I now know what the hoopla is about.
Making a little box for my daughter from a hunk of maple flitch (3 for
$10 in the scrap bin at my woodie place). Not much wood to work with,
about 24 x 4 X 1/2 after I got it planed flat and table saw-jointed
Box is 6L X 3 1/2W X 4D. All pieces cut to rough size, finger joints
made. Now to trim all to finish size. It's about 95 degress in the
garage and I've been at it 4 hours (I'm learning, so I'm slow).
Trim the 6" guys to final depth, ripping on the fence. 3 1/2" guys are
a bit trickier, so out comes the GGGRipper! Push first one though and,
golly, splliter is in the way! No thinking, lift up GGGRipper and
WHACKO! That piece of maple hit my right thigh like a line drive
hitting a 3rd baseman who's in for the bunt (yeah, been there too!).
It was just smaller. Ouch!
Hopped around a bit, dropped drawers to check wound. Just a big old
strawberry, with the clear outlines of my lovingly cut fingers
emblazoned on my thigh muscle.
Found piece of maple, one finger broken off, another mashed and a big
chunk out where it hit the blade on it's way to my leg.
I now know - hold it down until the blade stops or you KNOW it's past
the blade entirely. Alternative is to wear body armor, including a
Living and learning.
Well, at least you are standing and have all of your body parts. Some don't
do as well. Many of us have experienced similar problems and know it is a
painful way to learn.
A couple of months ago I posted about a friend of my son's who learned a
very harsh lesson. He was thinning long strips of oak in a thickness
planer. Apparently one kicked back past the rollers and the end passed
completely through his abdomen. He lost a lot of blood but luckily it
didn't do a lot of internal damage. He spend a week or so in the hospital
and is still getting back in shape.
"Be careful out there!"
<snip kickback tale>
That is how you learn. Lessons learned in this fashion have a way of staying
with you longer than other teaching methods. I told my kickback tale on here
before. Got it in the gut and had a nasty big bruise for a long time.
The funny thing was about the incident was that I remembered everything ever
told to me about kickback from my high school wood shop class when I was
getiing hit. It all came back to me in a flash. I haven't had a kickback
again for about thirty years. I learned and remembered my lesson.
I learned a lesson of that sort on the job when I was maybe 25. had a
simple job to do, some sort of cabinet thing, I don't remember except
that I was cutting a slab of melamine of some 6 square feet or so on
the boss's new 5HP contractor's saw.
one of the customers (pretty and female) came in to the shop, and
seeing that the only ones there were 3 or 4 of the young guys, she
stopped to chat a bit.
my attention was to say the least, divided.
so there I am, making a cut on an overpowered contractor's saw, trying
not to oggle the lady too obviously and at the same time hoping to
impress her a bit with my mastery of this piece of loud and powerful
equipment when... you guessed it.... my brain was on one track, my
hands were on another and the board was on yet another.
melamine is heavy and dense. it tends to make sharp edges and corners,
and it doesn't compress at all. all 5 horsies got translated into that
spinning flying motion that sheet goods do when the saw kicks back. and
the first thing in the way was my solar plexus.
I went to the floor for a while to practise breathing. she realized her
role in the events and hurried off. the other guys stood around and
looked at me with a combination of pity and annoyance. I really didn't
care what they thought, right at that moment.
now I have my own shop. for the most part I work alone. I use a cabinet
saw, and even with just a 3 HP motor I pay lots of attention to the saw
and to nothing else when I'm making cuts of the sort at risk of
kickback. funny how some things stick with you, eh?
I got hit like this exactly a year ago - an 8"x6" piece of 3x4" plywood in
the tummy. I made some verbal complaint, rubbed it off (very painful), shut
down the shop and went upstairs and cleaned up the abrasion. I sat down for
supper and in about ten minutes shock started setting in. My wife drove me
to urgent care and that got me a ride in an abulance to the ER and then a
CAT scan. Fortunately all I had was the mother of all bruises - no internal
damage. When I started woodworking many years ago a friend said to me, "you
don't want to get hit by a kickback . . . you'll think you were kicked by a
Percheron stallion." I think that the description was accurate.
