Nothing quite like a photo of a politician posing as if he’s about to feed a board through a table saw - his tie dangling from his neck -  to stir the emotions of woodworkers.

This isn’t just any politician posing with just any saw. It’s California Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) hovering over a SawStop to promote his bill, AB 2218, the Table Saw Safety Act. William’s bill would require that all new table saws sold in California as of January 1, 2015 “be equipped with a safety device that substantially mitigates injury when human skin comes close to or in contact with the blade."

Table Saw Operators: What Not to WearAB 2218 cruised through the California Assembly by a 64-4 vote in May and is expected to be voted on by the state’s senate next month.

The irony of the lawmaker who is championing table saw safety posing in such a nonchalant manner did not escape many of the readers who commented on my July 3 story: Home Depot and Lowe’s Oppose Table Saw Safety Rule.

The dangling tie was just one of eight faux pas noted by reader Kenny Carmody, who wrote, ““I realize this is only a photo and publicity stunt but come on? At least make the use of a table saw look correct while posing for a photo.” Carmody went on to offer the following list of “safety violations” depicted in the photo:

  1. No safety glasses;
  2. No hearing protection;
  3. Wearing a tie;
  4. Wearing a ring;
  5. No blade guard;
  6. Improper blade height’;
  7. No push shoe/stick; and
  8. A bit odd hand placement and body position.

“This is why people have accidents. Proper training and techniques are the key to safety!”

John Gowrie of Suffern, NY, jumped in. “Kenny, I am glad someone else posted all the obvious violations in this picture. Obviously this joker has NO IDEA how to use a table saw and probably should not be sponsoring such a bill until he had some training.”

Andrew M. Roy Sr. also chimed in that the photo of Williams would not make for a very good table saw safety poster. Incredible!!! I myself had a hard time getting past the initial photo of Mr Williams in his tie dangling above a blade the is almost four times above the workpiece!!! Of course he is a politician and no one on his staff has the first idea of how to properly set up the saw. I know it is a staged picture but it still sends a VERY BAD MESSAGE!!!”

Responding to Mr. Roy’s positing, John Heaney, questioned the origin of the photo. "Andrew, I'm a little peeved, too. With respect to the picture, I think you need to ask where this picture came from. If you watched the video, you know that the table saw was never turned on and there was no demonstration  any kind. This picture is a frame from that video, which means that someone chose that particular frame to create a misrepresentation of the video for effect. Who chose that video frame and who wrote the caption? Why? It does send a bad message, but who is sending it? It is not being sent by those who are promoting this bill, but by those that are against it.”

I had nothing to do with advising Assemblyman Williams on his choice of attire, but I did choose the snippet from the video to illustrate my article about his bill. Being that Williams and SawStop are at the center of the table saw safety regulation, him posing with the saw seemed like a natural fit for the story.

In choosing the photo it wasn’t my intention to embarrass Assemblyman Williams. But I would suggest that the next time he poses with a saw that he consider trading in his dress shirt and tie for a flannel shirt.

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