A tale of two goof ups, three fingers, 19 stitches and how to prevent it.

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Forum topic by Durnik150 posted 05-31-2009 04:12 AM 1976 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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647 posts in 4331 days

05-31-2009 04:12 AM

Topic tags/keywords: band saw push sticks safety resource

I am currently typing this story with all 10 of my fingers intact. This whole drama involves my Brother In Law (BIL) and his flubs. I was there when these accidents happened and thank my lucky stars they didn’t happen to me. I’m trying to be extra vigilant so I’m not the source of this type of story.

BIL and I have been doing a lot of woodworking together over the last 2 years or so. He’s never been extremely handy and he’s trying to make up for lost time. He’s 58 yoa so is not a spring chicken, just inexperienced in the shop.

In September of 2008 we were making band saw boxes (for those who know me..BIG SURPRISE!). We were at the stage where we would cut off the waste from the top of the box. This is done by laying the box face up on the band saw table and cutting along the line to give yourself the arc of the box top. I had already finished my top and BIL was getting started on his.

OK-HERE I HAVE TO PAUSE. The band saw is touted to be, and I do believe, one of the safest power tools in the shop. The blade goes in one direction and the only way to cut yourself is by unwisely putting your body parts in direct contact with the moving blade. Kickback is rare but not unheard of, especially if you are cutting round objects). OK-THAT SAID…..BACK TO OUR STORY…

Starting at the edge of the block, BIL works the blade up the line to the top of the arc, the top crown of the box. I don’t think he quite grasped the idea that the blades on band saw bend, especially when cutting through thick wood. We were using a 3/16 blade so we could turn corners. Well, the blade had bent in its travels and when he reached the thin covering of the box top, the blade came out of the top. This caused the pressure he had been applying to move the box to cause his right hand, which had been holding the box from behind, to push forward. His right index finger went into the blade and the swearing began. A quick trip to the ER and 10 stitches later he was on his way home.

DISCUSSION-In this particular instance it would have been very difficult to have been using a push stick, not impossible, just impractical. However, his lack of knowledge about the tool and how the blade can easily bend and come out of the work, caused him a lot of pain and recovery time. Luckily, no tendons or bones were damaged.

Time travel to yesterday May 29th. Again, making band saw boxes. BIL had messed up a band saw box earlier by cutting out a piece that shouldn’t have been cut out yet. He was a little high on the frustration scale. I had told him that our next project would have to be made from the cutoffs and odd pieces that were in my scrap box. He looked through it after clamping up a rescue glue job on his work piece. He found a piece of walnut that had already been laminated and said that he could make a box out of that with very little modification. Off to the band saw he went while I worked on something close by.

DANGER SIGNS—He was very frustrated about his earlier project and wanted to catch up with a new piece. He was in a hurry and using a machine that had bit him badly 9 months ago. Did either one of us catch these signs….NO.

BIL is now making a straight cut across the back of the block. He has his hands in what he thinks are good positions. His right hand is holding the end of the box that makes contact with the blade first, his left is supporting the block from behind. He’s not using push sticks because he thinks his hands are well out of the danger zone.

As he completes the cut his safety rationalization reaches out to bite him. He was pushing the block from behind but pulling the front of the block to adjust for a little bit of blade drift. This adjustment caused him to pull the block to the side as the blade came out the back side. As the block shifted his left hand pushed forward and into the blade. He got significant cuts to his middle and ring finger. Worthy of 9 stitches this time. Again, no tendons or bone involved, thank goodness.

DISCUSSION—There is a significant lesson to be learned here. If you are frustrated and in a hurry, it is not the time to be using a power tool. NEVER take for granted that you are at risk all the time and USE YOUR SAFETY TOOLS. Push sticks may be a little inconvenient but they take the beating intended for your hands. And you should always be aware of the condition your machine is in. Is the blade bending a bit? Is there stress in the machine or the workpiece that you should be aware of? If so, complensate for it so you don’t get hurt.

I apologize for the long post but hope that this message can help in a little way or help prevent a further accident.

Best and safe wishes to all.

