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Thread: Another table saw accident

  1. #1
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    Another table saw accident

    Be careful out there. I just met up with my young friend. He just flew in to Traverse City from Boston for a well deserved week of vacation with family, having just completed his residency in plastic surgery. Call at 8:00 pm (supposed to fly out the next morning) Come in, we have a retired doctor that just took up woodworking and severed four fingers on a table saw, helicopter is on it's way. 5:30 am he finished the surgery re-attaching all of the fingers. Re-attached but will never be the same. Barely made the flight, no sleep and we were out golfing at 3:30. Such is life in the fast lane.
    NOW you tell me...

  2. #2
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    Double dang! Hate to hear that.
    I had planned to take up woodworking in retirement but couldn’t wait so started around 28. Got all my dumb mistakes done I hope during 32 years.

  3. #3
    I had never gotten a cut from my table saw for the first 40-50 years I used one until last year. Fortunately I messed up with a SawStop so I only got a broken bone in my finger and six stitches. I don't have complete feeling in the area that was cut and it doesn't look exactly the same but it would have been a lot worse if I had been using one of my previous table saws. It can happen to even experienced people if you get stupid, like I did, for a minute or so.

    One of the reasons I strongly recommend a track saw, especially for newbies, is I think they are a lot safer. Any tool that can cut wood can cut you but needing to move wood past the blade makes table saws more risky than most other tools. SawStop is definitely a significant investment but it is also a good saw. While I think they overstate things saying they know of no significant injuries I am sure I would have lost a lot more of my finger if I did the same stupid thing with a saw without the protective circuit. I'm glad I got one shortly before I retired.

  4. #4
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    I assume it was a kick back incident, Jim. I've been using table saws for well over 50 years without an injury, but try to remind myself that the next time I use the saw it could happen. Using the riving knife & blade guard help a lot to prevent kick back.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I had never gotten a cut from my table saw for the first 40-50 years I used one until last year. Fortunately I messed up with a SawStop so I only got a broken bone in my finger and six stitches. I don't have complete feeling in the area that was cut and it doesn't look exactly the same but it would have been a lot worse if I had been using one of my previous table saws. It can happen to even experienced people if you get stupid, like I did, for a minute or so.

    One of the reasons I strongly recommend a track saw, especially for newbies, is I think they are a lot safer. Any tool that can cut wood can cut you but needing to move wood past the blade makes table saws more risky than most other tools. SawStop is definitely a significant investment but it is also a good saw. While I think they overstate things saying they know of no significant injuries I am sure I would have lost a lot more of my finger if I did the same stupid thing with a saw without the protective circuit. I'm glad I got one shortly before I retired.
    Hi Jim,

    Jusr started using my Sawstop daily, so how did the safety brake handle the incident? Did the blade stop immediately when it came in contact with your finger? What broke the bone in your finger?

    I get that blade brake is just another layer of safety and by being smart I am hoping not to test it but ya know I am ripping 50-60 strips from couple dozen wider boards every day and I just figure the odds are at least one slip up over the next 20 years and hoping the SS increases my chance of keeping my digits.

  6. #6
    I was raising a 3/4 dado stack through a zero clearance insert with no opening (yet) of my Colliflower throat plate. I had the dado cartridge in. This was my first experience changing cartridges and I did not find it as easy as I would now that I've done it. The replaceable plates of the Colliflower are only 1/4 inch mdf with a melamine type surface so they flex a lot. I was worried about it breaking so I backed with a block of 2x3 I had there. I just held the 2x3 over the throat plate. That was my first mistake. Then I raised the block to check on progress. The dado blade was through, it caught the block and threw the third finger of my left hand into the blade. The cartridge activated and stopped the dado stack. But the force of the impact broke the bone in the last part of that finger, cut it bad enough to need six stitches to close, and removed the finger nail. So I wrapped a paper towel around it to slow the blood loss, got the dog in the kennel, and drove myself to the urgent care to get stitched up. Did not hurt until well after the fact. I sent SawStop a report and the cartridge and they sent me a new one. I have been making dados with my router since this. I'm sure I can do it on the PCS but I do not think the need to switch cartridges is a desirable feature of the saw. It was not the cause of my mistake but I think it distracted me somewhat and helped me decide to hurry and do something an unsafe way. I was using a Freud stacked dado. I was not using the riving knife, can't with the dado stack, or the blade guard (also not possible I think) or my overhead dust collection (possible but not the way I did it but that would have been a good thing).

