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BIG News: Festool Purchasing SawStop!

According to Matt Howard, Vice President of Marketing at SawStop, the Tualatin, OR power-tool company is being purchased by TTS Tooltechnic Systems, the owners of Festool.

“We are proud to join a company with a shared passion for customer safety, product quality and meticulous engineering,” said SawStop’s President, Dr. Stephen Gass. “Speaking for our entire team in Tualatin, Oregon and across North America, we are excited to join with TTS to bring safer woodworking to more people through new tools and in new markets around the world. With a family like TTS at our side, I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together.”

The excitement at SawStop couldn’t be more deserved.

While some might speculate—given long-running legal issues regarding patent infringement—that a marriage with Bosch would be in SawStop’s best interest, the small privately held American company shares far more in common with Festool. Both brands are known for innovation, for superlative engineering regardless of the final retail price. Both companies have proven that there are enough carpenters and woodworkers in the market who put quality and safety ahead of cost; craftsmen who appreciate a ‘system-based’ approached that enables them to work faster and smarter.

Ironically, once known as a manufacturer that eschewed table saws entirely (some woodworkers proudly say that it’s more accurate to push a tool through a workpiece than to push a workpiece through a tool), we can expect to soon see a dramatic change in the German manufacturer’s tool lineup. Surprisingly, that change has been a long time coming.

According to folks once associated with Festool and Bosch, for nearly a decade Festool has explored the North American table-saw market, and even considered developing their own table saw (there is a European model!). Patent and approval issues were no doubt a major hurdle; Festool must also have decided that licensing SawStops’ technology was not nearly as attractive as purchasing the company and owning that technology.

But for carpenters, contractors, woodworkers, hobbyists, and students, the combination of Festool and SawStop is a far more compatible fit between complimentary companies with no overlap or product conflict. Woodworkers can expect to see even more innovative tools coming out of Oregon, supported by the robust and global marketing strength of the TTS.

As a one-time executive of Festool put it: “This is a fantastic match of two brands that truly belong together: Festool will learn from SawStop’s innovative manufacturing—their fine fit, finish, and engineering; SawStop will benefit from Festool’s customer outreach and commitment to outstanding and unequaled products.”

Comments/Discussion

25 Responses to “BIG News: Festool Purchasing SawStop!”

  1. Jerry Myers

    Festool and SawStop are fine products. Both are expensive and well made. I just hope that the purchase of SawStop by Festool will not raise the cost of the saw more than the market will bear. The safety innovations that SawStop has brought to our industry must be affordable so the technology is utilized more than it currently is. Raising the price will elevate the saw to “Boutique” status and further limit the availability of a great safety feature that only the well healed can afford.

    Reply
    • Ron

      About 4 years ago when I first moved to the UK, a Brit friend was invited to TTS to do a table saw review. I was invited along with him. They had the Festool saws, Preciso, and the CMS- a couple of other competitors saw, and a saw stop. I dont think saw stop was released in EU at that time. After everyone got through fondling the different saws and we had a snack and chat with the Festool reps from Germany that were there, Phil Beckley demonstrated the saw stop to us. He was looking for how people received it.

      Now I know why they did that.

      Reply
  2. Billy Dillon

    If Dr. Gass really was interested in saftey he would not have stopped Bosch in their move to bring a different technology to saw saftey . In my view he was looking for the bucks . I have been to the factories in Germany and have seen several of very big names coming off the same assembly lines . This is not about saftey now ,its about money

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Billy,
      That’s one way to look at this–pure altruism.
      Unfortunately, that’s not part of the general human condition. We’re governed more by capitalism, and not just America–it’s worse in Russia and China and many other parts of the world. Call it what you want.

      But there’s also another way to look at what happened. I’ve spoken to Dr. Gass and sure, you can’t trust anyones’ words (someone will certainly say “especially an attorney!), but the man struck me as being smart, sincere, and also caring–after all, he did something no one else would do. Gass invested millions and years of effort in perfectly the SawStop sensory system. He’s a serious woodworker and an attorney. Who better to do that job? Couldn’t the major power tool manufacturers have done it first, and sooner, and, and, and…sure they could have. They have far greater resources! But the major tool manufacturers are compelled to look at everything from a pricepoint perspective: “Will their customers pay for it.” So they didn’t invest in that research. Gass took the risk and deserves the reward. But there’s more: he offered to license the technology to the tool manufacturers. But again, thinking first of pricepoint, instead, they banded together (true story), and developed a new table saw guard system, which included a riving knife, anti-kickback device, guard, etc. Some folks say the hope was that, having developed a ‘table saw safety system’, they wouldn’t be open to the claim that they weren’t concerned about table saw safety.

