Tablesaw Accident Anecdotes

Is a kerf in the palm of your hand a dado, a rabbet, or a groove? An accident that could have been worse sets off a collection of reminiscences, cautions, and advice. December 30, 2005

While pushing a piece of melamine board through the table saw yesterday with the blade at scoring height, I had my hand in the wrong spot when the trailing end went through. You guessed it - a perfect 1/8" kerf about 1-1/2" long in the heel of my hand. It was not that bad, and I taped it up and went back to work. Getting stitches would have taken up the rest of the afternoon. So why tell you all of this? It keeps going through my mind - would this be regarded as a groove or a dado?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
Itís a booboo. Can we look forward to post in the Finishing Forum on how to remove blood stains from melamine?

From contributor B:
Do you consider your hand the top or the edge? Being that it was the palm of your hand (top of the board) I would guess it would be called a dado. If you did this to the side of your hand I would call it a slot/groove.

From contributor C:
Hands down, it's a dado!

From contributor D:
It is a groove, not a dado. A dado goes across the grain and a slot goes with the grain, therefore since you were pushing thru the blade the wound runs from finger to heel and therefore with the grain.

From contributor E:
Personally it looks more like a V-groove to me, at least mine did. It was embarrassing - I had to give a presentation at my night course at college that same afternoon, with my hand all duct-taped up. I looked like a buffoon.

From contributor F:
You really should have gotten stitches, or at least used butterfly bandages. I have made several small cuts in my hands - utility knives are the worst - and once you go about 1/16" into the skin, you cut small nerves, that won't grow back together unless you pull the skin really tight together and keep it that way, and dry, for several days. I have one finger tip which has a nice dead spot from a knife cut. Get some good first aid tools and learn to do it yourself if you don't want to waste time. My hands are more important than any job I may be working on.

From contributor G:
Just a word of warning to those who have never been cut by a saw blade - you may get the impression by reading these posts that a saw blade will make a nice neat kerf in your flesh like it does in a piece of wood. I am here to tell you that a saw blade will make your flesh look like hamburger meat. It sounds like Martin was really lucky if his wound required only a tape job. Most of the time, a cut requires microscopic plastic surgery.

From the original questioner:
I've never tried duct tape. I'll try it next time since I always have some handy in the bathroom to fix the plumbing.

From contributor H:
At the Las Vegas show I bought two Sawstop table saws to replace my venerable Unisaws. After I saw the demo with the hot dog I knew that I could never forgive myself if anyone got cut on one of my machines when I could have saved them the pain with a relatively small investment in technology.

From contributor D:
Just so the first post doesnít look crass, my left index finger tip visited the blade on my Makita portable. It split it quite well Ė I had 7 stitches and the feeling is not the same as before. Even worse than the cut from the saw blade was having Doc pour alcohol into the open cut, before stitching.

From the original questioner:
I think what you got is far worse than mine. The palm of the hand has many fewer nerves than the fingers. I can remember being reassembled when I mangled the middle and ring fingers on my left hand when I had just started in the trade 35 years ago, and I can still feel the pain. The doctor wasn't too mindful of pain, but he did a great job fixing me. I think he had been a combat surgeon in Viet Nam. I'm lucky - unlike several friends I know - I have all my fingers, although they aren't necessarily in their original locations.

From contributor D:
If you can believe this there is some weird humor here. I was doing a job for a Dentist friend. When I didnít come right back in from the garage, he came out to find me, definitely a bit messy, stuff running down my arm and dripping from my elbow. I am the first emergency surgery patient he has ever had in his Dental practice. He did a marvelous job putting the pieces back in order and stitching me up. Where else can you get paid and have free surgery?

From contributor I:
A little change on the subject but just wanted to let everyone know of a good addition to their first aid kits. Maxi pads are great for bandaging up larger cuts for your trip to the doctor. They are about the same as a military battlefield dressing. These are a popular wound dressing for loggers. Those thin daily pads with a little duct tape are good for smaller cuts. Bandaids are too small for my fingers anyways.

From contributor J:
The last time I had stitches/staples was about 6 years ago. I sliced my outer forearm open on the corner of a piece of old tin just walking by it. I had to get 5 staples to close the gash and it cost just a little over 500 dollars. The next time Iíll swipe the staple gun and a pack of staples and do it myself.

From contributor K:

I too have met with the blade, only it split the thumb tip in a crisp edged V-groove. I'm afraid the doc would have told you what mine said - ďThe flesh is gone, this is not like a knife cut that can be stitched. Trying to pull the edges of a gap together is futile.Ē In explaining what I faced for treatment, the term he used was "self-regranulate". It has to refill itself over time. Cleanup and wrapping was all I got for the $280.

From contributor L:
They took some meat out of the side of my hand and sewed it into the hole in my thumb. Man it hurt! It must have been to the bone. But the worst thing about it was my wife sitting there cheek-to-cheek with the doctor telling me what was going on.