Table saw accident

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A woodworking buddy of mine just told me about an accident that another acquaintance of ours had about a week ago. Not a fun story.
This fellow (I'll call him John) has a contractor's saw (not sure of the brand) for which he was preparing to install a new zero-clearance insert. I don't know whether the insert was home-made or commercially available, what material it was made of, or whether it had a roll pin protruding out the back to prevent it from lifting, etc. All I know is that he needed to raise the blade through the insert to cut the opening.
So John installs the insert and proceeds to hold it down from above with a block of wood (don't know how big, what kind, or what shape) to keep it from lifting while raising the blade. The block was sacrificial, and for some reason he thought it was OK to let the blade cut into the block as he was raising it while also holding the block in place with a push stick (one of those long things with a notch at the end; I HATE those things!). Does this raise any red flags with you yet?
So while John is turning the crank with his right hand to raise the blade, he is holding the block in place with his left hand (I think he had his left index finger extended; I'm not sure), and as you might expect the block shifted around a little bit, and WHAM! The blade grabs the block and virtually *disintegrates* it, which in turn disintegrates the push stick, which in turn disintegrates the index finger on John's left hand. Ten different breaks and fractures in his finger, torn tendons, and meat hanging off the bone. The doctors told him they might be able to return it to some semblance of a finger after a half-dozen or more surgeries, but he just told them to take it off. I probably would have said the same thing.
Be careful out there.
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Steve Turner wrote:

that was an accident waiting to happen from the beginning. He should have clamped a strip across the top and just raised the blade and would have been done in 2 minutes. Never underestimate the POWER of a power tool....ever. RESPECT
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*snip*

*snip*
Those push sticks with a notch at the end are worthless. They're dangerous partially because of where the pressure is applied and partially because of the failure mode. If they break, they break fast! and your hand will head in the direction pressure was applied, usually TOWARDS THE BLADE.
Some time ago, someone on here passed on a piece of advice: Consider what would happen (where your hands would go) if the wood suddenly disappeared. This certainly applies to push sticks as well.
Puckdropper
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Some time ago, someone on here passed on a piece of advice: Consider what would happen (where your hands would go) if the wood suddenly disappeared. This certainly applies to push sticks as well.
Puckdropper
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EXACTLY what I tell my students.

It also helps to point out the fact that if you are pushing towards the
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On 5/25/2012 10:50 PM, Steve Turner wrote:

Ouch ... for me that's one of those operations that always causes the sphincter to pucker, even when it's done correctly (clamped down, from both ends, caul).
Only thing worse I can think of is using one of the folding $20 aluminum tapering jigs. (I can't imagine why that thing has not been the subject of a product liability lawsuit, and outlawed in Kooky Kalifornio).
And the forked "push stick" thing, runs a close tie, especially when it is used without a splitter. It's why I continue to make these out of scraps:
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopJigsFixturesMethods#5684918928011997682
Many folks have simply not experienced the power of a 3 - 5 HP cabinet saw, or the swiftness with which it will bite.
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THAT, sir, looks nothing like a resawn frozen cat.
-- When a quiet man is moved to passion, it seems the very earth will shake. -- Stephanie Barron (Something for the Powers That Be to remember, eh?)
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On 5/26/2012 9:27 AM, Larry Jaques wrote:

Au Contraire ... Note the faired curve of the handle, which artfully mimics the naturally and gently curved tail of a contented, organic milk fed, frozen push stick pussy.
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Newp, newp, newp. The curve fractals are all wrong for that.
-- When a quiet man is moved to passion, it seems the very earth will shake. -- Stephanie Barron (Something for the Powers That Be to remember, eh?)
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On Sat, 26 May 2012 08:43:30 -0500, Swingman wrote:

Since I've never seen a folding one, I'll guess you meant the two straight sticks with a hinge at the top and a stop at the bottom of one stick. Either way, I agree with you. I made one of those, used it once, and threw it away. Perhaps a new daffynition:
Tapering jig - a device to make the most dangerous power tool even more dangerous!
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A sled-type jig with wooden hold downs is almost as easy to make and a lot easier to feed without it being thrown into your face.
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On Sat, 26 May 2012 10:02:15 -0700, Father Haskell wrote:

Agreed. I should have mentioned that myself. The same sled comes in handy for cutting angles more acute than a miter gauge allows.
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On 5/26/2012 11:52 AM, Larry Blanchard wrote:

Yep, that's it. One of the problems is you can't just cheat death with it once, you usually have to do it TWICE for each of four table legs.
When using one, by the end of the second leg I had to take a break and mentally steel myself for the last two. By the end of the fourth leg I was always a wincing bundle of nerves.
IIRC, I barely managed to go through that twice before I built this:
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopJigsFixturesMethods#5717217667358454546
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On 5/25/2012 10:50 PM, Steve Turner wrote: ...

Stupid wins again... :(
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On 5/26/2012 9:02 AM, dpb wrote:

Yeah I would say stupid lost.
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I tried staying out of this one.
So here's what I do.
I put in my dado blade. Just one of the blades from the end of the stack. It's smaller than 10" I think I have a 6" but it could be 8". That allows me to cut right upto where it peaks through safely. Then I change out to my regular blade and bring it all the way up for a nice zero clearance. The dado blade gives me enough room to put the 10" blade without hitting the bottom of the plate. You could route it out too..
I have never had a problem, the dowel pin I put in the back is enough to hold it, but I put a board over it off to the side of the blade clamped down so I can see it poke through. I usualy will use the sacrificial fence as that board.
I find it safer than trying to hold the plate on top of the existing plate. That just scares me.
On 5/25/2012 11:50 PM, Steve Turner wrote:

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On 5/26/2012 8:11 PM, tiredofspam wrote: ...

...
...
This isn't rocket science here, folks! :)
Just put the fence over the side of the plate clear of the blade by a safe margin so you don't hit it, stick a shim under it to keep the plate from climbing and raise away.
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dpb wrote:

Yes, doing it right is easy. The problem is that doing it wrong is just as easy! I would do as you suggested below.
I would NOT have expected that holding the insert down with a push stick could lead to such dire consequences as occurred here.

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On 5/26/2012 9:57 PM, Bill wrote: ...

...
Well, it was a silly way to go about it for starters; depending on the saw how far the reach was could make it problematic to do both at once (and apparently did).
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On 5/26/2012 9:57 PM, Bill wrote:

No disrespect, but your expectation shows a lack of experience with using a table saw (not something folks are born with, so don't take that personally). :)
The approach used in this instance is absolutely guaranteed to have such "dire consequences", exactly as it did.
IOW, this was NOT an accident, it was a guaranteed outcome with an almost 100% chance of failure, catastrophic of otherwise.
What happened is an absolute indication of inexperience with a table saw or, less likely, but more charitably, a momentary case of the stupids on the part of the amputee.
Simply put, the only way safe for a two handed woodworker, working alone, to accomplish this job is to use a _mechanical_ method that will apply a stable and _consistent_ downward force on the insert that is greater than the upward force of both the rotating blade teeth, and the elevating mechanism.
IOW it is not something you want to attempt to accomplish alone, with just two available hands ... i.e, one turning the elevation crank, and the other attempting to apply the necessary downward force in any manner, INCLUDING USING A PUSH STICK OF ANY DESIGN.
Except for the upward force on the insert, Steve stated the other problem clearly and concisely in a subsequent post:
On 5/26/2012 9:41 PM, Steve Turner wrote: > Really? You don't see anything dangerous about the blade coming up > through the center of a block of wood that has no real protection > from side-to-side or front-to-back movement?
For future reference, bookmark a link to this video showing precisely how to accomplish this task safely and efficiently, _in detail_ :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v
Z9QaOeUxM
For your future safety, you will want to pointedly ignore anything anyone has said, or will say, to the contrary.
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On 5/27/2012 11:10 AM, Swingman wrote:

Thank you Karl. I may not be the BEST at explaining things, but hopefully with the addition of your concise clarification, no other readers of this group will be tempted to try the boneheaded method that caused my acquaintance to lose his finger.
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