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Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

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  • Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

    Other than when someone occasionally posts their own given misadventure, I don't think I've ever seen a thread seeking an open discusion on the subject of woodworking accidents/injuries. At least on this forum in the last couple of years. Alright, I could be wrong, please don't rub my nose in it too hard if so.

    One of the reasons I thought of this was because of "Gord in Newmarket's" rather great thread started on "What Frustrates you the Most About Woodworking". I noticed that nobody, as far as I've noticed, mentioned the ongoing fear of a serious injury. This seems amazing as although most owners/user manuals for the equipment we use hardly have anything, if any, info on the proper techniques to safely using the equipment. I have found they often mention, "You should seek the assistance of your instructor or other informational material to teach you how to use their equipment". This is likely because of our litigious western society making the manufacturers skiddish about offering technique type of information.

    I think we could all benefit into insights from our own experiences as well as ones we've heard about from others of woodworking accidents and injuries.

    I know, it's not the most cheerful subject matter for a thread, but it could prove to be a saviour for some of us who can benefit from the experiences of others. I believe that thru this discussion we may even change the methods of some out there who have been unknowingly carrying on dangerous operations further.

    Not sure we want to see pictures of blood and guts (if you so happen to have them), but pictures depicting dangerous scenarios would probably enhance an understanding better than words in some cases.

    Scary "near misses" are OK to post too!

    If ya got to much pride/vanity or ego gets in your way, just tell us the store in the third person.

    A "Little" poll with this might be useful as well I thought. Of course in the spirit of really getting a picture of what peoples experiences are like, the answers will be private. I've broken down the poll for "NOVICES", "INTERMEDIATE", "PRO/EXPERT" levels of woodworking. The reason for this is to see if accidents/injuries happen at any level of skill.


    Let me start by sharing my first ever woodworking injury with you. I was in the process of hand carving my name with a large needle-like object onto a piece of wood, and in the process managed to shove the entire needle apparatus an inch or so deep into my hand. I didn't even yelp. I just proceeded to remove the needle from my hand and apply pressure to stop the bleeding which I did.

    I never did finish carving my name into that piece of wood. But give me a break, the wood in question was a wooden ruler, the needle was a compass, and I was sitting in class with my first grade teacher giving a lesson. No one, not even my parents afterwards, ever knew about it but me. It never got infected and I was lucky it didn't hit any bones, though I remember this like it was yesterday!
    42
    NOVICE: I have never had a related A/I WW related experience.
    50.00%
    21
    NOVICE: I have had 1 to 3 significant A/I's.
    16.67%
    7
    NOVICE: I have had more than 3 significant A/I's.
    4.76%
    2
    NOVICE: I have had a A/I that resulted in permanent disfigurement ie: scar, burn, etc...
    9.52%
    4
    NOVICE: I have had and A/I that was physical that resulted in a long term (2 yrs +) recovery.
    2.38%
    1
    NOVICE: I have an A/I that has given me a permanent physical impairment/disability.
    4.76%
    2
    NOVICE: I can't believe an A/I has not happened to me.
    4.76%
    2
    NOVICE: I'm so cautious that I don't believe it would ever happen to me.
    2.38%
    1
    NOVICE: I have had an A/I while tired.
    4.76%
    2
    NOVICE: I have had an A/I while on drugs and/or alcohol.
    0.00%
    0
    Last edited by Lost in the Woods; 11-25-2007, 12:30 AM.
    Kevin
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  • #2

    Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

    well, this is tough, not sure how to vote.

    First, I'd like to think of myself as a intermediate only because I've been doing some sort of woodworking for about 20 years ... but most of my stuff has been pretty utilitarian and the heirloom pieces haven't really happened.

    From a serious accident potential I really see only 3 tools that I have that could do me in; tablesaw, circular saw, router

    I've probably had less than 3 kickback on the tablesaw incidents all of which missed me cause I stand very far to the right (left tilt table saw) when doing these sort of cuts. A few kickbacks on the circular saw but it stops pretty fast when jammed and I'm off the trigger fast. Nothing ever happened on the router but I haven't used it a lot.

