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  • Know where your fingers are

    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!!!
    Brian Rupnow

  • #2
    Always good advice.
    .

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    • #3
      That's pretty good advice. I'd also add that it is a good idea to know where ALL your body parts (ie, hands, feet, legs, etc) are when you operate machinary that can remove them in a flash. It's a good idea to also look for other things in the cutting path that you wouldn't particularly want cut, like power cords, kids, dogs, cats, etc.

      When I was a kid, we used to pick up lumber at a yard that had a huge 12" radial arm saw. Above the saw was a sign that said, "This blade turns at 20,000 revolutions per minute, whether your hand is in it or not." I always think of that sign when I operate power machinary.

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      • #4
        I used to know a guy who's Dad and brother cut fingers off with the same skill saw - family run business, he said every time he went to use it it made him nervous cuz he was the only male left in the family with all ten digits...

        Also - don't forget to unplug the saws when working on them as in changing blades and such, have an old GF who's uncle bled out on his front porch cuz he forgot to do just that and the saw went off in his lap cutting through a main leg artery...


        skill saws are scary...

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        • #5
          Well I'm 76 and I have a few fingers that don't bend very well, and they've never suffered any particular trauma. ...actually the bending isn't the issue, so much as straightening them back out. It's called "trigger finger," and I've had surgery for a couple of them years ago.

          But regarding your story, Brian, many years ago (say 40ish) I was listening to a radio show and there was some doctor or physiologist of some sort talking about accidents like this. He said that up until about age ten* or so a finger will regenerate the last one or two digits IF, after they're cut off, they are immediately wrapped in a clean dry cloth. They MUST NOT BE WASHED, OR ANY MEDICATING AGENTS APPLIED, for regeneration to take place.
          I have no firsthand knowledge, so for those of you with small children, I'm not suggesting you try this just to see if it works.

          * - I'm not sure if ten was the exact cutoff age he stated, but it was before the teen years.
          Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by lynnl View Post

            * - I'm not sure if ten was the exact cutoff age he stated, but it was before the teen years.


            You know - you could have worded that a little better lol

            I have never heard of any such thing, that would be crazy if true --- stem cells?


            years ago my brother got lucky because he could have had an entire hand destroyed - he was working on his boss at the times car, it was a very old POS classic that the boss was trying to get running --- might have been an old desoto or something like that, anyways, Bro had the pan off underneath and the car was on ramps, I think he was checking out to see if the rod bearings were ok, and was rotating the crank by hand using the crank throws when the unthinkable happened,

            The POS had all kinds of frayed cloth wiring and the distributor cap was off, the rotor came around and grabbed the starter solenoid wiring and gave it a tug, it then forced the pos frayed solenoid wiring into the main frayed positive engaging the starter this, immediately pinned bro's hand between the crank throw and the engine block, the saving grace was the battery was almost dead but as you can imagine the leverage of the little pinon on the massive ring gear it still smashed his hand pretty bad,,,

            he was literally yelling for bossman to come help but the boss was not within ear shot, my quick thinking bro put two and two together and realized what happened "up above" so he grabbed a 3/8" very long extension and started ram rodding the distributor drive from inside the crankcase,,, another lucky thing is that it was loose enought to get results --- he kept going and there was a disconnect that allowed him to rotate the crank backwards and retrieve his hand,

            No broken bones but it did swell up to double it's size over the course of the next couple days,,, had that battery been charged he would have lost his hand...

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            • #7
              I attached the table saw arbor wrench to the power plug, the plug must be pulled in order to use the wrench

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              • #8

                * - I'm not sure if ten was the exact cutoff age he stated, but it was before the teen years.

                You know - you could have worded that a little better lol

                .
                It's called a double entendre.
                Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ringo View Post
                  I attached the table saw arbor wrench to the power plug, the plug must be pulled in order to use the wrench
                  Good thought --- same could be done with a skill saw wrench, put it on the far end next to the plug...

                  Im not proud or cocky when it comes to stuff like that - i'll take all the failsafes I can...

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                  • #10
                    Along with your fingers, also good to know where the extension cord, or the saw cord is, especially below the work you're cutting. Interesting fire works show if you don't.

                    Guess how I know this!
                    S E Michigan

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                    • #11
                      At the time I cut my finger off, the doctor told my mother that although he could reattach muscles and tendons, there was nothing he could do about nerves.---BUT --A child six years old or younger could generate new nerves so the numbness in the finger would eventually dissapear. If the child was older than six, the nerves wouldn't regenerate. He must have knew his stuff pretty well, because eventually all of the feeling returned to that finger.
                      Brian Rupnow

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                      • #12
                        Neither here nor there, but my wife and I once frequented a weekly farm market that had a butcher shop set up in an open-sided trailer. The guy with the cleaver was missing parts of 3 or 4 fingers, strangely on both hands. I always wondered if this was the result of one accident or just the accumulated result of a long career.

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                        • #13
                          table saws and circular saws are bad about kickback too.
                          safety from kickback is another big deal

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                          • #14
                            Very good advise Brian. I will be turning 76 this coming month and have worked around farm equipment, heavy equipment and marine equipment all my life. I have had a few close calls and have the scares to show for it. I consider myself lucky that every thing is still in place, I have had no broken bones and it all still works although not as well as they did when I was younger. These days a fellow we like to call Arthur (arthritis) comes to visit frequently, but he hasn't inhibited my ability to do most of the things I like doing these days.
                            Larry - west coast of Canada

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                            • #15
                              About 33 years ago I managed to just touch the end of a table saw blade with just the tip of my left index finger when the little block I was trimming suddenly shot out of the saw.

                              It pulled away "islands" of skin and underlying padding gristle or whatever it is on the ends of the finger bones. It was mostly all there though and was able to be stitched back together. It took about 10 years but eventually the nerves over that small 3/8 diameter patch did grow back and I've got full feeling now. But the end of that one finger is a little more pointy than the others due to the damage.

                              And yes, the adage to "know where all your fingers are" and to unplug before doing anything is valid. Switches with safeties on them help but a lot of the old tools just have a trigger with no safety on them. And are way too easy to grab by accident.
                              Chilliwack BC, Canada

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