Know where your fingers are---

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Brian Rupnow

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I recently gave my 40 year old son a skill saw that I had inherited from my dad. I have my own skillsaw and didn't need two of them. The advice I gave him was to "Know where your fingers are every time you turn this saw on". This is indeed a creed to live by. I'm 73 years old, and amazingly I have all 10 digits. One finger on my right hand was cut off with a trimming axe when I was six years old, but thru the magic of medical knowledge gained in world war two, sulfa drugs, and a very forward thinking village doctor, the finger was reattached, and full mobility of it was restored. The last joint closest to the end of my finger doesn't bend quite as well as its counterpart on the other hand, but I have full feeling in the finger and after 67 years I never really think of it. When I was a teenager, we were poorer than dirt and lived down an unpaved sideroad. A family with at least half a dozen boys lived in the road about a mile from where we lived. One Sunday morning the oldest son walked out to our place and asked my dad if his dad could borrow dads skillsaw. Dad gave it to him with the express warning to "Watch where your fingers are." About 2:00 that afternoon, the same boy walked back out to our place with the skillsaw in one hand, and two fingers wrapped in a cloth in the other hand, and wanted to know if dad could drive him up town to see the doctor. They couldn't reattach the fingers, too much time had gone by. Think about this story every time you flip on a lathe, a mill, a grinder, or any of the other power tools we all own. Know where your fingers are first!!!
 

dnalot

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In my early 20s I needed some boards for a shelf in my apartment. I went to a lumber yard and selected my boards but they needed to be cut to length. I was sent out back to see Earl. Now Earl was an old geezer like I am today. On one hand he had a thumb and part of a fore finger. The other no fingers and what looked like a toe for a thumb. It was ghastly looking and I'm thinking this is the guy they hired to cut boards?? Well that image has keep me thinking safety safety safety my entire life. And yet I still managed to run over my own cord a time or two with a skill saw.

Mark T
 

tornitore45

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Thanks for a reminder, is so easy to become complacent.
 

dethrow55

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wow reminds me of this kid we had on our crew we were doning a rebuild of burned out home and his dad gave him a 10" framing saw. we were reframing the roof he just got done cutting a raffer and layed the saw on his lap wow you talk a bout fast almost cut his leg off. the kid jammed the guard open big mistake. im 65 been in remodeling and construction for about 40 yrs still have all 10 fingers. saftey first take nothing for granted, if unsure ask some one thats been there. just my two cents, god bless all
 

ALEX1952

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I was told that if using a power tool and for whatever reason you drop it DO NOT try and catch it. I think that the catches that hold the trigger down on a power tool are a terrible idea apart from when a tool is bench mounted, why should the switch be held in? To me electric planes are an accident waiting to happen as by there very nature you cant see the business end which is very close to the edge of the machine, wayward finger can easily touch the blades especially if the idiot using it is holding the job, no need to ask how I know but it was just a cut and a fright. The thing that frequently shows in pictures are rings being worn we were taught never to wear jewelry including neck chains as they easily get caught. I know most of us are old b****rs and can't remove them but you can tape the up. Long hair can also be dangerous tie it back or wear a hat. I could go on but please just alaways be aware.
 

Ken I

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My old man taught me to treat any machine as a malevolent creature that will not hesitate to cut off surplus parts of your anatomy if you are unwary - and feel absolutely no remorse.
Living by that creed I've made 68 without losing any digits or serious mishap - but even then I've had more close calls and absolutely stupid mishaps than I'd care to elaborate on.
As regards Alex1952's comment about not trying to catch anything - I was once watching one of my fitters and his apprentice swap out a 5HP motor on a machine - the old unit broke out unexpectedly and fell.
The fitter took a step backwards (as I did) and made no attempt to catch the motor. The inexperienced apprentice tried to catch the motor - which quite ungraciously pinched one of his fingers clean off against a perfectly blunt edge.
Recently one of my young engineers knocked a cooldrink bottle off the machine we were working on - again I stepped back - he went after it but unfortunately caught up with it after it hit the floor and shattered - and ended up impaling his hand on the shards - I spent the rest of the afternoon getting him fixed up.
Don't try and catch things - they bounce or they break - don't sweat it - back up - keep your eyes on it - but don't mess with gravity - you'll lose.
 
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Cogsy

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I once did a job for an 84 year-old man that had been a carpenter for his entire working life and retired with all his fingers. During retirement he decided to build his dream home and did as much of the work himself that he could. When he was making the window frames he managed to cut off 1-1/2 fingers on his right hand with his thicknesser-planer (which could not be reattached as they were basically shredded). A long recovery followed and eventually he was able to get back into the project. Before he finished the window frames he had another mishap with the same thicknesser-planer and took off two more fingers on his right hand. he eventually paid someone to finish the window frames for him and I believe had some surgeries to utilise some toe material to give him partial use of his right hand back.

So just because we've done something the same way for years without issue doesn't mean it's not going to bite us one day.
 

kiwi2

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Years ago I had a neighbour who lost a finger in exactly the way Cogsy described. He was over 60 and helping his daughter and son-in-law finish their house. He was used to using a hand planer and would curl his fingers around the plane to rest on the sole to act as a guide. Not a good idea when using a power planer. I suspect this type of accident is much more common amongst old guys when their muscle memories take over from thinking about what they are doing.
Regards,
Alan
 
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Oh boy, many a true word. Many years ago I was setting up a Herbert 2D capstan lathe where I worked as a tool maker / machine setter and general dogs body for an old boy who lost his legs through a smoking related desease . The material I was setting the machine up with was 3/4" hex bar held in a collet chuck. Having set up the tooling I opened the collet chuck without shutting the lathe down. The rest of the stock was in a bar feed on the back of the head stock. The piece of scrap hex bar came through and stayed where it was so I knocked the scrap out of the way with my right hand. The main length of material came through the head stock and trapped my hand in between the collet chuck and the tail stock / capstan. I couldn't get to the switch to turn the machine off and screamed to the other guys in the shop to help.
Luckily, the centre drill went between my fingers and the large burr on the end of the hex bar only gouged a large crater on the soft part of my hand and I managed to turn the new 5 gallons of sudds from white to a very fetching pink.
Ever since I have always taken my time and NEVER get my very valuable hands any where near to moving equipment and don't try to catch anything that I may drop. The guy who said that the noise made by a £5.00 vernier and a £50.00 hitting the floor is the same.
 

