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Forum topic by Bigjoemann posted 07-23-2012 04:27 AM 1856 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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27 posts in 3741 days

07-23-2012 04:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw

Just a friendly reminder to always pay attention when using our tools. My neighbor was cutting some very small redwood pieces for lattice this morning using his table saw. His left thumb got a little too close to the blade and, well, now he only has half of that thumb left. The other half went flying across the yard, along with a significant amount of blood.

It is pretty scary to think how quick something like this can happen. I catch myself rushing projects, getting close calls, or even little nicks. I try to never get too comfortable with my tools. Something like this makes me realize just how dangerous this stuff is.

Anyway, my neighbor is home, doped up, hand wrapped and packed in ice. He will see the surgeon tomorrow. Odds are, they will amputate a little bit more of the thumb to make it clean. He got lucky, at least he has something left that will allow him some gripping strength.

Be safe.


15 replies so far

View Wendy's profile


28 posts in 3511 days

#1 posted 07-23-2012 04:37 AM

I’m sorry to hear that about your neighbor and I hope he recovers quickly. One of my friends lost two partial fingers in a wood working accident too. Sound knowledge and words to live by.

View AndyDuframe's profile


48 posts in 4671 days

#2 posted 07-23-2012 01:31 PM

If you ever get chance, I think it would be interesting to ask your neighbor what he was thinking about just before the accident. Most accidents I have (or extremely close calls anyway) start with a warning in the back of my head telling me things are getting out of control. Problem is, the voice is kind of quiet—and easy to ignore. I guess the trick is to pay attention to what your intuition whispers to you.


View ajosephg's profile


1897 posts in 4642 days

#3 posted 07-23-2012 01:57 PM

I’ve never lost any appendages or even had a serious “accident while woodworking, but there have been some close calls. Most of these occur when doing repetitive cuts, and like Andy said, your mind starts to wander, and you start to go faster and faster, and the next thing is———.

-- Joe

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4658 days

#4 posted 07-23-2012 02:09 PM

Thanks for the reminder Joe . We all need to keep our focus when using power equipment. I know their not in everyone budget including mine but a investment in a saw stop would have saved your neighbors finger.


View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3257 days

#5 posted 07-23-2012 02:12 PM

I am sorry about the accident. Horrible stories like this are all over. We think we know everything about doing the work until something like this happens. Once again, a reminder that safety should always be our priority. Presence of mind and complete focus must be given a tantamount consideration when handling our tools.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3329 days

#6 posted 07-23-2012 02:20 PM

My dad always tells me, “it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when”. He is a very safe guy and has had his share of industrial accidents. He currently has all 10 digits, but some have spent a few hours on ice before being reattached.

Safety equipment and good judgement will minimize risk, but won’t eliminate it. A sawstop may nor remove your finger, but it can still send a board through your chest. I am far more scared of kickback on a table saw that I am of getting cut. Some of the best safety advice I got was in a motorcycle safety class. The message was the same – “You WILL fall at some point. What you do when you fall will dictate how badly you get hurt”. Keep your mind sharp all the time, and always have a “backout plan” should things go south.


