I Bought a SawStop Tablesaw
(although I wish I'd gotten it sooner)
by Alan Noel
When I was about 12 years old, my oldest brother gave me an old Sears guitar. Some 46 years later I
still enjoy banging on it as best I can.
Just before my 54th birthday, I
was using an old table saw to cut some pieces of poplar into long strips for holding glass panels in cabinet
doors. I had done cuts like this safely many times before, but this time something distracted me and I
must have taken my eye off the saw for a fraction of a second. To my pain and horror, I felt my own flesh and
blood being splattered on my bare arms before realizing I had cut myself and the pain began to set in.
It shocked me how incredibly fast it all happened. My right
hand flew into the air, after which I grabbed it immediately with my left hand. I held it tightly. The pain was excruciating.
I was scared to look at my right hand. So many things flashed through my mind. The pain. Did I have
any fingers? Will I ever be able to play the guitar or hold a chisel again? After screaming bloody murder
and calling for my co-worker, I finally took a look. Even with such pain I managed to let out a sigh of
relief. It was "only" my pinky. Most of it was still there, so off to the hospital we went. The doctor
was able to surgically repair what was left of the finger, but because the blade did some permanent damage,
my right hand will never function like it used to.
Now several years later, I bought a SawStop. I was at the International Woodworking Machinery and
Furniture Supply Fair (IWF) in Atlanta and was lucky enough to see this saw in action. I stood very close to
the saw when the demonstration began, thinking this seemed just too good to be true. A hot dog was
being gently slid into the whirling blade.
This didn't seem all that exciting until the whirling
blade stopped suddenly and disappeared back inside the saw so fast I barely saw it. A collective gasp of
disbelief could be heard as we all realized the table saw had powered down instantly.
And the hot dog? The "skin" on
the hot dog came out with barely a scratch. It was then that I looked at my useless little finger
and knew that had I owned this saw, I would still have a fully functional right hand. No matter the
cost, after going through what I went through with my little finger and right hand, I would have
gladly traded the entire medical cost and the stress of an operation (not to mention the permanent limited
use of my right hand) for one of these saws.
When my new SawStop arrived I could hardly wait to assemble it and get it up and running. Doing so
could not have been any easier! It came with step by step instructions and packaging like I have never seen before. It
seemed that in no time I had the saw completely assembled, plugged in and purring!
Then after a few months of reliable
use I started having a problem with the saw. At first when the saw was turned on, the motor would make a brief
unusual sound but then perform like always. Eventually however the motor would groan and then nothing.
Off to the phone I went to call SawStop's service department for advice. Tom Berkley, one of SawStop's
service personnel, handled the call and said the parts I would need plus all of the info to install them would be
here in two days. Two days later I installed the parts per Tom's instructions, but the breaker in my
electrical panel immediately tripped. Back to the phone again. This time I spoke to Roger Garcia. He
listened patiently and concluded that I needed a new motor and all would be
well. A few days later the new motor arrived and of course, it was a snap to install. The new motor
and the saw purred once again. I realize that with mass production there are bound to be occasional problems.
Fortunately SawStop was with me every step of the way and made sure my machine was up and
running again as quickly as possible.
After owning an antique restoration shop for the last 28 years, I really can't say that
I use my table saw all that often. By and large most of the work I do is hand work, but when the need is
there, it's nice to know that I have a really great piece of machinery that will perform and
protect me, but equally as important, a company that firmly stands behind their very innovative
Had I been using this saw at the time of the my accident, I would still have a right hand
that is fully functional. Holding a chisel or anything else correctly, including a guitar pick,
would not have to be just a memory.
Other true stories about tablesaw accidents - Warning: some are a bit graphic
YouTube video of an actual tablesaw kickback
More information about the SawStop Tablesaw
This article first appeared in the February 2010 edition of Wood News Online.
Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at
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