagrin, Amy shares what was in the first tool crate received. Like Christmas!!

Video of the opening can be found on www.facebook.com/amyworksseattle

Spyder Stinger drill bit set with quick connect. Mach-Blue armor plated, extreme metal durability.

Shears and a pocketknife with camo handles.

Klein power box with four outlets, 2 USB ports, a USB-C port and work light.

Speed square with an extension that gives a 12” straight edge

Diablo 24-piece driver bit set in a case.

A 5-piece bolt biter impact nut extractor and driver set.

11 in 1 tool that doubles as a belt buckle.

If you have anything you’d like to share, want to make a comment on something we’ve covered or have a question email us at askamy@amyworks.com.

This podcast is recorded at The Winterblue Room in Seattle.

83 episodes