The importance of practising what one preaches

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Steve Maskery

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I'm not sure where to start, to be honest.

I was doing lots of things right. Wearing safety glasses, guard in place, short fence for ripping, using a pushstick.

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And yet, and yet.

It was the end of the cut, ripping a bevel on a piece of trim for the outside of my windows. Something, somehow, got caught, there was an almighty bang and the top of my saw exploded. Something hit my finger. I kicked the saw stop. Jim and I looked at each other. I looked at my hand. Nothing appeared to be missing, not even a huge amount of blood, but it jolly well hurt.

The plastic of the guard was somewhat scored, one of the support arms was broken, as was the support brackets which hold the SUVA arm in place, both at the RH end of the rear rail and the shoe that is mounted on the fence. It's all a bit of a mess.

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It's taken four teeth off the blade and another is broken

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My finger throbs like mad. Jim suggested relieving the pressure with a hot needle, which I did

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So how did it all happen? Jim is a Safety Officer, so doing an accident investigation is a bit of a busman's holiday for him.

The one thing I did wrong was not moving the fence to the LH side. My saw is a traditional design, where the blade tilts to the right. More modern designs have the blade tilting away from the fence. I don't know what got caught on what, but the workpiece is trapped by the fence on one side and the bladeon the other side and from ABOVE, because it is tilted. I have recently tweaked the position of my SUVA boom arm because a screw was catching on the shoe. I think I have the guard closer to the blade on one side than the other, and it's the wrong side. So when canted, the blade is very close to the plastic. I think that when I pushed the guard made contact with the blade and that is when all hell broke loose.

I was in quite a state of shock. It all happened so fast a nanosecond. Anyone who says they wouold just step out of the way of a kickback is deluding themselves. It's happened before you realise it has happened.

There is no serious damage to me and all the damage to the machine can be put right. There is a considerable dent in my pride though. I knew I should bevel with the fence on the left. But it was only a couple of cuts, right?

In a perverse way I am glad it has happened. Well, not glad it has happened, exactly, but at least I now know first hand what the consequences of a tiny piece of stupidity can be. And I am very glad that all the bits that were in place to protect me did actually work. They did their job.

But it just goes to show that accidents can happen to anyone, even someone who makes tablesaw safety training DVDs in the presence of a Safety Officer.

Stay safe out there.

My finger hurts.
 

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Baldhead

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Ouch I bet that hurt. Your lucky you still have the same number of fingers you had before you started using the saw, let that be a warning. I'm thinking, later this evening you may need a medicinal brandy or 3.

Take care

Stew
 

lurker

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All I can add is that I am pretty sure that had Steve not taken the precautions he lists it could/would have been much worse. As a result I am going to review my own sawing actions and upgrade my saw guard.

By the way, we are still unsure what caused the damage to his finger but Steve's hand was at least a foot away from the blade at all times.
 

GLFaria

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If my experience in industrial production factories goes for anything, sooner or later an accident is prone to (will!) happen when one deals frequently with machines, no matter how much precautions or safety measures are taken, never mind zero acident principles or theories.
The actual role of safety rules is to make it happen later rather than sooner, and with lesser consequences - and live to learn something from it.
Hope you recover soon.
 

KevM

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I'm very glad you're (mostly) okay Steve; well done for sharing your experience, it's not always the easiest thing to do but it makes things safer for all of us.

Cheers, Kev
 

Steve Maskery

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I'm wondering if it was the pushstick itself that did the damage. The business end has certainly made uncontrolled contact with the blade, and as Jim says, my hand was a decent distance from the blade. I can't think what else it could be. The workpiece itself was not kicked back, I don't think. Certainly not in the conventional way.
 

lurker

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"The workpiece itself was not kicked back, I don't think. "

Definitely not, both parts were lying on the table past the saw blade.
I guess it was the stick but I wonder where all those teeth flew off to?
Reinforces the need for high impact safety glasses cos you never know when things might start to fly around when high speed motors are running.
 

Steve Maskery

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Ah yes, it could have been the teeth, couldn't it? And I have an abrasion on my forefinger which looks as if something small scraped it. But the finger end job does look as if it was hit by something larger and blunter than a flying tooth, wouldn't you say?

By the way, Jim, I'm really glad you came over today, I've not seen anyone since Tuesday! Thanks for all your help. Come again! :)
 

Peter Sefton

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It still amazes me how quickly accidents happen even with experienced and careful woodworkers. We should all be using the push sticks and guards as you did Steve but even then these accidents do happen. Very good of you to share your experience it just makes you re-evalute how you work. The only good news is it could have been worse.

I went to visit a mates workshop last week his machine shop Forman had a table saw accident a couple of days earlier. Lost one finger and totally smashed up another. No contact with the saw blade at all.

He was also doing some angled work, the off cuts were building up on the back of the saw bench and then the back of the blade took hold of one piece and threw it across the saw table. The sharp mitre off-cut cut one finger clean off and smashed an other. He said it was like the end of a soft dowel hit by a big hammer.

Sorry not a nice story but this guy has 25 years experience as a wood machinist, but he said afterwards he knew he should have turned the saw off and removed the offcuts with his push stick.

I hope yours heals soon, the other issue this raises is lone working. Most of us do work in our workshops alone to get away from the better half or just to have so time to oneself, but I always say take your mobile phone or at least tell someone what you are doing and when you will be out of the shed just incase something unexpected happens.


