Pocket-Hole Bit

  • Advertise with us

« back to Safety in the Woodworking Shop forum

Forum topic by Grampa_Doodie posted 02-10-2012 10:35 PM 3219 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Grampa_Doodie's profile


163 posts in 2865 days

02-10-2012 10:35 PM

The following story is NOT for the faint of heart. But it’s a true story, and I hope many others learn from my mistake.

A few years back, I was putting together a face frame project using simple pocket-hole joinery. Before I go on, I must say that most people know me as Mr. Safety. I’m constantly thinking safety.

This one day in April, and yes…it was the 1st of April, I made a huge mistake. I placed my left hand (free hand) too close to the joint that I was securing with my battery-powered driver drill and pocket-hole joinery bit in my right hand.

While using very little pressure with my right hand, the 8” long pocket-hole bit slipped out of the pocket and went completely through the palm of my left hand. Of course I immediately withdrew the bit from my left hand, and then stood there in shock surveying the moment.

When I called my wife to tell her about it, she thought that I was playing an April Fool’s Day joke on her. But obviously, I was not.

Seeing that it was a Sunday, I had to wait until the next day to see a hand specialist. He told me that I was one very lucky person. The bit had hit absolutely nothing inside my hand, and I’ve been very blessed with no damage whatsoever.

Here’s the part that bothers me the most. On many occasions I’ve seen professional woodworkers on TV making this same exact mistake. I’ve also seen professional woodworkers at woodworking shows do the same thing as well.

Remedy? Keep your free hand away from the end of that bit!! Use proper clamping techniques folks. Please, learn from my mistake.


-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

20 replies so far

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3577 days

#1 posted 02-11-2012 12:12 AM

Thank you for the warning and I’m glad to hear you didn’t experience any major lasting effects.

Could you clarify a little about how it happened? Was this with the pockethole drill bit or driver bit? If drill, were you using a pockethole jig or drilling pockets freehand? Sorry for all the questions, I’m just trying to visualize where and how it went down.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Viking's profile


881 posts in 3762 days

#2 posted 02-11-2012 12:23 AM


I am curious also? I use PH joinery all the time.

If this happened with the drill bit, the work piece should have been clamped in the jig.

If it was while driving the PH screws you should always clamp the face frame joint to keep both sides aligned flat.

Hope you healed up!

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3536 days

#3 posted 02-11-2012 01:50 AM

That long bit has a mind of it’s own. I only use when absolutely necessary, and then, with extreme caution.

View Grampa_Doodie's profile


163 posts in 2865 days

#4 posted 02-11-2012 01:53 AM


This happened while using the driver bit. I was securing the corners of your typical flat face-frame.


I was using a clamp at this corner, but my hand was simply in a very poor location. Simply way too close to the business end of my bit. It was totally “user error” on my part. No fault of any of my equipment.

But I must again stress the fact that I was using very little drill pressure when this accident happened. And in a split second the 7” or 8” drive bit slipped away from the square-drive screw and was instantly all the way through my palm. The bit went in the very middle of my left palm and out the back side of my hand almost dead center.

As mentioned earlier, my hand surgeon could not believe that I didn’t hit any nerves, tendons, bones…nothing. I was extremely lucky. It could have been much, much worse. All I have to show is two very small scars.

I have since built myself a similar product that Kreg offers. It’s a dedicated table top with sliding clamps down two sides. Now I keep my free hand far away from the business end of my driver bit.

When my wife and I are watching woodworking shows on TV, and we see either Norm or others with their hand in the same location that I had mine in…we just cringe!! I even emailed Norm about one of his videos. No reply.


-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

View tt1106's profile


138 posts in 3636 days

#5 posted 02-11-2012 02:09 AM

I would suspect in the case of this accident, the blunt nose may have helped you out and moved some stuff out of the way instead of just severing everything in it’s path. When working with power things and sharp things and rapidly turning things, there is or should be an understanding that Safety doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of harm, it only reduces the likelihood of a mishap. The only way to rule out all inherent risk, is to abandon the hobby. This is not chastisement, merely me working it out in my own head. To explain, in 1993, I was unloading my pistol and it misfired. The bullet actually missed my hand but hit a piece of metal I had in my hand and fragmented, The fragments went back through my hand and effectively severed two of my fingers. I took alot of ribbing from my PO friends, but I consider it an occupational hazard. When you handle dangerous items on a regular basis, any slight variance could spell disaster, even if you do absolutely wrong. humans+machines+chance=bandaids. Very glad you were not hurt more seriously.

