What happened when you lost your finger?

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Forum topic by cathyb posted 11-27-2018 11:11 PM 1877 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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844 posts in 4363 days

11-27-2018 11:11 PM

On Sunday, I was running an unruly piece of wood across the joiner. It was heavy, almost three inches thick and about five inches wide and four feet long. I had maybe three more passes to go. I was wearing my gloves (why did I have them on?). The joiner caught maybe string from the glove and pulled my ring finger across the knives. I didn’t feel it remove part of my finger. When I got the glove off, the nail was there, but snapped in two. When my turned my hand over, I was stunned to see nothing there. Everything behind the nail was missing! Many of you know that sick feeling! It is sort of amazing to me that I accepted my fate immediately. I turned off the dust collector, ran into the garage to grab my phone, then into the house for a bag of ice. I called my neighbor, who almost lost his entire hand in a shop accident years ago. He came and off we went to the emergency room.

The surgeon took off my nail bed and tried to even out the jagged bone. I took it in stride, maybe I was in shock. I didn’t even take the pain meds when I got home. Today, when the same doctor struggled to remove the dressing, he finally ripped it off. For LJ’s who are mothers, this hurt more than child birth-honest to God. I started to cry, his response was to draw a curtain around me so he could finish up with other patients. Two the technicians came by in my hour of solitude. I texted my husband, whose clinic is nearby and asked for his help.

He came by and ask the doctor why he had not given me any pain medication. He said didn’t have any and I could go to the emergency room to get some (this whole time, there was no dressing on the stub of my finger). My husband is such a cool and calm physician, he was upset that I had been abandoned in my distress. He said you need a place an order for pain medicine for her and my nurse will stay with her until the finger is redressed.

I think for anyone who was in a similar situation, it is really sad there was no one to help them. I am really lucky.
I guess I will grow fond of my shortened finger in time. It could have been worse…

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

27 replies so far

View NormG's profile


6507 posts in 4123 days

#1 posted 11-27-2018 11:19 PM

That is how fast things can happen, glad to hear it was not worse and the pain was at the level it was.

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View BurlyBob's profile


9009 posts in 3385 days

#2 posted 11-27-2018 11:29 PM

So sorry to hear about your accident. I sure hope you recover quickly.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4615 posts in 4228 days

#3 posted 11-27-2018 11:42 PM

Yowch! Thanks for not posting a picture, I’ve seen enough carnage on my own hands and feet, though the pieces are still there. Get well soon!

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View muleskinner's profile


941 posts in 3556 days

#4 posted 11-27-2018 11:47 PM


When I was a lad my father had our 3000 sq. ft. home framed and then proceeded to finish the rest of it himself. A Craftsman TS and 4 .in jointer being his only stationary power tools. After about 3 years, he was putting the last touches on some built-ins is the last room to be finished. That jointer took off about 3/8 inch of his index finger. I’ve always been cautious with the jointer. And I pretty much eschew gloves when operating machines in the shop.

Hope things heal fast.

P.S. Thank you for NOT posting pictures.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View shipwright's profile


8728 posts in 3917 days

#5 posted 11-28-2018 12:05 AM

Wow Cathy! Really sorry to hear that.

Life will go on of course but someone saying that won’t help a lot I know. The hardest thing is to stop beating yourself up for being so STUPID!!! ... right. least it was for me. I have a fair bit less volume behind my left thumbnail than behind my right. I took my mind off it at the time by trying to calculate how many carbide teeth passed through the area in the half second or so it was there. It turns out it’s really a lot.
Again sorry to hear the news. Get better soon.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View vonhagen's profile


549 posts in 3484 days

#6 posted 11-28-2018 12:40 AM

Sorry to hear this Cathy! I never wear gloves on any machine or ring. We always have a apple or 2 in the shop fridge in case of a accident as eating a apple after a accident will keep you from going into shock .

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3914 days

#7 posted 11-28-2018 12:42 AM

Really sorry to hear about this happening to you, and I hope that the healing phase will be short and without any complication. When you are talking to any of the hospital staff who ask “what is a jointer” (you’ll mention this in the 3rd reply after this one), remember to let them know that this tool is NOT for working on finger joints in hands. ;)
Heal well.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4002 days

#8 posted 11-28-2018 12:50 AM

Sorry to hear that this happened to you. I am an ER physician and I see accidents like this all too often. It always gives me pause, because it could happen to any of us, and I can only imagine how devastating it would be.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Benji Reyes's profile

Benji Reyes

340 posts in 4198 days

#9 posted 11-28-2018 01:08 AM

I’m so sorry to hear about your accident Cathy. You are a warrior and the good Lord will give you strength and guidance to continue with your woodworking. Hugs from my corner of the woods.

