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Thread: Words of Caution and the price for not heeding them

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Upton, Kentucky
    Posts
    53

    Words of Caution and the price for not heeding them

    I was working on a 30" X 6" stick of Ash to place a magnetic knife holder into and to do so had to cut a blind dado for an inset to be trued up with hand router and chisel. The blind dado involved putting reference marks on the fence and anchoring one end and bringing the other slowly down onto the 3/4 dado set at a quarter deep and then carefully moving it to the second reference mark. First, I have done this many times in the past carefully and with shallow cuts. Second, I have always been aware of where my fingers were in relation to the blade, just in case something were to go wrong. Third, this was a process I had done repeatedly to where it was almost automatic and I had layed it out the day before. Fourth, and importantly, my mind was on upcoming projects and the finish of this one which had a deadline of a couple of days. All of this led to what was to transpire.

    As I lowered the board unto the spinning blades, anchoring the front end and lowering the rear end, the dado grabbed it and pulled it right through along with my hand holding the anchored end. I felt it and knew immediately what I had done. I turned off the saw and was afraid to look at my hand. I realized I had to as blood was gushing from my middle finger on my left hand. My Wife/Nurse/Partner/Assistant was in town, 17 miles away so I called our neighbor. I grabbed a rag and wrapped it and ignorantly squeezed, but it did slow down the blood.

    I had just dadoed my middle finger and it was bad. We went to the nearest Hospital and after looking at it and redressing it they sent us to Louisville Jewish Hospital about 50 miles away, known for, among other things, its Hand Specialists. I had to have about a inch of the finger amputated. About 7 hours later we were back home.

    I am writing this for two reasons. 1) to present to the members here the stupidity of my actions and let them analyze all the ignorant things I did wrong so, quite possibly, they will not make any of the many mistakes I did and, 2) To hash and rehash in my own mind all that I did wrong while it is fresh. I think the most important is not being totally focused on what I was doing.

    Anyhow, I hope this will cause you all to think and reflect on how quick this can happen, regardless of how long you have been doing this Skill/hobby/vocation/art we all love and enjoy. I have many years in at this and am learning every day, but obviously not fast enough.

    Your comments will not offend me, I have earned any negative ones and would welcome constructive ones also. The positive is, it could have been much worse.
    He who works with his hands is a labourer.
    He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
    He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
    Francis of Assisi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,824
    Sorry to hear about this. I hope that things work out the best and the pain not too bad.

    Thanks for writing the safety reminder.

    I am getting older and the probability of a stupid mistake increases. That is why I bought a certain table saw.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Location
    Columbia MO and Howard County MO
    Posts
    868
    Very very sad to hear. Wood working machines are so dangerous. I wonder if a dado blade affects the action of a Sawstop.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    2,177
    Goodwin, sorry to hear this. Maurice, there is a special brake that you install on a Sawstop for using dado blades, to deal with the wider blade.
    Hobbyist

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2021
    Location
    Columbia MO and Howard County MO
    Posts
    868
    I joined the club no one wants to be in in 1983. Reading Godwins's post really gives me a sinking felling. I looked a Sawstop over for the first time a few weeks ago. I hope to have one eventually. I am accumulating a lot of work piece holders and sleds with hold downs for difficult cuts. I have also started to learn to gauge blade height by counting the turns and position of the height adjustment wheel.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKean, PA
    Posts
    14,330
    I did the same thing once and ended up with 21 stitches in my little finger.

    Your very first mistake was bringing a work piece down onto a moving blade. It is 10,000 times safer to determine the desired cut depth on a piece of scrap, then lower the blade a counted number of turns until all the teeth are below the table surface. Then place your work piece in position with the requisite stop block behind it. Then, start the saw, while holding the work piece in place with tools/guides, raise the blade the exact same number of turns that it was lowered, make the cut, stop the saw and lower the blade again if a second cut is to be made the same way.

    The rule is never, ever at any time lower a piece of wood onto a moving saw blade. Always raise the blade into the work.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 07-16-2022 at 9:50 AM.
    Lee Schierer
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    SoCal
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    Sorry to hear this and hope you heal well. I am also thankful for your post as a safety reminder. Larry points out what we don't want to think about, we are all getting older. Just yesterday I did a minor "attention drift" move at the edge sander and I am a bit of a safety freak. Nothing a band-aid and time won't cure unlike a more serious injury. The more serious injury is just a set of circumstances away.

