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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Glad things weren't worse for you/your hands. Brian makes a good post,
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
"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
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.
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
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