Table Saw + Carelessness = Oops

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Walt B, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. Walt B

    Walt B Active Member

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    On this forum or another, a member has a signature line with a quote attributed to John Wayne, "Life is tough, but it's tougher if you're stupid." I affirmed that statement Monday (19 Aug).

    I had spent Sunday getting hardware ready to do some extraction on Monday. I made sure everything was in place and the honey extraction would go smoothly and without much mess. Only one thing left to do on Monday, cut some 1.25" strips of wood for another project, and then steal honey from the girls.

    I cut the first strip and then felt a tug and sharp pain. :eek: Yep, while pulling the larger piece of lumber away I managed to stick my thumb on the running blade. I spun to the left and grabbed my thumb, took a look and wrapped a handkerchief around it and applied pressure (The table saw did a pretty good job of it). My wife was weeding in the veggie garden and I called to her and asked her to call 911 because I cut the tip of my thumb off.

    When the paramedics arrived I found that the thumb wasn't completely off and that our local hospital doesn't have the capability to handle that much damage, so I had a ride to Waco and met some very nice techs, nurses, and physicians. Luckily the hand surgeon was on duty. At 1:15 I went into surgery and was out about an hour later. The surgeon said he thought he saved the thumb, but I had done a real good job of mangling it. I told him I was glad I was under anesthesia when they started. That way I didn't hear them say, "Oh, Yuck!" when they took the bandages off and saw the thumb. I cut the thumb at 8:40am and was back home at about 4:00pm. Needless to say, no honey extraction.

    I go back on the 30th to have it checked and find out if the thumb is "saved". Moral of the story? See the John Wayne quote above.

    Oh, and you're the only folks that know what happened. When someone asks what happened I just tell them, "I worked my fingers to the bone." :wink:

    Walt
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  2. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Sorry to hear that Walt;

    I joined the club this spring! It happens so fast and a table saw has no "undo" function. Sounds like yours was a bit worse than my boo boo but the saying is that Time heals all wounds!
     

  3. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    geez walt, hope that thumb heals.....or what's left of it....it might not be pretty, but if it still works, it's all that counts........:lol:
    i am just curious about what your wife had to say?.......:lol:

    ps, glad to hear you are okay :grin:
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Glad to hear that you are OK Walt!
    I would give you a :thumbsup:, but somehow it seems inappropriate! :mrgreen:
     
  5. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    Walt, know about the table saws myself, rip my thumb when I was in woodshop class in high school, 57 years ago and still have the scare to prove it. Sure hope it heals fast so that you can use it ok, sorry to hear about it.

    Ken
     
  6. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    Glad you are okay Walt, could happen to any of us. :)
     
  7. Walt B

    Walt B Active Member

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    Thanks for all the well wishes.

    My wife, on the outside, was very calm. I kept trying to get her to not worry: "It's only a thumb.", "It's not like it was something important, like a nose." Nothing seemed to help until she came to post op. I got the attention of the anesthesiologist and a nurse, and then started to moan in "pain". They laughed and she hit me...all in good fun. She's been "fussing" after me, but I think she's beginning to calm down now.

    About that "thumbs up" thing...I was bandaged pretty good from Emergency, with a lot of material on the thumb. Before they put me "under", I looked at the surgeon and said, "Let's do it!" and gave a thumbs up with the bandaged thumb. He laughed and I went to sleep.

    Walt
     
  8. DLMKA

    DLMKA New Member

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    pictures or it never happened!!!

    Just kidding, I don't think we want to see it anyways. Heal quick!
     
  9. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    I feel your pain Having one finger a little shorter than the rest myself. It will be sour for a while as the body deals with all the mangled flesh. Here's to a speedy recovery.
     
  10. Walt B

    Walt B Active Member

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    Oddly enough, the surgeon wanted to know if I wanted to see a photo of it. I said "Yes" and he seemed a bit surprised. He showed it to me, but I must have been a little goofy still and just remember seeing a thumb, but nothing particular. Maybe that's a good thing. :wink:

    Thanks for the well wishes.

    Walt
     
  11. blueblood

    blueblood New Member

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    Dang, sorry Walt. It's a good reminder for myself to be even more careful. I can get lax with repetition from time to time. Get well soon!
     
  12. ablanton

    ablanton New Member

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    Wishing you a speedy recovery!
     
  13. CharlieB

    CharlieB New Member

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    I can't count all the close calls I've had on my table saw. It takes less than a second. Hope you heal up real good.
    If you go on you tube and search for "thumb cut off by table saw" you'll see a poor fellow who cut his all the way off.
    Not pretty to watch but a good reminder.
     
