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Forum topic by John Smith posted 12-21-2017 10:12 PM 2873 views 1 time favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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John Smith

2452 posts in 943 days

12-21-2017 10:12 PM

On Sept. 3rd, I was cutting a piece of cherry wood on my table saw, a blank for a hand mallet, about 2”x2”x6”. not big wood, but heavy.
I don’t know what happened, but, it somehow got wracked between the fence and the blade
and it kicked back into my face…....
I have had many saw kickbacks in my lifetime but they always hit the mid torso with little or no damage
to the ole bod…... I usually stand off to the side of direct line of fire to avoid such injuries.
anyway, as luck would have it, it hit me flat sided and vertical right across the left side of my face
with the force of a line drive from a major league slugger.
well . . . it dropped me half conscious to the floor right then and there !!! like having a #9 wood
swung by Arnold Palmer right across the left cheek and nose …... dang it HURT !!! I sat there dumbfounded
for a few minutes dripping blood down between my feet in a big puddle.
anyway, I pulled off my tshirt and got the bleeding under control, staggered to the bathroom
to check the damage – - – whoooooaaaaaa NOT GOOD !!!! No bueno at ALL.
got my wallet, phone and a clean tshirt to take with me and dialed 911. it took quite awhile for the ambulance medic to get the bleeding under control and the trauma surgeon in the ER put me to sleep right away to reset
my broken nose and sew it up (32 stitches) and then run me through the CT scanner.
The scan showed I had a “slight” concussion and fluid on the brain as well as several facial fractures,
4 loose teeth and a broken jaw. Spent the next 3 days in the ICU with tubes and hoses coming out of all
parts of my body.
then following that with 4 days in “elevated care” until the swelling went down and I was somewhat
mobile on my own.
my left eye looked like an over ripe plum for a few days but is very okay now. all the swelling is gone and my vision (by the Grace of God) is back to “somewhat” normal.
4 weeks later, the plastic surgeon did his thing to repair the fractures with a handful of screws and pins….. (another day and night in the hospital).

My wife was at work when this fiasco happened and I could not get in touch with her…...
she came home and found the house unlocked, my car there and me gone….
then she saw huge puddle of blood at the table saw and panicked – she went to the neighbor –
he calmed her down and went to find me, he saw the table saw, blood and me gone . . . . Then HE panicked . . .
He called the ER and found me, he took my wife to the hospital and all was okay once she knew I wasn’t dead or missing a hand or two. (or worse).
I asked the nurse to snap me a few pics to document what NOT TO DO with a power tool !!!!
I can’t find my safety glasses around the table saw – I can’t remember if I even had them on or not.
I have a vague blurry memory of wrapping them up in my bloody tshirt but that was tossed at the ER.

my overall vision is fairly good now with about 50% in the left eye, but, I get headaches from too much glare from a computer screen or TV and floaters the size of a fishhook in the left eye when I stand up too fast.
the fluid on the brain is gone and the concussion did not cause any permnt – pertmen – parmnte – premant – permanent drain bamage (LOL).
no matter how experienced you “think” you are with power tools, and how many safety parameters you have in place – - – accidents DO HAPPEN !!

Looking back over the accident, I think I finally figured out what happened.
I was using the dado blade which I had to remove all guards and riving knife. The next day, I was getting the cherry lathe blank ready to turn and noticed that it was a tad out of square so I ran it through the table saw
(I had previously put the 10” regular blade back on – just not the safety guards).
Just that one nano-second of a lapse in judgment sent me almost into a coma.
I know the photos are tough to see, but, this is what can and does happen even to the professional skilled craftsmen in the blink of an eye.
The bills are still coming in and so far this little fiasco has cost me over $92,000.00 in medical bills. Wow – thank GOD I have the best insurance available.
Thank you for the warm welcome in some of my posts and I hope that I can be a positive contributor to the forum. Please try to overlook my misspellings and poor grammar. I am usually on top of my game when it comes to communicating but recently, I am not thinking as clearly as I normally do.
at 70 years old, we don’t bounce back as quickly as we used to !!! going on 4 months after the accident,
the numbness on the left side of my face is 95% gone but the right eye orbit and cheek is starting to hurt.
the doctor said it is “transitional” or “migratory” pain from the initial injury compacting the bones over
toward the other side of my face….... he said it usually takes 6 months to a year to see significant recovery.
my plastic surgeon is retired USAF which spent his last 10 years at the Walter Reed US Army Hospital patching
up our wounded military veterans. So I feel that I am very Blessed to have him in my corner.
Thank you for your warm welcomes and for taking the time out of your day to read this lengthy intro.


