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Terrible Jointer Accident

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jazzdogg, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. I NEVER use my jointer without using push blocks, 2 of them all the time I'm doing face jointing, and 1 on the face of the board pressing against the fence when I'm doing edge jointing and I usually run the other hand on top of the board with my fingers overlapping and grabbing on to the fence so that I have some kind of 'stop' in case of problems.

    I like those euro style guards that lift up instead of to the side when the board is over the head, so that you can never actually pass your hands (push block or not) over it and you have to kind of skip it. Those are pretty safe.


    My worst accident so far was with a handplane! I got my pinkie finger caught between the sole of the plane and the wood while pushing it forward to level a center block with the rest of a body blank! scraped from my knuckle to the fingernail and bled very badly. So even hand tools have to be respected!
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Hand tools also, for sure. I've seen some nasty damage done more than once by a flat blade screwdriver that slipped. (Although that's more likely with mechanical tasks than woodworking.)
  3. Nelson Guitars

    Nelson Guitars

    Aug 14, 2006
    Novato California
    Custom builder
    The tool that I have seen do more serious damage in the trades than anything else is the simple utility knife. It may not take the whole finger but it does a nice job on the nerves and tendons. Eyeballs too.

    Rings are dangerous too. They get stuck on stuff and if you have enough momentum you create something the emergency room doctors call "hyper extension". Kind of an understatement when your finger is hanging by a thin strand of tendon about a foot and a half away from the rest of your hand.

    Greg N
  4. Andy_colassal


    Nov 21, 2006
    Regina, SK
    what does a jointer do exactly?
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    A similar thing to this happened to a friend of mine. He was rescuing a guy and was at the bottom of a hoist cable beneath a helicopter. He thumb got wrapped in the hoist cable and when the tension came on it ripped his thumb off including pulling out a tendon that connects the thumb up into the upper forearm somewhere. Fortunately the thumb pulled off with his glove and fell into the water inside the glove which floated. The guy he was rescuing was able to grab the glove. A surgeon were able to reattach his thumb at the low price of $70,000 US.
  6. flattens stuff.

    I almost got electrocuted when my wife (newly weds at the time) and I were putting together our first christmas tree. My wedding band touched a stripped cable. Quite the scare.
  7. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Sorry about your friend, that really sucks.

    Jointers and shapers always made me the most nervous.

    I would always use the pushsticks and had complete focus when using them.
  8. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    ugh. that sucks man. i cut off the tip of my pinky on a jointer about a month ago and it still hurts when i touch it with anything. i cant imagine what thats like. i feel horrible for your friend.
  9. callmeMrThumbs

    callmeMrThumbs Guest

    Oct 6, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Novice question: what is the difference between a jointer and a planer?

  10. Bett


    Jan 27, 2008
    The jointer's mainly for cutting the edges of a board. A surface planer cuts the faces of a board to make it thinner.
  11. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I spoke to my friend's wife today. The surgeons ended up amputating all three fingers. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left to repair: The jointer he was using was equipped with a helical multi-element cutterhead instead of ordinary knives.

    The sad irony is that my friend recently ordered a SawStop cabinet saw because he thought the additional cost would be completely justified by the additional safety features.

    He'll be spending the rest of his retirement years with only a thumb and forefinger on his left hand.

    There are only two times when a woodworker hurries: right before the accident, and immediately after.
  12. Mr. Majestic

    Mr. Majestic Majestic Wood Supply Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    From Louisiana/In Arkansas
    Majestic Swamp Ash
    You know, I constantly think about horror of loosing fingers and how much I enjoy playing bass. What really sucks about most luthiers, is that most of them started as bass players. They were players before they were builders. I know nobody can afford to loose digits, but I think it is exceptionally terrible for a player to loose them. I think it woiuld be devistating.
  13. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Because the improper use of woodworking tools can cause accidents, and because incorrect information can lead to improper tool use, I'd like to offer a clarification about the difference between a jointer and a thickness planer - hopefully without hurting anyone's feelings.

    The first steps in squaring rough lumber are to flatten a face and an edge, resulting in two perpendicular surfaces that are flat, smooth, and exactly 90-degrees to one another. These steps were traditionally performed using hand planes (and still can be :D ); today they're usually performed using a jointer, which is analogous to an upside-down hand plane with a rotating cutterhead instead of a fixed knife.

    The next step in the squaring process is to make the unsmoothed face flat and parallel with the smoothed face, which is performed using a thickness planer and electricity (or hand planes and sweat). The thickness planer is equipped with infeed- and outfeed-rollers which force the jointed face tightly against the bed of the machine while pushing it past a rotating cutter head that removes stock from its upper surface.

    While it is possible, under some circumstances, to flatten the face of a rough board using only a thickness planer, the force exerted by the infeed- and outfeed-rollers is sufficient to temporarily flatten "thin stock" (the definition of thin depends on how beefy the planer is, and the modulus of elasticity and grain orientation of the board being processed) during the planing process, yielding stock with two parallel faces, neither of which are flat.

    Under some circumstances thickness planers can "kick back," forcefully ejecting wood from whence it came. The likelihood of injury increases when one attempts to feed rough stock with an unjointed face into a thickness planer.
  14. callmeMrThumbs

    callmeMrThumbs Guest

    Oct 6, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Thank you very much Jazzdogg. Very helpful!

  15. Wood Ascention

    Wood Ascention

    Nov 7, 2004
    Nelson has a great point... Rings! My aunt has twenty plus years in the trauma surgery field and there is one thing she swears by. Don't wear rings while working!! She has seen numerous accidents that could have turned out better if it wasn't for a ring being crimped onto a finger in the course or an accident. Take off your bling!

    I've seen bone heads toss 6" pieces of stock through walls off the jointer! My respect personally goes to the shaper. A 6" or 8" tall blender of steel spinning at several thousand RPM mostly exposed scares the **** out of me every time I use them. Take the time to make sure your machines are tuned and every precaution is taken. If s#$t gets hairy shut that bad boy down and walk away. This bussines is filled with stumped up fingers belonging even to the safest most concientious woodworkers.

    And while were at it, put on those safety glasses and respirators. Dust might not take your hand off but it will ruin your retirement.

    Be Safe!
  16. hokenpoke


    Jan 9, 2008
    I think this is really the right approach. One thing I appreciate about the shop I work in is that the guy who runs it checks you out on almost all of the machines and begins the safety discussion with the mechanics of the machine's actions and what the implications are in terms of kickback and other bad stuff. This has really allowed me to be able to think through a job in advance and to identify where I might put myself in trouble.

    Avoidance through understanding, forethought and planning makes a lot of sense. Run out of sense you end up with this: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Yp-bQQl3FWY

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