View Full Version : Accident Report

Bill Grumbine
10-16-2004, 8:18 PM
Greetings all

Well I have finally been bitten by one of the big machines in the shop. Thanks be to God it was not as serious as it could have been. I am typing this pretty much with one hand, although I am able to use a few fingers of my left hand with some difficulty.

I was drilling pieces on the drill press, 7" square blanks with an arch sawn out for the foot of a footstool. The fence and a stop block were set for repetitive cutting, and as is my nature, I was holding everything nice and tight. Anyone who has ever tried to loosen anything I have tightened will attest to the fact that I don't leave things loose in any way.

So I am drilling a 1" hole using a huge brad point bit, which although it is made in China runs as true as can be. About the third hole, I was releasing the quill and somehow the bit grabbed the board, pulling it up above the fence, at which point it commenced to spin at approximately 1800 rmp. The sharp edges of the oak (it had to be oak) smacked the back of my left hand several times as I pulled it back out of the way. At first I thought I was going to get away with just a few superficial cuts on the surface, but literally within seconds my hand swelled up like a balloon and my fingers became very difficult to move.

A call down to the house brought ice and a wet rag to clean it up. SWMBO was at the store, but promptly came home to take me to the emergency room. It looked real bad, and I was visualizing six to eight weeks in a cast. Even with ice applied within two to three minuted after the accident, my hand was swollen up like I had a golf ball stuck under my skin.

We made it through the emergency room in short order. The very good news is that I did not break any bones. The doctor figures I broke open a few of the large veins that run just under the surface. So, while it looks real bad, and feels the same, I should be back in the shop in days instead of weeks.

I don't know that there is anything I could have done differently beyond having the board clamped down as well as against a fence and a stop, but who does that for repetitive drilling operations? I do not know that this will change any of my work habits, but I just may hold onto things even tighter (if that is possible). Now it is off to happy land for a while. The good doctor gave me some good pills, and I can see by the number of corrections I have had to make to my spelling that it is already taking effect.


Tom Sweeney
10-16-2004, 8:27 PM
Sorry to hear of your accident - Thank God it wasn't any more serious. Take care & keep plenty of ice on it - heal quickly.

Charles McKinley
10-16-2004, 8:31 PM
Hi Bill,

I'm glad you were not hurt worse. Don't do any thing while in happy land but rest. ;) Get well soon. Gift selling and making season is upon us.

Don Selke
10-16-2004, 8:34 PM
Hey Bill:

You take care of yourself and hope you have a quick recovery. I guess that we woodworkers have to realize that the things we do in the shop can be dangerious. There are times that no matthe what you do and what precautions you take things happen. I am very glad that the injury was not serious.

Ian Barley
10-16-2004, 8:39 PM

Real sorry to hear of your pain and glad that you got off fairly lightly. If it helps I am pretty sure that you have a good and careful approach and that this incident just proves that sometimes stuff happens. I'm sure you're right about the clamping but equally right that it probably isn't that practical. I know that I don't because the extent of the risk doesn't justify the extra time.

The most practical solution that I have seen is this one. http://shop.woodcraft.com/Woodcraft/product_family.asp?family_id=3857&gift=False Haven't ever seen it work but the principle appears sound. Not trying to be wise after the event but if this is the kind of task you do often it might be worth considering.

Heal quickly.

Jim Becker
10-16-2004, 9:01 PM
Yowsa! Having been smacked at the DP in a similar, but less distructive way, sometime in the past, I can imagine what you are going through. I sure hope that heals quickly!

Steve Clardy
10-16-2004, 9:20 PM
Yep. Drill presses can bite.
When I was 16 I was at a neighbors house in his Dad's shop. We were using the old drill press with no belt guards. The on-off switch was right next to one of the pulleys. I was drilling something, can't remember what, went to shut it off, reached for the switch with my left hand, and whamo. Got my finger in between the belt and pulley. Ouch. It pulled out my fingernail and took a chunk off the end of the little finger. Two days in the hospital, skin graft off of my leg for some fill in meat for the repair.
I can remember my folks talking about the huge bill back then. $102.00.

Five years ago, was in the shop early trying to get a batch of rustic picture frames done for a company we did frames for. Last year we did that we made 17,000 frames.
Anyhow, I had about fifty frames to finish taking the round corner out of the back of the frame's four corners so the glass would go in. Using a forstner bit and a jig set up to hold the frame in place, I started out to finish them up. I was in a hurry, shop was at about 40 degrees, didn't really have time to build a fire in the wood stove, so I put on a cotton glove [Mistake] and went to drilling. I got a chip on the jig I had to remove, so I just reached under the bit to brush it out as I usually did. But the bit caught the glove, wrapped my hand and arm around the bit, drill press was trying to turn over, etc etc etc.. I jerked my hand back, shut if off, pulled the glove, and here was my right little finger sticking out at a severe angle.
I had managed to pull two joints out of place.
Took about a week before I could remove the cast to get back to work.


Don Abele
10-16-2004, 9:31 PM
Bill, sorry to hear about your accident, but glad to know it wasn't serious. I have had bits grab boards before which is why I use a fairly high fence and try to set the table as high as possible - hoping to minimize the chance of turning the DP into a whirly gig. I also tend to keep my at the lower end of the rpm range for the bit/material I'm using.

