Nothing says "macho" quite like a 10-inch steel table saw, the object that sends 40,000 Americans a year to the emergency room. Operating with a dual-horsepower motor running at 5,000 rpm, a typical table saw can slice off a finger with ease, which is exactly what one did to woodworker Pete Perrello.
To address this severe saw safety issue, do-gooder and inventor Steve Gass developed his own line of table saw defense, known as the SawStop. Containing a reactor that senses skin, the SawStop halts all saw activity when it detects a finger. As a result the saw just nicks your skin, instead of completely severing your digits. In this segment of "People Destroying America," the SawStop is tested using sausage fingers.
Although it was designed to prevent severed fingers, the SawStop was accused of creating a false sense of saw security, thereby increasing the table saw accident rate. Gass' ensuing push for government regulation of saw safety brought additional accusations that he was emasculating Americans and taking away their God-given constitutional right to cut off their fingers.
Gass and Bob Adler of the Consumer Product Safety Commission have called for manufacturers to use SawStop technology in their table saw products. Read Adler's statement addressing a request for an extension on adding comments for table saw rulemaking.