I recently learned that two weeks ago an old friend almost lost his arm
above the wrist when his sleeve got caught by the chop saw blade, dragged
his arm in and cut it to just short of the tendons and main artery. His son
told me the arm was hanging down.....His father grabbed it and pushed it
against the other severed section, then ran across the street to get a
neighbor to call an ambulance.
Doctors spent three hours doing what they could to prepare him for airlift
to a larger hospital some 500 miles away.
Once there, he spent 9 hours in surgery. They must have done a miraculous
job because he was able to move his fingers within a few hours after! He
was a VERY lucky man.
Bottom line - Don't look away while you're cutting and don't wear long
sleeves....It only takes a second. Makes me think that one of those
instant-stop devices might not be such a bad idea. I guess Nahm's repeated
safety tips aren't such a bad idea after all :O)
Been there done that from years back. But not as bad.
I was in High school I.A. about 25 years ago and we had a mitersaw in wood
shop that someone took the guard off and I being left handed grabbed the
handle with my left hand and the short piece of stock in my right started
cutting, the stock must of slid while cutting and got caught by the blade,
my fingers went into the saw and it took my middle finger off and cut my
pointer up. I cupped everything together and went to tell the teacher I cut
my finger and I need stitches.
The best part was when I told the teach, he acted like a big ass that he was
anyway and said "did you get a little cut? let me see what you did" I showed
him a he fainted at that point. A couple of us in I.A. when to the hospital
alone and the doctors sewed the middle finger back on and stitched the
pointer closed and teach finely showed up about a half hour later.
Bad part was I could not return to I.A. wood or metal shop for the rest of
the year because my fingers were rapped.
The school was in the wrong by having the guard off.
That is only one left handed episode. (thinking more now before I operated
When I was a young guy working in a cabinet shop we had a 15" miter sa
that we called the "widow maker". I tried to avoid this machine at al
costs, but had to use it on occassion. One day, while using it m
t-shirt got caught in the blade - evidently the front of my shirt wa
untucked and touched the blade. I was fortunately able to brace mysel
against the workbench while the saw tore the shirt from by body. It's
miracle that I didn't do open heart surgery on myself that day
I won't agree with the "don't wear long sleeves" part, but I do agree with
being very aware and keeping a focused approach to power tools.
Hmmmm... maybe we need a new "don't"... don't wear shirts while using power
tools. Now... where's the 28 year old brunette shop assistant I've been
But, as long as we're telling war stories... back in the early days of my
career I was a tech for a mainframe computer manufacturer. This was in the
old days when we actually climbed inside frames and cleaned things. On a
particular day I was cleaning a line printer with our standard vacuum - a
Cadillac rotary. These things had a screen that locked in place over the
impeller, with a quarter turn twist but they were constantly coming out.
Well... the company had a policy that we had to wear ties. Absorbed in my
cleaning duties, I didn't notice the screen come off the vacuum. Next thing
I know the vacuum is winding it's way up my tie. Did I say these things
couldn't be stopped with a crowbar jammed in the impeller? All the way up.
I'm eating the metal skin of this thing and it's still trying to climb up me
more. Twisting all the while it's climbing. Neck tie. Twisting. My
partner is just standing there looking at me in total shock. He can't move.
He thinks he's watching a guy die. So do I. Finally I fumbled around
enough to hit the power switch. Had to grab my jack knife and cut my tie
off before I could breath. Meanwhile my partner is still just standing
I tried to turn that to my advantage and get the company to drop the tie
requirement, but they didn't go for it.
I had a 4-1/2" 10,000 RPM angle grinder with a wire wheel in it attack me
one day. I was wearing a button up work shirt and the front of the shirt got
caught in the wire wheel. It wrapped it up so fast it was like getting
punched by Mike Tyson in the chest. It dropped me to the floor and I had to
sit there for a few seconds to catch my breath. Luckily the grinder stalled
when it ran out of shirt so no real harm was done, other than to the shirt!