    I've stabbed myself with screwdrivers and burnt myself on the drill chuck ROS but nothing that didn't heal in a couple of days. Minor injuries doing home renovations like stepping on nails or driving an electrical staple under my knee cap (remember to always wear knee pads)

    I really try and keep my head about me when working with those 3 power tools.
    Last edited by CheapScotsman; 11-25-2007, 12:45 AM.

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    • #3

      Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "fear". I know it keeps me very cautious when working with spinning blades and bits. I've only had one kick back on my saw and that was from poor judgement and trying to rush things. I've probably had more small injuries from things like a brad nail changing direction in a piece of wood and coming out in your finger. It always hurts more pulling it out than going in. There is also the dreaded hammer, I must have bad hand/ eye coordination cause I'm always hitting a thumb or a finger. I just have to think about it and I do it.
      Shop and Projects @
      http://community.webshots.com/user/kcjones118

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

        Boy Kevin, you sure must like these polls with lots of options.

        I have done woodworking all my life (I am 65 and started when I was about 5). In spite of 60 years of woodworking, I still consider myself to be Intermediate rather than Pro.

        I have respect for rather than fear of machines and tools and (almost ) always think about and plan what I am about to do before I do it. So far, this strategy has worked and I have never had a serious injury -bumps, cuts, scrapes, and splinters yes -but never anything that required the attention of medical professionals.

        My closest ca11 happed a long time ago when I was ripping a board using my neighbour’s radial arm saw. The wood kicked back and hit me in the gut. I know that I did not have things set up properly to do this operation safely, but it scared me enough that I don’t own or desire a radial arm saw.
        Cheers,
        Frank

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

          The last time I posted in a thread about WW injuries/stitches, I wasn't really sure what defined a serious injury. I've had stitches several times, but I don't think that they were all necessary. The one time that I had what I think was a serious injury I didn't get fixed up ...

          flash back 25 years .... Iroquois Falls Ont.

          I was using a small Delta tilt-top table saw (part of an antique jointer/saw combo). I wasn't careful about how I was cutting and got the wood caught between the blade and fence. Unfortunately my hand was also in there and as the wood spun into the blade it took my RH centre finger with it and chewed the skin off in ragged strips - I could see bits of bone. I washed it really well and wrapped it in clean cotton and headed to the hospital. The "on-call" doctor was having supper at home, it was really cold and she didn't want to come in unless it was an emergency (she wasn't from the North and left soon after ... ), so I went home and looked after it myself. A few days later I was talking to my regular doctor (Doc Hall r.i.p.) and he took one look, said "that was a stupid thing to do", said it was going to be fine as I had cleaned it well enough, rebandaged it and sent me on my way.

          back to the present .... I'm much more carefull now ...

          cheers eh?

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

            Nothing much to report...

            I'm mostly a hand tool woodworker. When I do use power tools, I am careful about the setup and how I perform the operations. Never had a problem, safety wise. That's probably because I have never become complacent around power tools.

            As far as hand tool hurts go, there isn't much to report there either. I cut myself on wood and get slivers a LOT more often than I cut myself on tools. Shop rule number one: "Where will it go when it slips?". If you ask yourself that question you will be far less likely to hurt yourself.

            Darrell
            Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User

            Comment

            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

              Hey Kevin,

              A couple of points to respond to from your original post.

              First, it's really no surprise that nobody listed it as a "frustration" in Gord's thread. I doubt if anyone considers the risk of injury, or safe use of a tool, as a frustration in their woodworking activities. I'm like Frank. I have a healthy respect for my tools, wall-powered or hand-powered. Like Frank, I consider the safety aspect of any operation as simply another part of the setup and planning for that operation. I do it pretty much automatically as a normal part of using that tool, each time I use it. I certainly don't see it as a frustration. I doubt if many others do, either.

