Use a Push Pad on the Jointer!!! Warning - Graphic Injury Pics!

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Forum topic by dmisita posted 06-05-2014 06:30 PM 6115 views 1 time favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 1467 days

06-05-2014 06:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: injury jointer safety

So, I’m fairly new to woodworking and I bought a used Delta Benchtop Jointer. It’s kind of a POS, but for $120 it seemed like a good starter tool.

I’m setting up shop and decided to build myself a nice miter/planer station. More on that later …

Got to the last construction part, a drawer for one side. Decided to make it out of some decent looking Am. Cherry I saw at the local HD.

I went to joint the face of a 4 inch board, and was holding pressure (with my hand, the way idiots like myself do …) on the out-feed side of the table.

I think everyone can sense where this is going:

The jointer grabbed a big chunk between the blade and the cutter head, kicked the board back at high speed into the wall, and dragged my fingers down to the knives at the same time.

I remember feeling bouncing off the cold metal and then nothing. I looked down at my 3rd and 4th fingers and saw that they were cut deeply and bleeding pretty badly, and made a noise that registered somewhere between a girly scream and a manly yell. I had enough presence of mind to shut off the jointer and ran to the bathroom to wash my fingers. Somehow I thought it would look better when I washed it out. Then I regrouped, turned off the dust collector, and ran upstairs to wake up my wife and tell her I was going to the ER. (I usually work from about 7PM – Midnight because that’s the time I have to work and I’m a night-owl.)

I drove to the ER, and they took X-rays. Soft tissue injury only, no bones broken, and no bone exposed. They stitched it together and today I saw a plastic surgeon. (Fortunately, he’s a friend of mine …) He said I’m lucky and that it will granulate itself in within 2 weeks, no need for a skin graft, etc.

I’m going to post links to the pics instead of the pics themselves to spare people:

Pic of my chewed up fingers.

The wall:

The chunk of wood stuck in the jointer.

30 replies so far

View j_dubb's profile


196 posts in 1806 days

#1 posted 06-05-2014 06:50 PM

Good grief, man. This is what terrifies me about woodworking. My fingers are my livelihood (...ladies) as I sit behind a computer all day. My 115wpm typing speed would be reduced to a snails pace if I ever let something like this happen.

Glad to hear that it doesn’t sound like there’ll be any terrible long-term damage done here. I’m sure you’ll be a lot more careful moving forward. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery!

-- Josh // "If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." - Jack Handey

View TheFridge's profile


9458 posts in 1483 days

#2 posted 06-05-2014 07:19 PM

And my chicken pecking will be reduced to…

I don’t know? What types slower than a chicken?

Anyway, everything considered, I think jointers take off more fingers than anything else. Probably because it usually not just one. It’s prob a good thing you didn’t have a worse accident than it already was. Flesh wounds are one thing missing fingers are another. I had a similar experience and it completely changed the way I work in my shop. Mine was just a scratch from a table saw blade. It was sticking up only about 1/16 above the wood I was cutting, and when I noticed the wood was bowing away from the front of the fence I took my eyes off the blade. Then ran my finger right over the blade. I now use push sticks whenever I use my saw.

Good luck with that bud. Looks like a lot of skin.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Chris208's profile


239 posts in 2267 days

#3 posted 06-05-2014 09:12 PM

The same thing happened to me when I first got my jointer. Fortunately I was using push pads, so one of those contacted the cutter head, instead of my hand.

I found that one of the blades was loose, and crept up, which meant only that blade was trying to cut. on top of that, I was face jointing a piece of purple heart, which is really tough.

The board launched and very nearly killed my cat. She seemed unphased by the ordeal.

When I buy used tools, I don’t use them until I’ve gone through it and made sure everything is where it’s supposed to be.


View Redoak49's profile


3242 posts in 1986 days

#4 posted 06-05-2014 11:50 PM

OK – I am sorry to hear that you had an accident and glad to hear that the injury was not any worse.

The question now is why exactly did it happen. I think that it would be worthwhile to many people to find out as a learning tool.

Was the jointer OK or is there something amiss with the setting of the blades? Were you taking too much of a cut? Was the board too short? What is the best kind of push pad for doing this?

Maybe someone can post a picture of the proper way to do this operation.

View dmisita's profile


23 posts in 1467 days

#5 posted 06-06-2014 12:09 AM

RedOak – you are absolutely correct! I meant to add some of those questions and got tired of typing with my bum hand and forgot.

I’m not sure if the jointer is bad. I had noticed wood catching in the blade before. I removed the blade, cleaned it out and reset the blade without incident. This time, I noticed stripes appearing in the face, and saw a couple of chunks of wood caught there. I did my usual removal and re-calibration. As far as I know I set it properly and tightened down the blades. It is possible I hadn’t tightened them enough, but I don’t believe this was the case. In retrospect I believe that somehow the cam that holds the blade in has too much play in it.

It was set at about 1/64 inch depth. And suddenly started taking off way more. So, perhaps the blade did come loose. The board appears to be scalloped and closer to 1/8 of an inch was shaved off.

This supports the theory that the blade might not have been sitting tight enough.

I cannot say for sure. The blade currently appears to be tight, and I haven’t checked it’s level. But there is a sizable chunk of wood in there.

