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Forum topic by Travis posted 03-30-2019 05:30 AM 1408 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Travis

229 posts in 126 days


03-30-2019 05:30 AM

Hello fellow lumberjocks,

So I just returned from the ER after my first table saw injury. I am still somewhat of a novice, and though I have watched countless videos of people demonstrating and advocating safety, I did something I shouldn’t have. I was making a slim rip that required two pushsticks and I was only using one. The cut went fine but at the end, I think what happened—it went so fast* the saw lifted up my piece (left side of the blade) a little and I tried to grab it to move it to the side and the saw bit my thumb.

I am incredibly lucky/blessed, because it could have been a serious injury. It’s not. My thumb will never look the same again but all my fingers are intact and I should regain full functionality. I feel so fortunate that I have learned a valuable lesson with minimal cost. I will definitely change how I work with the table saw. In fact, a microjig gripper was ordered while I was waiting to be seen in the ER. (I know you can still be safe without that product, or be dangerous with that product, but it will help me.

Anyway, I guess what I wanted to ask is what are the odds of getting injured in the shop? What I did was stupid and will never be repeated and it didn’t need to happen. But I also kind of get the sense that if you work in the shop enough something is bound to happen at some point in time. Do you have an assumption of injury, or are there scores of woodworkers out there with clean health records? I assume the hand tool folks carry less risk than power tool users.

-- Extra screws left over are just evidence I found a better way to put it together.


44 replies so far

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Rich

4399 posts in 949 days


#1 posted 03-30-2019 06:01 AM

I’m truly glad you’re OK. I’ve been at it for over 50 years and have never injured myself beyond a cut. I’m struggling to picture the rip cut you were making that required two push sticks.

Regarding hand toolers, a chisel slip can sever an artery just as easily as a saw blade.

Again, I’m happy you’re OK. If they gave you some good drugs, stay out of the shop while you use them.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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CaptainKlutz

1223 posts in 1854 days


#2 posted 03-30-2019 06:42 AM

Sorry to hear you are a new statistic for the insurance industry. :-(

Now that you have been cut, it’s time for your kick back accident. All it takes is 0.1 second of distraction, or improper changing of hand position; and wood on table saw comes flying backwards. Body position is everything. Don’t ever stand behind the piece of wood between the saw blade and fence, never. If you must be in line of fire, never let go of the wood or look away; or else.

Got hit in stomach once in high school with table saw kick back, was bruised for a month. Have only dented wall several times since then. Never stand behind the potential projectile.

I’m a total Klutz. I could write a book on ‘what not do with tools’. Started to type a list, and it’s too embarrassing. I am so clumsy it forces me to take extra precaution anytime I use a tool, hand or power. If I don’t, I get hurt.

IMHO – first jig I make for every table saw I have owned: Push stick that rides the fence for thin stock. Trying to use 2 push sticks is a recipe for disaster with my meat hooks. When I sell my saw due household move, I show them how to use the fence riding push stick. It’s that important to me.

Back before I knew better, cross cuts where a never ending source of stupid human tricks. Kick back was most likely result when there is oops, unless you push your finger into blade.
Hence, The second most important tool to avoid table saw injury is cross cut sled. Every wood worker should use one, or several.

Remember, it’s a hobby but you still have to be safe while you have fun.

Cheers!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

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unclearthur

255 posts in 2147 days


#3 posted 03-30-2019 07:27 AM



But I also kind of get the sense that if you work in the shop enough something is bound to happen at some point in time.

Thats really never been my sense of things or my experience (though I am much less experienced than many here). Not to say that accidents can’t happen, but with a little learning and a little caution, I don’t think anything is inevitable.

As for the tablesaw (the main culprit), I consistently use a good push block and a magnetic featherboard which keep both hands away from the blade and I feel pretty safe.

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oldguy2

212 posts in 1787 days


#4 posted 03-30-2019 11:02 AM

Hi. First Want to wish you well. Glad you have the thumb and will look forward to getting back at woodworking. Certainly this must scare the crap out of you. So only reading what you gave us. Did you look this cut over like a dry run…here is what I see happening, moving the board ,the cutoff, my hands.? Now the big one was the blade only the gullet or about a 1/4 above the board? I read about no saw guard, so this cut would have pushed and you would have reached thru a guard to not grab. No guard is easy to work with but they stop the board from moving and you can push the switch off or it holds it down. Make one for an older saw. I have had both, the guard hold the wood and the splitter slow down the blade due to wood tension and shut off my saw. And as a former business, did not need an accident to stop my fun so I really thought out saw safety and the cut. I have a bandsaw cut from after I shut it off trying to get the scrap out of the way…talk about reaching and stupid. Best wishes. Hope to hear more from you.

