Jump to content

My New Found Respect for Table Saws

Recommended Posts

How to Make a Honey Stick... or...  My New Found Respect for Table Saws

Every morning at work I enjoy a good hot cup of tea with honey.

I had been thinking about it for weeks and one week ago on Sunday,  August 2nd, I decided to make myself a honey stick.



I decided to use oak as I have some old oak skid pallet parts in my stock pile  and I just love oak.

I took a board (about 1-1/2" thick) and cut a short length (8-1/2") off of her.
I set the fence on my table saw to the thickness of the board so I'd end up with a square piece to put on the lathe to turn it down and shape it.

The cut went smooth without incident.... I should have stopped there.

In my experience the first piece never looks quite good enough and I knew I could get another cut out of the drop so I decided to prepare a backup piece.

Well the board had a bolt hole in it so I'd have to cut that out, and the outside edge had what I call a worm hole (more likely a wood wasp burrow) and that would not be good.  On close inspection I calculated I could cut it down without resetting the fence.

The second cut went without a hitch, bolt hole gone.


The final cut was going wonderfully until the very last inch and "what the [bleep] just happened!"   :o 

I grabbed some paper towel, clamped it to my index finger with a death grip and was rushed to the hospital.
At the hospital the nurse told me I could let go now... well I couldn't.  My hand was cramped in place.  I could not remove my left hand from my right.  It took all my concentration and then it opened just enough to slide my finger out.  I had to press it against my thigh to get it to open the rest of the way.


I couldn't bring myself to turn and look at it.  I was sure it was cut straight up and I now had a forked finger tip.

The nurse wrapped it back up and told us it was going to be at least a five hour wait.  As we are blessed with an Emergency Unit in our home town I'd have been better off if I was having a heart attack  (heaven forbid) as I would then had been getting immediate care.  We left and drove the 15 minutes to the next town that is designated Urgent Care and I was tended to completely within two hours, including  x-rays.

I had removed 3/4's of my finger nail and the meat just below it and, thanks to guardian angels, just missed the bone.  I am healing quickly.  I can lower my hand without my finger tip throbbing, and every other day the nurse changes the bandage and that process hurts less than the last time.

So what happened?

The wood does not show the classic signs of kick back in that the part between the blade and the fence did not climb up and over.  The small piece with the worm hole is twisted and cracked.  It was outside of the blade, I was using a push stick inside of the blade.  I always used my hand outside and removed it as it approached the blade.  I was just about to pull my hand away as the piece twisted and my hand was drawn underneath and inwards just in front of the blade and ... bad luck would have it was swiped.

I will never, ever, ever put my hands anywhere near a power blade, ever again.   EVER. (I make tonnes of scrap wood and will use it)

I'd post photos but if I don't want to look at it why would I let you.

I learned to type using all my fingers way back in high school but have since resorted to two fingers.  Strangely I use the index finger of my left hand and the third finger (next to the index finger) of my right. So my typing ability has not been affected.

How strange is that.

Also, in 1990 I had the nerves along one side of  my neck cut during surgery while they removed a tumour that had wrapped around them and from that I'd lost the feeling in finger tips of my right hand.  I was just mentioning to my wife the day before the accident that  I'd noticed the feeling had come back. Oh Joy, just in time! 


As for the honey stick, it will get done but not for awhile. I've got more healing to do first. :( 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heal well Alan.

   Nowadays you have a table saw like Sawstop with it's special safty feature. But with that safety feature comes a hefty price. Which a lot of wood workers can afford. There are also just as nice quality TS like Laguna out there too. But do not come with the Sawstop safety feature.

   But as you say respecting your hand or power tools is the best and safest thing anyone can do. Even a Sawstop can be dangerous if not respected. My friend who is in his 70's has owned mid=grade TS throught the years and has always repected his tools. He has never even had a scratch. I'm in my mid 50's and he has been cutting as long as I have been alive. What a safety record. he has always told me spend that little more time on setting up your tools for cutting. Have a good clean and clear work area. Keep your tools in good working condition. Always keep safety in mine, and have safety equipment(AND USE IT). In the long run it will payoff.