Cheers Peter
 

Woodmonkey

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Ouch, glad there was no permanent damage done, thanks for sharing so we can all hopefully learn...
 

RobinBHM

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Im glad it wasnt worse :shock:

I dont think the setup was wrong, many saws only tilt towards the fence and panel saws dont allow the rip fence to be positioned to the left of the blade. If you had the fence to the left, it may have encouraged you to stand too much in line with the blade.

One advantage of a panel saw is that the sliding table, usually 400mm wide, forces the operator to be positioned to the left of the sliding section and therefore well out of line of the blade.
 

Steve Maskery

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Thank you all.

Peter, that is a very good point about lone working. I live alone, so there is no-one to shout to, even if I had the lungs of Brian Blessed. I do have my phone with me, but only out of habit, rather than as a safety feature. Your post is a good reminder to have it with me in the workshop.

S
 

custard

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Peter Sefton":3lch9qgs said:
He was also doing some angled work, the off cuts were building up on the back of the saw bench and then the back of the blade took hold of one piece and threw it across the saw table. The sharp mitre off-cut cut one finger clean off and smashed an other. He said it was like the end of a soft dowel hit by a big hammer.

Sorry not a nice story but this guy has 25 years experience as a wood machinist, but he said afterwards he knew he should have turned the saw off and removed the offcuts with his push stick.

Flipping heck! And we've all done it, everyone lets the off-cuts build up at least once in a while.

It would never have occurred to me that an off-cut could cross the saw to the operator side, nor that a bevelled off-cut could do so much damage. That's certainly a wake up call. Thanks for posting and I hope the guy concerned makes a quick recovery.
 

nanscombe

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If you have a burglar alarm in your workshop could you add a panic button, or two, for you to hit in the event of a mishap whilst you are on your own?

It might prove more practical than dialling your phone.

I'm not trying to be morbid but .. you know what I mean.

Oh crikey you live alone, not sure how useful that would be then.


ETA:
Phone Dialling Panic Alarm with Two Way Communication Pendant £139.98

"This unique Panic alarm system is for use with elderly and vulnerable family members. This panic alarm system will dial out to up to 3 programmed telephone contacts after the neck worn panic pendant has been pressed or the panic button on the base unit has been pressed.
Easy to set up with a 40m indoor wireless range. The phone dialing panic alarm can contact mobile, landline and international telephone numbers as required. This phone dialing panic alarm will cycle through to the next programmed telephone number if an answer machine or engaged tone is detected. The selected contact can then speak directly with the person who activated the system or listen in to assess the situation and take the necessary level for action required."
 

Owl

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In one sense you have been very very lucky Steve and in another, unlucky ..... I hope you get a good nights sleep tonight and the finger heals quickly. I fully agree with your comment about Peter Sefton's advice concerning working on your own, it's something we never really think about.

I'm about to re-post one of your pics on your workshop build thread, hope it doesn't give any offence.
 

Mar_mite

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custard":1f995iko said:
Peter Sefton":1f995iko said:
He was also doing some angled work, the off cuts were building up on the back of the saw bench and then the back of the blade took hold of one piece and threw it across the saw table. The sharp mitre off-cut cut one finger clean off and smashed an other. He said it was like the end of a soft dowel hit by a big hammer.

Sorry not a nice story but this guy has 25 years experience as a wood machinist, but he said afterwards he knew he should have turned the saw off and removed the offcuts with his push stick.

Flipping heck! And we've all done it, everyone lets the off-cuts build up at least once in a while.

It would never have occurred to me that an off-cut could cross the saw to the operator side, nor that a bevelled off-cut could do so much damage. That's certainly a wake up call. Thanks for posting and I hope the guy concerned makes a quick recovery.


Flipping heck is right! That has scared the s*** out of me!
 

heimlaga

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In my humble oppinion this is exactly what guards and safety precautions are intended to do. Reducing the frequency of accidents and once an accident happens reducing the damage it causes.
Thanks to your precautions your hand suffered no such damage that doesn't heal. The precautions did their job. If it wasn't for your precautions you would probably be missing some parts that don't grow back.

Still I don't understand your left versus right tilt reasoning. All tilting saw blades that I have seen tilt towards the fence and the fence cannot be moved to the right side. Has this changed lately?
 

Steve Maskery

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Yes it has. If the blade tilts towards the fence, the workpiece is wedged in place and can get kicked back, but if the blade tilts away, the workpiece sits on top of the blade and cannot get trapped. Many modern TSs are like this now, including the current version of mine.

But that was not the cause of the accident, it did not get kicked back at all. The more I think about it, the ore I think it must have been either the guard of the pushstick making unintended contact and everything else resulted from that. Very, very quickly indeed.
 

DennisCA

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Lots of american table saws tilt the other way and on plenty of american right tilt saws the fence can also be put on the other side of the blade to achieve the same result. European saws, esp. those of the sliding table format, tilt right. I wish my saw could move the fence on that side but it can't and I tried to do some bevel cutting last night (to make runners for my saw which has dovetail runners) and it was decidedly unsafe and I won't be doing that again. The resulting runner wasn't that good either, it's super hard to get it right. I now also wish I just had a regular square track, the only way I'm gonna get a good runner for this is if I can buy pre-made ones. Though I am considering drilling and threading some holes in my sliding table and bolting jigs to that instead.
 
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