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HackFabrication

121 posts in 71 days


#5 posted 03-30-2019 11:15 AM

Glad to hear you didn’t loose your thumb.

To answer your questions about odds… No one can give you a hard answer. Do the odds of getting into an automobile accident increase when you choose to drive? Working with power tools, are the odds greater of injury than working with hand tools? I’ve been cut with chisels and hand saws too. And then there’s the utility knife….

I too had (1975) a close encounter with a spinning 14” tablesaw blade. And it was a result of cutting a small, thin piece of wood, on too large a tool, plus a moment of distraction. I have the scar on my middle finger, right hand, to show (and remind me) of it. I have a high level of respect for any power tool, and the instantaneous damage that can be done to the human body, when mis-use or distraction comes into play.

There are those that hate blade guards, and that’s their option not to use them. Far be it for me to be a safety nazi. However, I use mine whenever I can.

-- "In the end, it's all Hack..."

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knotscott

8277 posts in 3735 days


#6 posted 03-30-2019 11:40 AM

Bummer, but glad to hear you’re going to be ok.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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Underdog

1303 posts in 2395 days


#7 posted 03-30-2019 11:48 AM


I am incredibly lucky/blessed, because it could have been a serious injury. It s not. My thumb will never look the same again but all my fingers are intact and I should regain full functionality. I feel so fortunate that I have learned a valuable lesson with minimal cost. I will definitely change how I work with the table saw. In fact, a microjig gripper was ordered while I was waiting to be seen in the ER. (I know you can still be safe without that product, or be dangerous with that product, but it will help me.

Sorry for your accident. I am glad that you didn’t get hurt worse. Here’s to better, safer procedures.

Anyway, I guess what I wanted to ask is what are the odds of getting injured in the shop? What I did was stupid and will never be repeated and it didn t need to happen. But I also kind of get the sense that if you work in the shop enough something is bound to happen at some point in time. Do you have an assumption of injury, or are there scores of woodworkers out there with clean health records? I assume the hand tool folks carry less risk than power tool users.

There’s a lot to be said for developing safe usage protocols. It’s always good to think through the most safe way to do things. And some will even tell you that if you “do-it-right-all-the-time” you’ll never have an accident.

I won’t tell you that. (In fact, privately I’m thinking something entirely different.)

I’ll confirm what you already think. That is this; statistically speaking, if you work in the shop long enough there will be a time when you’ll be distracted, or tired, or just plain stupid, and you’ll make a mistake. Hopefully it won’t be a mistake that results in a major injury or (gulp) death. My driver’s education class (which was better than any current program I’ve seen) emphasized the probability that the longer you drive the more likely it is that you will have an accident. This is statistically true. Insurance companies have certainly done studies on this. You can reduce the likelihood greatly by practicing safe procedures and developing safe habits, but you can’t take away the risk completely. And while hand tools might not remove as much flesh and bone quite as quickly, they can certainly do a lot of damage anyway. I’ve got a nice scar (and numb spot) on the side of my thumb where a freshly sharpened chisel split the tendon and the nerve in a millisecond…

So. What did I do to reduce the likelihood that I’d get injured by my tablesaw?

I bought a SawStop. (que the haters in 1, 2, 3…) I was afraid of my Ridgid. I was always futzing with the stupid fence which wouldn’t stay lined up and was always pinching, plus it didn’t have a riving knife to help prevent kickback. And I was always anxious when leaning out over that blade which seemed a mile away…

And now I’ve got a really nice fence, a riving knife, a flat polished precision table and T-Slot, decent dust collection, and the assurance that if I do make a mistake, there’s a very high probability that I’ll only wind up with a slight surface cut instead of finger or hand loss.

Can you not afford it? Well I couldn’t either for a long time, but I finally just saved up enough and bought one anyway. Although, I will say, there’s plenty of other opportunities to get injured… bandsaw, skilsaw, drill press, jointer, lathe, utility knife, freshly sharpened chisels….