      But back to the real point. If Festool was able to purchase SawStop (and all intellectual property), than any of the other power tool manufacturers could have, too. Once again, pricepoint argued against the purchase. After all, what customer would ever pay THAT much for a table saw? But SawStop proved that the pricepoint idea was wrong. People will pay. And Festool definitely proved that the pricepoint theory is wrong, too: people will pay, at least enough people to make it profitable, look at how many carpenters are now using a Kapex, a Domino, etc.

      I guess the real story is that without profit, fair or otherwise, nothing happens in this world. But that’s not an area I’m willing or knowledgable enough to judge.
      Namaste,
      Gary

      Reply
      • John Galt

        Gary, well said. Your argument is clear and your tone kind. I usually succeed in the former but fail in the latter. I would have said something snarky like, “Well Billy, maybe Dr. Gass would have taken you more seriously if you offered to work for him for free, since you expect him to work for you for free.” Or “The next time you invent an industry disrupting technology and invest millions to bring it to market, you can give it away for free to show us how it’s supposed to be done.”

        Reply
  3. James O'Gorman

    Though both brands produce excellent products, Bosch’s anti-finger chopper system is, in my opinion, far superior in terms of efficacy and cost. Festool will have to bring down the cost of an incident for this system to prevail.

    Reply
  4. David Pugh

    Gary: This is good news. I use both products everyday at work and really appreciate them both. I’ve had the thrill of detonating the safety feature on the Saw Stop so I can testify it works. I’ve also used Festool to fix disasters and everyday processing. My friend Matthew Kay calls the fixes “Festool Miracles “. Indeed they are. I hope the two entities can come together and make us all safer and smarter.

    Reply
  5. Billy Dillon

    Gary ,
    Thanks for the thoughtfull reply , all good points . However Bosch’s technology was cheaper and better but lost out to the lawyers and big money . We have SawStop in our shops but the big problem is all the jobsite saws . Cheaper tech would have protected many more workers . I appreciate the sounding board . Bosch has a Foundation which owns 92% of the stock and all it does is further education . I for one wish they had gone with Bosch

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Billy,
      I don’t mean to beat a horse, but logically, if Bosch has such a foundation and does so much to further education (why then did they pull out of JLC Live?), being such a tremendous player in the power-tool industry, and extremely competitive, too, they could easily have purchased SawStop years ago and avoided all the legal struggles about copyright infringement. Then, like other power tool companies have done, they could have shut down SawStop and continued to produce their new saw unmolested. Instead, they chose to joint a group of manufacturers to create a far less effective safety system, then develop their own Reaxx saw and fight SawStop in court. There’s no white knight in this story. In fact, these days, it hard to find a white knight anywhere. And if we do find a white knight, I bet they’re going to want an arm and a leg.

      Reply
      • Billy Dillon

        Gary ,
        Bosch does actually have a foundation . Most of what Bosch does in automotive parts , the power tool part is only a component of what they do .Why did they pull out of JLC Live ,good question . Why did JLC sell the show to another group? {MONEY} , JlC tends to dumb down content to their readership which as they say is Junior High School Reading Level
        I am not looking for a white Knight , more like a Robin Hood.
        I don’t have a horse in this race but not feeling good about how this happened .
        Once again, thanks Gary for having a place for us all . you should come out here soon and visit

        Reply
  6. Peter Halle

    Gary,

    Although your article mentions FESTOOL purchasing Sawstop it was actually TTS – the umbrella over numerous brands including FESTOOL that made the purchase. As I am sure that you well know based on both your and my participation with FESTOOL over the TTS is family owned so whatever is purchased by one part can possibly have synergies thru out.

    Keep rocking buddy!

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Thank you, Peter.
      And I did mention TTS, in the first sentence, but didn’t think many people would recognize the mother ship, since few carpenters ever get a check from TTS–it’s most the other way around.
      Gary

      Reply
  7. Seth

    I would like to add to Gary’s comments about the missed opportunity of other companies to purchase or license Saw Stop or it’s tech. I believe that the industry intention was to prevent Saw Stop, or their technology, from reaching that economy of scale which occurs from broader adoption of new technology (solar panels, electric cars, guards on tools etc. etc.) effectively killing it before it became a factor in evolving tool safety. Being a contractor in California (I’m sure all of you all see it in your locations of operation) the cost of a table saw which makes our job sites or shops safer and which will eventually help to reduce those rising comp rates is the wrong discussion. Knowing that table saws are notorious for life altering accidents and knowing the cost of one table saw accident to a company makes that cost difference insignificant.
    First time contributor, thanks for all you do Gary!