Peter Twissell

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The foreman at my first engineering job simply told me this:
Don't put your fingers anywhere you wouldn't put your (insert favourite euphamism for penis).
 

comstock-friend

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The JC machine shop was given a calendar by one of the machine tool builders. Twelve months of great shots of old line shaft machine shops and their operator/machinists. You start looking around and there were not many of the guys that had a full compliment of fingers!
 

davidyat

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Absolutely a great post. My story, didn't wait til a fly cutter was stopped and I thought there was clearance to grab the part. NOT. The fly cutter nicked the top of my right hand trigger knuckle and my first thought was, "Do I still have a finger"? Yes. Great lesson. Now I absolutely wait til all moving parts have stopped before I stick my hand near anything. And like above, if something drops, I freeze and wait til it hits and stops. Bottom line, you can ALWAYS replace a part better than you can replace a severed digit. These posts are great reminders of what NOT to do.
Grasshopper
 

Peter Twissell

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"Freezing" when a part drops also allows you to watch it bounce away and hide under the least movable item in the shop.
 

awake

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When I was first setting up a home machine shop, my first purchase was my venerable 12.5" x 30" Cincinnati TrayTop lathe. "Only" 1800 lbs, child's play to the experienced machinist who helped me assess it and then move it. It needed a good bit of work, both cleaning and repairing, so at first it stayed on the rather dubious wheeled supports that it was on when I bought it. By this point, my machinist friend had showed me how easy it was to jack up an end with a plain old bottle jack in order to put cribbing under it.

I failed to consider two things: first was that what he showed me involved very small vertical movements at a time, followed by the cribbing, before another incremental movement. Second was that, when he was helping me move it around, we had removed the motor, which hangs out off the back.

So when I was moving the lathe into final position, I attempted to jack it up enough to remove the wheeled base all at once. No problem on the tailstock end, so my confidence was high as I started on the headstock end. Only to see the lathe begin to tilt backward as it was a bit unbalanced on the bottle jack. As I was starting to scramble to get away -- I was not well-positioned for a quick exit, which was a point of learning of its own! -- it came to rest, with the knob that adjusts the taper fixture punching through the drywall, but coming to rest on the outside wall. After I recovered from sheer terror, I thought very, very carefully about whether I could safely redeem the situation. I decided to give it a try, and carefully pulled - and the lathe tilted back upright as easy as pie. I got very, very lucky - it was right at the point of balance. Any further, and it would have been a goner, and/or I might have been caught in the fall.
 

ALEX1952

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Another thing to watch out for are fluorescent lights because they flicker and can act like a strobe mainly on grinders or other fast moving tooling. I worked for the Lucas group which had large groups of grinders from small to huge and I believe it had sodium lights, it's surprising what comes back to you from your past, mostly good some bad and a lot of lessons that certainly I take for granted and do automatically, just shows I had good instructors but probably didn't realize that at the time.
 

skyline1

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It's not just rotating machines that can amputate digits

As a humble apprentice many years ago we had a welder using a big welding set (600 Amps or more IIRC) amputate his finger by accidentally striking up on his wedding ring.

The gold ring simply vaporised under the immense current and blew his ring finger clean off. He was wearing gloves but as was typical of those days they were full of holes and he couldn't be bothered (Or didn't have time) to replace them.

I didn't actually see the accident myself but I heard the commotion and saw the damage some months later when he finally returned to work. Very nasty.
 
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over the years my feet have become "educated" to catch a small delicate part and get out of the way of a larger heavy piece. also never try to catch a part with your foot flat on the floor, it hurts less with movement available :rolleyes:
 

comstock-friend

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We had a project in the shop that used 1-1/4" pipe that loosely telescoped over a 1" pipe axle. The boss was too cheap to buy seamless pipe so the pipe we used had a weld seam on the id. Our machinist soon grew tired of clamping hundreds of these parts in the vise and running a reamer through them. He offset the head of the vertical mill to the side, set up his large basket of parts, grabbed a glove and holding the part in his gloved hand, would run the part up the spinning reamer. Worked great until a bit of glove worked its way into the hole with the reamer, which took off his index finger, then spun his hand around to have the reamer eat up the back side of his hand. I was close by and started treating for shock while someone else dialed 911. The finger was hanging by a bit of flesh and the paramedics were there in 5 or 6 minutes. They yelled at me for not pulling the finger completely off and putting it in the freezer, saying that prevented them from being able to save the finger. Well, old Bob couldn't point at you after that!
 

Peter Twissell

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Drifting off topic somewhat, but am amusing story..
I was dismantling an specified vw engine. The engine was on the floor in the front part of workshop (garage area) which has a doorway into the rear part. As I removed each part, I carried it through to the rear part of the shop, where it was laid on the bench in sequence with other parts.
I was very careful to remove circlips from the pistons without dropping them into the cases.
As I laid them on the bench, I turned and my sleeve caught one.
I watched as it bounced on the floor, through the doorway, bounced on the floor again and with pinpoint accuracy disappeared into the crankcase!
Time to go away and make a cuppa.
 

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