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Forum topic by nkawtg posted 07-11-2017 03:11 PM 1295 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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297 posts in 2134 days

07-11-2017 03:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lost fingers

A friend of a friend lost two fingers above the knuckle yesterday doing a dado operation.
Fortunately his friend was a trained EMT and had a trauma kit in her truck and though there was little blood, he lost consciousness several times due to shock before he got to the emergency room.
He’s in a lot of pain.

Before making that cut, play out in your mind where your hands will be during the cut.
Don’t rush.

15 replies so far

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1658 days

#1 posted 07-11-2017 03:18 PM

On a table saw I assume? Not a router?

View hotbyte's profile


1003 posts in 3858 days

#2 posted 07-11-2017 03:20 PM

Oh goodness! Hoping the best for him.

View nkawtg's profile


297 posts in 2134 days

#3 posted 07-11-2017 03:26 PM

You assume correctly.

On a table saw I assume? Not a router?

- gargey

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1474 days

#4 posted 07-11-2017 04:21 PM

A friend of a friend …
Fortunately his friend …
- nkawtg

It’s a lot of friends out there.

View Kelly's profile


3154 posts in 3827 days

#5 posted 07-12-2017 04:19 PM

Push shoes, always.

Wishing your buddy a speedy recovery.

View Redoak49's profile


4919 posts in 2871 days

#6 posted 07-12-2017 04:29 PM

I am sorry for your friend.

Please post additional info so we understand what went wrong.

Type of saw, experience level, how deep a cut, what type wood, using a push pad or stick

The more we know the more we can learn.

View DrDirt's profile


4614 posts in 4625 days

#7 posted 07-12-2017 04:48 PM

I too would like to know what happened – since it is typically a shallow cut.
Is the issue Kickback?

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View nkawtg's profile


297 posts in 2134 days

#8 posted 07-12-2017 05:26 PM

To answer all your questions I’ve written up what was told to me and include a picture.

You cannot UNSEE this….

I am posting a GRAPHIC photo, with permission of the person who had their fingers cut off.
Another friend of mine is actually using the photo in a workplace safety meeting this week, which gave me the idea for this post here at LumberJocks.

Once again, this is a WARNING = EXTREMELY GRAPHIC!!

He was supposed to be working on the poultry pens but for some reason he went down to dado the handles into the beehives.
He did not assemble the boxes first like he normally does, he tried something new, and he paid the price. His friend was making her daughter lunch when he started screaming at the back door a couple minutes later, screaming he had just cut his fingers off. She ran to the door, handed him paper towels to stem any blood as he was gripping his right hand, and got ready to go to the ER.
He took his glove off, she initially wanted the ER to remove the glove to possibly prevent any more damage but he took it off anyway. She helped to prevent any more damage since he was insistent on taking it off, and yes, two of his fingers were missing.

There was virtually no blood, as the 1” wide Dado blade shredded the vessels, causing them to crush/almost self-seal, VS a straight cut, like with a knife cut, which cannot easily self-seal.

He passed out twice trying to get him to the truck, and she took him to the closest ER and got him in the door of ER. He was immediately seen, even before any paperwork was done.

However, even after he repeatedly told her not to look for his fingers, that there would not be anything left, in good conscience she had to try, she drove down to where the table saw was, and dug through the sawdust and machine. There were no fingers, no gloves, no blue glove fibers, no blood. The Dado blade had pretty much atomized everything. Nothing in the sawdust or on the table saw even felt wet.

Amputations seen in the emergency department are often a result of penetrating injuries, involving a variety of machines, blunt injuries (crush injuries), self-inflicted injuries, or thermal injuries (electrical burns or frostbite). Fingertip amputations are the most common type of amputation of the upper extremity.


You cannot UNSEE this….
Last warning.

It is kinda morbidly interesting… He lost a little just to the first knuckle on one finger and just above the second knuckle on the other. Again, there was NO BLOOD!! That was almost as disturbing as anything.
This was as much as he was bleeding, until the ER physician started injecting nerve blockers into his hand to kill the pain. His hands were just shredded. The Xrays show very clean cuts on the bones on both fingers. She took the photo, not for posterity, or showing you guys, but to show anyone who needed to see if after he was being worked on and bandaged.

She goes on to say that the problem with using a Dado blade on the table saw is that the anti-kick device needs to be removed and she postulates that the board caught in the blade and kicked back, most likely it struck him, which caused him to possibly lean forward, and then his hand fell into the running blade.
Table saw safety is extremely important to woodworkers because most woodworkers who use power tools use table saws as their main shop tool. Add to that the power of the saws and the dangers it presents, and we quickly understand that lots of personal damage is possible. The table saw has been in use for many, many years, so most of the problems possible can be easily foreseen and avoided. The double dozen below should help you avoid most, if not all, problems.