  14. Papakeith

    Papakeith New Member

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    Welcome to the club Walt. I myself played with a band saw and lost when I was younger.

    I've got my fingers (one reattached) crossed for your thumb!
     
  15. RayMarler

    RayMarler Member

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    Hi Walt, welcome to the club, and hope your thumb heals with no loss.
    When I was 15, I had a run-in with a table saw blade, the saw blade won. I've got 2 fingers on my left hand that are missing the middle knuckle on each. The bones are now set at 45 degrees with no knuckle, but hey, I've still got the fingers and they never cause me any problem or inconvenience. I was real lucky.
     
  16. BoilerJim

    BoilerJim New Member

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    Wow Walt. In a sense you were lucky. Could have been like poor Ray. I remember during the Bicentennial year when I was in Jr. High shop class and my classmate cut off three of his fingers right in front of all of us kids. That visual stays with you and I remember it everytime I turn my table saw on. I hope you have a speedy recovery my friend.
     
  17. Walt B

    Walt B Active Member

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    Ray, After reading your post I got to wondering why "45 degrees"? I looked down at my resting hand and the fingers were approximately 45 degrees. I am simply amazed that people in an emergency situation are able to reason what is the most likely configuration for damaged digits. I hope they were correct in your case.

    Jim, So far, when I doze off, I stick my thumb in the saw again. I suspect the flashback will cease in a bit. I remember when I was "laid off" years ago, that situation kept reappearing nightly. The brain is a complex organ. I hope it settles down soon. :grin:

    Walt
     
  18. RayMarler

    RayMarler Member

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    I remember that day very well. The family doctor was on vacation and the stand in doctor called in a hand and foot bone specialist that did the operation right away. I had eaten that day so it was done while i was awake with a local anesthesia and block with tent over the hand so I could not see the operation. I was very lucky that day. I cut through the knuckles but the main arteries and nerves that run through the underneath side of the fingers were not damaged, and I had an excellent specialist working on me. He ground back the shards of knuckle and bone and set them at 45 degrees and drilled thru the bone and set with small stainless steel thread rod. Then he wrapped up the hand and sent me off home. 6 months later the steel thread rods were unscrewed and removed and I was back in the ball game again. These fingers were the two outer smallest fingers on my left hand so were not major usage fingers, and I've not had any problems or issues with them in all these years now (that happened back in 1974).

    I hope you have the best healing of your thumb, at least as well or better than what my fingers have done. Hopefully the cut off part will still live and clone back into place with no problems.
     
  19. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I join in with all the others wishing you a complete and speedy recovery. It'll be a while before you use that thumb for lifting frames, but thank God that you have a wife with her head well attached to her shoulders. She's better than a thumb and will help you along till you've mended.
     
  20. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Sorry to hear this Walt. I hate the table saw with a pation and will avoid it if at all possible. I consider it the single most dangerous saw in the shop. I have gotten very good at making guards that work well for them. I will try to get a phtoto of one that works well in tis case. it will not allow fingers to come into contact with the blade and are some and easy to make. Ineed to make one fro cutting bottom bars to width and have one for cutting them to thickness. Those are simply far to small of pieces to be working around an exposed blade. So is 1.25 inches by the way. something you learned the hard way.

    For now here is an explanation of the jig.

    Cut a piece of wood that will fit the miter slot in our table saw. usually this will be 3/4 inches wide and 1/2 inches thick. make it the length of your table saw top. Glue a piece of wood that is as thick or just a tad thicker than the material you will be ripping to this mite slot piece. This piece should act as the fence for your cut. so if yo want a 1.25 inch wide cut you will position this piece 1.25 inches from the near side of the blade parallel to the blade. Take care in measuring and placing this piece because it will from now on set the width of your cut. Once that has dried and is strong enough place a second piece of 1X material on top of it and glue and screw it in place. this piece will extend over the top of the blade.

    To use this jig drop it into the miter slot, clamp it down at the front and back of the table so that the clamps to not get in the way of feeding the wood. raise the blade until it actually cuts into the top piece of the jig but does not pass through it. your blade is now buried in a tunnel that you can pass the wood through and get the correct width of cut. Boards that are a bit thicker than usual may be a bit of a problem but it prevents the loss of fingers. If you ever get a thick board. make another jig. it takes a lot less time that a trip to ER for surgery. For the thickness cut on bottom boards I actually use a tunnel that is enclosed on all three sides. I just keep pushing pieces through it with the next one pushing the last on out the other end. It makes a very fast and safe way to make those tiny pieces.

    My apologies to the fact this post came a bit to late.