One of Phil’s hobbies is lutherie. He is active on at least one major woodworking forum, where he originally posted what follows. He graciously granted me permission to post his story, and some follow-up photos. Here is Phil’s story, in his own words:
Yesterday I thought there is no way I would post this and look stupid to the world but this morning I was reading the comments in another post and realized the story might be educational and perhaps keep someone else from making the same mistake.
I am making some tool handles from various woods and picked a nice old chunk of mesquite out of the shed. This is a section of branch about seven inches long and four inches in diameter. Before putting it on the lathe I was going to cut away the bulk of the bark and sap wood. The sapwood was fairly thick (around 1/2 inch).
The mesquite being very hard required pretty good pressure to push it through the blade. Guiding with my left hand and pushing with my right I would give the branch a push by hand to get it started and then switch to a push stick before getting too close to the blade.
What I didn’t notice was that a beetle had bored a small hole through the bark and ate away a large section of the sapwood leaving a void filled with sawdust. With me pushing pretty hard the blade hit this void about one inch into the cut. It is easy to picture the rest. Log jumps forward. Hand finds blade.
I consider my shop safety procedures to be good and my last accident with a saw was in 1977 but there is always a new situation. I am new to turning and have little experience working with a bark on branch like this and did not anticipate the problem. I was fortunate in that I try to never push my hands directly toward the blade and I was holding and pushing the wood off to the side of the blade so it just caught the skin on the back of my knuckle.
I am fine and will be back in the shop tomorrow evening but it clearly could have been worse. The biggest negative is it makes my wife less comfortable with me working out in the shop.
The following are links to his photos – I have posted links only, for the benefit of people with weak stomachs:
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Phil. We wish you a complete and speedy recovery!!!