    Reply
  8. bob

    Now the sawstop price will start out higher than before and have guaranteed price increases every year.

    Reply
  9. Peg

    The Saw Stop was one of the first purchases I made after retiring. After trying things for awhile, I decided to take an adult ed. class in woodworking. As usual, the class was at a public high school. The majority of the students were there to use the machinery. The table saw was a Saw Stop. When I was cleaning it up one day, I discovered that the safety module was missing. Apparently, the machine was tripped and the school didn’t have the funds to replace the cartridge. The cost of the machine is a big negative, but the cost of the replacement blade and cartridge is another problem.
    High School students without experience probably trip it often. The very people who need it most.

    Reply
  10. Larry Schweitzer

    I also feel that Bosch would have been a better choice because they could have reduced the cost and saved more fingers. On the web sites I visit there is a lot of anti SawStop because of its patent protections and pricing. The developers of the saw stop system tried to sell it to other manufacturers but couldn’t get any takers, before they started having their own saw manufactured. Wonder what they are thinking now? I also object to the pricing tactics of Festool, fixed price.

    Reply
  11. Jerry Jaksha

    Tablesaw manufacturers have always been reluctant to improve the safety of their product. Look at how many years it took took them to offer fences that remained parallel to the blade. Beismeyer had to drive the market himself for many years before being bought out.

    One part of the problem: By bringing out a safety device, they left themselves open to lawsuits. They hadn’t offered the safety tool when it first became available, therefore they could be sued like auto manufacturers who did not put seat belts into cars after it was known they saved lives. As inventor and manufacturer of a table saw safety tool – Griptite Magnetic Featherboard, I found no interest from tablesaw manufacturers, only from 300,000 customer/woodworkers.
    But then, safety does not always sell to woodworkers. I think we sold more Grip-Tites because they allowed you to do more precice cuts.
    My brother Mike Jaksha invented a shutoff brake which instantly stoppped belt driven blades back in the 90’s , We tried to sell it for under $100 and no one was interested.
    Direct drive tablesaws still can take 15 seconds to drift to a stop. Why? A non-destructive motor brake could be cheaply built in by a manufacturer, but evidently will not sell more saws.

    Reply
  12. Paul Jenkinson

    Gary,
    I agree with Jerry “Festool and SawStop are fine products. Both are expensive and well made. I just hope that the purchase of SawStop by Festool (TTS) will not raise the cost of the saw more than the market will bear”.

    Although I personally can’t afford Festool products, I have used the Kapex and Domino at our local woodworking co-op and when supplied by contractors. We also have the SawStop shop saw at the co-op. I’ve spent dozens of hours with it and can personally attest to its effectiveness, having tripped the blade stop mechanism. Both products are indeed well made and have incorporated a lot of innovative features. But both company pricing policy are stumbling block to have a greater share of the market. Unfortunately Festool and TTS guard the price point of their products, and those policies will make SawStop safety technology less available to the average carpenter not more so. It will be a simple to determine whether I’m correct or not, the current retail price of the saw is approximately $2900.00 (online discounted) If TTS raised the retail cost or imposed the same pricing restrictions on discounters that Festool requires we’ll know. It’s possible that an increase in price could be justified by adding Festool inspired features (they could start “optional feature pricing”). But given the history of the pricing scheme by TTS I have little faith that the company will adopt this approach.

    If in fact there are price increases for reasons not clearly justified I hope that you and others that are spokespersons for, supported and subsidized by Festool will use whatever influence you have to speak out and against those attempts.

    I believe that there is a moral case that could be made that we should all resist those attempts. Safety of our brother and sister carpenters should our foremost concern. The struggle to improve the health and safety of our industry has been a long and difficult process. If technology like SawStop were widespread a lot of pain and suffering would be alleviated. But I will let someone more familiar with the debate address that issue.