1. Do not wear gloves while operating a table saw. There are several reasons, but loss of tactile sense is probably foremost, while a possible loss of gripping power is also close to the top. And some kinds of gloves are loose enough to present an item for the rotating blade to grab.

2. Keep the floor in front of the saw free of cut-offs and piled up sawdust. Tripping or sliding into a running, or even stopped, saw blade can really create problems, but even slipping and banging your head against the cast iron table can bring on a bad injury.

3. Wear proper eye and hearing protection. Eyes need to be protected from damage by projectiles—and no, standard eyeglasses will not do the job. Hearing protection is something every woodworker should start with, and continue. Hearing loss creeps up on you without warning, and often without symptoms, until it’s too late to reverse the procedure.

4. Wear short sleeves, leave the ties at the office, and junk your dangling jewelry. Get rid of other loose fitting clothing while operating a table saw. Any of these items might get caught in the blade and yank you into it before you can react.

5. Stand comfortably, with your feet far enough apart for good balance. This is always important, but more so when you’re cutting stock long enough to require several steps towards the saw to keep the feed going. Then, you build up momentum and want to be able to stop easily. Wear footwear with non-slip soles.

6. Stand comfortably, with your feet far enough apart for good balance. This is always important, but more so when you’re cutting stock long enough to require several steps towards the saw to keep the feed going. Then, you build up momentum and want to be able to stop easily. Wear footwear with non-slip soles.

7. Avoid any awkward operations. If you feel like a gawky fool doing a cut, then don’t do the cut in that manner. This helps you avoid losing your balance and possibly falling into the blade or table.

8. Use a push stick.

9. Use a stop block.

10. Position your body so that it is NOT in line with the blade. This keeps sawdust feeding back through the slot of the blade out of your face, and much more important, it keeps you out of the line of most kick-backs.

11. Never reach behind or over the blade unless it has stopped turning. Sometimes this looks safe. It almost never truly is. This does not mean you should stop pushing your work before it finishes passing through the blade, itself an invitation to kick back.

12. Always disconnect the power before changing the blade or performing any other maintenance operation. I like to drape the plug over my fence rail so I know in an instant the saw’s unplugged…or not.

13. Make sure that the blade has stopped turning before you adjust the table saw. The reasons are obvious. Making adjustments can get hands too close to the blade, and even a slowly spinning blade has a multitude of sharp edges that can do damage.

14. Always make sure that the blade is turning free before you turn on the power: this is especially helpful after you make changes or adjustments. In other words, spin the blade without power a time or two to make sure there are no scraps or tools touching it.

15. Keep the tabletop smooth and polished. A dirty or rough table requires you to use more force to push the stock through the blade. It may also rust like crazy, further reducing the saw’s effectiveness.

16. Keep the rip fence parallel to the blade so stock doesn’t bind on the blade and kick back. Some woodworkers prefer to keep the rear of the fence kicked out (away from the blade) by 1/64”. I believe parallel is better, but a friend of mine, with more experience than I, keeps the back of his fence kicked out. Both work.

17. Use zero clearance inserts. These reduce the chance of slender cuts dropping into the lower part of the blade and making the round trip to speed by your head. They also reduce splintering in cuts.

18. Never operate a table saw with the throat insert removed. Wood that is fed into a gaping hole can drop down and get caught on the blade. That can’t happen if the throat insert is in place.

19. Do not make free-hand cuts on a table saw. Guide the stock through the blade using the rip fence or the miter gauge.

20. Keep the blade guards, splitters and anti-kickback fingers in place and operating freely. Check the action of these items before starting work.

21. Work should be released only when it is past the blade. Releasing work too early is an invitation to kickback as it is possible for the blade to grab the part that has not yet gone by.

22. Whenever the stock is lifted or tilted above the surface of the table, the saw is able to shake the stock. If this happens, and you lose your grip, duck down and hit the stop button because losing your grip on the work means it probably is going to come back at you.

23. Check stock before cutting. Look for nails, knots, screws, or stones. Such fun items may become projectiles. If they hit, they smart, and may cause serious injury as well. Also, damage to carbide tipped blades can be major, even if all it does is scare you.

24. Don’t mess with the fence adjustment when the saw is running. And a general addition, which goes for all tools and all techniques in a wood shop: if a procedure feels unsafe, it probably is, so don’t use it. Find another way to do what needs to be done.

If amputation of fingers ever happens to you or one of your friends, follow these directions. This is good advice as my friend has taken the Emergency Medical Responder’s course for the volunteer fire department where she used to live, in this instance she knew what to do..

Steps to Follow
1. Calm the person.
Getting that finger amputated can be painful and extremely frightening so make certain to assure the victim that it will be all right. And that help is on its way.
As for this case the other day, she had to yell at him like a drill sergeant to keep him moving to the truck, and to keep him focused. He was pretty shocky, so after she made sure any bleeding was controlled (there was NONE), she got him packaged up, buckled up and started on the way to the hospital pronto. He had passed out twice to the ground from the pain in the house and on the walkway to the house on the way out. She was wavering between calling an ambulance, or taking him when he fell, however she knew she could get him help sooner if she took him in.

