Shop Accident Lessons Learned

A few first-person cautionary stories involving mangled or amputated fingers. May 15, 2014

For those of you who know me, you may not know I had an accident and severed my index and long finger from my left hand and chewed my thumb up a bit. For those of you who do not know me, this post is for you as well. For thirty years I've stuck my head, hands and fingers in places on edgebanders and saws where they never should have been and really never got more than a few scratches. So I'm doing a little sawing on my chop saw (at home) when a blade guard bolt failed or fell out and sucked the blade guard, the 5/4 x 6" deck board and my hand into the blade.

I only bring this up to remind each of you how quickly it can happen - faster than a Daisy BB! We took pictures of the damage before and after surgery so if any of you want to use them for a safety meeting I will be happy to send them to you. Remind your guys that it only takes a fraction of a second to change their entire lives. It is fortunate that it happened when I was 64 years old and not 24. Also, I now get a 20% discount at the nail salon! Actually, I have healed nicely and have been back to work for several months.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From Contributor S:
Sorry to hear of your injury. I am also one who has managed to only get minor nicks and cuts over my 25 years. Yesterday I got in an argument with my Lamello and the Lamello won. The blade caught some wild end grain near an edge, tossed the piece and ran the blade into my left thumb. Broke the bone a bit and I may require further surgery later. I feel dumb and now have to figure out how I am going to prepare and set up for a show in a week and a half. Like you said, it happened so fast.

From contributor C:
I thought I was the only person in the world that had an accident with a biscuit joiner. I cut through the first joint in my middle finger with my Elu biscuit joiner in 1985. I cut from the back, so they saved most of it, just had to shorten it by the kerf distance. It took two surgeries since the first guy was a hack and the bone would not stabilize. It's not pretty, but has worked all these years. Yep, only takes a second, then your sweeping bone chips off the bench. Remember it like it was yesterday!

From contributor M:
Sorry to hear about your accident, and also thanks for sharing your story. I feel lucky to have had no serious accidents yet, but it's always good to be reminded that it can happen instantly. My closest call was operating a horizontal boring machine. Somehow my finger got stuck between my work and the table when the pneumatic press came down. It filleted and crushed the tip of my finger. It's stitched up and healed now. But I lost the nail and it's at a different angle - a good reminder to be careful.

From contributor Y:
Your incident gave us pause to go over safety again in the shop and to point out it only takes a split second to do something bad. Glad to hear that you are back at work and still having the humor.

From contributor O:
Sorry to hear about your accident! I got caught by a staple and had to have it removed at the hospital. I've also been bitten by a really sharp chisel twice and had 15 sheets of plywood fall over on me, they were leaning against a wall and I was trying to move one of the ones in back. Except for the plywood accident for which I'm mostly recovered I have been truly lucky. I try to never work with power tools when I'm tired or too ticked off to see straight. But hand tools or rushing to get something done and just plain stupidity can get you real good too. It's definitely something to think about before starting work in the morning.

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