When tablesaws attack!

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Forum topic by Don posted 12-10-2009 03:09 PM 1888 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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551 posts in 3267 days

12-10-2009 03:09 PM

Well, I must say quite honestly that I never thought it would happen to me.

I’ll be the first one to admit I take safety seriously in the workshop. I wear ear and eye protection, a dust mask, have my DC going full blast. I keep fingers away from spinning blades and use push sticks when and where needed. That being said, I don’t use push sticks as often as I should, preferring to use my hands and fingers to control the wood.

This Tuesday, I did something so incredibly stupid, I’m almost embarrased to talk about it amongst my peers. I’m in the final stages of finishing a liquor/wine cabinet for a client and just have a few things left to do. Running the last few pieces of Cherry through to use as bottle holders and when I got to the last piece, my mind must have wandered for just a second and all the common sense I’ve used over the years went for a walk at a crucial moment.

As I ripped the last piece, for some reason which I still can’t fathom, I reached for the cut off piece, lying to the left of my blade while it was still powered on. As I reached for it, my brain must have finally realized the stupidity of what I was about to do, but a little too later. I introduced my right thumb to the power of a spinning Diablo blade and the result was as you might expect, the blade won the battle.

I must have a woodworking angel sitting on my shoulder for instead of trying to collect a piece of missing thumb, I was looking at a healthy chunk of skin and flesh carved out of the side of my thumb. I swore at myself and my stupidity, cursed my mind for wandering at a crucial moment and shut down the tablesaw, took off my ear protection, mask, shut down the DC and grabbed a couple of pieces of paper towel and applied pressure, afraid to look at what I had done to myself.

After a few moments, I carefully removed the paper towel and was pissed at the mess I had made of my thumb. A visit to the hospital, which I was sure would end with a skin graft, at the very least, ended 3 hours later with the doctor telling me how lucky I had been, no real damage was done.

So, in a few days, I will be back in the workshop, ready to finish up the project but I have ordered a Shark Guard for my tablesaw. The original blade guard had been taken off a long time ago as I found it more of a bother and hinderance, something that was installed to annoy me rather than protect me.

I’ve changed my mind…..

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

23 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#1 posted 12-10-2009 03:21 PM

In the event of a “tie” the tablesaw wins.

Sorry to hear this and hope you recover quickly.

I also did just what you did. Now my right hand baby finger has the nail on the top of my finger, instead of the face of the finger.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Alonso's profile


949 posts in 3263 days

#2 posted 12-10-2009 04:30 PM

I’m glad that you are ok. No matters how much experience anyone may have or how many years you been working with blades, it only takes a second to get distracted and accidents to happen. I guess that now you have learned the lesson, (the hard way), but again I hope you heal fast and get back on track soon.


-- The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me.

View Don's profile


551 posts in 3267 days

#3 posted 12-10-2009 04:55 PM

Thanks, it’s killing me not to be out there but….

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3673 days

#4 posted 12-10-2009 05:24 PM

thanks for sharing the story. if it helps just 1 person to rethink an operation – then it has served it’s purpose. and I believe it’ll make more than just 1 person to rethink something and be more attentive. including you ;)

hope to see you back in the shop ASAP.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3847 days

#5 posted 12-10-2009 05:37 PM

Don, that was a close call. I hope you get back into the shop soon.

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

View Paul2274's profile


330 posts in 3137 days

#6 posted 12-10-2009 07:28 PM

At least your thumb will heal and have another good shop day soon. Get well soon.

Everybody be honest…. As you read Don’s story did wince and grab your thumb??? I know I did.

I did let go of my thumb when Don said that he still had his thumb attached to his hand and that is all that matters.


View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#7 posted 12-10-2009 07:35 PM

Scary, but thanks for the reminder.

No matter how serious we are about safety, everyone is subject to have that split-second where the brain changes lanes without our conscious consent. That’s how most shop accidents happen.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Don's profile


551 posts in 3267 days

#8 posted 12-10-2009 07:36 PM

Thanks Paul.

I think the bottom line is I got ‘comfortable’ with what I was doing. I had 15 repetitive cuts to make and I was down to the last one and BINGO!! 1 second was all it took. I’m not a careless person but I can get complacent and that’s what cost me.

I took my stupidity in stride and chastised myself for doing something so stupid. My wife, on the other hand, repeats how lucky I was and demanded that I re-attach a blade guard.

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3643 days

#9 posted 12-10-2009 07:39 PM

Thanks for sharing and glad is wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I guess you can tell everyone that Santa gave you a thumb for Christmas.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Don's profile


551 posts in 3267 days

#10 posted 12-10-2009 07:44 PM

Santa gave me the thumbs up :o)

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 3176 days

#11 posted 12-10-2009 07:57 PM

Sorry to hear about this. I too know the feeling of what can happen when you let your mind wander.
I can say without a doubt, it was the fastest split second in my life.
My doc says it will be a full year before my wound will be fully healed.
I now have a saw with a usable guard and when the guard is off I have sleds and jigs to help keep me away from the blade. I will never again trust my skills over safety.

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3247 days

#12 posted 12-10-2009 08:02 PM

I have nearly done the same on the bandsaw of all things. I was in a hurry – and for no good reason either. I finished making a cut and for just a brief second my mind went on autopilot to grab a small cutoff left against the blade after my pass. Luckily I snapped back into in time to stop my hand. Ever since then as soon as I start to get the feeling that I am hurring, I stop what I am doing and leave the shop for awhile to give my mind time to slow down and reset.

-- James -

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#13 posted 12-10-2009 08:32 PM

wow Don sorry for your injury but I’m glad it’s not a total loss of your finger.Thanks for reminding us to keep are thoughts on what were doing. It only takes a second. So far I still have all ten fingers but I’ve shook then hand of many woodworkers who can’t say the same.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3505 days

#14 posted 12-12-2009 06:12 PM

Glad you will be OK Don. Sorry to hear about the injury.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Don's profile


551 posts in 3267 days

#15 posted 12-12-2009 10:00 PM

Thanks to all for the well wishes. The thumb is starting to heal…slowly.

Luckily I have one Christmas I can finish up, applying oil to a Cherry project.

The others will have to be IOU’s and rain checks, don’t think I’m going to be able to get back to the workshop in time which makes me sad….

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

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