drallred

SawStop saved the Idiots Fingers

Recommended Posts

Saw stop saved my finger on 11/10/10, this is the message or testimony that I sent to SawStop when I reported the accident.

I would like to say that I am very glad that the extra money spent went to good use in buying a SawStop Contractors Table saw. I had a kickback that hit my left hand, thus causing me to flinch and hit the blade. I did not have the blade guard installed, just the riving knife as I was cutting a narrow piece from the board. After the activation, or loud "BANG" I looked at the saw and wondered where the blade went, not realizing what had just happened I looked at my left hand and the index finger was red with blood. I looked at the finger and saw that there was a small part of my finger laid open, about 1/4" diameter. I think I hit the side of the blade and the saw saved the rest of my hand from destruction. A little alcohol and peroxide, a few band-aids and things are well, I am typing this just 2 days after the accident. If I was not using a SawStop and this happened, I probably would be in the hospital figuring out what I would do for a living as I work with computers and the job requires both hands. All I can say at this point is "Thank you SawStop!!!!" I have recommended and will continue to recommend SawStop to all I talk to.

Please note: to all readers, there is a picture posted after this that shows some blood. But I am grateful for Technology in the shop!!!!

This is a picture of the saw blade and the safety device that is activated.

SawStop1.jpg

This is the picture of my left index finger after the accident, I took this picture with my cell phone about 5 min after.

Saved1.jpg

After it was cleaned up before I put a band-aid on it.

saved2.jpg

The best there is right now in my opinion is the Sawstop system.

Thank you SawStop.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, glad that everything came out okay. That's actually the worse 'save' picture I've seen and I looked through several while waiting for the PCS to ship. I also type all day and while I know you can learn to type with one stub, it isn't a technique I wish to master.

Oh, wait, I believe you are supposed to complain about needing to buy a $50 brake and blade :lol: j/k

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happens fast doesn't it.

I am another who is grateful for having a SawStop and I still say it is worth every penny I paid for it.

-Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WOW!

I am glad to hear that you are okay.

Looking back, how do you think that the kickback happened? You had the riving knife in?

Thank you for sharing, I hope your finger heals completely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also have a SawStop and love my saw. You can send in that break in and get a free replacement from SawStop. At least I heard, if they determined it came in contact with skin, they will send you are replacement. At any rate, I would share your story with SawStop. Think they want to hear about every save, so they can improve their system.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow David. Sounds like you make the right investment in tablesaws! I too would be interested in learning more about the kickback event and what exactly caused it despite a riving knife being in place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

glad to hear the injury was only so much.

2 things I'm curious about:

1. what caused the kickback (and more importantly - how it could have been avoided)?

2. where was your hand during your cut (apparently it was close enough to be pulled into the blade)? were you using push blocks?

putting the save issue aside which is great, I think it would be beneficial if we could study what happened to avoid you having to rely on another save in the future ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The kickback happened so fast that I can only say what I remember, and it is still fuzzy. I was cutting a piece about 8" long, it was about 1 3/4" wide and I needed a 3/4" piece for a glue up. I was using the safety guard earlier but at 3/4" my push stick would not fit, so I removed the guard and put the riving knife in. Thus I was cutting the board and I know that I should not have my had my hand close to the blade but I guided the board almost all the way through the cut. I removed my hand and set it about 5" or so away on the table about even with the center of the blade as I pushed the board the rest of the way through with the push stick.

Well, after the cut was done, I moved my left leg to hit the kill switch when I think a slight bump occurred on the table and the cut off piece moved and hit the blade. Now, things happen real fast when this happens, but I know that the piece moved, hit my hand on the ring finger, giving me a small cut, now, this is where it gets fuzzy, I either, moved my hand to grab to piece and missed, hitting the side of the blade or my reflexes to move out of the way caused me to flinch into the blade. I did not go straight into the blade but more from the side and across the blade.

When I look at the blade, there are two spots of blood on the side. The cut is very unique as it is not a slice as one would expect. I will try to draw up a picture and show what the cut looks like after I placed the skin flap back on the cut. Then I would like someone to hypothesize on what happened.

...15 min later...

