jointer safety tips


I am a novice woodworker with limited experience and less knowledge. I bought a tablesaw book with my tablesaw, and although I'm no expert, I believe I understand the potential dangers when using it, and I try to be careful.
My dad recently gave me his 40 year old Craftsman jointer, and I have used it several times when building a bathroom vanity among other things.
I have been as careful as I know how to be when using it, but unfortunately, Sunday night I had an accident. I was trying to run a 10 cm x 10 cm x 13/16" thick piece of wood across it. I now understand that a board that short cannot safely be run across my jointer using normal precautions. I was using a push stick with my right hand, and applying downward pressure with my left. As close as me and my dad can figure, I must have had my left hand too close to the front of the board, causing it to tip down into the opening where the blade is. When the board was knocked out of the way, my left hand went into the blades. It took a small chunk out of my middle finger and really tore up the tip of my index finger in addition to fracturing it. The result is that my index finger is going to look funny, although part of the nail should grow back according to the doctor. I actually didn't lose any length.
All in all, it could have been much, much worse.
The thing is, I thought I was being careful. In retrospect, putting my hand anywhere near the blade was obviously not safe, but it hasn't been a problem on the longer boards I've run through it. The problem was that I didn't know it was dangerous to run a short board through it.
Now, I'm wondering what other important information/knowledge I'm missing. My question is, how do I go about learning safe operating procedures for this thing so that I don't do anything like this again, or something even worse?
And I've got the "keep your hands away from the blades" lesson. I won't forget that one.
--Michael
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1. You didn't use push blocks. You could make your own, but the plastic ones are really good. New jointers tend to come with them but I'm sure you can find a set somewhere like lee valley. Had you been using pushblocks, the pushblock would have gone into the cutter while about 1/4" of hard plastic was kept between the cutter and your hand.
2. As you pointed out already, the board was too short. That prevents you from doing #3.
3. You should never be touching the spot on the board directly over the cutter head. This way, if the board is kicked back, and your hand drops, it can't drop into the cutter head.
4. You didn't say, but the cutter head guard should always be installed. The exception is when you're using the rebating ledge, but I would suggest finding a different machine for that type of cut.
Here's the right technique:
1. use the righ hand to grasp the push block and hold the board down to the infeed table hard enough to be able to move the board around, but not hard enough to bend the board if it's not flat.
2. use your right hand pushblock to push the board into the cutter.
3. as soon as you have enough of the board over the outfeed table, put your left hand with the push block on top of the board on the outfeed table.
4. push down on the outfeed side and sort of favor guiding the board with that hand. you have to avoid flexing the board on the infeed side.
5. shift your weight as you guide the board through.
At no time should your hand or a push block be directly over the cutter head.
brian
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Michael,
Glad things weren't worse for you/your hands. Brian makes a good post, including:
brianlanning wrote:

I've taken a couple adult ed. ww'ing classes, and the most recent one's instructor kept repeating this phrase as he went over each tool in class:
"Where would your hands go if the workpiece disappeared?"
i.e. if you're pushing the workpiece w/ your hands, and the workpiece is the only thing between your hands and the cutter, you're not doing it right. I make a point of asking myself that now when using my shop tools.
Regards, Chris
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Hello Michael, Sorry to read about your mishap but I'm glad it was not more severe. To add to the suggestions of Brian, if you need to joint short pieces of wood again, try to anticipate their final length and joint a longer piece, then cut it to your desired size. I've used that approach on routers and table saws too. Stay safe, Marc
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marc rosen wrote:

Ditto that!
Some lessons can be painful, I wish you a speedy recovery.
Small pieces are great candidates for hand tools, or even sandpaper.
Get well soon!
Barry
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Thanks for the tips. I never want to go through something like thhis again.
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Sorry for your mishap, but thanks for the information in this thread. The rule about where your hands will be if the work piece disappears is the best safety tip I've heard in a while. I have to confess that I sometimes when jointing, I have let one hand or the other( with push blocks) apply pressure over the cutter head, never again!! Thanks
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