Common Jointer Accident Causes

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Forum topic by Charles Wilson posted 03-09-2008 01:37 AM 10626 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Charles Wilson

18 posts in 3798 days

03-09-2008 01:37 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jointer

In another thread there was a terrible accident that happened to a LJ. Several questions were raised as to “how it happened” While I have no facts on that accident, I suffered a somewhat similar mishap about 18 years ago. I would not mind sharing my experiences on the subject.

I do not wish to offend anyone or appear to be insensitive with respect to the accident previously posted.
Soooooo if there is any interest and no one would be offended I will post what I know.

Please respond to this thread.


18 replies so far

View Mark E.'s profile

Mark E.

387 posts in 3769 days

#1 posted 03-09-2008 01:45 AM

I, for one, would be interested in hearing what you can tell us. More information about the causes of these accidents can help to avoid them in the future.

-- Mark

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 3923 days

#2 posted 03-09-2008 01:46 AM

I think it would be appropriate for you to share your experience.

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View HallTree's profile


5664 posts in 3794 days

#3 posted 03-09-2008 02:12 AM

I also would like to hear more comments so we can all learn. I also have been doing some thinking about workshop accidents and thought about a posting asking members what power machine in their workshops that they have had an accident with just to come up with which machine would be considered the most dangerous and why. What do you all think?

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 3923 days

#4 posted 03-09-2008 02:27 AM

I think that “incident reports” are helpful, but we need to be sensitive to the very real emotional trauma people experience when they are hurt.

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View 's profile

593 posts in 3999 days

#5 posted 03-09-2008 05:20 AM

I think that a sort of a database of accidents and causes it’s absolutely needed by our little community.

I’m a private pilot and I often read NTSB accident reports. AOPA (specially through the ASF) is always telling us about them because we all benefit from learning about serious and well analized accident reports. After all, if we don’t know the potential causes we might as well incur in the same errors and become in turn the victims of a new disgrace.

This has to be done in a non-judgemental, non-speculative way though. We have to be sensitive towards the ones who may have been involved in a similar situation as well as we have to be humble to recognize that nobody’s perfect and we all might be the next, no matter how well versed we may think we are.

I was very sorry to learn that our fellow LJ has suffered the jointer kickback accident but at the same time I’d like to know why this can happen in a jointer and what can be done to prevent it. If this can save even only one single finger it would be worth it.

Lastly, MyronW as much as I want to know the tale of Phil’s event, I applaud your decision to leave it to him to tell us about. I think it is the right thing to do.

Take care you all out there.

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 3915 days

#6 posted 03-09-2008 05:47 AM

As long as the specific information about how an accident occurred is handled with sensitivity, as Myron has in this case, and with the approval of the individual. It is valuable to all of us to learn the factors that resulted in the accidentr. Certainly, none of us want to see any repeat of any accident if it can be prevented by sharing information where appropriate.


View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 4112 days

#7 posted 03-09-2008 07:09 AM

Charles, I think that number of people who would benifit from your explaning your experence would far out number of people who were offened. If you feel that it may be too graphic, I would note that in the title of the post. I would hope that someone who is sensitive to that will probably not read at that point, but that’s just my humble opion. I personally would like to read about your accident and perhaps learn to avoid one myself in the future.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View lazyfiremaninTN's profile


528 posts in 3980 days

#8 posted 03-09-2008 08:05 AM

As a firefighter, I hate to say it, but we use Line of Duty Death/Injury reports so that we can make sure that the are not 2 families affected the “same” way. No different from FAA reports.

-- Adrian ..... The 11th Commandment...."Thou Shalt Not Buy A Wobble Dado"

View TomK 's profile


504 posts in 3901 days

#9 posted 03-09-2008 08:54 AM

I agree with Jojo and LazyFireman. In my younger years, I was greatly involved in skydiving and have over 1500 jumps including military and civilian, and competed at the national level in Relative Work. Parachutist Magazine always, (and still does) publish accident, or incident reports in an analytic, non-personal format. The magazine was always careful not to include the names or specific locations of the accidents, but it was always informative and useful to know the “how and why” to increase awareness. As with most human endeavors, the root cause of accidents was usually human, rather than equipment related, but not always, so rational, thoughtful analysis can benefit us all.

-- If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free! PJ O'Rourke

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3901 days

#10 posted 03-09-2008 04:21 PM

I really want to know the traps that are out there. Accident reports have a lot of value in preventing similar occurrences.

View Yettiman's profile


163 posts in 3765 days

#11 posted 03-09-2008 04:56 PM

I still shudder when I think of that other posting, but I would like to learn how to avoid a possible repeat.

I work alone in my shop, and the possibility of accidents of that magnitude are always in my thoughts.