As far as proper technique, any old push block would have prevented my finger tips from hitting the blade. The kick back would have happened regardless IMHO. I think it was failure to secure the blade properly. Again, likely a byproduct of my inexperience.

The push pads that came with this jointer are a bit worn out, and don’t grip as well as I would like. I should have replaced them, perhaps with Microjig’s fancy new pads. (The Grrriper is a bit unwieldy on such as small jointer).

Thank you for your request for more info. I agree that this is a valuable learning opportunity.

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 1866 days

#6 posted 06-06-2014 12:34 AM

I’m selling my jointer. I can’t even get good results with it. I’m out. Hand plane jointing FTW!

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View dmisita's profile


23 posts in 1467 days

#7 posted 06-06-2014 12:36 AM

Just a few follow-up photos, and comments:

The retaining clip is bent pretty badly. I don’t think it was bent before this event. I think the force of the wood bent it and the blade. The whole thing is going in the trash. Not with the price of the replacement parts. Shipping alone …

The blade was up nearly 1/8th of an inch above the table when I just removed it. The bolts were all tight. Not just the ones on the side with the wood. I don’t believe that it was just the wedging effect of the wood making them tight.

What I think happened, the wood worked its way into the gap and pushed the blade up away from the cams. The fact that the retainer bent tells me that it was probably tight at the time.

FWIW all of my prior issues with this jointer were related to the fence not holding tightly perpendicular to the table. I had to readjust it between passes at times.

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1592 days

#8 posted 06-06-2014 01:20 AM

I know that feeling… My finger bounced off a router bit when a piece kicked back. I did exactly like you did, except the girly noises ;) , felt my finger bounce off the bit, looked at my finger and saw blood start to flow(started to feel panic), ran to the sink(I too thought it wasn’t going to be as bad once I got it all cleaned up). My cuts weren’t deep so I mended myself.

Looking back on it I’m glad it wasn’t worse than it was. For me it was 1-2 days of horror, 1-2 days of soreness, 2-3 weeks of healing and reflection. I didn’t have to deal with the financial side with the ER visit like you… But without a doubt I take safety incredibly serious nowadays. I attribute that to my accident. Take care of your wound and heal up. If yours is anything like my experience you’ll be back with a healthy respect of the dangers and be safer too.


For everyone else tap your finger against a table or wall. That’s what it feels like.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

571 posts in 1467 days

#9 posted 06-06-2014 01:20 AM

Wow, glad to hear that there’s a full recovery in sight. I have been trying to get in the habit of always using push pads but sometimes I’m not thinking. And not thinking is a good invitation for disaster.

I got my jointer secondhand and it didn’t come with any push pads but I did pick up two grout floats which work great, and were cheap, but they are freaking awful for floating grout, by the way:

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View dmisita's profile


23 posts in 1467 days

#10 posted 06-06-2014 01:29 AM

Thanks for the kind words all. I posted this because to be honest, I think I didn’t fully understand the dangers of the jointer. The table saw has always scared the heck out of me because the blade is visible.

The jointer safety rules I’ve read, I always thought was just everyone being a worrywart, I mean the blade is hidden under the wood …

I now think very differently. The blade being under the wood should be twice as scary. Not knowing where the blade is should scare you. The forces are different, too. I thought I was safer with my hands on the out-feed side. I never thought the force of the cutter would pull my hand into the blades like that!

I learned a really valuable lesson for a relatively low price … $100 co-pay at the ER and a few weeks of pain and reflection. Were this a dado stack I’d be missing a hand instead of a chunk of finger!

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)


18173 posts in 1854 days

#11 posted 06-06-2014 01:33 AM

Sorry that happened man. I had a similar injury to one finger from a biscuit cutter. Made a slot in my wedding ring finger. Several stitches put it back together. Now have a nice hunk of scar tissue in the pad of the finger to remind me to be more careful. You will have that too I suspect. When I did it, I just curled my hand into a fist, went inside and called the wife and said meet me at ER. Wrapped up my finger and drove myself with my hand held above my head. Thing is i see stuff like that and much worse all of the time, but it doesn’t bother me. On here, I had to read your description before I decided to look at your picture. When it’s another woodworker, I get queezy. I don’t want to see something that could happen to me.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View dmisita's profile


23 posts in 1467 days

#12 posted 06-06-2014 01:37 AM

Bill, yeah. I hear you. I’m an anesthesiologist, I see my fair share of blood and guts. Not quite the same when it’s your own hand!

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)


18173 posts in 1854 days

#13 posted 06-06-2014 01:48 AM

Wow, take care of those hands.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Aj2's profile (online now)


1388 posts in 1795 days

#14 posted 06-06-2014 01:52 AM

Sorry to read about your injury,don’t give up on a jointer yet. Not sure how long the piece you tryed to flatten but I never try to joint any less the 12 inches long and no pressure over the cutter head.
If you would like some pics of the push sticks I use for some ideas I would be happy to share.The jointer is one of my favorite tools.
Speedy recovery.

-- Aj

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 1726 days

#15 posted 06-06-2014 02:46 AM

I know how you feeeeeelllllll, router table got me I didn’t know bones could be such a brillant white, get well soon, make some more dust

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

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