    My bigger complaint is SawStops insistance that they know of no serious injuries with the saws. I think they know that the injury will be a function of how fast your body moves into the blade. I think a lesser factor is how fast the blade stops. A 3/4 dado stack probably doesn't stop quite as fast as a 1/8 inch saw blade. If you are pushing wood past the blade at a normal feed rate and touch the blade, I suspect you get a scratch. If kickback throws your hand into the blade, you are looking at stitches. Not an amputation but multiple stitches. There may even be some risk of amputation if the blade is well extended and unprotected. Possibly a broken bone. When it gets to multiple stitches I start thinking it is a serious injury. But stopping the blade quickly clearly minimizes the extent of injury. The brake activation is what I would call violent. I even wondered at first if that broke the bone in my finger but I doubt it, I think it was the dado stack. But it cannot stop the blade quickly without applying significant force.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I was raising a 3/4 dado stack through a zero clearance insert with no opening (yet) of my Colliflower throat plate. I had the dado cartridge in. This was my first experience changing cartridges and I did not find it as easy as I would now that I've done it. The replaceable plates of the Colliflower are only 1/4 inch mdf with a melamine type surface so they flex a lot. I was worried about it breaking so I backed with a block of 2x3 I had there. I just held the 2x3 over the throat plate. That was my first mistake. Then I raised the block to check on progress. The dado blade was through, it caught the block and threw the third finger of my left hand into the blade. The cartridge activated and stopped the dado stack. But the force of the impact broke the bone in the last part of that finger, cut it bad enough to need six stitches to close, and removed the finger nail. So I wrapped a paper towel around it to slow the blood loss, got the dog in the kennel, and drove myself to the urgent care to get stitched up. Did not hurt until well after the fact. I sent SawStop a report and the cartridge and they sent me a new one. I have been making dados with my router since this. I'm sure I can do it on the PCS but I do not think the need to switch cartridges is a desirable feature of the saw. It was not the cause of my mistake but I think it distracted me somewhat and helped me decide to hurry and do something an unsafe way. I was using a Freud stacked dado. I was not using the riving knife, can't with the dado stack, or the blade guard (also not possible I think) or my overhead dust collection (possible but not the way I did it but that would have been a good thing).

    My bigger complaint is SawStops insistance that they know of no serious injuries with the saws. I think they know that the injury will be a function of how fast your body moves into the blade. I think a lesser factor is how fast the blade stops. A 3/4 dado stack probably doesn't stop quite as fast as a 1/8 inch saw blade. If you are pushing wood past the blade at a normal feed rate and touch the blade, I suspect you get a scratch. If kickback throws your hand into the blade, you are looking at stitches. Not an amputation but multiple stitches. There may even be some risk of amputation if the blade is well extended and unprotected. Possibly a broken bone. When it gets to multiple stitches I start thinking it is a serious injury. But stopping the blade quickly clearly minimizes the extent of injury. The brake activation is what I would call violent. I even wondered at first if that broke the bone in my finger but I doubt it, I think it was the dado stack. But it cannot stop the blade quickly without applying significant force.
    Hey thanks! Yeah I am a and won't ever use a dado blade and since I never have I don't know what I am missing Router works. If it eventually got you what chance do I have?

    Although I have used a table saw pretty extensively for decades (with all safety stuff removed all the time because I didn't know any better) as a weekend warrior doing small WW projects, remodeling a couple of houses pretty extensively and building a building, I have never used it daily for a couple of hours at a time ripping boards one after the other. It just seems that if I spend the next 15-20 years doing this the odds are I am going to f up. Hopefully when it happens that blade brake will save my finger/hand.

    For the past couple of weeks I have had the blade guard and kickback pawls off and just using the riving knife so I could split boards down to the last inch. I am left handed and feel most comfortable standing to the right so I like to rip, kicking my cut out to the left of the blade. I use a feather board to both make my strips the same size and help with kickback. But I do worry that pushing the board from the left, leaning over the fence I am going to cause kickback. I am thinking of putting the blade guard and pawl back and just stopping when the width is too narrow for it. Can use the wood elsewhere.

