2008 Woodworkers Safety Week – the launch.
I don’t have any photos, as this happened to me in the Stone Age – 1964, to be exact. I have made a feeble attempt at simulating what happened, with some photos at the end of this post – nothing gory, though.
Let me know if YOU have ever done anything as dumb as what follows.
Tired and sleepy, at work at 2 AM, since I worked the second shift, 4 PM to midnight. But this night I had to work overtime, even though a Final Exam waited at 7 AM at the University. And I had to finish a project for one of my classes… Mounting some insects on something, for a display case for my collection.
There was no pain, only a force that literally threw my hand and my arm into the air. I brought back the hand to the edge of the work piece, to finish the cut. THEN I noticed red stuff all over the work piece, on the table saw surfaces, all over the place.
Huh… what the heck?…
Then my senses kicked in. I lifted my left hand, still felt no pain, but I noticed (!!!) my left thumb now looked as if I had a carnation (the flower) stuck in the end of my thumb. The entire thumb was still in place, but from one side to the other it had a carnation flower sticking out…
I said to myself “This looks just like a carnation flower!” – and it WAS. The impact of the table saw blade had torn open the flesh and caused damage – it looked just like a flower.
THEN the pain started. I called my work buddy, held out my hand, and he exclaimed, “Your finger looks a carnation!” He rushed me to the Emergency Room, 5 minutes away by car.
The Trauma doc in the Emergency Room said to me “Al, your thumb looks like you stuck a carnation on the end of it!” He then numbed the thumb (I won’t go into the details, but it involved a VERY long needle in the business end of a syringe), and waited a few minutes for the anesthetic to work. Then he took out some shears, started trimming flesh and shaping the carnation I had on the end of my thumb, until he estimated he had enough to stuff back into the skin he had already shaped with the shears.
Doc sewed up the wound, and said, “Nice job – nice carnation flower.” He told me to stay home for a couple of days, take some pain pills, and try to relax; he added that my thumb would not have any feeling for several months.
My work buddy drove me home. I stayed awake rewinding in my mind the table saw event, until I figured out what happened. At 6:30 AM I got up, showered, and headed for the University campus, minus my project, which was due at 8 AM.
I got a B in that course, because I failed to submit the project. But I aced the final exam – thanks to the meds, I was able to concentrate and finish the exam in record time – then fell asleep in my chair. The professor had to wake me from a deep sleep at the end of the allotted exam time. I finally went home, and slept until the next morning.
My analysis of why the injury happened:
- No blade guard
- The blade barely sticking out of the work piece
- Pushing the work piece with both hands, with the left thumb in the path of the blade
- Unaware of where the blade was – too tired!
- Poor lighting…
- I just knew that nothing could hurt me – in the 60s, teenagers were invincible, and nothing could hurt them. Has this changed since then?
Happy Woodworkers Safety Week!
A Simulated Table Saw Injury:
A Carnation in My Thumb!