Many of those who read work with power tools on a regular basis, myself included. Those of you who know me know that I do everything possible to keep my workplace clean and safe. One big part of that is organization. Removing the clutter that you have around you when working with power tools allows you to focus completely on what you are doing, not what is next to your work table and possible vibrating and falling onto the floor.
No matter how small the tool is, power tools are relentless and unforgiving. It only takes a split second for something dreadful to occur and I am certain that a high percentage of accidents happen when our concentration is broken for one reason or another.
Yesterday while cutting I had a small ‘mishap.’ I was zipping along cutting out some 1/8” ornaments for the kits I was making and I got bit by my scroll saw. It didn’t happen when I was cutting, but when I was removing the pieces from the frame of wood around them.
I was stack cutting the pieces four layers thick, and some of the pieces had curls and turns that were sometimes a bit difficult to get to release from the outer frame of waste wood. I really don’t think carelessness was a factor, because I am pretty good about staying focused when I am working on my saw. My mind may wander from time to time, but I do keep my attention on the piece in front of me.
What happened was just as the piece was falling out, the edge of the waste wood caught on the blade and jumped. I really couldn’t tell you if I instinctively tried to grab it or not, but I do know the final results was my thumb going into the moving blade.
I jammed it in there pretty good, and the cut was at least 1/8” deep. Fortunately I was close to the sink and I was able to flush it immediately. It bled pretty good, which I am sure helped clean it out a bit. While I was running it under the water, Keith got me some antibiotic ointment and a band-aid.
I was using a small blade and the cut came out pretty clean, and I was able to close it up by using the band aid to stop the bleeding. It reminded me of a paper cut.
After I patched it up, I took a short break and continued cutting. While I was aware of it, it wasn’t enough to stop me. I did, however slow down a little bit and take extra caution.
Just a week or so ago, a member from Steve Good’s forum cut off his thumb with a miter saw. Unfortunately it was not able to be reattached, as it was damaged too much. I had felt so bad about it these past weeks, and ironically, his name on the forum was “Thumbs.” He showed a great sense of humor about it though and was even back to scroll sawing after a couple of weeks. I admire him a lot.
While my little “ouchie” isn’t nearly as severe, it does serve as a good warning that no matter how much you do something and how much of a seasoned veteran you are, you still need to have a great deal of respect for your tools.
Fortunately, the scroll saw is one of the more benign power tools. You would probably really have to work at it to cut off a finger. But it can bite pretty hard at times and it certainly is not fun. While my injury is small, it still throbbed throughout the night and is a bit sore today. It did close up though, and I should not suffer any lasting consequences from it.
It is however a good reminder to me to be careful and pay attention. I think it is important to take short breaks too when doing a long session of working with any power tool. It helps you keep focused and stay fresh.
Today, I think I will take a day off of cutting. I still have some computer work to do on the patterns for the kits and we are going to see Keith’s dad for father’s day today. It is a good reason to give my thumb an additional day of rest and let it heal a bit more before returning to the saw on Monday.
I wish all the dads out there a happy fathers day today. Enjoy the day and be safe. :)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"