    The most dangerous questionable practice is the one we get away with. This breeds confidence in something we probably shouldn't be doing. Last week someone posted elsewhere about losing the tip of a thumb doing something that I realized I do as well. Again I was thankful for the wake up call as I corrected my opinion of that maneuver immediately and stopped doing it.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience and heal quick.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    1,024
    Hi. First of all, sorry to hear about your accident and I hope that you heal well.

    If you could present a more precise explanation, so that I don't make assumptions that may be wrong.

    Your stick of wood was 30" x 6" x ?
    What do you mean "anchoring"? as it sounds like you put marks on your saw fence for a visual reference and did not use stop blocks clamped to the fence."

    I am confused as to your terms; "As I lowered the board unto the spinning blades, anchoring the front end and lowering the rear end, the dado grabbed it and pulled it right through along with my hand holding the anchored end."

    Depending on the circumstance you can lower the wood either way as in the photos. Regardless which you choose; the stop at the front of the saw prevents the wood from getting pulled through the saw. Your hands don't have to be on the outfeed behind the saw blade. So even without stops and if you let the wood move such that the blade would grab it, you would not cut your hand, simply because it is on the infeed side of the sawblade.

    The only way I see that you could cut your hand is
    1. no stops
    2. hands on the wrong side of the blade.

    If you don't want to use stops it would seem that you should have a very good grip on the wood, be very alert, and have your hands on the infeed side of the saw blade, in case you lose it.


    Assem1.jpgAssem2.jpgAssem3.jpg

  9. #9
    Ouch! I hope you heal ok.

    As Mark points out, dropping on can be done safely with a stop block and your hands should not be on the outfeed side of the blade. That cut could be done more safely and with less cleanup using a plunge router. Drop cuts with a dado should be approached with caution or avoided altogether.

  10. #10
    In my mind, the problem here was a misunderstanding of the mechanics of using machinery. What people intuit is going to happen vs what happens in the physical world can be two very different things.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Upton, Kentucky
    Posts
    53
    The piece of wood was 1" thick and I was trying to remove 3/8" in one pass, no stops. All you point out is valid. I earned this amputation w/ the collection of mistakes I made. I am very ashamed that with all the years of woodworking and how generally anal I am in my habits, that I did this. Thank you for your critique.
    He who works with his hands is a labourer.
    He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
    He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
    Francis of Assisi

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    61,323
    Goodwin, sad to hear about your accident and hope your recovery goes smoothly. And thank you for the reminder. There is none among us who is not a hair's breadth away from something similar if we lose sight of what we are doing for a split second.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Cashiers NC
    Posts
    579
    I hope you heal quickly and it makes you even more careful. Recently I had an incident that although I was not hurt it scared me bad. I was sanding a large box on the stationary belt sander. I was wearing a very light synthetic Tee shirt with the bottom untucked. The dust collector pulled the shirt tail into the belt and the tail of the shirt was ripped off so fast it took me a minute to realise what happened. I normally tuck my shirt but it was one of those “ work in the shop a few minutes times” . I am so glad I wasn’t working around a blade. Thanks for posting your story. We all can learn from each other’s mistakes.
    Charlie Jones

  14. #14
    Goodwin, I am very sorry to hear of your accident. I hope you heal and adapt. My electrician who is also a woodworker showed up a few weeks ago and had just recovered from a similar injury. It is so easy to make a mistake.

    I am still getting used to my new shop and new central dust collection system. I made a couple of mistakes while making a test part recently that worry me. I was doing machine setup for a molding operation. I was moving from tool to tool, jointer to router table to table saw, measuring and adjusting. I made two operating mistakes. I did not align the blast gates correctly once and I failed to turn off the jointer once. The last one really bothered me because it is such a safety concern. Part of this is newness but I am getting older too. I am going to start keeping a log of mistakes both to raise my awareness of them to form better safety habits but also as a mechanism to decide when to stop using power tools.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    597
    Hmmm. I'm not sure what to make of this. I have done this blind dado many times and honestly it gave me, and still gives me, the heebie jeebies when lowering any piece of wood onto a spinning router bit or saw blade. That is why I have gotten into hand tools and have a hand router plane.

    I'm not sure how this technique could have been made safer. I have some ideas though.

    1. Lowering the blade, so the full depth of the dado must be achieved through multiple passes. Safer probably but introduces errors with multiple passes. But since the dado was only a quarter inch deep, I'm not sure going more shallow would have been that much safer.

    2. Not using a blind dado. Run it full length and plug the area outside the magnetic knife holder. Use a contrasting wood and make it a feature, not a mistake.

    3. Flip the board over, clamp it to the bench and use a plunge router with edge guides.

    4. Heck, just use hand tools.

    Anyone else have a safer way of doing this?
    Regards,

    Tom

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