Even a disc sander can bite

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Forum topic by Tony posted 03-19-2009 07:32 PM 1468 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tony's profile


56 posts in 3352 days

03-19-2009 07:32 PM

As my first LJ post, I offer my own workshop faux pas. Night before last, I broke what I feel is the cardinal rule of shop safety: “When you start to think it can’t happen to you, IT WILL!!” After all, the lowly disc sander is about as safe as it gets, and can’t hurt you right? RIGHT??

The scene: a 12” disc running on my Shopsmith, with 80 grit paper, face sanding end-grain rings I had cut from Sycamore and Boxelder last summer. No scrap block hot glued to the back – just holding each piece against the disc with just enough pressure to sand without burning the wood. Then the unexpected – I lost my grip on a piece when it was grabbed by the disc, the wood went flying, and the end of my right middle finger jammed into the disc for about 1/2 a second. Man that hurt!!

I yanked my hand back to see blood pouring from the raw tip of my finger, and when I flipped off the motor, I noticed a ring of human tissue where my finger had touched the disc. Again, ouch!! I got the finger cleaned and patched, but it continued to bleed for about an hour, forcing me to change the dressing a few times. Two days later, it still oozes somewhat, and throbs like mad every time I get it wet.

Aside from not being able to play guitar for a couple of weeks, my hand will be fine, but I’m looking at this as an important lesson. I’d much rather learn from a goof with a disc sander than a band saw, jointer, router, table saw or…(you get my drift). A guy that lives not far from me recently amputated one hand at the wrist with a compound miter saw! I know I’ll be much more vigilant from now on.


16 replies so far

View JimmyC's profile


106 posts in 3399 days

#1 posted 03-19-2009 07:48 PM

80 grit ?eeeeewwwww ! I can’t even imagine that, but I’m glad to here that you’re ok and the prognosis is good.

-- -JimmyC...Clayton,NC- "Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave"

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#2 posted 03-19-2009 07:55 PM


did you have to redo it with 220 grit…. 400 grit…. 1000 grit to remove the swirl marks off your finger?

live and learn – luckily – this lesson was ‘somewhat’ cheap – could have been much more bodily expensive as you mentioned.

I am curious how do you amputate your hand at the wrist on a CMS? I mean, you’d have to REALLY be out of focus to have it that severe wouldnt you?

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

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3670 days

#3 posted 03-19-2009 08:19 PM

The best advice I ever saw for shop safety was “Think about what your hands would do if the wood suddenly disappeared”.

This kinda shows you how important that is, this is more than a cut, you whittled flesh away.

I got bit by a stationary belt sander, not nearly that bad and it HURT. Can’t imagine how bad yours felt.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4215 days

#4 posted 03-19-2009 10:21 PM

I often sand fairly small parts on the belt of my 4×36 belt/disc sander. I can certainly attest to the fact that dragging a knuckle or fingertip on an 80 grit belt is an excruciating, if not life-threatening experience!

I’d give it more like a month before that fingertip is ready for the frets. :-)

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

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3486 days

#5 posted 03-19-2009 10:27 PM

Ouch! Thanks for the head’s up on this. We all need to stay on our toes.

And Purplev, LOLOLOLOL

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3486 days

#6 posted 03-19-2009 10:28 PM

Oh yeah, and WELCOME TO LJ’S! Hang around a while, we grow on you.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4085 days

#7 posted 03-20-2009 12:36 AM

I once had a fairly large skin area that would not heal. Not deep, just about 1 square inch and 3-4 layers of skin. Not a lot of blood but a lot of ooze.
Finally put black pepper on it and the blood coagulated as I watched.
Healed up in 3 days.
Just a suggestion.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Gary's profile


9331 posts in 3430 days

#8 posted 03-20-2009 12:43 AM

DANG!!!! Welcome…...DANG!!!

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View HallTree's profile


5664 posts in 3764 days

#9 posted 03-20-2009 01:10 AM

That happen to me about 3 months ago on the knuckle of the middle finger. Just took off about 1/4” of skin and it is still tender. Lee, sounds like I should of used the black pepper.

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

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3890 days

#10 posted 03-20-2009 01:20 AM

Sorry to read your pain and hope it goes away soon !!!!!!

I think the bottom line is…................if you play at this stuff long enough, sooner or late your going to bleed.

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

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3685 days

#11 posted 03-20-2009 01:56 AM

Just when you think you’re quick , the machine is always quicker !

Happy healing and welcome to LJs…we all sympathize with you and your pain…..80 grit ….OwwwwwwDAMN !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18269 posts in 3673 days

#12 posted 03-20-2009 01:59 AM

REaching in ceilings, i bleed every day, but just scratches :-)) One reason it might have bled so long is CHANGING the dressing. When they get full of blood, add to it, do not change.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3555 days

#13 posted 03-20-2009 02:02 AM

OUCHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…........................Thanks for the reminder.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3439 days

#14 posted 03-20-2009 02:12 AM

Toughen up buddy, it,s just sand paper! Makes your eyes water though doesn,t it! Especially when you have a hot shower later on.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4244 days

#15 posted 03-20-2009 02:43 AM

Sorry dude for the bad luck. I’ve seen in numerous jigs and shortcut manuals, a good way to do what you were doing is to use a wood clamp to hold the piece. It keeps the fingers away from the sandpaper and this can be used in a lot of other applications think, drill press, hand drill, jig saw etc. Hope that helps save some more flesh.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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