View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4318 days

#7 posted 07-23-2012 02:59 PM


I sure understand what you mean about motorcycle safety class…. I couldn’t afford a car my Jr year in college so I bought a Suzuki motorcycle and put 42,000 miles on it in one year. The only time I ever let it get down was at a stoplight. I was watching the light and a huge dog with at least 6” long teeth came right up behind me and started barking! I was so startled, I let my bike fall over and I burned my leg on the exhaust. When I sold it, the only scratches on it were from dropping it that one time and the foot pegs were sanded off at an angle… When I’d get in a tight corner and the pegs were starting to scrape, I’d lower my inside knee and raise the bike back up to get through the turn.
I’ve kayaked over waterfalls, rappelled down places I wasn’t sure I’d ever climb up to repel down and then I was positive I wouldn’t get back down. I've also crossed the North Atlantic ocean in a 30' sailboat. It’s amazing that at 63 years old, I’ve still got all my body parts and they still work good enough that I can fell trees, get them home, saw them and make things from them. Almost every part of my woodworking experience is dangerous. I follow rigid safety rules and only take calculated risks that I feel comfortable with. And yes, I respect my table saw. If I can make a cut with a bandsaw or miter saw, the table saw doesn’t get turned on. When it does get used the blade is never more than 1/16” higher than the piece of wood I’m going to cut. I do have a tiny scar on my left index finger. The cut was about 1/16” deep. It was a good thing I dropped the blade after cutting a 2X4 to cut some 3/4” wood and didn’t just push it through the saw. I made another safety rule that day. No more listening to talk radio or audio books while I’m working.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3329 days

#8 posted 07-23-2012 03:14 PM

Exactly my point Hal, and I follow the same methods. I do whatever I can to keep the risk as low as possible. I do not approach the situation with the mindeset that “it won’t happen to me”. I generally apply the the logic that states when it does happen, what steps can I take now to make sure it’s not that bad. The blade height is a good example. I also use all safety guards whenever I can. I probably spend more time putting the guards back on after using the cross cut sled than I do making the simple rip I needed, but that’s ok with me. I’m sure there are people out there with missing fingers that used all the necessary guards, so I am definitely not lulled into a false sense of security.
I actually listen to the voice in my head that says “uhhh, I don’t think that is the best idea”. I have had to alter some projects because I didn’t feel I could make the cuts I needed safely with the tools I had at the time.

This also sounds like a bad idea, but I don’t like to wear hearing protection – except when sanding or running the planer. I have made several adjustments while making cuts with saws and routers based on what the tool feels like and sounds like. My wife always jokes that because my eyesight is so poor (I wear glasses) that all my other senses compensate.


View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 4067 days

#9 posted 07-23-2012 03:23 PM

We can always use the reminder… thank you.

Ugh, it makes my stomach warble thinking about it. I think we have all had at the very least “near misses” (that one time the table saw cut off my fingernail – but not my finger! – will be something I NEVER forget) but it is easy to become complacent and think we are always safe. Respect the tools, stay focused. Let go and duck if things start flying.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Bigjoemann's profile


27 posts in 3741 days

#10 posted 07-23-2012 03:39 PM

Andy, I will talk to him about his thoughts right before it happened. He was pretty “slow” last night from the pain meds. Maybe this weekend I can update.

While I agree that the Saw Stop technology is ideal for preventing such injuries, for the average homeowner that uses their table saw once or twice a year, I don’t see how they could justify the purchase price. Hopefully, Saw Stop will license their technology to other manufacturers, which could help in lowering the consumer prices.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3269 days

#11 posted 07-23-2012 04:14 PM

Cutting small pieces on a table saw – not a good idea. It’s worth noting that a bandsaw is far safer in this kind of situation given the small amount of contact surface with the wood and the much lower tendency for kickback.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Bigjoemann's profile


27 posts in 3741 days

#12 posted 07-23-2012 04:15 PM

Had I known what he was cutting, I would have offered up my bandsaw.

View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 3266 days

#13 posted 07-23-2012 05:58 PM

That was me 3 weeks ago but my finger got reattached and is 95% better (im so lucky). The chances of me being that lucky again are slim so I bit the bullet and bought a sawstop.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5299 days

#14 posted 07-23-2012 06:04 PM

It sounds like your neighbor was probably making a bunch of repetitive cuts. Those are the kind that really scare me, because you are bound to get careless when doing the same thing over and over.

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

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 4042 days

#15 posted 07-23-2012 10:46 PM

Thanks for the reminder. So far… close calls on power equipment. One the time I left the key in the Jacobs chuck on my lathe. Saw it just before I turned it on. Fortunately, I was off to the side so it wouldn’t have hit me but would have made a loud noise in the shop when it hit the ceiling or wall.

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