The sad (and bloody) story of what happened when I made a saw
When I started woodworking, I didn’t have any power tools. I made my first project—a garden caddy for my wife—with two dull chisels, a coping saw, and a stubby toolbox panel saw. Of course, I quickly realized that I would need more tools. Being a graduate student—in the lucrative field of philosophy, no less—I didn’t have much money, so I got into making some tools. Well, I eventually found myself in the garage making a frame saw so that I could re-saw some boards. I used a single, big dovetail at each joint to hold the four frame parts together. Everything was going really well until I dry fit the first joint. It was a bit tight. I struggled to get the joint apart, but wouldn’t smack with a mallet or hammer—I didn’t want to dent the wood. So, I really put some muscle into the job, bending over the joint and pulling with all I could muster. The joint gave in one quick moment. The part I was holding in my right hand came hurtling towards my forehead (a huge target by any standard). It was fast. In fact, the first thing I really saw was the blood dropping onto the bench. The corner of the workpiece, right where three edges meet one another, smacked me right between the eyes and left a Y-shaped cut in my head. It took just a few stitches to sew up the cut. (That’s not such a big deal. I needed 164 to sew up a cut in my leg when I was in the third grade.)
I learned several things that day. First, we had some great neighbors we could rely on to watch the kids in an emergency. Second, don’t lean over a joint when you’re pulling it apart. But, most importantly, I learned that I really did need a bandsaw!
You can flip through a wonderfully illustrated version of my story by clicking on the drawers above. Go down the left-hand column and then go down the right-hand one.
Step 1: This is a frame saw, and I was making one so that I could resaw some thick boards for bookmatching.
Step 2: I used a single big dovetail to join the frame at the corners.
Step 3: I put the first dovetail together and it was tight. While bending over joint, I pulled with all my strength.
Step 4: Free too fast. The joint eventually came apart, but did so very quickly and unexpectedly.
Step 5: By the way the corners and edges of the parts were very sharp.
Step 6: Disaster! Of course the tail piece came flying up at my forehead faster than I could move. It hit me squarely between the eyes. I have a Y-shaped scar now.