A journey into the workshop. #24: My head hurts for good reason...

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 10-30-2009 11:26 PM 1720 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 23: Starting to be an air head... Part 24 of A journey into the workshop. series Part 25: Tuning my Groz #4. You'd be amazed how sweaty you can get... »

So last night, I took one of my bowl blanks, I believe this stuff is Camphor due to the smell (it smells like Vicks), but I wouldn’t testify to that in court. The wood came from a tree that had been storm fall from Hurricane Ike last year. So anyway…

Like I said I took one of my bowl blanks, about 6” in diameter, and mounted it to the face plate, roughed it out, and created the tenon on the bottom of the blank. Removed it from the face plate, and mounted it on my chuck…

About 1 minute into working the inside with the bowl gouge, I heard it…

It was sort of a shhhh shhhhh shhhh ckckckckckck sort of sound. Now I was turning somewhat slow, maybe 600rpm or so… but it seemed to happen so fast, for just a fraction of a second, the tool seemed to get MUCH louder on the blank, and then SNAP!

The blank came off of the chuck with a pretty good deal of force, barely skimming over the top of the face shield, and with whatever it was on there that was sharp grazing my scalp and giving me a nice 2 inch long scratch and bruise on the top of my head… It did manage to draw a bit of blood, but nothing terrible…

Upon looking at the chuck, the tenon was still firmly in the chuck, the dumb thing simply sheared off…

To make things worse, when it hit the floor, the blank split into 4 different pieces…

This is not the first time a blank from this log has done this to me. I think for my skull sake, I am going to get rid of this stupid thing and move on to the walnut I have waiting for me…

Maybe I will saw this thing into planks, empty my dust bin, and run this stuff through the planer. I bet the shavings would be great in a potpourri warmer…

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9 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3850 days

#1 posted 10-30-2009 11:31 PM

That is scary! I am just glad that you were not hurt any more than you were. Good thing that you had your face shield on.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3260 days

#2 posted 10-30-2009 11:55 PM

Yeah, it rung my bell for sure… I ALWAYS use a face shield when turning… I don’t need to get any uglier than I am now…

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View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3202 days

#3 posted 10-31-2009 01:24 AM


Though I’m sorry for the close call, I’m glad that’s all it was.

Early in my motorcycling days, I regretted when everybody seemed to have an “I knew a guy ….” story—usually involving a dead or badly disfigured motorcycle rider.

But … these days … I welcome the cautionary tales. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded once in a while what could happen.

Heal fast. Love the potpourri idea … or … if you get a winter cough … a little on the chest…. ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3193 days

#4 posted 10-31-2009 03:15 AM

Thanks for the description of a near-calamity. I keep eyeing lathes, but it is a few years off I suspect. No better way to learn than from other peoples problems, much better than learning from one’s own mistakes.

Other than the usual kick-backs that I have survived, (and so I never run the saw without the guard and splitter, as a result), I have done pretty well. My RAS is not designed well for ripping, one of those Craftsman-Emerson models that they were replacing, but too old to even replace, I guess. I checked, and it was a no go. I had some wild moments with it, and that precipitated the purchase of my table saw eons ago.

But I do own a face mask, and use it at times. See my blog for my weekend antics…..........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3459 days

#5 posted 10-31-2009 07:00 AM

Glad you were not hurt any worse. Lathes do like to throw thing. A face sheild is a deffinate must when ever I am on the lathe. Even for sanding. You never know when a crack might appear or the wod get loose.

Again, Glad it wasn’t worse.

Thanks for the reminder.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3227 days

#6 posted 10-31-2009 02:59 PM

Glad you are okay, sounds like you were turning at a safe speed. I recently was tuning a bowl from apple that I have been holding for 6 months or so. Still really wet, but I decided to go straight to finish with a wide warpy rim. I got to the last cut ( for more than one reason) and the thing blew up, 800 rpm, 4 peices, 1 left on the lathe, 1 hit me square in the sheild, a small on said hello to my little freind, and the 4th almost hit my son taking out the garbage 30 feet away. He heard the crack of my face sheild and ducked, then spoke in expletives, then threw out the garbage. I was shocked, the main reason for turning the bowl was for turkey smoking fuel, so I had a use for the bowl, but i looked at the thicknesses and everything looked good. I think it just had a thin crack that I uncovered and at some point it just had enough. I learned some things.
1. bowls always blow up on the last cut.
2. My son has creative swear combinations.
3. some wood just wants to be a food ingredient.
4. Always wear a mask.
5. I really should use the bowl guard that comes with my lathe.
6. sometimes wood had its own ideas.
7. Dang turning is fun.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View Ken Waller's profile

Ken Waller

91 posts in 3199 days

#7 posted 10-31-2009 03:22 PM

Nothing like a flying bowl to remind you why you wear a face shield.
Whenever I’m turning very green wood, I run a bead of thin CA glue around the base of the tenon. This increases the shear strength of the tenon and allows more agressive cutting (or reduces the need for very light cuts). Glad you weren’t seriously hurt. Another option is to bring in your tail centre for support as you turn the outer section of the inside of the bowl. Its at this area that the torque on the bowl tenon is greatest and the tail centre will keep the bowl on the lathe if the tenon lets go.

-- Ken in Sharbot Lake, Ontario

View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3605 days

#8 posted 10-31-2009 08:22 PM

Wow Dave
I glad in wasn’t a bigger injury. If it had happen to me people would say no problem because it hit me in my hard head. Be Careful “BOWLING” . OK I’ll say it for you Argggg bad pun.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View dbhost's profile


5726 posts in 3260 days

#9 posted 10-31-2009 10:00 PM


I think after reading your input. I need to wear a CUP! Do they make them for fat middle aged guys?

a1Jim… BOWLING… Why am I not shocked it was you that tossed that joke my way? Good one though…

Ken, I never thought about CA glue on the tenon… How does that work?

And notottoman, I didn’t have time to react, It happened so fast, I had enough time to take the tool away from the workpiece before it was heading at my skull…

I figure faster RPMs would have probably hurt more….

I am pretty sure I am running into wind caused internal fractures in the wood. Those hurricanes cause a lot of stress to the trees you know….

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