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

35 replies so far

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7589 posts in 1493 days

#1 posted 12-21-2017 10:23 PM

be well my friend :<((

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6950 posts in 3975 days

#2 posted 12-22-2017 12:00 AM

Wow John….I read your story completely, and although you were severely injured, you are one lucky soul to be writing this tale of woe…!!! I certainly know about kickbacks on the table saw….About a year ago (the day before Thanksgiving, I too was running a piece of plywood on the saw, and a guy walked in the shop, and it startled me for an instance….I looked up, and didn’t get the ply completely through the blade, and it grabbed the ply, and slung in into my left hand, then in to my belly….It broke all the fingers, cut 3 of them to the bone, and ripped off the index finger nail….It hit me in the gut, and knocked the wind out of me….I dripped blood all the way to the paper towel rack, wrapped up the hand, after gaining my composer, headed to the E.R. That was about 10:30 that morning, and I had to have a sonogram to check for internal injuries, which luckily I had none….My wife, too, was at work, and she knew nothing about it…I got home from the hospital about 4:00, after getting all stitched up, and guards put on my fingers…But no numbness, the fingernail grew back, and I can use all my fingers…..I know I wasn’t near hurt as bad as you, but like you, I wanted to relate my story to shop accidents, and especially the tablesaw….When we take our mind off of what we’re doing, disaster can strike in an instant….Hope you are doing so much better now, and be safe in the shop….!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View socrbent's profile


1014 posts in 3050 days

#3 posted 12-22-2017 12:19 AM

Welcome to Lumber Jocks. Thanks for sharing your story. Glad you are still with us.

-- socrbent Ohio

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

298 posts in 1556 days

#4 posted 12-22-2017 02:27 AM

Wow! God it could have been worse if thats any consolation.
Kudos to you for showing the rest of us how easily you can maim yourself.
Hope you get back in the shop and make some stuff.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3190 days

#5 posted 12-22-2017 02:32 AM

WOW, talk about a bad day in the shop!!! Hope you get to feeling better.

Welcome to Lumberjocks.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View robscastle's profile


7203 posts in 2985 days

#6 posted 12-22-2017 02:46 AM

What this no pictures of the saw or the wood?
Just some handsome looking dude!

They breed them tough in the Navy!
Your Air force guy did a great job

Stay safe and well! ...enjoy Christmas!

-- Regards Rob

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4358 days

#7 posted 12-22-2017 03:31 AM

Hi John Welcome to LJs
Thanks for sharing your story it could help someone to avoid the same problem in the future.
So sorry you had this terrible accident I’m glad your on the road to recovery.
Have a Merry Christmas


View Ripper70's profile


1377 posts in 1689 days

#8 posted 12-22-2017 05:07 AM

- John Smith

That’s one handsome LumberJock! Glad you’re well on your way to recovery. Hope you’ll be making sawdust with a newfound appreciation for the craft.

Welcome, John.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View HerbC's profile


1804 posts in 3640 days

#9 posted 12-22-2017 05:11 AM


Thanks for sharing your tale.

Kickbacks can be bad news, obviously you know that NOW…

Take care.


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6258 posts in 3274 days

#10 posted 12-22-2017 12:32 PM

Wow, scary indeed. Hoping for a speedy recovery!

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1556 days

#11 posted 12-22-2017 01:09 PM

That stinks. It looks like they did not have to wire your jaw shut?

View Knockonit's profile


675 posts in 983 days

#12 posted 12-22-2017 01:39 PM

dang, lucky soul you are,

had a fella get stuck with a huge sliver in the shop once, whilst i’d never seen anyone stuck with a spear, he did.
Ole boy was 68 years old and had never had a shop accident, goes to show you, just a matter of time before it catches up with you.

glad yer on the mend, me thinks i’d be working on my bobbing and weaving, lol, just kidding at my age it left a long time ago.
merry Christmas
Rj in az

-- Living the dream

View wood2woodknot's profile


108 posts in 2754 days

#13 posted 12-22-2017 01:44 PM

I never thought much about it before but John’s and Rick’s stories made me realize how valuable it is to have your cell phone with you in the shop instead of trying to get yourself into the house to get to a land line. That time dfferential can be critical … if you can get there at all.

As a former victim I only lost a nail, some blood, and an eighth inch of kerf cut to a finger tip, so I realize how really lucky I was and can’t imagine what John went through. Just fractions of an inch can turn a “minor” accident into something deadly.

-- ajh

View HokieKen's profile


14144 posts in 1919 days

#14 posted 12-22-2017 01:49 PM

Glad you’re still with us Johnny and thanks for the PSA. Accidents do happen, even to the best and most experienced. Keep those guards on and that riving knife in place buddy! Welcome to LumberJocks!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View mudflap4869's profile


2046 posts in 2240 days

#15 posted 12-22-2017 01:58 PM

Well, now you are almost as purty as me. Between losing boxing matches and fights with tools, both my face and hands look like a disaster area. I am almost 70 and blind in my right eye. Can’t read a tape measure any longer(or shorter) and scared of my power tools. Be careful in that shop, it can be a death trap, and happy sawdust making.

-- Still trying to master kindling making

showing 1 through 15 of 35 replies

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