    Thanks for hosting this forum and bringing this issue to our attention

    Paul Jenkinson
    Carpenters Local 1977
    Las Vegas Nevada

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Paul,
      Two major corrections!
      I am not a “spokesperson” for ANY manufacturer, never have been, never will be.
      And I am not “supported or subsidized” by Festool in ANY way at all. Festool NO LONGER supports educational programs like the Roadshows we have produced for fifteen years. Festool produces their OWN roadshow, but that’s a sales and marketing program, not anything like the application-driven how-to presentations we do at the Katz Roadshow.
      Festool does continue to support the two JLC Live shows each year, and at those events I do use their tools exclusively. But at those events–like all the other presenters, I work for JLC LIVE, not Festool.
      And finally, I wish I did have influence with Festool, but that’s not even a pipe dream…and you know what kind of pipe I mean. :)
      Gary

      Reply
      • Paul Jenkinson

        Gary, apologies for assuming a connection between your program and Festool. But I still believe that we can influence manufacturers pricing policies.
        Finally, I would agree that the road shop is a worth every bit of time and efforts that it takes to attend. It’s a great skill builder and refresher course for all levels of Carpenters.

        Reply
  13. Mike Rowan

    Sawstop should be completely unnecessary. What is necessary with or without a sawstop type device is learning how to use tools safely. Education and following proper tool use is the most important thing that has gone by the wayside. Everyone now seems to want immediate proficiency in doing all things, not just carpentry, with no consequences to them and blame others when they hurt themselves or others.

    Tip – NEVER EVER cut freehand on the table saw without using a fence. See hyperlink below:

    http://www.finewoodworking.com/2010/05/03/more-details-on-the-carlos-osorio-tablesaw-lawsuit

    Sawstop tried to use this lawsuit to force every manufacturer to use their technology.

    As a professional carpenter, I readily admit to never using the blade guard on my table saws as so many cuts can’t be made with it in place, but I still know how to work safely and would either teach employees or not let them use the tool.

    Every difficult or seemingly unsafe cut on the table saw can be done safely with the right jig, auxiliary fence, push sticks etc, if you learn how.

    You can’t get a drivers license without passing a test, having a learners permit time with a licensed driver, and passing your solo test at motor vehicle agency and having police watching to make sure you drive safely.

    If you want to start a new hobby or be a do it yourselfer – learn about it. There is so much information available now at your fingertips on your phone or the internet. Just make sure the presenter is qualified, I did once see video on how to put up crown molding and the guy put it upside down.

    I spent years, as I’m sure Gary did also, learning from others and reading and figuring out things to become a good carpenter. He’s a great teacher and innovator. I know first hand from attending several of his workshops.

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Mike,
      I respectfully disagree, in a big huge way. Too many young people risk injury from using table saws in what few shop classes remain at schools, and in tech programs, too. I’d do almost anything to support those folks, knowing that shop teachers are underpaid and overworked and can’t possible be everywhere at once, watching every little thing. A lost finger (or more) at 17, 18, or even 25 is a tremendous life-changing event. And that’s not all. I know far too many EXPERIENCED carpenters and woodworkers, just like yourself, who one day failed to focus for one reason or other, and in that one instant, an instant they wish they could take over but will never be able to, they lost one of the single most important tools in their life, a finger, or more. I’ve heard those stories from folks just like you, who have developed tried and true safe systems for using power tools, but when it comes to power tools, no system is 100% safe. But these new saw systems (Bosch and SawStop) are. I know. I’ve fired the brake on my SawStop saw about three times–never because my hand got too close, but because I forgot you can’t cut aluminum-backed mirror or rigid insulation!

      However, I would like to see this video of the crown going in upside down!
      Gary

      Reply
  14. Norm Yeager

    I began my career as a carpenter at Williamson Trade School in 1966. At that time none of the equipment in the carpentry shop had guards in place. Don Zepp, the instructor said ” I don’t keep guards on the equipment because when you get out of here none of the shops you work in will have guards” I’ve been fortunate that in over 50 years I’ve not had a serious injury. That being said when I bought a tablesaw last year I did it with my grandsons and daughters in mind. If I were the only one using it I would have bought a saw without the Sawstop technology. I knew that if I was going to teach them and if any of them had an accident I’d not forgive myself. That being said, if they follow up in the trades they’ll probably use more saws without guards than with them. It’s critical to teach “safety first, then sharp tools”

    Reply
  15. Bengt

    Hopefully festool will redesign that unusable fence on the sawstop contractor saw. Do the right thing and do what hitachi did, copy the dewalt fence.

    Reply

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