Beware of the left hand

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Forum topic by Billp posted 08-29-2011 05:24 PM 1801 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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804 posts in 5259 days

08-29-2011 05:24 PM

Topic tags/keywords: safety

In my reading travels I read that most woodworking accidents involve the left hand. I know mine have. Once when after completing the rip of a 3” wide piece. I went to clear the fall off with my left hand, i mean i was a good three inches behind the blade. Sweeping the cutoff to the left the front of the piece caught the saw draging the piece back up and over the blade leaving a nice gash on the tip of my thumb. Really makes for an ugly looking thumb. If I were not so anal an just left the cut off sit on the saw till after it was stopped I wouldn’t be writing this now. The other time was just plane stupid on my part. I was squaring up the smallest detail on a desk leg. Holding the piece in my Left Hand, it broke through an severed four tendons in my left hand. I new better than to put a hand in front of a chisel, if the leg where clamped to my bench I would still have full use of my left hand, I don’t. I kind of mentioned this briefly once before but if I can help spare one left hand injury it’s worth repeting.

-- Billp

16 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4707 days

#1 posted 08-29-2011 05:33 PM

I’m left handed… I am always aware of it ;)

but jokes aside – I agree with you, pay attention to where your hands/body is positioned at all times. better safe than sorry.

thanks for the reminder!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20653 posts in 4735 days

#2 posted 08-29-2011 08:21 PM

Thanks for the reminder. Seeing these stories on a regular basis here on LJ is causing me to loose my complacency we working with my table saw.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5277 days

#3 posted 08-29-2011 08:35 PM

Yep, it’s always good to get a reminder. I’m left-handed like Sharon, so it’s really important for us. :-)

One thing I make it an absolute point to never do is clear away a cutoff with my left hand while the blade is still spinning.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View HorizontalMike's profile


7915 posts in 3973 days

#4 posted 08-29-2011 08:37 PM

Thanks Bill. I have been guilty of just that, reaching over to clear the outfeed of the TS. I have been lucky so far (being a rather noobie), but will be changing practices immediately. Too bad I have seen RoughCut’s Tommy Mac do the same less than a week ago on his show.

Oh yeah, I’m a lefty as well ;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4644 days

#5 posted 08-29-2011 08:43 PM

Yep My accident was on my left thumb left me in hospital for ten days with a three hour operation to put back together.No saws in volved I had turned a large bowl on the lathe whyen sanding it it blew out on me nearly taking my thumb with it.My wife Bron was more horrified than me.I thought oh well of to the hospital theyll stictch it and I ll be straight home but they booked me in so it’s true beware.have fun Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3752 days

#6 posted 08-29-2011 09:58 PM

I severed my left flexor retinaculum (the tendon they cut in carpal tunnel surgery) while cutting a nylon wire tie with a box cutter. Somehow I spared the nerves running under it. Same story…it was supposed to be a quick little trim.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View rance's profile


4278 posts in 4219 days

#7 posted 08-29-2011 10:12 PM

I’m glad you clarified that Al. I was trying to figure out why your butt(rectumaculum) was up on the table saw.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3839 days

#8 posted 08-30-2011 02:39 PM

Left cheek ?

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12315 posts in 4487 days

#9 posted 08-30-2011 03:15 PM

The 5” rule is my guide. Hands no closer to a spinning blade than 5”.
I didn’t always observe this rule and I paid dearly for it.
In thinking about it, it seems that I don’t use my left hand a lot at the saw.
I’ll have to pay more attention to it’s use, now.
Thanks for the reminder.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 4042 days

#10 posted 08-30-2011 04:10 PM

Being a south paw I’m always aware of the left. Because most tools are right handed and few are left handed, I’m always watching where my hands are. Knock on wood I still have 10 fingers and toes, but you are so right about being aware of where are hands are located while using any tool. Glad to see your still typing to remind us to always be aware of where are hands are with any tool. Take care and think safe and be safe all.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4367 days

#11 posted 08-30-2011 04:27 PM

I never get within 8 ft of my table saw…I use a verrry long push stick.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 3561 days

#12 posted 08-30-2011 04:52 PM

Rance, I need to tell you about my father. He put his right thumb into the TS blade removing a chunk of skin from it. They replaced it with a graft from his backside! So now a part of his butt comes into contact with lots of things.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3925 days

#13 posted 08-30-2011 04:52 PM

In the 6 months since I’ve mostly been woodcarving the only power tools that I have used are my chop saw, the drill press, and the band saw, and the scroll saw. I haven’t used the table saw in 6 months because when I bring my basswood home from the plant it has been surfaced 4 sides on the moulder so all I have to do to my stock is usually cut it to length. Right now my table saw is covered up with a lot of my woodcarvings. If I keep going on this way I’ll probably never get a table saw injury. ;-|

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26095 posts in 4164 days

#14 posted 09-28-2011 04:51 AM

The worst case of clipping a hand or finger would probably be on the table saw. I always use pusher sticks so if I clear a cutoff piece, it is with the stick.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 3831 days

#15 posted 10-20-2011 04:55 PM

Thanks for sharing I know when I started out I struggled with cleaning cut offs from the saw while it was running. I wanted too, I thought “it’s far enough from the blade what could be the harm” and I read some stories like this and I know that is your perception that thinks it’s far enough but it may not always be and by time you realise it, it’s too late.

It is so tempting to clean off the cut offs from the table saw right away just because standing around doing nothing waiting for the saw turn off is a huge test in patience, it’s like it draws you into it. To resist the urge to do something dangerous to shave 30 seconds I’ve gotten into the habbit of putting my hands in my pockets while the saw spins down. This way I know where they are, and it’s easier to avoid the temptation.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

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