2. Stop the bleeding.
Bleeding is likely to occur next after an amputated finger so it is important to control that bleeding. Apply pressure to at least lessen the outflow. You can also use a pressure bandage but not too much as sometimes using direct pressure on the wound especially if it’s too tight can do more harm than good.
A complete amputation may not bleed very much. The cut blood vessels may spasm, pull back into the injured part, and shrink. This slows or stops the bleeding. This is what happened in his case.

3. Save the body part.
Remove the dirt that may contaminate the wound also wash the dismembered part and do so gently.
She tried, even though he kept telling her there would not be anything to find. she had to look anyway. There was nothing to find. No wet sawdust, no blue glove threads, no flesh. Anything removed from his body was like completely vaporized.

4. If it’s totally cut off, wrap the severed body part.
It’s also important that not only the patient but also the body part be taken immediately to the hospital emergency. Wrap the amputated part in clean, damp cloth and seal in a plastic bag before placing in ice water.

5. Support the affected area and prevent shock.
It is best to keep the amputated area or what’s left of it at a higher level than the heart so as to slow if not entirely stop the bleeding.
He was automatically doing that, I think it was more instinctual than anything. Later on, after she had left the ER she had to remind him repeatedly to keep his arm up. He was grey and shocky. In the first 10 minutes he passed out from the pain and shock twice for a moment or two. Later on, we realized that being in shock was actually keeping his pain levels down. After he was out of shock, and the nerve blocks wore off, his pain was actually worse than moments after the incident.

Tips: Remember these Do’s and Do Not’s

For severed body parts do not put directly in water without placing first in a plastic bag. Don’t place it directly on ice as well or on dry ice. These will certainly damage the part.
If cold water is unavailable, just keep the part as clean and away from heat as possible. It’s best if you can save it for the medical professionals. Remember cooling the part keeps it usable for some 18 hours; without, for about 4 to 6.

Keep the patient warm and comfortable. If putting him or her in a particular position causes more pain or
discomfort, assist to relieve immediately. But keep in mind the injury of course. Stay with the person until help arrives or take him or her to the nearest emergency facility if possible.
If the bleeding is under control, check for other injuries. Sometimes, an amputated finger might also be signs of other injuries that need first aid. If possible, confirm and ask the victim.
Please practice prevention for injuries. It can happen to you. He has had 40+ years of working with this kind of equipment on a daily basis. It only takes a millisecond to have an accident.

Please sign up for a First Aid class (or better) ASAP. Like today.

View BurlyBob's profile


7946 posts in 3148 days

#9 posted 07-12-2017 05:47 PM

My heart goes out to your friend. I hope he recovers well. Reading your post reminds me why I’m such a fanatic about shop safety.

View nkawtg's profile


297 posts in 2134 days

#10 posted 07-12-2017 05:48 PM

Amen to that…

My heart goes out to your friend. I hope he recovers well. Reading your post reminds me why I m such a fanatic about shop safety.

- BurlyBob

View DrDirt's profile


4614 posts in 4625 days

#11 posted 07-12-2017 09:25 PM

oooof… it will be some time before my nuts unclench seeing that!!

Good advice about no gloves.. though I suspect that gloves didn’t matter here, since he apparently got kickback that caused him to put his hand into the blade.

Going to be a long recovery, hope it goes well for he and his family.

Does get me thinking about Sawstop again.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Desert_Woodworker's profile (online now)


3580 posts in 2097 days

#12 posted 07-12-2017 10:53 PM

Excellant safety forum- it can happen to the best of us.

-- Desert_Woodworker

View Redoak49's profile


4919 posts in 2871 days

#13 posted 07-12-2017 11:57 PM

I am sorry for asking again but

What brand and type of saw.

How big was the board and how wide and deep was the dado.

A picture of the board and saw would really help.

Was it a kick back that forced his fingers into the blade or did he just run his fingers into it.

I assume he was not using any pushing devices.

I hope he is doing better…

View yvrdennis's profile


50 posts in 1960 days

#14 posted 07-13-2017 12:08 AM

Thanks for sharing this. It’s a good reminder.

View Just_Iain's profile


330 posts in 1299 days

#15 posted 07-13-2017 12:36 AM

One coworker’s 18 year old took off some finger tips with a jointer. The plastic surgeon had worked with people doing such dumb things before. He pulled out a camping axe and threatened the kid with removing the rest of the fingers if he didn’t keep up his exercises to avoid the fingers stiffening with scars to avoid the pain. The kid did the exercises as instructed.

-- For those about to die, remember your bicycle helmet!

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