In a rare example of unity among competitors, a group of major U.S. table saw manufacturers--ncluding Bosch Power Tools; Black & Decker tool brands DeWalt and Delta; the parent company of Ridgid, Ryobi, and Milwaukee Electric Tool; and Makita--recently put their differences aside to develop improved industrywide safety criteria that all manufacturers can follow.
The new guidelines have already led to the creation of safer, easier-to-use blade guard systems.
The manufacturers, all members of the Power Tool Institute, agreed at a PTI forum more than four years ago that better safety features for guarding systems were vital for both consumers and industry. The group formed a joint venture to develop blade guard improvements that all makers could adapt to their equipment specifications.
DeWalt issued a statement noting that the group "agreed to forego competition and elected to pool resources to pursue this goal. After considerable research and design work, the group came to consensus on a design rationale that would work for all of the participants. This initial design criteria included a rise-and-fall riving knife, independently adjustable side guards, kickback pawls, and an attachment method that allowed easy removal and reinstallation."
The UL safety listing for blade guards was revised and officially reintroduced as UL987 in November 2007, but manufacturers were already working to meet the new criteria. Bosch introduced its Smart Guard system in July 2007. DeWalt and others have introduced retrofit guards on table saw models, and Makita reportedly will introduce a UL987-compliant system in January.
"The industry worked together to develop the concept," says Bosch's Jason Feldner, "then we were all free to go ahead and develop our own response to this concept." For more information, see our Portable Jobsite Table Saw tool test in the November/December 2008 issue.