I teach wood shop and the students don't seem to take accidents
seriously. Does anyone have a list of different short stories that I
could share with them, to help them realise that accidents do and can
happen if they are not careful. Or if something has happened to you
please let me know. Thanks
A friend of mine, was killed while we were in the 8th grade. He started
a lathe on high speed while there was a large blank attached to a face
plate. The screws holding the block sheared. The blank went through
the window directly behind the lathe. The window was covered with a
steel mesh security grid. When the block hit the mesh it broke in half,
bounced back and impaled him in the forehead. He was killed instantly.
My family has done wood working for years and generations. One summer
evening (I was about 20 years old) I was in a hurry to finish up some cuts
of oak for a coffee table. While cutting several lengths of 2 1/2" wide oak
I put my hand between the blade and fence (Note your middle finger sticks
out when pushing down like this) when the blade kicked my middle finger went
across the blade. Enough said.
Two weeks later my cousin was holding a joint on plywood together while
cutting the plywood with a skillsaw the blade bound up and kicked back
removing his thumb.
Two weeks later my grandfather ran his thumb through the table saw.
I am now "SUPER" safe. The blood spots are still on the light above the
table saw. When people ask I tell them... Safety fist speed later...
When I was around 16 I had my uncle tell me about someone "karate chopping"
him in the back of the neck while he working on the table saw, he turned
around but didn't see anyone. When he went inside for tea his wife noticed
small holes down the middle of his shirt. Turns out the blade grabbed his
shirt and gave it a very fast and tight pull and then release. When it
happened to me a few years later I knew what he was talking about..
If you play with the bull your going to get the horns sooner or later..
All of us have had "CLOSE" calls that may not be the memorable because they
didn't "REALLY" Happen.
There are endless stories I'm sure, and your kids won't pay any attention
to them. The only real answer is to be a safety-nazi. If they don't behave,
toss 'em out. They'll start to behave, not because they caref about safety
necessarily, but because they don't want to be tossed out of class.
I once had a rather nasty one a few years ago. I don't much like to
talk about it but since it is "for the kids", OK. The squeamish among
you might want to skip to the next post.
I was ripping up some boards for a project and had almost finished
when my wife told me it was almost time to go. GADZOOKS! I had
completely forgotten that we had been invited to a dinner party.
Quick shower, freshly pressed suit and off we went.
It was a nice but not late party and we arrived back home about 10
o'clock. I wasn't sleepy and decided to finish my ripping job -
wouldn't take more than ten minutes.
I've always been safety conscious (I don't like pain and I'm not real
fond of blood) so I took off my jacket, rolled up my sleeves and
repaired to the shop. There I was, feeding through a nice piece of
white oak, when all of a sudden that freakin' buzz saw grabbed my tie
and jerked me down to the blade like a lusty wench in heat grabbing
her lover. I don't quite understand what happened as the depth of cut
of the saw is only 3" but that sucker took my head clean off! Well,
not really "clean" as I'm sure some flesh was flung about and there
must have been a lake of blood.
One thing sure, I learned a lesson. And that lesson is...always wear
a tie tack when using a saw.
My shop teacher had a picture of someone who *used to have* a lot of long
hair (this was in the 70's) sitting between the drill press and the lathes.
Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. That picture alone still
serves for me as a good reminder for me of what can go wrong when using
spinning tools improperly. I can think of nothing you can teach your
students that will be more valuable to them in woodworking than safety.
I disagree with the post that says "kids
will be kids and nothing will get
through to them". I do agree that a
picture or something else that
graphically illustrates what can happen
will have an effect.
My accident wasn't in the shop. I'd
moved a crummy old table saw outside to
cut up kindling. I cut a lot each year,
and after an hour or so, it's about as
exciting as watching grass grow.
Attention wanders, and I was also trying
to speed the process up a bit.
While I was looking the other direction,
my hand moved too close to the blade and
i zinged the end of my thumb. I'm typing
with that thumb now, 18 months later, so
the damage wasn't serious. I won't say
it wasn't permanent however. I still
feel pins and needles in the thumb. I
expect I always will.
It wasn't serious, but man did it hurt.
The pain was so intense I passed out
twice on the way to the ER (wife drove
me). For weeks if I nudged that thumb
against anything, pain shot through my
How can I (or you to your kids) convey
that pain? I don't know. But that's what
gave me my wakeup call and made me much
more aware of what could go wrong.
Years ago in Ontario, the Dept of
Transport used graphic films of actual
road accidents as prerequisites to kids
getting their driver's license. I know
that many of them deferred driving after
seeing the films. Did it make safer
drivers? I never knew.
Good luck. I hope these stories give you
some ideas on how to break through to
them and help you produce craftsmen that
don't make the mistake I and others did.
In my high school shop the planer was a big ol' waist high 24 inch
model sitting next to a pair of double doors so they could be opened
to handle long boards. We were always told not to stand at the end of
a board being fed into the planer or table saw.
One day a short board kicked back from the planer while the door was
closed. The board went through the door (a paneled door) out into the
yard. I can still see that student's white face. We never had to be
told about standing in the throw line again.
Several years ago my 14 year old son came home early from school, visibly
shaken, with blood all over the back of his shirt. One of his woodshop
classmates had severed all the fingers, including his thumb, ripping a board on
the table saw.
My son said that the boy had set the 12" blade much too high (contrary to
instruction) for the thickness of the wood. There was no blade guard in place.
His thumb slipped off the end of the workpiece while pushing it through the
blade and passed through the saw.
My son also said that the boy's fingers weren't immediately severed until he had
shaken his hand in reaction, the fingers bouncing across the floor. (You can't
get much more graphic than that.)
Luckily, the fingers were reattached at our local hospital, and the kid regained
about 85% of the use of his hand eventually, the thumb taking almost 10 months
An insurance adjuster/investigator came to our house to interview my son shortly
after the accident in response to a lawsuit that the kid's parents were filing
against the school. The school, in turn, filed a suit against the saw
manufacturer for not providing a suitable guard for the machine.
I do not know the results of the suits so I can't comment on that other than
to say that my son never came near a piece of woodworking machinery again.
I don't see that as helpful. A 14 year
old kid who lost most of his hand
suffers from ignorance perhaps, but I
doubt that he was stupid. From the OP on
the fingers being lost, the kid ignored
the blade height instructions, but it's
not clear if he removed the guard
against shop rules.
Regardless, it's a 14 year old kid. The
age of rebelliousness and
invulnerability. If shop teachers don't
know about that age, they shouldn't be
teaching. The onus is on the teacher to
teach - safety, procedures, and
And after the kids are taught that, if
they can't accept what rules come out of
the procedures, it's up to a shop
teacher to get that kid out of his shop.
I see that as much more of a
school/teacher responsibility than that
of the kid. In essence, the kid had the
accident because either the school shop
had no rules, or the teacher didn't
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