Since he launched Sawstop LLC a decade ago, Gass has addressed the situation by building and selling saws of his own. During that time, he's sold 30,000 of them. His technology has reportedly saved more than a thousand fingers -- that is, fingers that touched the blades and received minor cuts but were not severed. None of his customers have lost a finger as yet. Soon, Gass plans to extend his technology from professional table saws to consumer saws, and then to handheld circular saws.
But while Gass has been building and selling saws, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has re-visited his case. In May, the organization voted again to allocate resources to prepare for new rulemaking, Gass says. If a so-called "performance requirement" results, the CPSC could call for a mandate on an active injury mitigation system in table saws.
To be sure, the government wouldn’t mandate use of Gass's particular technology. But it could require incorporation of a technology that employs an active sensing and prevention system. In addition, Gass says Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is considering writing a standard for an active mitigation system, as well. UL did not return calls regarding this.
Gass considers that a victory. And after 12 years, he believes his work continues to be significant. "It seems that whenever I sit on an airplane, someone next to me says their dad, brother, uncle, or friend had an accident with a saw," he says. "It's just so commonplace."
He claims he's never been sorry that he left a thriving law practice for his new life as a manufacturer. "It was a disappointment that it didn't work out in a year or two," he says. "But I enjoy what I do here. I enjoy working on technology. I'm just a geek at heart."