A rule ignored...a painful lesson learned

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Forum topic by PASs posted 11-25-2011 06:53 AM 2146 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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595 posts in 3097 days

11-25-2011 06:53 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press safety injury drill bits

Rule #1: NEVER have you’re body parts inside the arc of swing of a power tool
...especially one with adjustable parts.
I was enlarging the holes on some coin displays.
The holes were odd-sized so I had to use an adjustable drill bit.
I measured and set the cutter for a dozen different holes with no problem.
Was, of course, making the last cut of the night.
As I was bringing the bit down to the work piece the cutter blade slung out to the end of the bar, changing the radius of the cutting circle from 1 3/8 inch to 3 inches in one revolution.
Unfortunately for me, my index finger was at about the 2 1/2 inch point.
The cutter blade entered my finger just midway between the first and second knuckle and exited just after the second knuckle.
Fortunately it only peeled the skin away.
An evening with the wife at the ER and 8 stitches later I now have a permanent reminder of Rule #1.
When I looked at the dill bit I realized that although I had tightened the blade set screw, the blade holder was cocked on the bar, so after a few revolutions the vibration un-cocked it and it was then loose enough for centrifugal force to move it to the outer stop on the bar.

More gore at

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

18 replies so far

View able339's profile


47 posts in 2374 days

#1 posted 11-25-2011 07:05 AM

OUCH!!!! Live and learn but that’as still a heckuva way to have to learn a lesson! Of course, it sticks with a person longer!! You are not the lone ranger, though… I too have done some dumb things to my body! That remiinds me of what an old maiintenance man said to me one day as I was cursing myself for making a dumb mistake. He listened to me feel sorry for myself for a while then said, “when’s the last time you made an intelligent mistake?”

-- TNJames

View Lifesaver2000's profile


551 posts in 3111 days

#2 posted 11-25-2011 07:22 AM

Thanks for sharing this with us. Not sure this is something I would have thought of unless it happened. It is all too easy to just expect things to work like they have a hundred times before.

This lesson can be applied to hand tools as well. Even after years of minor injuries, I still have to actively remind myself to keep my left hand out of the way when I am using a chisel, knife or even a screwdriver with my right hand.

View EEngineer's profile


1102 posts in 3612 days

#3 posted 11-25-2011 08:51 AM

Time and again I see this. Yah, “Rule #1: NEVER have you’re body parts inside the arc of swing of a power tool” is a good one, but that’s not really the problem is it?

Did you get in a hurry? Were you rushing the change? I am beginning to realize that every time I have a close call in the shop I am rushing things or cutting corners to get the job done. I have a real problem doing this, but I find myself more an more just slowing down, going back and rechecking, in short, just slowing down and not rushing anything.

I’m just saying…

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

View nonickswood's profile


554 posts in 2386 days

#4 posted 11-25-2011 02:11 PM

Ouch is right, Hope your OK!
Luckily it looks as though there was enough skin left for the
Doc to stitch up nicely. Those adjustable bits have always been kinda scary to me!
For me the swinging arc happened to be a skill saw in a wet tunnel attached to my Right Hand.
The blade guard was all clogged up & stuck open.
That swinging arc took it right past my right kneecap were it grabbed the little bit of cloth that stood between
Spinning Saw Steel and Flesh. The Spinning Steel – Won!
I think that- Swinging Arc thing- Is the real Problem HERE! Get Well!

-- Nick, Virginia,

View helluvawreck's profile


31088 posts in 2866 days

#5 posted 11-25-2011 02:45 PM

I’m glad it wasn’t worse. We all work around things that can seriously hurt us and we all have to work slowly and deliberately and think, think, think. A serious injury can happen to anyone of us at any time and it usually happens because of something we did wrong. I had a severe kickback accident on the TS last year because of something foolish I did and I have used table saws for 40 years. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured. I hope that it didn’t ruin your Thanksgiving.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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jim C

1472 posts in 3097 days

#6 posted 11-25-2011 03:35 PM

That tool is officially called a “Trepan” tool.
It caught me when I was wearing a cuffed long sleeve shirt. It pulled me into the drill press and knocked my head against the cast iron belt guard and cut my forearm.
That was 47 years ago when I was an apprentice machinist. Boy have I been careful ever since.
Really, don’t use that tool. To many things can go wrong. Replace it with Forstner bits. They make every size you’ll ever need.
Stay safe and happy healing.

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jim C

1472 posts in 3097 days

#7 posted 11-25-2011 04:06 PM


View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4217 days

#8 posted 11-25-2011 04:27 PM

Thanks for the warning.

I have one of those, and I’ve only used it a couple of times, but after hearing a few folks warn of their dangers I might just retire it completely.

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

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3173 days

#9 posted 11-25-2011 05:06 PM


Heal quickly. May the pain be minimal, and the return to the shop be quick.

Yikes !

-- -- Neil

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2654 days

#10 posted 11-25-2011 05:49 PM

As someone how owns one of these tools and never uses it (inherited from gramps) I appreciate the early warning.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View PASs's profile


595 posts in 3097 days

#11 posted 11-25-2011 07:02 PM

I was back in the shop before I went into the house when we got back…(had a father-daughter project to finish!!!)
Right now, 12 hours later, I’ve had scratches that hurt worse…but this was a definite wake-up call for trying to do too many things at once.

I have 3 sets of forstner bits….but these holes are JUST offsized to standard or metric sizes…so the trepan is the best answer I’ve found…

I think I’m going to look at a carbide bladed milling bit….better lockdown.

And of course…I’m looking to remanufacture the trepan with an adjusting screw instead of a bar and set screw…will be a nice project.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3990 days

#12 posted 11-25-2011 07:12 PM

I’m grateful you still have the finger!

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View ChuckV's profile


3119 posts in 3526 days

#13 posted 11-25-2011 07:38 PM


I am glad that you were not injured any worse.

Have you ever considered or tried the coin-sized forstner bits? I see that Lee Valley has them here:,180,42240

Of course, this will only help if you are mounting the modern US coins.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Billp's profile


804 posts in 4199 days

#14 posted 11-26-2011 10:51 PM

Glad it wasn’t any worst then what it was. Throw that tool away they are extremely dangerous, go with fosner bits.

-- Billp

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3822 days

#15 posted 11-27-2011 01:41 AM

Heal quickly my friend and thanks for sharing, it may prevent any future injury in our community of woodworkers…BC

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

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