My wife Sandy is the woodturner. In 2007 she had an incident at the lathe, just minutes after I left the shop to prepare a quick sandwich lunch. Here is the story, in her own words:
Oh, Woodturners, exercise caution . . .
. . . I wish I had thought of that about 2 o’clock this afternoon. Here’s the scenario – I had turned the back of a bowl yesterday evening and left it on the lathe, worm screw in place. This morning I took it off (worm screw still in the bowl) and turned a new longer handle for my bowl gouge. After I had it all put back together, I put the worm screw back on the headstock. About that time my husband reminded me we hadn’t eaten lunch and, because I’d been having so much fun, he offered to run to the house and fix a sandwich.
Why can’t I remember that screws go in clockwise and come out counter-clockwise? My first attempt, needless to say, was the WRONG way, thus tightening the screw instead of loosening it. I turned the correct way and removed the bowl, stopped the headstock and tried to remove the worm screw . . . and it would not come off. What would you do? Funny, I only have these short Tomy bars and instead of getting something to put on extra leverage, I threw my weight into it. When it came loose, the Tomy bar came out, my hands were left holding air, and I lunged forward, striking my head and glasses on the lathe ways. Did you know that cast iron hurts when your skull cracks it?
I managed to steady myself – knowing that I was alone – and reached the phone (about 4 foot away). I kept dialing our home phone number and couldn’t understand why the line was busy . . . before realizing that the only way I could reach Al to get help was by calling his cell phone. No lacerations, no bleeding, but a huge goose egg showed by the time he reached me. He rushed me to Urgent Care and they, in turn, called an ambulance and sent me to the hospital for care – CT scan, etc. After 4 1/2 hours they released me with cautions and a horrendous headache.
This was NOT the exciting afternoon I had planned in the shop. I ruined a brand new pair of glasses (thank you polycarbonate lenses), have a headache to break all my past records, and look like half a raccoon. Caution out there, guys and gals.