Well, that was stupid...

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Forum topic by bunkie posted 02-12-2013 04:26 AM 2049 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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412 posts in 3351 days

02-12-2013 04:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: accident forstner freehand

Just got back from the emergency room. As accidents go, it wasn’t too major and I’ll heal completely. The stupid part was that, again, I heard that voice in my head that said “you really shouldn’t be doing this” right before I got bit. Literally. I was drilling some holes with a 1.5” Forstner bit freehand in a small piece of stock using (here’s the REALLY stupid part) a cordless drill.

The bit dug in and levered itself out of the hole and across my left thumb ripping the thumbnail, fracturing the small bone and almost cleaving the fleshy part in two. I now have no thumbnail, about 10 stitches and a throbbing pain.

I had gotten away with this foolish procedure before. I expect that this accident was a long time in coming. I have a ShopSmith as my drill press but setting it up in drill press mode “was going to take too long and I was only drilling a couple of holes anyway”. Well, I won’t make that mistake again.

The added bummer is that I won’t be able to play guitar for about five to six weeks which really sucks because my band has a performance scheduled for this Friday.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

28 replies so far

View MaroonGoon's profile


281 posts in 2162 days

#1 posted 02-12-2013 04:54 AM

Similar thing happened to me one time with me, bunkie (however, not as unfortunate as your accident). I was too lazy to clamp the piece down and figured since it was so small, i figured it would be easy to hold on to by hand. Well…long story short I was drilling and once the bit gripped the wood enough my grip slipped and the drill spun the small piece around like a propeller and smacked my fingers hard enough to leave a couple of blood blisters under two fingernails. Just goes to show, it’s always worth taking your time to work safely even if it means you spend an extra two minutes clamping down the work piece.

Take care of yourself!

-- "Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." -- Pablo Picasso

View runswithscissors's profile


2895 posts in 2229 days

#2 posted 02-12-2013 05:01 AM

Cutting, drilling, whatever—it’s the small pieces that tend to get us in trouble. I’ve done similar with the drill press, drilling steel. Too lazy to get the vice grips. Nothing as serious as yours, however. Hope you heal quick.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View mbs's profile


1657 posts in 3144 days

#3 posted 02-12-2013 05:19 AM

my accidents usually start with “I’ll just quickly…..” I’m glad you’ll recover. sorry to hear you’ll miss your concert.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2490 days

#4 posted 02-12-2013 05:27 AM

I’ll admit I am very cavalier about drilling, especially at the drill press. I do always wear eye protection but I almost never clamp the workpiece down. I’ve been lucky I haven’t been bit. Hope you feel better soon.

-- John, BC, Canada

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3306 days

#5 posted 02-12-2013 06:49 AM

Thanks for not posting pictures. I too seldom clamp anything down on my drill press. (not bragging)
Hope the pain pills are working…....................

-- mike...............

View Manitario's profile


2689 posts in 3087 days

#6 posted 02-12-2013 07:12 AM

Sorry to hear about your accident, I’m glad that you’re ok despite the stitches…it’s funny how we all seem to have that same little voice in our heads when we’re about to do something stupid…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3319 days

#7 posted 02-12-2013 07:53 AM

double auch ! A hand held Drill ainĀ“t a thing to be taken easy on
heal fast
best wishes

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30068 posts in 2542 days

#8 posted 02-12-2013 10:44 AM

I know your pain on both sides. Early in my woodworking I thought I could hold a piece while using a forstner bit. Learned quickly I couldn’t. I also played in a band for 23 years. You can’t just call in sick. Hope you can work it out.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View bondogaposis's profile


5094 posts in 2555 days

#9 posted 02-12-2013 06:58 PM

A lot of accidents are probability problems. It is easy for us to think that if we did something once and nothing happened it is a safe practice. It is a matter of exposure, if you repeat an unsafe act often enough the probabilities will catch up to you and an accident will occur. It’s kind of like running a red light, if you do it and there are no cars coming in the other direction and there is no cop to catch you, then you beat the odds. But what if you make it a regular practice, eventually you are going to have an accident or at least a citation. The problem in woodworking is to recognize what are unsafe practices before hand so as to avoid them. I think you should reward yourself and buy a drill press so that you always have it set up and will never be tempted to repeat your accident. I’m glad it wasn’t any worse.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2279 days

#10 posted 02-12-2013 07:00 PM

That little voice is annoyingly accurate. Hope your back to playing in the band in no time!

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2888 days

#11 posted 02-12-2013 07:17 PM

yeah Sandra but it takes a few “close calls” before that voice gets loud enough to hear sometimes!

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3351 days

#12 posted 02-12-2013 07:18 PM

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

I’m sitting here looking at my injured thumb and thinking hard about paying more attention to that little voice. My biggest mistake was not having enough respect for the bit and the power of the drill. I’m pretty good around my fixed power tools, they have my undivided attention.

I take full responsibility for my lack of judgement in this matter. Having said that, I feel that I need to look at the contributing factors and really think hard about what they mean for my approach to this hobby. My biggest issue that my shop just doesn’t work for me. It’s too small, it doubles as a hallway to other rooms and I have stuffed too many large things into it (cabinet saw, jointer, ShopSmith, tool cabinet, bench, wood and 14” bandsaw). It works when I have larger projects as I find it easier to justify the necessary planning and setup. My real problem is smaller projects (this was a wine rack). It was after work and I had a few minutes so I thought I would work on some small parts. My ShopSmith had been set up in tablesaw mode (I leave it that way as it’s easier to move than the cabinet saw) and it just seemed like too much trouble to switch it over to drill press mode. I’ve thought about getting a bench-top drill press but that would just eat up too much bench space.

I would love to build a dedicated shop, but our house is perched on a hill top (with a killer view that my wife fell in love with) and there’s just no space as most of our half acre is broken shale hillside with steep drop-offs. I’m stuck with my lower-level family room for a shop space.

One crazy thought is to sell off the big machinery, go back to having only the ShopSmith and buying more hand tools. That’s what these sorts of things should do, in my opinion: require you to think seriously about your goals and real needs.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2888 days

#13 posted 02-12-2013 08:12 PM

not another saw-stop discussion!!! It would not have helped you here since it wasn’t even a powered saw. go buy a 4 pack of the Irwin Qwick clamps ($18 at Menards) and use them. In drilling operations it doesn’t take much to prevent the helicopter effect.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2279 days

#14 posted 02-12-2013 08:57 PM

My humble opinion would be not to make any decision while nursing hurt pride and body…. Especially if they gave you something for the pain.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View bunkie's profile


412 posts in 3351 days

#15 posted 02-19-2013 06:45 PM

Wow. What a difference a week makes. I’m healing up nicely. I even played my gig on Friday. It’s reached the “boy is that ugly” stage, but it no longer hurts and I’m even able to button my right shirtsleeve cuff. Thanks for the good wishes everyone and, above all, stay safe!

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

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