Book Shelves (Worth a severed thumb?)

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Project by EthanV posted 417 days ago 1486 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this shelf system in 2010-11. My wife wanted some shelves in the office and I designed them to fit around her desk. They were also designed to fit on a wall at least 10’ long. I had to split the shelf system up to fit our current office.

Half way through the project I had a slight snafu. It was 3 p.m. on a 100 degree day in July. I was in a hurry and couldn’t find my push stick for the table saw. I instead decided to use my thumb to push the 5/4 cherry stock through the table saw. Not the best Idea.

Long story short, the surgeon reattached the thumb and I was able to finish the shelves the following spring. I now have full use the appendage with some loss of feeling. That day stands as a lesson to me each time I work in the shop, mow the lawn, wire an outlet or engage in any other potentially dangerous activity.

Here are what have been lovingly christened my “thumb shelves.”

-- Woodworking is a lifestyle choice

11 comments so far

View Grandpa's profile


3107 posts in 1312 days

#1 posted 416 days ago

you might regain some of the feeling….maybe. I believe I read once that nerves grow 1/64th inch a year. I cut the palm side of my right index finger and lost some feeling there. It took several years for the feeling to get back to normal. At least I think it is normal. One of those tough lessons though. Glad it is still there and functions somewhat normal.

View ShaneA's profile


5290 posts in 1235 days

#2 posted 416 days ago

Good news is the bookshelf looks great. Hopefully the thumb health evolves for you.

View Kirk Hutcherson's profile

Kirk Hutcherson

38 posts in 589 days

#3 posted 416 days ago

Beautiful book case. Sorry about the thumb though. A good story/lesson for the rest of us.

-- Kirk

View EEngineer's profile


890 posts in 2250 days

#4 posted 416 days ago

Sorry about your thumb…

Here’s what I picked out of the story: “It was 3 p.m. on a 100 degree day in July. I was in a hurry…”

There was just a discussion not too long ago about when it gets too hot to work in the shop. My answer was: For me personally, whenever it gets so hot that I don’t enjoy it, I leave the shop. Some of it is safety – me, personally, if the weather is hot enough to make me irritable, I am much more likely to make mistakes. Better to lose a day than lose a digit!

As for I was in a hurry – that’s when I always make the stupidest mistakes!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View GrandpaLen's profile


1494 posts in 909 days

#5 posted 416 days ago


Your Book Shelves/Storage project turned out beautifully.

Thanks for sharing the story of your hurried accident and your new Mantra;

“MEASURE TWICE (find my push stick) CUT ONCE.” ;-)

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len.

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Sanding2day's profile


964 posts in 483 days

#6 posted 416 days ago

+1 to the measure twice (find my push stick) cut once :) Certainly a great looking set of shelves!! Glad that you maintained all digits despite the lengthy recoop experience. Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan

View Cozmo35's profile


2198 posts in 1672 days

#7 posted 416 days ago

Ethan, I feel (felt) your pain. I split my thumb in two about 10 years ago. From the tip down to the 2nd knuckle that connects it to my hand. It has a way of making you think things through from then on. I am glad you kept your thumb! The shelfs look great.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View helluvawreck's profile


15649 posts in 1503 days

#8 posted 416 days ago

They are very nice shelves but not loosing your thumb over for sure. I sure am glad the doctor was able to reattach your thumb. I hope that you still have some strength and movement in it even if it is numb.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View tonybrews's profile


144 posts in 680 days

#9 posted 416 days ago

Looks great, I’ll give it two thumbs up! (sorry, couldn’t resist the lame, tasteless attempt at humor)

-- Tony, Colorado,

View Bogeyguy's profile


467 posts in 704 days

#10 posted 416 days ago

Nice job on the shelves. Thanks for not showing a pic of the thumb. :)

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View Fishinbo's profile


11217 posts in 812 days

#11 posted 413 days ago

Beautiful bookshelves, look professional. Great design and finish. Great work and sorry for the thumb, important is we’ve learned a great lesson from it.

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