              Second, it's always more useful to have safety discussions related to real events rather than something theoretical. There are two types of threads that almost invariably bring out some discussion of safety. One, as you noted, is the reports of injury or serious near-injury. The other is if someone has already figured out, or at least is guessing, that a particular machining operation they are planning might have some danger and asks for options. Oh yeah, there's also a third one that's guaranteed to bring out the safety issues ... whenever the question of keeping the guards on a machine comes up.

              These types of discussions all deal with real situations. I think we relate better if it's a real situation.

              Third (yeah, I know I said "a couple of points" .. so I lied), I don't think it's unreasonable of the tool manufacturers to expect that we will take steps to learn how to use our tools, either from an instructor or from someone with a decent amount of experience. I don't think it's reasonable to expect them to provide complete tutorials on all possible operations.

              And I doubt if the manufacturers can possibly imagine all of the "creative" ways we will try to use the machines they sell us.

              Finally, I can't recall how long I've been a member here but it seems to me that, overall, the total safety content of the forum is about right. That is, if you consider the amount you should think about safety in the shop in relation to everything else you need to think about versus the ratio of safety to non-safety content in the forum, I think there's a pretty good match.

              ...ken...

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                I'm definitely a novice, but I have never had even a minor accident or injury. I try to follow all the safety rules, but I'd say I only have about a 75% compliance rate. Sometimes your glasses just aren't handy and you're just too lazy to go get them, or sometimes you're just not thinking about what you're doing and afterwards you think "wow, that was a dumb thing to do, surprised that didn't blow up in my face. I think the best thing I've got going is a healthy fear of the tools, most of which I have developed from reading stories here on this forum of people who haven't been so lucky.

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                  I didn't reply to the poll - too many choices - you've got to be willing to rate your own status and there are far to many choices to end up with a meaningful result given the sample size.

                  I've read the reponses to this point and I'd like to share two experiences, one that left me on the floor infront of my TS trying to catch my breath for 20 minutes, and one that could have easily been fatal. The first accident happened as I was trying to bevel the sides of a small piece of cedar we were using as garden markers. It was one if the first things I was making years ago and it went sideways between the fence and the blade and came back at me with an educational mission. I had a bruise the size of a baseball that was hard as a rock for 6 months and boy was it colourful. Looked like walt disney puked all over my gut.

                  This taught me to think about what I was doing and what machine I was using to do the work. There is a safe tool for every job, in this case the table saw was not it, and I began exploring chamfer bits and router tables.

                  The only other accident I have had could easily have been fatal, and it happened this past spring. I was working late, about 1:30 am, putting some small #4 x 1/2 screws into a piece of wood. As it happens, the robertson scredriver I was using was the smallest, which seems nothing more than a square tipped needle. The tip came out of the screwdriver - I must have been trying to get the screw started with some force. As the tip came out of the screw, the next best target was the web between the thumb and first finger and the tip went in nice and deep and immediately the juice came out nice and red. So I calmly dropped everything and put pressure on the wound and walked up to the house. My wife, who was normally one to head off to bed by midnight, was still up and could sense there was something wrong. By the time she got in the kitchen, I had sat down on a chair. She knows that I don't react well to injuries and the sight of blood - and I don't watch medical proceedures on tv either - and took a look at the damage. By this time I was a little light headed (Exhaustion and shock) and when she lifted my hand it was lights out for me. Everything went black and I fell forward out of the chair and would have fallen into the basement had the ceramic tile on the kitchen floor not stopped top of my head. I am told that my wife says I turned a really interesting shade of blue as my tongue blocked my throat and my breathing stopped. All I remember was waking up under the table feeling rather confused with my wife yelling at me to wake up. And I had a hell of a headache for some time.

                  So the only two accidents have been a small piece of wood that kicked back and a #4 x 1/2 FHWS and manual screwdriver that damn near killed me. The kick back I had a feeling was coming as I didn't think it was the best method to do what I was doing, but they were the tools I had at hand. The other situation came out of nowhere and shows that working when you are exhausted even such a small items can lead to unexpected results.

