I met Curtis through one of the woodworking forums; he had just written about his injury on the band saw. I requested his permission to use some of the photographs to share with my readers, as safety has been a hot topic. Several similar injuries have been reported by various woodworkers in the last week alone!
As the photos are gory, I provide only the following links:
And, if you wish to see all photos, please visit the album Curtis created to document his injury.
I will let Curtis’ own words tell us what happened, with all typos eliminated, including my own. I have edited his answers to several of my questions, and have also included portions of his own words on the forum; doing this allows things to flow in a semi-chronological order (I will add my own comments in parenthesis):
(What happened:) I was cutting bowl blanks. I had one hand pinning the piece down at the center of the blank, to the right of the blade. I was using my left hand to turn the blanks into the blade. It (the bowl blank) started at the side of the circle facing me, but 200-yr old yellow pine is very hard to cut. The force to cut the wood moved my hand very fast when the blade wasn’t in wood (that is, when the blade was no longer cutting wood)…
…so I was cutting the reclaimed lumber I have, into round blanks. Well, I was trying to touch up a line, and the blade slipped off the wood and guess what? It cuts pinky fingers really well. All the way through the bone, (with) only skin holding it on. So, after notifying the woodshop teacher that a band-aid would NOT work for this one, i ended up on a stretcher on the way to the hospital. It didn’t hurt much, it only feels like I hit it with a hammer, but the pain won’t go away. The only thing that grossed me out was when they cleaned it, before sewing it. The guy just flipped my finger tip back, as if it was a Zippo lighter. I cut right through the top, on the finger nail, on an angle. I wish i could have gotten a picture before they (sewed) it up. 9 stitches in all. I guess no lathe work for a while, since it’s on my left hand, meaning it would be the closest to the spinning wood. Bummer!…
…it’s only my little my little finger; there’s not room for more than 9 stitches. My finger wasn’t near the blade. I had it back a (distance), like 6 inches or more. But the blade didn’t bite into the wood at the angle I had it. So, when i pushed the piece of wood, it just slid along the blade till my finger hit it. The blade looked like it was going to cut the wood so i was pushing it a little hard and then when it suddenly slipped, it just went (into the blade)…
I asked Curtis what, in his opinion, could have prevented his injury; here is his reply:
I thought about the SawStop thing (the SawStop technology is a safety system to stop the blade within 5 milliseconds of detecting contact with skin), but it would only be a help if it was aftermarket. Places like schools would rather get rid of the tool, than buy a new one. (Curtis also provided a link to a YouTube video demonstrating the SawStop technology on a band saw.)
When I asked about the pain, he stated:
It doesn’t hurt that much; (it is) more like when your hand falls asleep. The feeling in my finger goes in and out. Some times it feels like it’s moving when it’s not. Sucks though, (as) I can’t touch the lathe for 5 more weeks…
This was in sharp contrast to some time earlier:
..the pain killers wore off and the (medication) isn’t working at all. How do you sleep like this? Every time I move I wake up!
If you are interested in learning more, you will find Curtis, an aspiring woodturner, on the Saw Mill Creek woodworking forum.
NOTE: From my own experience, cutting round stock on the band saw, even round dowels, can be dangerous if you don’t anticipate what can happen. Round stock will have a great tendency to roll toward the blade, due to the downward pressure of the blade and the fact that the initial contact point and the stock is unsupported. KNOW this, and anticipate HOW to prevent injury. Keep your hands well clear of the path of the blade; the blade guard is always above the work piece, so it won’t help you. Attach the work piece to a sled or some other such fixture. A great resource is an article by Marc Adams that appeared in Popular Woodworking in May 2008.