This year, the buzz at the JLC Live show in Providence, Rhode Island, was flesh-sensing technology. But we're talking about SawStop and Bosch REAXX, not tools for zombies. Sawstop was on display right near the entrance to the show floor with their brand-new portable jobsite saw. Like its larger (and more expensive) cabinet saw counterpart, this compact saw is equipped with SawStop's patented contact detection system, which stops the blade instantaneously when it comes in contact with a finger or other body part. PDB is planning on putting this saw through its paces this spring and reporting on it, but if you can't wait you can read this preview written back in December by Tools of the Trade editor Dave Frane. Even without the revolutionary saw brake, it's a very well-designed machine with a lot of great features.
Sawstop isn't the only flesh-sensing game in town. At the show, Bosch unveiled its new REAXX jobsite saw, which looks a lot like their proven 4100 10-inch saw, but with an air-bag cartridge that fires to retract the blade below the table. According to Bosch, the replaceable cartridge won't damage the blade, and is good for two uses. The REAXX won't be available until Fall 2015, but it will be interesting to see how the two saws stack up against one another. Even more interesting will be to see how the market – and other manufacturers – respond.
Every year at the show, it seems that there are at least one or two small mom-and-pop companies introducing brand new 'why-didn't-I-think-of-that?' inventions. This year, for example, I was able to get an up-close look at the Mosely Infinity level, a clever Lego-like system of interlocking 1-foot and 2-foot rails. Inventor Mike Lueck was there in the booth explaining how to assemble and disassemble the rail sections, and demonstrating how to use some of the different configurations of the tool. I was especially impressed by the quality of the castings.
The show floor was packed with exhibitors and demonstrations, including PDB contributing editor Kim Katwijk, who was hard at work in his day-long deck-building workshop. Unfortunately, there weren't many deck-specific conference sessions at this year's show, though I found time to sit in on a couple of 3-hour courses (one on high-performance windows, and one on finishes for interior trim). Deck builders I met at the show told me that they were able to find plenty of classes to help them tune up their business skills.
Finally, in preparation for an article planned for the June issue on cable railings, I prowled the show floor looking for new cable-related products, insights, and ideas. Feeney was there with their new brightly-colored posts and rails, which look even cooler in person than in their press releases. And I learned that Fairway will be introducing a new cable railing system in May, which will include a surface-mount post with inserts to receive machine-threaded cable lug fittings. If the number of cable-rail suppliers that I found at the show is any indication, this is an area where you can expect to see a lot of growth in 2015.