A Near Miss In The Shop

If you work with tools and wood then you probably know what I mean by “a near miss.”

warning sign

For a brief moment some of my deeply ingrained shop safety rules went out the window. I was very, very lucky and was not injured, not even a scratch.

I was resawing at the bandsaw. The blade was getting a little dull but I only had a few more boards to resaw. I had already resawn walnut, maple and cherry and all that was left to resaw were a few pieces of  butternut.

I didn’t want to change the blade and recalibrate the fence, make test cuts and spend all that time to make a few cuts in a relatively soft wood when I was so close to being finished.

This was not a good idea but so far so good.

The butternut sawed well, maybe too well. I was able to feed the wood into the saw at a quick pace.

On the very last cut the waste was about 1/16th” thick. For a moment, a very brief moment, I was distracted. In that same moment I felt something touch a finger and I instinctively pulled my hand away.

The blade had wandered (probably due to being dull and/or worn) and broken through the waste. What had gently kissed my finger was the saw blade.

In my momentary lack of attention I had let the hand holding the wood to the fence follow the board up to the blade. This is something I usually never do. I know better but I had briefly been distracted and that was all it took to momentarily break a very good habit.

It didn’t leave a scratch. Talk about lucky!

I felt that payback for my luck would be to share the experience and use it as a warning to all the other folks who do this kind of work.

There are many articles about shop safety and using tools properly. The X-factor is you and your willingness to follow the rules of safety.

I’d also like to remind you that hand tools are dangerous too. My most serious woodworking accident happened with a hand tool many, many years ago.  Once again it was due to my lack of following my own rules. I was working when I probably should have been sleeping.

So be careful and have fun, have fun and be careful!

6 thoughts on “A Near Miss In The Shop

  1. Hi Larry,
    Thanks for saying hello. Power tools are loud, scary things indeed! I am happy that I prefer and primarily use hand tools. You are right about power tools making certain tasks faster and more accurate.
    There are a lot of tasks where I find hand tools to be faster and more accurate but power tools have made getting certain parts accurate and square much easier.

    The worst accident I have had in a shop was many years ago and it was with hand tools. As usually happens I was not paying enough attention and probably should have been sleeping rather than working.. I was very lucky that time; several stitches and no major damage to anything.

    The Saw Stop table saws are impressive. If and when I upgrade table saws I would certainly consider getting one.

    Let me know how your hammered dulcimer projects go.

    All the best,


  2. Glad you are okay. I was just reading about your switch to power tools. Be careful. As you become comfortable using them it becomes easier to have your mind wonder and then you can end up missing a finger. I am restoring an old house and finally bought some power tools, a table saw and a compound miter saw. The table saw is a scary tool but it is amazing how much faster and accurate it is then hand tools is amazing. There is a new table saw on the market called Saw Stop. I don’t know how it works but if you are cutting and it nicks your finger it shuts down so fast you barely get a skin deep cut. They demo this with hot dogs. It is more expensive but I may consider replacing my current saw with it.

    I should wrap up the current renovation work by Christmas and intend to turn my attention to hammered dulcimers.

  3. I can’t tell you how many times I have had near misses like this with tools, knives, electrical things, lawnmowers, and so on. I am always thankful each time that the outcome wasn’t worse.

    I’m glad you are all right, ma sha allah.

  4. @Deborah Robson

    Thanks for the kind words. I think a lot of “oooops!” happens when people are tired or should be doing something else. I’m glad you are okay too!.

  5. Dang, I’m glad you’re okay.

    I’ve just been breaking down and recycling cardboard boxes, and I have to pay attention that I’m not cutting in any way that a slip would cause the box knife to hit me. I almost snagged a finger on the tip of the knife today anyway. I was just picking it up, and I’d been working too long and wanted to be done.

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