-- Keep your tools sharp, your mind sharper and the coffee hot

View Charles Wilson's profile

Charles Wilson

18 posts in 3798 days

#12 posted 03-09-2008 06:27 PM

I grew up in the construction and wood industry, and for the last thirty years plus I have owned a cabinet/millwork shop in addition to a fair amount of consulting and teaching. This has given me the opportunity to witness many industrial accidents(fortunately with a few rare exceptions after the incident) ,review reports and interview people involved in accidents.

With all that said I don’t believe woodworking is an exclusively dangerous hobby/occupation compared to other activities, given a reasonable amount of care. Life in general can be dangerous for a careless person.

I spend a lot of time reviewing incident reports in an effort to understand why bad tings happen to good people. Most accidents can fall into two separate groups, the first is careless or improper use of the machine. The second is a result of an unexpected event producing an unintended event.

The first statement may seem harsh, in reality it should be the easiest type of accident to prevent. For the sake of space I will confine most of this topic to the jointer. I once asked a retired Air Force Pilot friend to comment on a commercial airliner crash, expecting some technical response all I got was “the plane hit the ground”. Not quiet the answer I was looking for and to be honest I was a little put off by the sarcastic remark. That was until I thought about it for a while and realized it was true, if we use the same simple process to understand a jointer accident we could say “don’t put your hand into the cutter head”. Sounds simple?

In our first group of accidents we could eliminate a lot of injury by not putting our hands into the cutter by following some basic rules.

Don’t joint short or narrow parts
Don’t joint painted or used wood
Don’t operate machinery without understanding the dangers involved
Don’t operate machinery in an impaired state.

The above is just a few of the basics to get the idea across and by no means a complete list of safety rules. I think you can get the ideas of how to prevent a preventable accident with a little common sense.

The second group is a lot tougher to make blanket statements about.
For the most part a jointer should be a reasonably safe piece of equipment to operate safely. Of course that is a well designed and maintained model, an older square head or poorly maintained machine can change all of that.

A Jointer Kickback was brought up so I will try and explain that a litter better. Most of us think about a “kickback” as a table saw action, while I think most kick backs do occur on the table saw any machine with a rotating of moving blade/cutter can kick back a work piece. I have only had one kickback on the jointer and it cost me three finger tips. In my case I was following all the rules when an unexpected event happened, to this day I still don’t know exactly what happened other than a knife slipped in the head and caused a massive cut to be taken while face jointing a block of wood causing the machine to remove about 2 inches of stock and a half inch of my fingers.

I learned from this to take a completely different outlook on machinery operation. We can all agree that a kickback is possible and for the most part unexpected. With this in mind I always look at a situation as “what would happen if the wood was gone” and the next question “where would the wood pull my hand if it were rapidly removed”.

Most of the time when a jointer kicks it is caused by a defect in the wood ,like a knot or split and this causes a bigger bite and the usual result is the stock being displaces with any varying amount of force and or speed. I strongly believe that if you look at a machining operation with this in mind it will greatly reduce risk of injury.

So to recap, don’t put you hand into a machine’s cutters. Expect the unexpected and be prepared for it. Work safe work smart.

This is only a short look into safety and is meant to show that sometimes a simple approach is worth a look.

A hand injury can be a life altering event. Not only do you have to deal with the pain and sometimes embarrassment, there are the monetary concerns of medical bills and loss of income. There are also some physiological issues affecting some injury victims, recovery time is difficult ,side effects to medications and infections along with follow up surgery can take their toll of a persons well being.

Fingers don’t grow back and any injury is no fun.

Please be careful and work safely, if this is your hobby how would an injury affect you real job? If this is your profession a serious injury could force a career change.

I would be happy to expand on any thing covered here publicly or privately.

Work safe


View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3901 days

#13 posted 03-09-2008 07:07 PM

Thanks for sharing that personal story and the astute analysis that accompanied it.

View 's profile

593 posts in 3999 days

#14 posted 03-13-2008 02:08 AM

A real eye-opener Charles. I didn’t though this was possible but I guess I underestimated the power of such machines.

I always felt uneasy when watching woodworking shows and see people running stock through the joiner—face-planning—or on the tablesaw—making a dadoo—while holding it down with bare hands right on top of where the cutters are placed. It just seems wrong to me having only a quarter of an inch of wood between my non-disposable fingers and a hi-speed spinning set of blades. Now I know why!

I really thank you for your “inside view” and your smart analysis of the accident causes. We definitely need more of that and maybe we might ask Martin for a section on safety on the shop (even a ’stickie’?)

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3923 days

#15 posted 03-13-2008 02:18 AM

Thanks Charles. I, like everyone else, depend on my fingers to type effectively at my day job. When my dog bit me about 6 years ago, I had to type one handed for a few weeks. I got a taste of what loosing fingers would be like and I didn’t like it one little bit.

Long and short, I appreciate your sharing your experience. I’m sure it will make me think twice when I turn on my jointer next time.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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