                  Now that I've put my two experiences out there, I would like to comment on one point. I've read the posts, and in past threads of a similar nature, there is always a discussion of fear of the tools. My first reaction is to scream 'Get over it boys, you are all grown men with careers, families, and major responsibilities - you can't be afraid of a table saw or router!' A fear of something is a reaction to a lack of understanding. I know that when someone does something that they are not familiar with, they do it because they are to afraid to ask questions to become familiar with the tool and process. In a worst case senario it is because they have to high an opinion of their own abilities or they are in too much of a hurry. That is how fear can lead to an accident. Using a tool that you have not got the training and understanding to use safely is stupidity on the owners part.

                  Until you use a tool, it is as safe as can be, and the point of interaction between you and the tool is the material. Do you unsertand everything about the process you are about to do? How will the material interact with the cutter, which direction will the forces acting upon the material act and how will you prepare for it, are there cracks or knots in the wood that may affect the operation you are about to perform, is the cutting edge sharp, is the tool properly aligned and set up for maximum safety. Where are the risks with this operation. If the material is thrown, where will it go and why would it be thrown in the first place. Go over everything in your head first and own every aspect of the process.

                  Stand back and use your head for everything. Stop, think, and then work. In this day there is no reason not to have all of the answers before you turn on a machine. There are magazines, DVD's, forums, TV shows and tools have never been safer. The information is all there, access it.

                  And remember, no matter how well prepared you are, a #4 x1/2 FHWS, a screwdriver, exhaustion and a tile floor can also dam n near kill you. That too was poor planning and execution on my part, I still can't bring myself to call it an 'accident'.

                  I am sure that this will provoke some arguement, but each one of us has the ability to work professionally and safely. An accident may still happen after all of the proper precautions have been taken, and then you night be able to call it an accident. Poor preparation, poor planning, using the wrong tools for the job, working without properly adjusted machines and a lack of understanding of the operation will lead to personal injury, but I think calling them accidents may be playing fast and loose with the definition of the term.

                  It is wise to have a healthy respect for your tools, but I can't see anybody having a fear of them. I've been in several BC hydro substations that supply power to heavy industry and the power that is there can be a little overwhelming. As an electrician I've got the background to undertand the risks, and before entering, the BC hydro or company rep always had a brief safety talk. Armed with that information, there was no danger on the tour unless I did something stupid that I should not. Same with shop tools and processes. respect you tools, do not fear them.

                  Cheers

                  Michael
                  Last edited by Michael in Port Alberni; 11-25-2007, 02:52 PM.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                    Originally posted by Michael in Port Alberni View Post
                    It is wise to have a healthy respect for your tools, but I can't see anybody having a fear of them. I've been in several BC hydro substations that supply power to heavy industry and the power that is there can be a little overwhelming. As an electrician I've got the background to undertand the risks, and before entering, the BC hydro or company rep always had a brief safety talk. Armed with that information, there was no danger on the tour unless I did something stupid that I should not. Same with shop tools and processes. respect you tools, do not fear them.

                    Cheers

                    Michael

                    I think, Michael, that you might be confusing how thw two words are being used. When I refer to having what I called a "healthy fear" I was not at all referring to the kind of "fear" that you described in your post, but rather I was referring to the attitude that you call a "healthy respect." It's a case of the same concept being referred to by two different words. Both usages are legitimate, but more importantly, (and I think you'll be the first to agree here) the attitude is legitimate, regardless of what name you call it.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                      Yes, I suppose that I would agree with your point of view. Fear is the wrong word to use in my opinion though.

                      Cheers

                      Michael

                      Comment

                      • Thread Continues Below...

                      • #12

                        Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                        Originally posted by Michael in Port Alberni View Post
                        Yes, I suppose that I would agree with your point of view. Fear is the wrong word to use in my opinion though.