....just not with my tablesaw anymore.

That’s what I did. Your mileage may vary.

So what else can you do when ripping thin stock, and you don’t want to buy a different saw?
Make a thin strip jig. There are plenty of examples on LJ.

Heal quick, go back and figure out better ripping method, be safe, and have fun.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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GrantA

1479 posts in 1767 days


#8 posted 03-30-2019 12:28 PM

Glad you’re OK, I got the tiniest nick once, my left thumb has a small scar but no lasting effects thankfully.
I have ask, since you said the piece lifted up- were you using out feed supports? That’s very important. Your stock should not dive down towards the floor. I’m glad you got a grripper ordered, maybe make or buy a thin rip Jig too. Does your saw have a splitter or riving knife?
And don’t assume hand tools are safer. Chisels are razor sharp. I got my pinky finger while cleaning out dovetails and it bled like a stuck pig.
Stay focused.

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AlaskaGuy

5233 posts in 2669 days


#9 posted 03-30-2019 02:44 PM

Glad its not worse, hope you learned something out of an unfortunate incident.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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LittleShaver

525 posts in 979 days


#10 posted 03-30-2019 02:45 PM

Glad to hear you came through it with all your parts.
I’ve been working with wood as a hobby for 40+ years. So far, so good with power tools. I’ve only had one unfortunate incident with a drill press. NEVER wear gloves when using a drill press.

That being said, I seem to have developed the habit of bleeding on every project. Mostly its a chisel that gets me. Some times a saw. I think I’ve been bit by just about every hand tool I use. Generally they can be fixed with a bit of tape and a piece of paper towel, but they have ended me up in the ER for sutures a few times.
Stuff happens when you use tools.

Scars are the signs of a life well lived.

-- Sawdust Maker

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HorizontalMike

7786 posts in 3274 days


#11 posted 03-30-2019 03:32 PM



...[snip]...
As for the tablesaw (the main culprit), I consistently use a good push block and a magnetic featherboard which keep both hands away from the blade and I feel pretty safe.
- unclearthur

Featherboards and and good push sticks helps a lot. My personal choice is to attach a pair of YELLOW Board Buddies with a long T-track. They roll only ONE direction and naturally pull the board toward the fence. They are adjustable for use with both skinnier and wider boards. As I recall, I had to buy separately, the longer T-Track (it comes with a shorter one but that limits adjust ability):

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

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GR8HUNTER

5959 posts in 1072 days


#12 posted 03-30-2019 03:36 PM

GLAD it was not worse then it could have been … overconfident is the worst thing you can have in the shop NOT just at the table saw its always good to take a couple seconds to think about what your doing and how you will do it before you even start the cut just my 3 cents LOL :<)))

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

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bandit571

22755 posts in 3043 days


#13 posted 03-30-2019 04:20 PM

Chisels are very sneaky….if they are sharp enough, you don’t feel a thing..

Until you see them little red dots everywhere…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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Madmark2

452 posts in 948 days


#14 posted 03-30-2019 04:34 PM

Sorry about your injury.

Sounds like you weren’t using a ‘shoe’ pusher. This keeps down pressure forward to prevent the stock rising and kicking back.

When doing thin rips I use a sacrificial shoe pusher with a seperate tapered side block that ends at the center of the blade. This applies lateral force against the fence that tapers away so the kerf doesn’t get forced close.

Horizontal Mike: how do the board buddies work on a narrow (1/4”) rip? How do you get the push stick past them?

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Manitario

2747 posts in 3243 days


#15 posted 03-30-2019 04:54 PM

I’m an ER doctor and I regularly see guys injured in the shop and/or guys who are missing fingers from past mis-adventures with powertools. It’s pretty random; I’ve seen guys who are already missing 2-3 fingers who are in the ER with another injury but most of the people I see are those who have been using powertools for years and then do something stupid/have been using powertools unsafe for years and have just been lucky.

Most of the serious injuries I’ve seen involve the TS and all have involved doing something unsafe. A few have been circular saw related and a couple from the jointer. Several have involved gloves getting caught in the blade. Ironically, the most common injury I see is from people cutting themselves while using a utility knife.

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

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