    Ya know I have no problem with any of my other tools (and I think I have a version of all of them) but the table saw just seems like an accident waiting to happen. But it also is the most used tool I have, meh.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 06-18-2021 at 10:31 AM. Reason: language

  8. #8
    With no intention of hijacking this discussion ...

    If not using a dado stack and using a router instead, can you give a brief indication of how you use a router for dados & rabbets? I'm especially interested in how you cut dado widths to match the plywood you're using.

  9. #9
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    Stephen,
    I used to be terrified of stacked dado blades. Then I got a zero clearance throat plate. I realized that what scared me was the giant opening in the throat plate. Now itís no big deal.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Kortge View Post
    With no intention of hijacking this discussion ...

    If not using a dado stack and using a router instead, can you give a brief indication of how you use a router for dados & rabbets? I'm especially interested in how you cut dado widths to match the plywood you're using.
    ken,
    itís really pretty simple. You have two boards with a gap between exactly the width of your groove. Then you use a very short flush trim bit to cut the dado. woodpecker tools sells a really expensive version. I love their stuff but it can be awfully spendy.
    https://www.woodpeck.com/exact-width-dado-jig-2019.html

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Kortge View Post
    With no intention of hijacking this discussion ...

    If not using a dado stack and using a router instead, can you give a brief indication of how you use a router for dados & rabbets? I'm especially interested in how you cut dado widths to match the plywood you're using.
    They make slightly undersized router bits for use with sheet goods, but I think there can still be some mismatch.
    Another approach is to use an intentionally undersized bit and a dado jig or a micro-adjust fence.

    (I prefer the dado blade for any complete dadoes. I'm less enthusiastic with a stopped dado)

    Matt

  13. #13
    Jim,
    The thing that jumped out at me in your description of the event was this: How long was the 2 x 3 you used to cover the blade when raising it through the insert? I'm guessing it was less than foot long. Had you used a 4' long piece, I doubt it could have shot out the way it did. Monday morning q'backing I know, but that's the way it is with accidents.

  14. #14
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    Sorry to hear of your injury, Jim. And like that surgeon in Ole's post, I have seen WAY too many tablesaw injuries. The longest case I ever participated in the OR was a 9 digit replantation. As the surgeon described it, it was like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. As soon as you finish the last finger, it's back to revising the first one. Sigh... It took 28 hours of surgery.

    Jim, making the zero clearance inserts in those replaceable plates of the Colliflower has always scared the crap out of me. And once, with the Sawstop insert making one I triggered the cartridge, though somehow with metal contact.

    I use boards and hefty clamps to prevent the insert from rising up, and it still scares me. I always hope the inserts I have don't need replacing so I don't have to go through that.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
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  15. #15
    The 2x3 scrap was less than a foot long. But I will not do this again holding the piece regardless of length. I will clamp it down - or just risk damaging the insert. I make my own so the cost is nothing. I've made some of solid wood, maybe I would use one of those. They are stronger.

    I have a jig that you adjust to match the wood for dadoing with the router but I think it's still a bit fussy to set up. You have to make the dado a little wider than the sheet goods or it won't go in during glueup because it never is perfectly flat. How much is the issue. I use old business cards as shims for this sort of thing so do I use one or two or three? But it works.

    These days I prefer to use either my 3/4 bit knowing I am leaving 1/32 for fitup or my 1/32 undersized bit if the plywood is more than 1/32 under. It's plenty of clearance but I hate issues during glueup. My favorite way to guide the router is with a little add-on jig for my DeWalt tracksaw track. Getting the offset right is a bit of a pain but the track guides the router great resulting in a nice straight dado. I would use the router table if the dado is close to the edge and especially if the work piece is not huge but for big stuff, I put the router on the track. Other brands of tracksaws offer something similar. The big advantage over a simple straight edge is you cannot wander away from the guide. I could also use this setup to make a custom sized dado in two passes. Shifting the track isn't at all difficult.

    I have used a stacked dado a lot in the past. Setting them up is a bit of a pain but once you get the width right it's great to have the rip fence to guide the work past the blade. But adding a cartridge change and setup (clearance adjustment) to the process isn't welcome. But it is required for the SawStop brake to work. When you add up all the effort to get the saw setup, it just seems easier to drag out a noisy, messy, router.

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