There’s nothing like a gruesome story to remind you of the ever-present danger in woodworking. Stories like the ones collected here can help you work more safely the next time you rev up a power tool or pick up a sharp blade.
Click on the links below to hear audio clips from woodworkers from around the United States. They recount run-ins with blades, bits, and flying chunks of wood. The stories share similar themes: safety equipment is imperative, and never work when you're tired or distracted.
Kevin Riley, Waldorf, Md.
Riley was cutting trim for wainscoting when his fingers slipped into the tablesaw blade as he made his last cut of the evening. Some stitches fixed up his fingers and his wife told him to buy a SawStop. He soon got a new job that helped foot the bill.
Justin Fink, associate editor, Fine Homebuilding magazine
Fink was cutting cherry on the router table when the wood blew out and his finger slipped into the blade. Fink routed a cove into his bone (see photo above) but he learned the value of push sticks and featherboards.
Scott Newsom, Pearland, Tex.
Newsom was chiseling bark off a rustic bench, using his hand as a holddown when the tool slipped. It sliced across the back of his hand cutting four tendons and a nerve. A surgeon pieced his hand together again but this “rookie-mistake,” as Newsom calls it, gave him new respect for hand-tool dangers.
Norman Boucher, Sharon, Mass.
Boucher turned off the tablesaw and was reaching for an offcut when his fingers bumped into the blade as it coasted to a stop. It sliced open three fingers. A hand surgeon fixed them up, but Boucher now avoids working late at night.
Lisa Mazzenga, Collegeville, Pa.
A wood chip embedded itself in Mazzenga’s eye after it flew off the tablesaw and slipped through a gap in her safety glasses. The chip pierced her cornea. Luckily, an optometrist was able to remove it without incident. Mazzenga’s eye is back to normal now.
Keith Hankins, St. Louis, Mo.
Some sappy yellow pine hit Hankins full across the chest when it kicked back off his tablesaw. He walked away without major injury, but the close call reinforced his attention to safety. Ever since, Hankins has become a big fan of the Micro-Jig GRR-Ripper.
For more on this topic, visit Fine Woodworking's Guide to Safety where you can find safety videos, quizzes, tool manuals, and more.