5 On Your Side

Power Saws Injure 40,000 Hands Per Year

Posted June 6, 2007 6:19 p.m. EDT

— Dad might be hinting for a new table saw for Fathers' Day, but be careful.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said table saws and other types of power saws are involved in about 40,000 hand injuries a year.

Consumer Reports just tested table saws and found one that claims to prevent serious injuries.

Bruce Capua lost part of a finger while working with a power saw.

“I took my eye off of what I was doing for about two seconds. I looked at the clock. It was a quarter after four and I cut my finger off,” Capua said.

Now, he is very careful when he uses a table saw. But can the design of a saw actually prevent accidents? Consumer Reports tested one that claims to – the $2,800 SawStop.

It has a sensor connected to the cutting blade that's designed to detect contact with the skin and stop the blade.

“What we have - this electrical circuitry in here - that when your finger contacts the blade, the electrical current in your body will then trigger a spring in here,” said Peter Sawchuck with Consumer Reports.

That spring activates a brake that stops the blade in milliseconds.

Consumer Reports had to test the saw, so they used a hot dog. The body's electrical current passes through the hot dog.

The hot dog received just a small nick. But the SawStop is a full-sized cabinet saw - more sophisticated than most people need, especially considering its $2,800 price tag.

Consumer Reports also tested 10 less expensive portable table saws, but none have the elaborate safety system the SawStop has. They all cut well, though.

Top ratings went to the $450 Rigid portable table saw.

No matter what kind of table saw you have, it’s good to keep basic safety principles in mind, such as wear eye and ear protection, stand correctly by distributing your weight evenly between your feet, and keep the safeguards in place.

Don't remove the blade guard, splitter or anti-kickback devices.

Consumer Reports also named the BTS 20 a best buy for $230.