Here is the cheesy picture I just drew. If you look at your left index finger and position it like the picture then you can see what happened. the orange is where the skin was still connected to the finger causing a flap. The red lines in the middle are cuts about the same width of the kerf. it was all one piece that neatly laid back onto the wound. The only part that was missing was close to the finger nail and it was only about 1/16" or less. From this it looks like it cut but not in the way you would think it would. I am even thinking that I never touched the teeth as the cuts go in different directions, it might have been cut my the relief cuts in the saw blade. If I get a better picture I will post it.

Drawingoffinger.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the playback sequence there. it does bring many safery issues to mind, and it's quite ironic that the accident happened after the cut was completed.

If I may, the part you were ripping was small/narrow to begin with, and trying to make it even narrower was already a red flag (not as in don't do it, but as in this is going to be a more risky cut than a 6" rip). I never make a cut that require my hands to be above the TS insert area and will always always always use a push stick for such cuts that require a push so close to the blade. even if I have to make shift a push block to fit the needed cut (thin stick that is).

Another thing that I'm trying to understand is it seems you were pushing the part with your left hand is that correct? if so, it means that your hand, not only close to the blade already, is also pushing straight into the blade (forward and into the fence to keep the part tight against the fence) - instead, I'd opt to have a narrow enough push block to go between blade and fence so that the pushing force will not be directed at the blade, but at the fence only.

another thing is I try to stay clear of whatever part I'm pushing through so that cutoffs even if caught by the blade will fly backwards but not at me, this leaves me clear of trying to avoid such mishap and trying to reach and prevent anything from flying at me keeping hands always away from blade area.

All in all - like I said, glad to hear nothing too severe had happened, but this seem like it could have been prevented/avoided all together. not trying to sound negative (at all), just maybe point out some things that could help in future operations :)

Peace, and quick recovery on that finger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I may, the part you were ripping was small/narrow to begin with, and trying to make it even narrower was already a red flag (not as in don't do it, but as in this is going to be a more risky cut than a 6" rip). I never make a cut that require my hands to be above the TS insert area and will always always always use a push stick for such cuts that require a push so close to the blade. even if I have to make shift a push block to fit the needed cut (thin stick that is).

I thought he was using a push stick in his right hand, using his left hand in front of the blade as a to hold the piece against the fence.

Another thing that I'm trying to understand is it seems you were pushing the part with your left hand is that correct? if so, it means that your hand, not only close to the blade already, is also pushing straight into the blade (forward and into the fence to keep the part tight against the fence) - instead, I'd opt to have a narrow enough push block to go between blade and fence so that the pushing force will not be directed at the blade, but at the fence only.

I thought that he had taken his left hand off the piece as it got near the blade, and was resting his left hand on the table away from the blade. When he was startled by the kick-back, he turned and his left hand went into the blade.

The lessons I got from this, and from a similar accident that happened to me, are

  1. Don't remove the guard. If the cut is too thin for the regular guard, use an alternate type guard like the one Charles Neil demonstrates http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FullQWi2ZwM.
  2. Do not "let up your guard" until the blade stops spinning.
  3. Learn to freeze rather than jerk when startled. Easier said than done.
  4. Hand-cuff your left hand to your belt when you aren't using it.
  5. The Sawstop is worth the money.
I had my accident before I had the Sawstop. Fortunately, the blade had mostly spun down, and the blade cut into the tip of my finger and stopped when it hit bone. If the blade had been going a little faster, or had hit at a different angle, it would have been much worse. I went and bought a Sawstop that week. I had been planning on getting a Sawstop, but was waiting to see if the price would drop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like every one else mate, thank the almighty you're reasonably OK. From your description and pics it looks as though you hit the side of the blade probably in the back of the gullets of the teeth, that would account for the slightly ragged appearance. Saw a great video recently showing a guy cutting incredibly thin slices by using his feather board rather than the guide to steer the pieces through. I'll try and find this and post it. Maybe some of the other guys will know the one I'm talking about. He's definitely States side.

