Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today at CSS

This morning I got back to work with kids on a limited basis. I met with the high school students including those who were there when my table saw accident occurred so that I could explain the physics involved, why it happened, and why it will never happen again in my life. I wanted to make certain that they were each OK with what had happened. I also wanted to make certain they had an opportunity to voice their feelings, and that none felt any unreasonable fear. Table saws are certainly dangerous, but are not unpredictable. They operate according to Newtonian physics. Know the physics and you can be safe. So it was a good day in the wood shop. I know that at least one SawStop Saw will be in the school's future to offer an additional layer of security.

Also this morning I met with the 4th, 5th and sixth grade students in their classroom to do bookmaking. As I mentioned, I hope bookmaking will become a more integrated exercise at CSS... one that can be done in the regular classroom at any occasion, and not requiring transportation to wood shop. Getting the core classroom teacher involved is key.

Then finally, this afternoon, I had the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students here at the house for a clay firing and tour of my home wood shop.

It felt good to be back working with the kids. Tomorrow I get my bulky bandages off and the doctor's report of significant progress.

Wrong, painfully..
Readers have asked about how my accident happened, and I thought I would wait until I had photos to explain it. What you see in the first photo was the attempt to resaw cherry to obtain thinner stock. Unlike my usual practice of firmly gripping the wood on both sides, and with the blade safely buried in the stock, I used a push stick, thinking it would offer a safer approach.

The use of the featherboard would have prevented accident
Unfortunately, the depth of the push stick did not equal the full thickness of the wood and the off-cut wood slid back as shown allowing my finger tips to come in contact with the side of the blade. The use of the featherboard as shown in the next photo would have prevented the off-cut piece from sliding back, keeping my fingers from contacting the blade, as I learned from my first demonstration (before the accident).

Featherboard and full depth push stick, greater safety!
A good reason my injuries were not worse, is that my fingers came in contact with the side of the blade, with its opposite side shielded in the safely held wood. The final photo shows a push stick cut to fully engage both pieces of wood and a featherboard in place to guarantee safety.

I plan to make a new special push stick that will ride in the space between the sides of the fence for even grater control in resawing wood. This operation can also be done safely on the bandsaw.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous10:26 PM

    Thank you, Doug, for your explanation and photos. I'm sure many of your readers will feel the same dread I did when I read it.

    When I resaw, I use the same table saw technique but I leave a half inch joining the lumber and then finish the cut on the bandsaw.

    In our school shop we have two table saws, an old Rockwell Delta and a Sawstop. The Sawstop saved a student's fingers when she attempted a free hand crosscut on a three inch wide board without the blade cover in place. She did end up with a few stitches, however.

    The Sawstop is a great machine and I don't think they're really all that expensive considering that I'm dealing with adolescents whose brains are in flux. The reason we haven't replaced the old Delta is that we frequently use a dado blade and a blade change on the Sawstop is somewhat time consuming.

    Nick S
    In Northern British Columbia

  2. Doug -

    Glad to hear you are back with the kids and I am glad to hear of the discussions with your high schoolers. It's also great to hear you work through the lead up to the injury and how you will change your practice to make resawing safer. Stay safe & tell us how the SawStop goes.

    I am a huge fan of bandsaws. Yes, they can be just as dangerous as a tablesaw with this operation, but the chance of kickback is very low - I've avoided using a table saw many throughout my teaching and woodworking to avoid the chance of injury with that machine.

    Stay safe & productive!

    Mr. Patrick