Friday, April 06, 2007

BANG

With the weather being rewintered, I've continued to try to ride in the garage. Well, Tuesday night (the 3rd), 45 minutes into the commentary track between Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinsky on the Pirates of the Caribbean first movie, I hit a mental wall of sorts, and coasted to a virtual stop. In the interest of doing at least something, I headed over to my work area to work on some of the maple edging that will be at the front of our counter tops.

I need a small piece to go on an inside corner; it'll allow a cleaner edge profile once it's in place. I had glued up a block, and needed to trim out roughly a 2" square piece, but with the grain at a 45ยบ angle. A little cutting with my second-tier table saw got me close. The last cut, though, was tricky. And I didn't think about it enough.

So I started the saw. With a brand-new blade, with 50 gleaming, wickedly sharp carbide teeth, as it ramped up to four thousand revolutions per minute, it sounded like a tiny jet, but with a sharper shriek. As the maple touched the blade, the shriek deadened slightly. The cut went smoothly, and I continued to push the pieces through the back of the blade.

BANG.

BANG has meaning. BANG means you've had a disagreement with an indifferent machine. Those perfect teeth, sharper than razors, are screaming along at about 120 miles an hour, driven by electricity sufficient to do the work of multiple horses. They'll indifferently cut through anything you put into them, be it wood of any sort, soft metal, or plastic. Or flesh.

BANG means you've got a shot at the emergency room. You could get to banter with a nice doctor who shares your hobby while he puts in a couple of stitches, or you could spend hours enduring microsurgery to reattach tendons and nerves, and then hours examining insurance billing statements with huge numbers on them, and hours of rehabilitation, so you can use those reattached tendons and nerves maybe half as well as you could before you heard the BANG.

Or you can simply not be able to count to ten anymore.

BANG brings a certain gift, though, to the lucky ones. Me, I was awarded a new respect for the whirling teeth, and little else. The little cutoff piece of maple caught the rear teeth of the blade. As it was unsupported, the teeth lifted and twisted the piece, trapping it against the saw fence. The blade, less than an eighth of an inch thick, deflected sideways enough to make contact with the sides of the slot where it emerges through the top of the saw.

The piece of wood was then ejected backwards probably at nearly same speed as the blade teeth - 120 miles an hour. Its trajectory first intersected with the pinky finger of my left hand, mushing and cutting it, before traveling back and to my left. It hit a plastic wing nut with enough force to break that nut into two pieces. It then disappeared. I have yet to find it. My little finger went numb instantly. It took me a few minutes to look at it; I was afraid it wouldn't be there. In those moments of fear, I didn't trust my other fingers (or my tongue) to be right about its presence. It's got a good cut, but it's obvious that it didn't hit the blade - the cut's not clean enough or deep enough. It'll be sore for a while, but it's got feeling, and it bends when I tell it to bend.

It's good to be a little afraid of a power saw.

1 Comments:

At 2:49 PM, Blogger ZipMike said...

Yikes did! Glad to hear you didn't lose anything. Someone was asking me about the Cubscout Pinewood derby the other day & if I let the boys cut the cars. I have a compound miter saw and every year we talk about what one of those things can do to you. I'll hold up the number of fingers grandpa Howard had (9 1/2) and talk about safety. Can't be too careful with that stuff. Hope it mends soon.

 

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