I've always been very careful when using my saw. I've always been super
cautious when it comes to ripping - hold-downs, feather boards, pushers,
etc. I mentioned my accident to a cabinet maker that I know and he said,
"Oh, you worry about the ripping but it's usually the small, squarish ones
that get you." I was standing where I belonged, doing what I was supposed to
be doing. There was no guard or splitter, however. The blade picked up the
chunk, rolled it over the top and shot be at about a 30 degree angle on the
opposite side of the cut line. I'd have never thunk it.
These painful injuries often seem a little humorous after the fact but they
are really very serious. About six months ago a fellow only a few miles from
where I live was hit like I was (I didn't know him - he made the news). He
died from internal damage and hemorrhaging.
My first and only (so far) experience was about 15 years ago building an
entertainment centre on the front porch of my house. In my case, the 4'
board came flying backwards and smacked square in the chest. Scared the crap
out of me. Was sure I broke a rib, but it was just a really bad bruise.
Sitting in a wheelchair when woodworking has its own set of problems. Lucky
I wasn't leaning forward to line up the board with the blade as I've often
done or I'd have been hit squarely in the face. Worn a face shield ever
since. Only needed that lesson once and hasn't happened since.
While working at one of many cabinet shops, which I did in my younger
days I was wittiness to a kick back that was bloody scary at the time
but quite laughable afterwards.
A large fellow was ripping some some Jarrah into 3/4" square when the
"Oh Shit" was heard all around the shop. The big bloke was standing back
from the saw a bit, with a very surprised look on has face and grasping,
with both hands a 4' length of 3/4" Jarrah protruding from his stomach.
Laid him down and one of the other blokes rang an ambulance. The Ambo's
had us cut the offending timber of about 6" from his guts and rushed him
Apparently, when on the emergency table the attending Dr. had a good
look, felt all around the spear and just yanked it out.
Never even broke the skin, but boy oh boy, did it leave a bruise!!.
He copped hell from the other blokes when he came back to work,
something about scamming free rides in ambulances and wanting to check
out nurses. :)
This said I have been subject to a couple of near misses over the years,
sure focuses the mind.
A week or two ago on the local TV it showed a woman ( mostly hidden )
with a chunk of molding sticking out of her mid-section, she survived .
Another tablesaw kickback victim.
So far I've been lucky and had only one kickback that i remember , it
missed me thanks to standing to the side of the blade.
Chainsaw kickbacks are another thing altogether..... remember the time...
" Being a soft and squishy has its disadvantages "
John B wrote:
Here's my story on dado blade kick back, in 1994 I was working with a
european 32mm cabinet shop, so my first operation was to but to dadoing
drawer parts, 10 deep by about 12 long somthing like that size, I would run
the pieces with the edge at the fence and the dado on the left side running
the piece between the fence and dado blades, the groove was about 3/8 deep
by 1/4 wide, I went to do my final push thru and didn't keep enough pressure
on the drawer part the blades picked up the drawer and slung it back at me
,it hit my gut and my hand went into the blades, took all of 1 second for
that to happen ( and I had dado'ed literly miles over the years ), I looked
at my hand turned the saw off and walked up to co worker and said very
calmly I need to go to the hospital, (he turned white with blood dripping
all over the floor ) ripped out along my palm and little finger alot of
meat, part of the nerve ( that saved me a bunch of pain) I was out of work 8
months but had 2 operations and I can wiggle my little finger and pull it
down , it's not to messed up but my lesson was learned the hard way. Thank
god for insurance from the company and workers comp.
Built strange? Depends on your point of view. My arms are probably longer
than yours, but I use a wheelchair and don't have the reach from the side
while guiding a piece of wood through the blade. You try sitting in a chair
and run a piece of wood through your tablesaw and then tell me how easily
you accomplish the task.
Think a minute about that I told you. How high is your tablesaw, 35"?
Sitting down, you're not looking down onto your work at a very great angle
because you don't have the height. Essentially, you're looking across to
your work. I'd be pushing a piece of wood through the tablesaw without being
about to see the blade or my fingers because the 4" high fence would be
blocking my view. I like my fingers thanks.
I appreciate that you're trying to help, but before trying anymore please
try what I asked. YOU sit in a chair from your dining room at your tablesaw
and then push some wood past your tablesaw blade (when the saw is stopped)
and then tell me how well you were able to view it and how well your reach
<insert foot, err, I mean edit here>
Is that an oops I just heard somewhere in the world?