I had to pull the cord from the wall socket as the grinder was humming away,
trying to turn.
Most fun I had in a long time, at least since the time I set myself on fire,
but I will save that for another day!
there a LOT safer then a RAS, but all power tools should be used with care,
in high school the shop teacher would make everyone take of all rings, and
he would show some pictures of a kid who had a class ring on and it got
caught in the table saw, it was nasty, it pulled muscle, tendends and other
soft tissue from all the way back to the elbow
you only need to see something like once
How do you figure that? A radial arm saw isn't dangerous unless you put your
hand in the path of the blade. Of course, if you're dumb enough to do that,
anything as complicated as a butter knife may be dangerous to operate.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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On Tue, 14 Dec 2004 00:30:11 GMT, email@example.com (Doug Miller)
Well, I kinda agree with Mr. Clements on this. Here's my reasoning -
my mental picture of an RAS is the Craftsman one. The way it was sold
back around 20 years ago was with no guard. Normally when used
crosscut, you knew damn well to keep your fingers/hands/arm away from
it. However, it's adjustability would allow you to pull it to the end
of the arm to rip a board. IMO, probably not the best tool for
ripping, but it was capable. So now you've got all that spinning
steel totally exposed just inches from disaster. You know damn well
if it's easy to touch and with no guard to at least warn your hand
it's too close, that someone will touch it.
My compound miter saw at least has a guard. The blade is fairly well
covered up to stop such disasters from happening.
: show some pictures of a kid who had a class ring on and it got
: caught in the table saw, it was nasty, it pulled muscle, tendends and
: soft tissue from all the way back to the elbow
: you only need to see something like once
And did see that 'photo' in USAF - finger with ring, caught on something
remove the finger and muscles and tendons - No rings when working around the
My near miss came just the other day. Ripping some short stock on the table
saw (guard removed) moved my left hand to assist in keeping the stock
against the fence and in doing so brushed my left thumb across the spinning
blade. So lucky that all I got was a small cut maybe 1/16" deep and 3/8"
long. Scared the crap out of me. I realize that in that same instant, I
could be minus a thumb...
I don't think so... I've got a 10" simple miter saw, and I couldn't
imagine calling it a Widowmaker, or anything of the sort. Just a
handy little tool. It's got a guard, and can't kickback- reasonable
amounts of caution supply all the safety I need. A compound miter saw
might be a different story. And, as far as I know "chop saw" usually
refers to the big ol' metal cutting saws with the abrasive disc
instead of a blade and a vise for holding pipe.
Bind the blade in "simple miter saw" someday and you might be surprised. And
a sliding miter saw can definitely "kick back" quicker than you can say
"Boob Villa" ... and unlike a table saw, the whole head assembly comes back
Oh Lordy!!! I have a Makita 12" saw on layaway and after using my neighbors
Makita 10" for the last year (what a great neighbor, however he moved house)
thought it was the cat's meow. I have something in mind that will definitely
increase the safety factor for all operators and on any machinery....It
involves electronics - very small - VERY inexpensive.
Yes, a radial arm saw can kick back, but I can't imagine that the
miter saw would do much, unless I had my nose right over the handle
and it kicked itself back up. All the force is pushing the wood down
and towards the fence- it's certainly safer than many other types of
saw, IMO. Granted, some folks could chop off a finger with a
butterknife, but when it comes to particularly dangerous tools, miter
saws are not very high on my list.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
As far as danger from kickback, your observation is probably correct. A
more serious danger is from offcuts getting kicked out of the saw. My FIL
had his eye damaged by a flying offcut when he walked into the school shop
were he worked. They were trimming pieces, and a small offcut got caught
by the blade and shot back to where he was standing. Ironic thing is that
he had just stopped by on a day he was taking off to see how things were
Amen to that!
A second's inattention around power tools can have devastating -- and
lifelong -- results.
I'm still a little afraid of my saws and such and I'm not sure that's
a bad thing.
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