So heal well Alan. My right hand index finger has nerve damage, and that was just from a xacto blade slip 3 yrs back. Nothing since. So even the littlest of blades can be mean.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

All the best with your healing. 


I've had two "serious" cuts in my life, the one from the power saw cut a slice of flesh about 1/32'' deep from my fingertip and was treated at home. The one from a knife needed 3 stitches. Having said that, power saws still really scare me. This is one reason I'm not feeling a deep need to use power tools in my modelling. At the moment I have a Dremal only and to be honest I will probably adjust my model and wood purchases in the future to avoid the need for a power saw (despite how good the Brynes saw looks).


Keep safe everyone.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reminds me of my little story re: table saw.   When I was 10 my Dad said he would make me a bow.   He admonished me NOT TO TOUCH THE SAW while he was at work, so, of course I immediately went to the saw and began to shape the bow.  And also of course, I cut my thumb badly while doing so. (Longer version of the story was reaching our nearest neighbor and using a hand crank telephone while bleeding).  Anyway the cut was repaired and I have used the scar many times while instructing my kids about saw safety.

Advance 20 years, my oldest son has just bought his first table saw.....two days later he calls to say, OK I'm now an adult, I just got back from Urgent Care, they put in 15 stitches in my thumb but I'll be fine.    He somehow saw the event as a right of passage......;o)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Back in 1981, I was working my way through college as a frame carpenter. Whoops! Nail gun fired a U-shaped furring-stable through a bone in my left hand. Lost my left fore-knuckle. Didn't hurt a whit when it happened, but when they pulled it out at the hospital - Yikes! But it healed up okay, and aside from a wicked scar, it functions just fine. I stopped drumming, though. When people ask about the scar, I say "the wife bit me."


Get better, brother!

Edited by uss frolick
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've spent the week watching table saw videos on line and it is amazing what some people creating these instructional videos do.

Of course I'd not have given it a second thought before last Sunday.


I've decided I do not like the back corner edge push stick as much as I thought and those pads still put your hand too close for my taste.


I'll be creating a hybrid push pad/stick to assure my hand is well back and I'll be making myself a RIPPING JIG  ( 



The scariest TABLE SAW video describing kick back was found here ( 



This guy has prooven the push pad with a low over the top grip is a bad thing.


Once again I did not experience kick back, my accident was due to the weakness in the wood due to the hole allowing it to bind and twist from the outside.  My table saw guards, riving knife and toothed anti kick back attachment did absolutely nothing for me.

Edited by AON
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A common source of saw blade accidents is the build-up of slippery sawdust on the floor.  You slip getting up - you loose your footing - and automatically you put your arms out to regain your balance. All too often, an arm or hand goes into the blade. One of the top causes, I am told.


Keep that shop floor clean. Just pretend you are the ships carpenter, and that Captain William Bligh, RN (or worse, Captain William Bainbridge, USN) is coming to inspect! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even the little saws (MicroMark, Proxxon, Dremel, etc.) can take a finger or two.  After getting my thumb nicked badly (there's still dried blood on the print that hangs on the wall behind the saw), I use push sticks, fingerboards, and never, never, use it when I'm tired or distracted.  And even using the 3" table saw, I stand off to one side just in case.  I close the door to the workshop and that's a signal to my Admiral 'don't come in unless it's a matter of life or death'.  She understands. 


I am looking at making one of those strip jigs....  :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reminds me of a group of old retired railroad workers I met in the 1960s as a little kid. They had each lost a finger or two over the course of their careers from coupling the cars together. No matter how careful you were, they would say, you'd eventually get a finger caught between the cars. They wore their stumps like metals, proud reminders of their hard earned careers. "Go to college, kid", they would all say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...