I'm sure being in a wheel chair does present you with a few unique
challenges in the shop. I'm curious, have you modified or looked into
modifying any of the tools to have them lowered?......(this is
something my son may eventually be interested in since he may be in a
wheel chair also)
I got my kickback story from my father and it saved me a world of hurt
later......Dad was in a hurry cutting some 2 X 4 pieces with the fence
on his TS...One of them wedged....(I have this image of a little
gremlin yelling..PULL) and got him square in the gut. Took him
straight to his knees.......Left a marvelously detailed print in
technicolor......grain and all......Luckily there wasn't any serious or
permanent damage done......He told me about his little incident and
keeping it in mind I was standing to the side when a piece of my own
rocketed out and took a nice flight across the shop a few weeks
My shop mantra is "10 IN 10 OUT" (I keep telling the Mrs. that I'm
going to put a sign up with this on).......To remind myself that those
tools are hungry and very indescriminate eaters.......they're more than
happy to eat whatever you feed them.
As for a chainsaw kickback.......<shudder>.... Refer to Ghostbusters ye
children of the 80's......It would be bad......
Fellow up the street from pop put his tablesaw about 10 inches lower, and,
as I mentioned fed with his left. Featherboard on the other side held the
board against the fence.
Problem is that you have to be able to push through, to clear the board past
the blade. That's why the lowered saw table. I imagine raising the
operator would work nearly as well, though with the right hand feed you
might be in the position of having to slide sideways to clear versus direct
ahead with the left.
Actually, there's a whole pile a problems. The biggest being is the
combination of not having height and being able to lean forward at the same
time. No matter how many adaptations one makes, it's not possible to
accommodate all contingencies at the same time.
My contractor's tablesaw which I sold to a friend really cheaply (but get to
go over and use) was easy to adjust height-wise. I just cut 5" off each of
the metal feet. That helps some, but not all that much. When I get around to
having my own workshop and buying a cabinet saw, you can't just cut off some
base without making extensive alterations. As well as I mentioned, the
problem with sitting down and using a tablesaw are not just lack of height,
but that you can't lean over things when sitting, unless it's waist high.
That means a tablesaw top would have to be about 30" high, not very
My partial solution is to use an adjustable height roller table (16" W x 60"
L) as outfeed which I can push around as needed to accommodate my using a
wheelchair. Same for infeed except that it's a single roller stand. Regular
flat tables at least for infeed, aren't workable because they get in the way
of the wheelchair and getting close to your work. Aside from a height
challenge, one of the biggest problems when working from a wheelchair is
that your feet, leg rests and often your castor wheels prevent you from
getting close to things. Even an able-bodied person sitting when working can
place their feet in lots of places to get them out of the way. That's
extremely difficult for someone in a wheelchair.
Other solutions that could help the situation are a raised floor. However,
that would preclude the use of a mobile stand for a saw. It also means
raising the entire basement floor. Having a network of raised and non-raised
sections of floor would necessitate ramps in a variety of areas making it
dangerous for getting around. A wheelchair can easily tip with as little as
a 2" sudden height change in the floor. In 1987 while holding about 20
pounds of exercise weights on my lap, I let my wheelchair roll down an 8"
long ramp with a 2" height change. The sudden slowdown at the bottom of the
ramp caused the chair to tip forwards and I broke both legs as they folded
underneath me and the chair. I thought I knew about pain up until that
I've talked about the height of stationary tools here before and it's
something that I've struggled with and considered long and hard. I think I'd
have to say that the biggest thing one needs when working from a wheelchair
is space. Space to move around and not bump into things, space to make
changes around a stationary tool so it's easier to use and still not have
those changes you've made affect the working space needed around other
tools. My wishlist of the perfect workshop would be as many stationary tools
as possible arranged around me against the wall whenever possible, all of
them at approximately 30" height and interspaced with work benches and
tables also at 30" height.
The only tools in the centre of the shop would be the tools where you need
to pass your work though something, such as a tablesaw, planer, drum sander,
ect. I'm sure I could think of more problems I've experience and what I do
to solve them, but there's just too many for me to remember them all at this
point. If you want to email me privately and ask questions, but I'm fine
I'm wondering if a heavy leather shop apron might not offer some
measure of added safety when it comes to kickbacks in the torso? I
generally don't wear one and am careful to stay clear, but obviously
there's still the danger of getting whacked.
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