-- Benji Reyes, Antipolo, Philippines, Instagram benji reyes

View cathyb's profile


844 posts in 4363 days

#10 posted 11-28-2018 02:46 AM

Thanks guys. I would rather share this tale with you than others. Just getting past “what is a jointer” in the ER was enough to complicate the explanation for my situation. I am sure it will be an ice breaker at parties with woodworkers and artist, maybe not for the general population though :).

I am just going to take one day at a time.

Be careful out there…



-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View EarlS's profile


4554 posts in 3467 days

#11 posted 11-28-2018 02:51 AM

Thank you for sharing your bad experience with us. Losing a finger to a knife or blade is my worst wood working nightmare. I know my dad has had a couple of run ins with the jointer and the table saw blade. In both cases he was extremely lucky and only wound up with deep cuts.

Your story reiterates the need to be constantly aware of your tools and the risks and dangers they pose.

My thoughts and prayers for you.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View tyvekboy's profile


2114 posts in 4132 days

#12 posted 11-28-2018 03:08 AM

So sorry to hear about your lolo shop accident. I had one of those 3-OH-S t days my self while cleaning my lawnmower. Sliced up the tip of my right index finger. It no longer looks like the other one but still works.

I agree not to wear gloves when using power tools. Also no long hair or long sleeves around power tools. With the jointer and table saw I’d make and start using push blocks or push sticks to use with both the jointer and table saw if you don’t already have some.

Also, I also make it a rule to never pass my hand over the jointer blade area.

I know a very good woodcarver that is missing half of 3 fingers on one hand due to separate jointer mishaps.

Get well soon and I hope it doesn’t impact your woodworking.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View HokieKen's profile


17925 posts in 2258 days

#13 posted 11-28-2018 02:27 PM

Sorry Kathy! Thanks for the reminder to keep our focus. If I had my gloves on for something else, I would have likely ran the board without removing them as well.

I know a very good woodcarver that is missing half of 3 fingers on one hand due to separate jointer mishaps.
- tyvekboy

Holy crap! Buy that person a handplane and get that jointer away from them ;-)

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4696 days

#14 posted 11-28-2018 03:49 PM

Kathy, I’m very sorry to hear of your injury, As a woodshop teach I always give a safety tour of the woodshop talking about each piece of equipment’s safe use and safety in general. It’s so easy to press forward when we think for a second maybe I should do this first, in your case, it was taking off gloves but we think it will be alright,but in just seconds later we are injured.
I know an amazing woodworking who has 65 years experience who recently lost 3 fingers on a jointer, this points out you don’t have to be new to woodworking to get hurt. we hear so much about the possibility of injury on table saws but sometimes lose focus on other machines that are dangerous in their own right. There are many ways to injure yourself while working in a woodshop from simple things like tripping on clutter or slipping on sawdust and of course, all that wonderful machinery that can cut off, sand, plane, shave body parts even hand tools like sharp chisels can give you nasty cuts. If we can give ourselves a mental safety tour before using any tools or machinery we might just save ourselves from serious bodily injury. As in the old days when teaching children to “stop, look and listen’ before crossing the street, we need to stop, think and take action for those 2-second actions we need to do before proceeding with that woodworking operation.
Sorry to go on and on, these thoughts are meant for all of us not just referring to Kathy’s terrible accident.


View cathyb's profile


844 posts in 4363 days

#15 posted 11-28-2018 04:48 PM

Kenny, thanks for the chuckle this morning. I needed a good laugh..
Jim, you are absolutely correct. I started at the Hickam Air Force wood shop back in the 90’s. I saw so many injuries and knew the dangers. I learned the safety instructor lost a few fingers a several years ago with a circular saw. Ed??!! No way!

I hope everyone will heed your advice. I am pretty anal about safety, always using push sticks, no jewelry, always t-shirts, tucked in and certainly no gloves. I realize I had carried the wood from the side of the house into the shop and forgot to remove the gloves. I paid dearly for that slip up. The fact it was my ring finger and not a little finger means it was likely a thread from the glove seam. Pretty amazing how on seemly minor factor leads to a traumatic injury.

I hope everyone will double down and work safer.



-- cathyb, Hawaii,

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