Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Woman's Club donates new table saw


November 29, 2018 | View PDF

Left to right: Woman's Club members Carol Lawrence, Judy Ewald, Julie Shook, Susan Johnston, Tigger Posey watch Feakes cut with the newly donated SawStop table saw. (Carol Duis and Laura Clement not pictured.) Kyle Clayton photo.

The Haines School shop class has an additional SawStop table saw thanks to the proceeds from donors, 64 pies and $600 worth of cookies.

After a high school student severed three fingers cutting plywood on the wood shop's table saw last spring, the Haines Woman's Club began fundraising efforts to purchase the $4,300 saw that automatically shuts down before it can slice skin. The school also purchased one of the high-tech saws.

A SawStop's blade carries an electrical signal. When skin touches the blade, the signal changes due to the human body's natural conductivity. That signal change plunges the blade into a brake, at a speed of 4000 revolutions per minute to zero, in less than 5 milliseconds. Although the blade and brake must be trashed, the cost of replacement, about $100 or less, is much less than a trip to the clinic, said Haines School shop teacher Darwin Feakes.

"It pushes this braking mechanism into the blade and then the whole unit drops underneath the table," Feakes said. "I'm still amazed at the technology."

Woman's Club president Judy Ewald looked into the cost of the SawStop after the student's accident. They organized a fundraising website, placed donation cans around town and collected funds from the Fourth of July pie sale and the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay cookie sale. "It was something I thought the club could do that would help the community," Ewald said.

Adults use the school's saws during community education classes. Feakes said the new technology has already saved an adult student's fingers. "She said 'I swear my fingers weren't even that close to the blade," Feakes said. "I said, 'Your fingers were close enough that you'd have been in an ambulance.'"

Feakes said he has some concern that the safety feature could make its users complacent. "Most places aren't going to have this...They're going to go build their house or go somewhere else and have too much faith in their machine. I teach them as if it didn't have the technology."

The school is auctioning the old table saw that was replaced by the SawStop. Interested buyers should submit a sealed bid to the school's district office by Dec. 17.

The student who injured herself last spring has full use of two of her fingers, Feakes said.


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