I got a call from my son last night with a scary and disturbing story. An
old college bud of his got his degree in wood technology and works for a
furniture operation in Southeast Kansas. Apparently the fellow was cutting
some long, thin, hardwood stock on a large industrial table saw and got a
kickback. The stock entered his abdomen and by the time it stopped; about
five feet of it was protruding from his back. The stick narrowly missed his
kidneys but he is in ICU being treated for the effects of intestinal damage,
infection and blood loss. Survival was iffy for a time.
The fellow admitted to brain-fade causing him get himself behind the blade
plane. I experienced a pretty severe kickback years ago that sent a piece
of wood through the sheetrock wall in my garage but never imagine someting
like this could happen.
Food for thought!
I was working at a place that had a molding shop next door and the manager
was feeding the wood in the machine, machine had all the safety guards on it
but a piece splintered off and it landed in his thigh (nice size
splinter)....he wasn't hurt that bad but stuff does happen even with all the
I always knew there was a good reason to use an old Craftsman table saw
with an underpowered motor and a loose belt. I can rip a tubafor with it
no problem, as long as the blade is sharp. Now, where did I put my hamafor??
One of the first things I was taught, and I taught, was to stay the hell
clear of the firing line. I took it to heart, and to the lathe, too. It
was an automatic "D" for the day to activate/operate in the throw zone.
Automatic "F" to use the equipment when someone else was in it.
Won't find me anywhere in that disintegration zone on the lathe, either. I
also try to remember that a shaving _cut_ from a piece falls. One _torn_
from a piece flies.
I was cutting some thin strips off some wood on the tablesaw in my basement
shop once. This was in a house that was shared with others So we had folks
drop over that were walking hazard zones. I was very focused on the cut,
knowing full well that this thin peice could shoot out the back with
considerable force. Luckily, there was an old, ugly door that was heavy and
armor plated. Anything that hit that thing just bounced off onto the floor.
Needless to say, I was well out of the way of the trajectory of any
unintentional missile. This wise move on my part was because once I did NOT
stand out of the way and recieved one of those missiles right in the gut.
That changed my ways forever more.
Any way, I was cutting and noticed, just as the cut was being finished, a
shadow moving right into the "firing zone". I pushed the board through and
swung my fist back into the intruder's chest, knocking him onto his butt.
He sputtered his protests as he landed. And then the thin strip that had
been dancing between the blade and fence shot out and hit the door with
He stared at this and began trembling. He then began to thank me for saving
his life. And he never entered my shop ever again.
Yup, Kevlar has it uses. My wheelchair tires are Kevlar. I figure if the
cops are ever chasing me, they won't be able to shoot my tires out. :)
Last time I point that out to a cop on the street, he started laughing so
hard I could have removed his gun and shot him in the foot and he still
would have been laughing.
Don't laugh too hard. Tires are notoriously difficult to hole with
handguns--the sidewall is not too difficult but the tread with its multiple
layers of steel, fiberglass, and/or Kevlar, is pretty nearly bulletproof.
Then there was the cop who was outrun by a one-legged purse snatcher on
I haven't had experiences similar to this one, but I have been ripping
8" lengths of 1" laminate scraps into triangles. The laminate did
catch, but it merely broke, rather than kicking back. Had it been
hardwood, it would have rocketed across the shop.
One point that has not been mentioned: in addition to positioning yourself
- and others - out of the line of fire, position the saw such that a kick
back does not impale someone in another room or even outside.
My shop is in a garage off the family room. The saw is positioned so that a
kick back has to penetrate a shelf full of stuff, sheetrock, insulation,
and siding before it gets Outside the house. If I have stock too long to
saw entirely in the shop, I position the saw so that a kick back will hit a
concrete block wall backed by dirt.
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