-- Behind the Bark is a lot of Heartwood----Charles, Centennial, CO

17 replies so far

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4350 days

#1 posted 05-31-2009 04:29 AM

sad situation , you must learn to LISTEN to the tools also ,
just like kids , when they whine ,scream ,grown or chater .STOP?LOOK?LISTEN !
tools we can replace , also wood , but not body parts !
these tools can cut through ebony , jello is not a problem .
as jim told us recently ,
” the best shop tool is between your ears ”
please be safe all .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Bureaucrat's profile


18340 posts in 4661 days

#2 posted 05-31-2009 04:39 AM

Thank goodness that none of the vitals were hit in his fingers. I know we all think of band saws as pretty safe but I know a number of butchers that have short fingers. The culprit was the meat saw, a band saw in a different environment.
Thanks for your post, we can not be reminded too often to be safe.

-- Gary D.

View Gary's profile


9418 posts in 4442 days

#3 posted 05-31-2009 04:40 AM

Charles…no offense here but, I think the lesson learned is BIL needs a different hobby.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Maxx's profile


136 posts in 4315 days

#4 posted 05-31-2009 05:09 AM

Dang…I go out of town for a couple of days and BIL has another set of stiches!! Give him my best and thankfully – nothing worse happened. I guess it’s just a well that I seem to take a long time before I take the piece to the saw. Best to take nothing for granted and make sure that your head is in the right place before cranking up the saw.

-- Where did all this sawdust come from?

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5410 days

#5 posted 05-31-2009 06:26 AM

Safety must be uppermost in the mind at all times. Sorry for the painful lessons. But, thanks for bring it to our attention.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4586 days

#6 posted 05-31-2009 06:45 AM

Wow I’m glad his injuries were not more serious


View PurpLev's profile


8648 posts in 4658 days

#7 posted 05-31-2009 07:34 AM

solution = knitting! but make sure he doesn’t use them pointy needles either…. better round them off.

Thanks for sharing – always good to be reminded of safety in woodworking.

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

View Durnik150's profile


647 posts in 4331 days

#8 posted 05-31-2009 10:01 AM

Thanks everyone. I’ll pass on the good wishes to my BIL. I’ll wait a bit on the recommendations for the new hobbies. As he was waiting for his wife to arrive to run him over to the hospital, he said, “I’m not going to let this keep me away from woodworking!” I admire his drive but if he’s going to continue to try his best to remove body parts, he may just find my shop closed.

He did tell me that I could do all the band saw work in the future. Maybe that’s a good compromise. I’ll just get him to emphasize other types of work.

Thanks again for the responses and your best wishes.

-- Behind the Bark is a lot of Heartwood----Charles, Centennial, CO

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5341 posts in 4970 days

#9 posted 05-31-2009 06:48 PM

Message to you:
Oh! “Quick trip to the ER”, is an oxymoron (erstwhile, impossible happening).

-- [email protected]

View chickenhelmet's profile


99 posts in 4322 days

#10 posted 05-31-2009 07:07 PM

Wow Charles! Can’t really add anything else. Do send my well wishes to your BIL.

-- Larry , Colorado

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 4884 days

#11 posted 05-31-2009 07:43 PM

Has Bill ever tried knitting?

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View Laurent's profile


41 posts in 4355 days

#12 posted 06-01-2009 05:02 PM

Thanks so much for your story. It’s really important that members post bad experience as a reminder for others, but especially for newbies like me.
As a self-taught beginner, I made myself a promise to read every story relating such accidents so I think about them in the shop.

-- Laurent

View RouterManiac's profile


96 posts in 4290 days

#13 posted 06-01-2009 11:04 PM

If you don’t get the crap scared out of you once in a while, you will stop respecting the power of the tool! That keeps me going, plus don’t wear ties in the shop, that is the other. LOL

-- Ken, Florida,

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 4490 days

#14 posted 06-02-2009 12:15 AM

Maybe the good news is he must be learning…he only got 9 stitches the second time.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Nick Solimine's profile

Nick Solimine

54 posts in 4741 days

#15 posted 06-02-2009 12:55 AM

Thanks for the post . I am just starting to work on making these boxes and i can assure you i will take the advice. Prayers to bill and a quick recovery

-- Nick , North Carolina " If we trust in GOD he will never put us in a place where his graces will not protect us "

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