Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Colbert Report weighs in

I love it when that woodworker says he has "the right to cut my own finger off on my table saw" - the true definition of a tool!

(Thanks to Jacky H for sending me this link!)


Joe White said...

I agree sawstop is the best thing to come to woodworking, but if they truly wanted to "save peoples fingers" they wouldn't charge almost double what you would pay for a regular saw. If they truly wanted to get their product out there, they should adopt the "razor and blades" business model that Gillette came up with many many years ago. Sell the saws for the price of a regular saw, and make the money on the blade replacements.

Rob said...

while Sawstop is GREAT, the idea that they regulate the industry with their technology is insane. Sure, i'd love for every manufacturer to take it on, but Sawstop is holding them all by the b*lls with their patents and charging an arm and a leg to use it. To then try and make it legally mandated is nothing more then a money-grab position they're making.

With that said, I can't blame them for charging more, it's a simple supply and demand thing. If they can charge it and people are paying, then good on them. But again, don't legally shove it down my throat at the price you demand. As for the idea of "make the money on the blade replacements" it won't happen, cause I can easily replace the blade with a $10 Home Depot blade.. it's the brake cartridge that is the real replacement cost. Even that can be overriden to work without one. Sawstop again is great, but they hold the market hostage asking far too much to use it's technology and it's patents.

Wood It Is! said...

You both seem to forget that when the inventor of SawStop's technology came up with this device, he approached tablesaw manufacturers, offering them this technology as a reasonable price. I think I read somewhere that it would have added just a couple of hundred dollars to the price of a saw. You will spend more than that on a simple cut getting stitched up in the ER.

And they basically told him to buzz off. They didn't see the need for it. I mean, why would they want to spend more money to make their saws safer?

Didn't car manufacturers fight the inclusion of seat belts, at one time, because of the cost involved?

He did what any smart business owner would do - protect his invention via a variety of patents, so that his invention couldn't be stolen. Do you blame him?

Now that the government is getting involved and considering mandating the technology, the saw manufacturers are scrambling to fight against it. But remember, they had the option to hop on the bandwagon earlier.

Seeing some of the horrific accidents that I've seen, I hope the government does in fact, legislate to force all saw makers to include this. And I hope Mr. SawStop laughs all the way to the bank.

Just my 2¢...

Joe White said...

Rob, whether it's the blade or the braking system, the thought still applies. And Jamie, I'm all for capitalism, and the right for individuals to make money off of their ideas. I only point out that saw makers I'm sure make a decent profit off of their saws. I doubt the cost of adding that technology to the saw justifies the almost double price that they charge for the sawstop. Steve could easily make a nice profit, as well as make the technology more affordable, and thereby make the average woodworker adopt it that much quicker. If he were truly interested in safety, you make a small margin, and massive sales. Instead he goes for large margins, and minimal sales. If most people are like me, we don't make a living off of woodworking. It's just a hobby, and therefore the added cost was a determining factor in my purchase.

Wood It Is! said...

Joe, I still disagree. SawStop makes a variety of saws in different price ranges. I've owned all three of their versions, as well as owning saws from Delta, DeWalt and Craftsman.

I don't feel like SawStop saws are THAT much more expensive.

I haven't compared prices lately, but I suspect if I put a new Delta Unisaw up against the mid priced SawStop, there wouldn't be that much of a price difference. I currently own both, and I'll tell you this - the SawStop is a better machine for a variety of reasons, not just the blade technology.

My argument is that the SawStop is priced higher not only because of the flesh detection technology, but also because it's simply a better machine. Better customer service, better support, better warranty.

Rob said...

Jamie, I fully agree that the end quality of the overall saw is a superior product, and I fully agree that it's a wise investment. I'm about to make that invest myself!

That said, it's a "two sides to every story" when it comes to the story about approaching the companies and offering it at a reasonable cost. I question the truthfulness of that personally, if it was just a few hundred dollars then I'm sure the companies would have all jumped on board to offer at least a few models with the feature. Then again, that leaves them open to the lawsuits of "you have it on some, why not all" just like the lawsuit against Ryobi (i think it was them) saying "sawstop has flesh detection, why don't you?"

I'm ALL for the technology, i'm ALL for spending the few extra dollars to have that much more safety, as well as having what I believe is a quality product above and beyond the safety feature. I'm also what many people call a "lib" in that I believe government can be beneficial, but I can't stand the idea that government should be allowed to mandate such a technology if it's got a patent attached to it. The seat belt argument is fine and dandy, but was someone making additional profit on it on the side?!? If government wants to mandate a safety feature, then why not start with one that affects a MUCH larger populous like daytime running lights on cars, something the EU does as does Canada, yet we don't have that safety in the US.

I too, like yourself, HATE the argument that "they're my fingers, i can damn well cut them if i want" but we know that's ignorance talking. I just hate the fact that if such technology was to be mandated, then a patent holder is also monopolizing from it instead of it being free market driven.

Vegas Lupe said...

This is a fascinating discussion. Jamie is my woodworking teacher, and I have used all the saws in her workshop. I can attest that SawStop saws are absolutely the best saws I have ever used. Both the Professional and the Industrial saws are far more stable and precise than anything I have worked on. They are pricier though, but only by about 30%. My husband and I worked on an Industrial Cabinet Powermatic table saw, which if it were purchased brand new it would cost around $3200 today. After visiting the SawStop booth at the recent woodworking trade show in Las Vegas, we purchased one of the Industrial saws they had on display for $4000 plus tax. Granted this was a special deal because of the trade show, and the fact that it was a display unit.

We bought it because:
1) Overall, it is a better machine.
2) I am a rookie at woodworking, and in my day job I do need all my fingers to make a living.
3) My husband and I are at times absentminded, and it only takes a split second to have an accident with a power tool.

No power tool is foolproof. However, there is a certain peace of mind of mind to know that you are doing everything humanly possible to take every precaution to be safe when using tools.

Although this is not a political blog, I do have to admit that I support capitalism and the simple transaction between a buyer and a seller. If a manufacturer wants to charge $1 or $10000 or a million dollars for a product and he or she can market the item and find a buyer for it, more power to him or her! I don’t begrudge their success or their profit margin. In a free society that means that there is the opportunity for me to make a product and also charge whatever I want for it. There will also be others that will compete for the market and will probably charge less for it. Competition will even out prices, and buyers will become a better judge of what product succeeds in the market.

The problem starts when third parties want to get in on the action: lawyers, politicians, and yes, the government. Although the government has to have a role in keeping order within our society, they should stay away from mandating and micro-managing every single industry in this country. Government seems to be composed of lawyers and politicians looking for votes, and overly regulating any industry artificially raises the costs for the manufacturers and for the consumers. Mandating that all saws have the SawStop technology is a good intention, but the unintended consequences could be even be worse. And if they can mandate the components in a saw, what will be next…? The shoes we wear, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat – uh, oh…I think they are already regulating that! Sigh...You better watch out…Big Brother is already here and watching you closely.

Buyers should ultimately make the decision and take personal responsibility for their actions. However, if an idiot chops his fingers off because he or she did not have a SawStop, I don’t want him or her to start wining and hiring a lawyer to sue everyone on sight. If that is the case, then I should exercise my Second Amendment right to pull out my gun and have the freedom shoot the bastard! ;-)

Thanks for the soapbox, Jamie!