The Story Behind: A Series of Campus Images


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Smart saw helps student, staff woodworkers work safely

It looks, and runs, like a regular table saw. The high-pitched zing of metal-ripping wood gives the impression that it would not discriminate between flesh and cellulose. Fortunately, the self-stopping SawStop does just that.

Given the abundance of student labor on campus, Warren Wilson College is especially serious about safety and now has a full-time Occupational Safety and Training Coordinator, Susan Quigley. So it was no surprise that when Campus Support Supervisor Doug Bradley found out about a self-stopping saw at a safety seminar in Charlotte, he knew he had to have it for his woodshop.

“You don’t know what the students are thinking,” he said of their work-crew time. “They come in with a clear head one day and a head full of classes another.”

As soon as the blade detects a material that may conduct electricity, such as any body part, a brake jams the blade to a halt. This happens in about 1/200th of a second, saving a finger, hand or limb.

The purchase was proposed to Dean of Work Ian Robertson, who decided that each campus department with a preexisting table saw needed one. Relying on generous donor support, the school was able to exceed the goal of purchasing four saws. College insurer Hutton Vincent Williamson McLean Insurance Group, R&W Inc. and Buncombe Construction Co. donated a saw apiece.

Woodworkers on campus are now benefiting from SawStop’s new technology, enabling them more safely than ever to continue projects ranging from LEED Gold buildings to theater sets.