                        Cheers

                        Michael
                        Glad we agree on that. I think the sense of the word "fear" I am using is just a little archaic; consider, for example, how the religious will talk about the beginning of all wisdom being "the fear of the Lord." Any preacher will tell you that the idea there is not to be scared or terrified by the almighty, but simply to have a healthy and appropriate respect and not to treat that kind of power casually. And yes, I suppose I am comparing tablesaws to God here, but that's only because I really love my ridgid! :mrgreen:

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                        • #13

                          Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                          Michael»»Great post!
                          www.facebook.com/PenningBrian

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                          • #14

                            Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                            I have been injured so many times in my life that I can't remember which were WWing related and which weren't.
                            It all started when I was 1 year old and I jumped off the couch and planted my face into the arm of a rocking chair, resulting in several stitches. It went down hill from there. I'm told I also dove through a window (playing Superman) at age 3 and almost sliced my eye out. Missed my eye by less than a MM. I don't remember that but still have the scar to prove it.
                            The first serious WWing related injury I recall was sticking my finger in a spinning TS blade. My finger didn't like that too much. I still have that scar too.
                            I have felt the pain of a kickback on more than one occasion. All of which were before I started reading this forum and had any idea what was causing it.
                            I answered the poll as a novice since that's when most of my injuries occurred.
                            As for the discussion about fear V respect.
                            I tell all the guys I train at work, they need to have a healthy respect for the power of the springs we work with. Don't be afraid of it and if you are, don't be ashamed to say so... and stay away from it. It will eat you up in the blink of an eye if you mess up.
                            I respect my tools and the danger but not as much as I should and that's why I don't often enter the debates about safety and guards. I take chances. I do things I know I shouldn't do. I often advise against performing a trapped cut knowing full well I would do it myself (and have) if the need arose. It's not a lack of respect or fear but just plain stubborn laziness and quite possibly stupidity. That said I have a terrible fear for a spinning blade and in particular a bit spinning in a router table. Not in the way you might think mind you.
                            Every now and then, when a bit or blade doesn't seem to be cutting as well as I think it should, I have this inexplicable urge to stick my finger in there to see if it's sharp. It never goes further than the thought crossing my mind for a fraction of a second and it sends a shiver down my spine every time. Sometimes I have to turn off the machine, step back and collect my thoughts. It's quite frightening to think that some day I might be distracted enough to follow through with that thought.
                            That was a tough one to admit and I have avoided admitting it in the past but something tells me there are others out there who have experienced that feeling at least once.

                            My best safety advice is...If it doesn't feel right, it likely isn't.



                            The truth is, I'm lucky to be alive. I have come that close to being killed or seriously disfigured so many times I can't remember them all. And yet, here I am, all in one piece and nothing but a few minor aches and some small scars. My guardian angel rarely gets any sleep.
                            J.P. Rap Mount Hope Ont.
                            Carpe Ductum (Seize The Tape)


                            "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. Elwood P. Dowd

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Re: Woodworking Accidents/Injuries - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

                              Originally posted by CheapScotsman View Post
                              From a serious accident potential I really see only 3 tools that I have that could do me in; tablesaw, circular saw, router

                              I really try and keep my head about me when working with those 3 power tools.
                              Funny that you would not include the bandsaw.

                              The only serious injury back when I was in high school shop class was with a kid slicing his fingers off at the bandsaw.

                              The only guy I've ever met who was dismembered as a hobbiest woodworker was the partial loss of three fingers on a bandsaw. This guy was well experienced as well and has worked on construction sites from grunt to engineer all his life.

                              One of the only two close calls I've had with my woodworking equipment was with the bandsaw. I was using it to cut thru 4 inch PVC pipe and did not have an overly secure grip on a piece I was cutting. It flew from my hands without it even being able to see it fly from my hands it went so fast. It made a couple of bangs in and around my general area, and after a few seconds I finally observed it spinning at a million miles an hour on the floor. If it had flew in my face, it would have been quite the mess.


                              The Bandsaw in my opinion is the "Wolf in sheeps clothing" in the shop. I think we are all guilty of using it without goggles, or without the blade guard in place, or just plane in a hurry because it just seems like such an innoffensive machine.
                              Kevin

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