Once again thank goodness you had a saw stop fitted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw a great video recently showing a guy cutting incredibly thin slices by using his feather board rather than the guide to steer the pieces through. I'll try and find this and post it. Maybe some of the other guys will know the one I'm talking about. He's definitely States side.

I think you are talking about the video I linked to in the post just above yours (in lesson #1).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you are talking about the video I linked to in the post just above yours (in lesson #1).

Yep that's the one. You gotta make allowances for this silly old bugger. I'd forget my name if someone didn't keep shouting it to me.

Hope the finger is healing OK

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, I'm really glad that this safety feature worked so well for you. This sounds like one that could have been MUCH worse.

One thing that comes to my mind about this story is that it appeared to be the flinch that led the hand into the blade. As this story describes, sometimes things are moving along fine, then something happens to change the dynamic completely. In this case, the wood grabbed the edge and triggered the kickback, which triggered a number of nonlinearities, including the reflex that moved the hand (involuntarily) into the blade.

The reason that I think this is important is that when people think of safety, they often don't think about how much the dynamic can change. It is easy to overestimate one's own level of control if you assume that things will always continue as normal. But we need to think of what could happen to change the dynamic of the situation.

One example that comes to mind is something that I was taught when dealing with electricity. I was taught to touch wires with the back of my hand rather than the palm, even though I was "sure" they were not hot. The reason is that if you do touch a hot wire, you're likely to flinch and your hand may clench. Touching with the back of the hand moves you away from the wire, rather than causing you to grab it.

So back to tools, we need to think about the unexpected, and come up with a technique that is safe not only when things go as expected, but also when the unexpected happens. Before you reach over the blade, think about what might happen if you suddenly have to sneeze, or if your footing shifts on some loose sawdust, etc. Or in this case, what could happen if you bump the table, which shifts the wood and causes it to kickback?

Thanks to David Allred for sharing this story. I'm glad you're OK, and I'm going to take it as a reminder to be ever vigilant when working with tools.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's one of my biggest fears with ANY tool: reaction! You obviously can't predict how you are going to react it that situation. And if you over-react in the wrong direction because you were startled, then boo boos happen. So I try to keep my hands far enough away from the spinning blade just in case my reaction gets a little crazy, lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am glad to here you are OK. I too had a similar accident with a circular saw. I was cutting a small piece off of the end of a board and held my hand under to catch the piece so not to chip it when it hit the ground. I had my hand about 2 feet away but a splinter shot off of the board and hit me, my reflexes took over and I jerked my hand straight up and into the blade.

When I say similar this is where it becomes different. I lost 2/3 of my little finger and received a nice little graph on my ring finger. I have been dabbling in some sort of wood working since I was 10 and this is the first accident (at 43) I had but as you said it was so fast your first reaction is not to the missing digit but to the amazement of what just happened.

I thought I was safe because I was keeping my hand well away from the saw, not!!! Your reflexes are meant to take you away from danger but they can make what appears to be safe very dangerous. I now look at things in the shop very different. If something happens, how will my reaction hurt me?

Oh, I believe you did in fact make contact with the teeth. I can tell you from experience that they do not make a nice fine cut in flesh as with wood. My finger was so mutilated it could not be saved.

Once again I am happy you are OK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow... That's scary stuff. I'm glad to hear you are fine.

I've had my SawStop for about two years now. I've never had it "fire".

Even without the safety feature, I felt it was the best saw out there at the time I purchased.

Take care

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scary is right, I am starting to get a better memory of the situation and it was a reaction, but for the amount of damage I had to force my finger into the blade at an angle or side to do what it did. Right now, almost 3 weeks after it happened I only have a small scab/extra skin where it went the deepest into my finger. Called SawStop and they have not yet analyzed the unit due to holidays and work load. I guess I need to go to Timber and pick up another unit. I have gifts to finish and the table saw in essential in making them.

I love my saw!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

maybe you should look into a Grr Ripper by micro jig. i just bought one myself. i assembled it last night but have yet to try it. i bought it in an attempt to avoid exactly what just happened to you. so glad you're ok and sooooo glad you had sawstop. im strongly considering a sawstop myself. it's stories like yours that make the purchase that much easier.

Share this post


Link to post
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.

Guest
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.