PTI Urges Woodworkers, Consumers and Other Interested Parties to Comment on CPSC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Table Saws

A single company and its supporters are petitioning the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in an effort to impose a government mandate that would require all table saws sold in the United States be equipped with a specific active flesh detection technology. The CPSC took a further step toward establishing this mandatory rule by issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) on table saws on May 12, 2017.

PTI encourages all woodworkers, consumers and interested parties to submit comments to the CPSC on the NPR by the CPSC's deadline of July 26, 2017.

The proposed rule requiring "active injury mitigation" technology on all table saws could more than double the costs of the average table saw. Because the requirement would drive the costs too high for many consumers, small manufacturers may go out of business while larger manufacturers may exit the table saw market, reducing consumer choice and causing job losses throughout the country.

The company behind the campaign to force consumers to pay more for table saws is SawStop, previously owned by patent attorney Stephen Gass, and recently acquired by TTS Tooltechnic Systems. Mr. Gass holds an extensive network of over 100 U.S. patents (with more than 140 patent applications filed). Mr. Gass has represented that SawStop's patent web would be infringed by any alternative flesh detection technology, including technologies developed by PTI member companies. Since Mr. Gass introduced his SawStop technology in 2000, no manufacturer has been successful in licensing it. Therefore, should CPSC adopt a mandatory rule, the agency could be creating a monopolistic advantage in the marketplace, generating millions of dollars for Mr. Gass, while leaving consumers out to dry.


The Power Tool Institute (PTI) is comprised of the nation's largest manufacturers of portable and stationary power tools that employ over 13,000 people in facilities located in 40 states and employees in all 50 states. PTI opposes the government mandating a specific technology that is covered by 100 patents for table saws and urges CPSC to defer to the voluntary standard process.


Now is the time to make your voice heard. Tell CPSC that you oppose the government imposing a rule that could force a specific patented technology on the power tool industry, creating a monopoly and raising prices for consumers. PTI is urging CPSC not to advance the rule and instead work with the industry to offer a suite of solutions that makes sense for the entire range of products.

PTI encourages woodworkers and all consumers and interested parties to submit comments to the NPR by the CPSC's deadline of July 26, 2017.

From 2007 to 2017, PTI members have introduced over 3.2 million saws in the U.S. with newly designed guards which meet the requirements of the 7th edition UL 987 safety standard. These new guarding systems are modular and offer excellent visibility and ease of removal and installation. The new guard systems, including the riving knife, protect the operator from blade contact and injuries caused by thrown objects from kickback.

SawStop saws are available to any consumer who chooses to purchase them. SawStop technology is currently available on saws such as cabinet or contractor saws, which constitute approximately 30% of saws on the market. After years of promises, SawStop has only recently introduced a saw for the benchtop table saw market. The saw was introduced in March 2015, weighs 79 pounds and retails for $1,299. This is not the compact, lightweight and direct drive units that consumers can purchase today at price ranges from $99 for consumer units to $600 for a professional premium model. The belt drive configuration that is used by SawStop to implement the blade braking system and other aspects of its design make this table saw much larger, more cumbersome and heavy to handle.

The SawStop technology adds a significant price premium to each table saw category that uses it. Of course, each company that could secure a license from SawStop would independently establish its own pricing. However, it is clear that if SawStop technology were required, a current inexpensive bench top saw could increase in price from $100 to approximately $400 and the price of a current professional bench top saw could increase from $500 to approximately $800.

If the SawStop CPSC petition were granted, it could be tantamount to the elimination from the market of portable bench top saws as we know them today due to the cost of compliance. The increased cost of even the least expensive table saws could result in power tool users resorting to unsafe methods to accomplish cuts normally performed on a table saw.

SawStop technology is not appropriate for all table saws or all users, and it does not mitigate injuries caused by an ejected workpiece during a kickback or injuries caused by flying debris ejected by the saw blade. SawStop's own data shows that operators are nearly five times more likely to contact SawStop's saw blade as opposed to an operator of a conventional saw. This increase in the accident rate on SawStop saws is likely due primarily to a user's decision to use the blade guard less frequently based upon a "sense of security" in having the SawStop flesh-sensing technology on the saw. This absence of the blade guarding system will result in an increased rate of facial or eye injuries caused by high velocity particles ejected by the saw blade as well as injuries caused by workpiece kickback.

More information on the comment process is included in the NPR, which can be accessed here.

More information on this issue is included in PTI's Facts-At-A-Glance, which can be accessed here.

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To the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Subject: Docket No. CPSC-2011-0074

Thank you for your consideration.

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