-- -Todd

View Grampa_Doodie's profile


163 posts in 2865 days

#6 posted 02-11-2012 02:29 AM


The following is not for the faint of heart!! Consider yourself warned.

I think you may be right about the blunt tip moving things out of the way. One thing I did not mention earlier in fear of grossing people out, was that the surgeon made a fairly bizarre discovery while clean my wound.

Near the end of the cleaning of my exit wound, I heard him say, “Well, look what I found!!?”

Needless to say, this instantly sparked my curiosity. With tweezers in hand, he held a perfectly square piece of my palm in front of my eyes. It was about 3/16 inches square. He then asked me if the drill bit happened to have a square end.

I won’t go any further into detail than that.


-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

View Lenny's profile


1641 posts in 4094 days

#7 posted 02-11-2012 02:46 AM

Dale, I just want to say thanks for sharing your accident and cautionary message with us. It’s appreciated and as others have said, I am glad to learn your injury was not more serious.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Grampa_Doodie's profile


163 posts in 2865 days

#8 posted 02-11-2012 03:32 AM

Thanks Lenny. I just now took a peek at your work bench. Wow!! You have me thinking now. :)

-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

View Uncle_Salty's profile


183 posts in 3640 days

#9 posted 02-11-2012 05:01 AM

Doodle: I was working late one night in my garage and drove the driver of my kreg jig set through the palm of my left hand! I quickly pulled the bit out of my hand and set the drill down as I assessed the damage. I saw a drop of blood fall on my workbench below so I turned my hand over… And darned if I not only drove the bit into my palm… Heck I drove it all the way through the back side of my hand! I gave myself the stigmata!

Wrapped up my hand and walked into the house. Went back to the bedroom and I asked Wifey if she wouldn’t mind taking a short trip to the hospital emergency room. The ER staff was bored so I got in pretty quickly. X-rays and a bandage wrap; antibiotics and a kind word about safety and I was out the door. Fortunately, no damage.

Yep… Kreg Jig driver bit can tear through ski pretty easy! A person must be careful!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3642 days

#10 posted 02-11-2012 02:03 PM

This story reinforces one of my observations about my own safety record. I have several scares on my hands and arms. Most of them came from tools we don’t consider particularly dangerous. The longest scare came from a hand saw. Another came from a chisel.

My safety alert level goes way up when I am using the more dangerous tools (table saw, jointer, etc.). I think I get too casual about safety with hand tools and, in theory, lower risk power tools – like drilling a pocket hole.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5235 posts in 4528 days

#11 posted 02-11-2012 03:07 PM

WAHHHHHH! Ugh! Urp! Gag!
Glad there was little damage.

-- [email protected]

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3602 days

#12 posted 02-11-2012 03:26 PM

while using a phillips driver i slipped and it hit the side of my finger, didn’t go through but left a nasty wound the took a long time to heal

View terry603's profile


321 posts in 3481 days

#13 posted 02-11-2012 04:48 PM

did you not clamp down the pocket jig?

i cannot picture this in any other method

glad your hand will be Ok

-- may not always be right,but,never in doubt.

View Grampa_Doodie's profile


163 posts in 2865 days

#14 posted 02-11-2012 08:36 PM


Not too sure if you mean the main Kreg jig used to drill the actual holes. ?? If so, I was not using this at the time of the accident. All holes were already drilled, and I was at the “assembly” stage and using the screw-driving bit.


-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

View Grampa_Doodie's profile


163 posts in 2865 days

#15 posted 02-16-2012 04:55 PM

Just one more eery note. I saw a photo on the web a while back of a woodworker securing a pocket-hole joint. He had both hands on his drive-drill, and was driving the bit towards his abdomen.

That photo just about made me sick to my stomach. :(


-- If at first you don't succeed...DO NOT try skydiving.

showing 1 through 15 of 20 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics