§ by Joel Hess on January 10th, 2008
At least a half dozen times, I’ve experienced serious kickback while using my table saw. Not once during any of those times though did I feel that I was doing something that was inherently dangerous. I almost always use my guards and push blocks. I take my time to set up my saw for safe, accurate cuts. I’ve even been known to step back and question whether there is a better way to complete an operation that I’m not 100% comfortable with.
And still, I’ve experienced situations that could have resulted in bodily injury.
Once I was knocked on my keester when a workpiece I was ripping pinched the blade and got kicked back into my stomach. (I broke two cardinal woodworking safety rules during that particular procedure.) I don’t remember now what caused the kickback. But I’ll never forget how lucky I was not to have been injured more seriously. (Or the pain to my gut!) But none of us are perfect. Accidents happen and all you can do is hope they don’t happen to you. Right?
That’s why I was surprised while watching a recent segment of TOH, as a trim carpenter made a free-hand cut on the table saw. Frankly, I watched in disbelief as he made the cut and thought to myself, “Man, that just looks dangerous!” Norm Abram was standing there watching and I thought maybe he would say something, but he didn’t. I figured there would be a lot of people commenting about the segment on our woodworking forums. And there is a debate raging over at WoodNet. But, you may be surprised to learn that there are a lot of people defending the practice.
Several people have commented that the practice of pushing a piece freehand past a spinning table saw blade is an acceptable practice by professional trim carpenters. It may be. And the guy managed to make the cut during the show without any problem. But I can tell you one thing….I’m never going to try it.
What’s your response?
§ by Randy Maxey on December 8th, 2007
It’s been a rough week. Sunday night, I was in my shop working on a small project. It was nearing dinner time and my wife stepped into the shop to inquire about my plans for dinner. I was in the middle of resawing a small workpiece. I knew she was standing there, so it didn’t startle me. But something happened to the workpiece and in a split second it kicked back with a loud bang. I instinctively shut the saw off and reached for the workpiece.
Then I saw it. The workpiece was not the only thing I was cutting. The end of my right thumb had somehow come down directly on the spinning blade. I hadn’t even felt it. Yet. My wife saw the whole thing happen.
The end result after some microsurgery is a shorter thumb without a thumbnail. I’ll spare you all the gory details. The prognosis for a full recovery is good after some physical therapy.
But what I have left to deal with now are all the questions. And anger and blaming myself for letting it happen. I haven’t been back to the “scene of the crime” since it happened. I suppose I’ll have to face up to it here in the next day or so.
I lay awake at night second-guessing myself. Not believing that I’ve been woodworking for over 30 years without serious injury. The full range of emotions and “what-if” scenarios.
I’ve already wrestled with the 100 different ways I could have accomplished my goal that night. And what I should have done differently. The constant blame game you play in your mind.
But that’s behind me and life must go on. My point of telling my story is that you should always listen to that voice in your head that says, “Perhaps I should do this another way.” For that’s exactly what I was thinking precisely one-half second before I permanently injured my thumb.
§ by Randy Maxey on November 26th, 2007
I’ll admit it. When it came time to set up my shop, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on lighting. Yep…I’m cheap. So I went to my local big box store and picked out the least expensive flourescent shop lights I could find. But just so you don’t think I’m a total cheapskate, I did upgrade half of the tubes to the newer (and more expensive) daylight or full-spectrum tubes for more natural lighting. I learned that lesson from our new shop here at August Home Publishing. Natural lighting makes a big difference.
Now, my cheapness may come back to haunt me. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has sent out notification of a product recall for shop lights made by Cooper Lighting. You can read all about the recall here. To see the announcement on the CPSC web site, click here.
Well, since my shop lights look suspiciously like the ones that are being recalled, looks like I’ll have to climb a ladder and check them out. And if yours look like the one shown in the photo here, you should do the same.
§ by Joel Hess on February 27th, 2007
All it takes is one wrong move, one moment of hesitation, a single lapse in concentration, or a misplaced step. And it doesn’t matter what power tool you’re using. They’re all dangerous…if…you don’t take the time to think about what you’re doing.
Apparently, I’m not alone in feeling that “operator error” leads to most serious injuries in a home shop. That seems to be the consensus of the 100 or so readers who responded to a recent survey at ToolCrib.com that asked the question: “What’s the most dangerous woodworking power tool?” Garrett French, who runs the Tool Crib blog, went to the trouble of compiling all of the responses and then posting about the results. And they were pretty interesting. The table saw got a lot of votes. So did shapers, chainsaws, routers and jointers.
But let’s face it, a blender can cause an injury — in the hands of someone who’s not paying attention. So the bottom line is, use your head. Don’t leave stuff lying around. (Remember Ed from Extreme Makeover?) Turn off the TV and concentrate. (At least when you’re using a power tool). Be confident. (If you have any doubts, don’t do it.) And once you start, don’t stop. (The minute you let up, somethings bound to jump and bite you.)
And if you can’t read the whole post (it’s long out of necessity), take a break from the serious nature of this topic and be sure to read the comments from Bill Wilson. He posted his clever and funny response to Garrett’s question on the WoodNet forum.
§ by Joel Hess on February 22nd, 2007
I have to admit I haven’t watched a minute of Extreme Makeover, but since they were in Iowa last summer there was a lot of excitement around here over the show.
Recently, I was in the shop talking with a few people about Ed Sanders hand injury. Ed is a designer and builder on the show and he talks about the injury on his personal blog. It’s a long entry and his discussion of it doesn’t really begin until halfway down. There is also a link to photos of his hand after it was stitched. (Depending on your tolerance of graphic injuries, you may or may not want to take a look.) The doctors did a good job closing the wound, but it extends across his palm from thumb to pinkie.
According to Ed, a lot of things led to his injury. Read the rest of this article »
§ by Doug on December 8th, 2006
Yesterday, Joel posted his Top 10 Woodworking Tips to WoodworkingSeminars.com. His first tip had to do with fire hazards, so I told him a story from the “good old days” of Woodsmith magazine, and he thought it would be good to share it on WoodworkingOnline. (Okay, as you will see, they weren’t always that “good!”) Anyway, this story took place in the late 1980s. The magazine wasn’t printed in color yet, each issue only had about 32 pages, and there were just a few of us working on it. We did everything from designing and building the projects, working on the drawings, researching and writing the articles, laying all of the artwork and text blocks on a page manually (long before the beginning of computerized page layout programs), and even occasionally boxing up and mailing back issues.
Since everyone did everything, a lot of us worked in the shop and we probably weren’t as careful as we might have been. One morning, Archie, our maintenance and mail guy, was the first person to arrive at work, about 6:30AM. He smelled something in the building that didn’t seem right. His nose followed the smell into the bottom floor, back end of the building: the shop. He was surprised to find that our full-sized plastic garbage can was now a melted puddle on the floor! Read the rest of this article »