In observance of safety week, I thought I’d post a special episode of “What I Screwed Up.” It concerns a mistake I made in my early days of woodworking.
I was performing a freehand rip of a piece of stock on the bandsaw late at night (bad beginning). I had the upper guides lowered near the top of the stock, and was proceeding nicely. However, I was new to the tool, and had not taken into account where the blade would exit the wood. It popped out the back, and made a nick in the back of my left index finger. A recreation of the situation appears below:
Unfortunately, space is rather limited inside a finger, and the blade also cut a tendon. This required a trip to the emergency room and six weeks with the finger in a brace. To this day, over 20 years later, it still doesn’t work quite as well as the others.
The bandsaw is, compared to other power tools, a relatively safe and forgiving way to cut wood. However, nothing is foolproof. Always be sure of your hand positioning when feeding stock. One very important rule, which can actually apply to many different power and hand tools, is to always be aware of where the blade will exit the piece of wood. Tools freed from the resistance of the stock have a way of “leaping” away from the wood, and can close the gap with your flesh very quickly. Be very sure that no part of your body is in line with it.