As for your hand...if they suspect that they swelling is primarily bleeding (and you'll be able to tell tomorrow when it's all purple), the best course of action (and I hope they told you this too)...ice for 48-72 hours. This helps control swelling, stops the bleeding, and causes the blood to clot. After 72 hours switch to moist heat and exercise (slow flexing). This will help break up the blot clot so your body can resorb it, dilates the blood vessels bringing in more oxygen for healing and carrying away waste products from the area. Within about 5-7 days hand should be feeling much better and almost back to original in 10. Oh, keeping it above the level of your heart for the first 28 hours will help some with the painful throbbing.

Heal quickly,


Kevin Gerstenecker
10-16-2004, 10:22 PM
YIKES Bill...............makes me hurt just thinking about it! I wish you a speedy, full recovery. It sounds like it could have been much worse. Take it easy for a few days, and use the "Happy Pills" for the pain..........and give the shop time a rest for a bit. Happy Pills and machinery of any sort don't mix.......but, of course, you already know that. Take care Bill, and use the sore hand for all the attention you can get from the ladies! :D

George Summers
10-16-2004, 10:38 PM
Bill -

Instead of clamping the workpiece (being repetitive) could you clamp something like a mortiser hold-down to the fence? Wide enough to stop a piece from rising above the fence, with an open front and just enough above the table so you could slide pieces in and out. Doesn't happen often but I have bits ocassionally grab a workpiece and pull it up, it ain't fun.


Tony Sade
10-16-2004, 10:41 PM
Heal fast, Bill, and, by all means, enjoy the pharmaceuticals. ;)

Dennis Peacock
10-16-2004, 10:52 PM

Sorry to hear of your accident. I've been smacked by my drill press several times and many of those times was just because I was in too much of a hurry to secure everything before drilling. Glad it wasn't anything worse. Of course a busted hand of any sort that hinders a ww'ers hands is a real pain any way.

I'll pray that your healing comes quickly.

Take it easy with those "happy pills" and rest for the next couple of days. :)

Betsy Yocum
10-16-2004, 11:37 PM
Bill - speedy recovery - makes me cringe just to read your story.:(


Jack Hogoboom
10-16-2004, 11:50 PM
Bill, I'm sorry to hear that you got hurt. I hope you'll be back to work quickly. What hope is there for us mere mortals if guys like you are getting injured in the shop???


Waymon Campbell
10-16-2004, 11:51 PM
Bill - Thanks for sharing the story and I hope you heal up okay!

John Miliunas
10-16-2004, 11:52 PM
Holy smokers, Bill! :eek: NOT a good thing, but real happy it wasn't worse! As others have said, I too have gotten nailed by the DP, but nowhere nearly as bad. We'll pray for a speedy recovery and please, be careful!

Marshall Harrison
10-17-2004, 12:52 AM
Terrible way to get those happy pills. Glad things weren't any worse. Take care of yourself and follow the doctor's orders.

Bruce Page
10-17-2004, 1:23 AM
Heal quickly Bill. I'm glad you weren't bit any worse.

Enjoy the rest.

Glenn Clabo
10-17-2004, 7:26 AM
It's funny but I've always been afraid of drill presses. When I was an apprentice I witnessed someone get his finger jammed between the fence and piece when the bit grabbed it on the way out. It crushed his finger so bad it was...well... it was gross.

Hope you heal fast...but think about something like this setup for future work. It adds a step...but....

It's not as fancy as Woodpeckers setup...
Picture from website...

Harry Pye
10-17-2004, 9:54 AM
Get well quickly. Remember you have a new addition coming to your shop in a few weeks and you want to be able to greet it properly. The best we can do it to try to be careful. If we took every possible safeguard we would never get anything done.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-17-2004, 9:56 AM
Bill.....hope you heal quickly! Been there...done that....once was drilling metal...had it catch.....spun out of the pliers I was holding it with...came around and cut my finger to the bone....Those DPs can be dangerous!

Halsey MCCombs
10-17-2004, 10:19 AM
Sorry to hear of your accident and hope your back at work soon.Enjoyed our visit with you yesterday . Halsey

Lloyd Brown
10-17-2004, 10:25 AM
:eek: If you are like alot of American now days, (Thank God your not) you would sue your employer, receive worker comp., and start a class action law suit agaist the drill press company.
I wish you a speedy recovery and I will handle the change of address for that new peice of equpment you are getting.
Ask the boss for some vacation time :) this is the time when self employed really is hard. and scares me from doing the leap.

Tyler Howell
10-17-2004, 11:58 AM
What they said! Get better soon.

keith zimmerman
10-17-2004, 3:24 PM
OMG, Bill! :eek: I sure hope you heal quickly and thoroughly from this setback. This is not a good way to handle wood, but it sounds like you were being as cautious as you usually are. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Use your down time to take care of business paperwork or something like that and you can still consider yourself productive.

I look forward to hearing how your healing progress goes.

Take care.


Tom LaRussa
10-18-2004, 12:19 PM
I was drilling something, can't remember what, went to shut it off, reached for the switch with my left hand, and whamo. Got my finger in between the belt and pulley. Ouch. It pulled out my fingernail and took a chunk off the end of the little finger.

Sorry to hear about your painful experience, :( but at least we Creekers now have a way to tell you and Chris apart.:eek: :D :p ;)

Steve Clardy
10-18-2004, 12:58 PM

Sorry to hear about your painful experience, :( but at least we Creekers now have a way to tell you and Chris apart.:eek: :D :p ;)
Hahaha. Oh, that's a good one Tom. I like your style.:D

That's how MOM could tell us apart too.:eek:

John M. Cioffi
10-18-2004, 1:36 PM
Hi Bill,

Sorry for your mis-hap. Thank GOD you are fine & not hurt badly.Hope you heal up real fast.Thanks for sharing.