Monday, August 5, 2013

I Shot My Finger Off!

Then, for good measure I thought I would try what it felt like to gouge a big hole in my arm with a mortise chisel.

I've had better days in the shop.

Today, I intended to finish the shelf project I am working on for some friends. The project is turning out, except for when I cut something too short and had to go buy another board.

This project is interesting, because it has some good paramaters:
  • The client said she wanted shelves in a particular place.
  • She agreed on the choice of wood.
  • I decided that it needs to look better than she expects it to,
  • And this project shouldn't take much time.  Preferably less than three hours labor.
With these guidelines, I went to work.

I chose to use laminated beech from the home center. If it's good enough for a Roubo, it's good enough for me. This will actually take a lot of labor out of this project -- no dimensioning lumber or glueing up laminations.

On with the safety message:

One should try not to rush a project, no matter how fast you want to do it. While planing end grain on my shooting board, My index finger got in the way during the stroke. Let me tell you, your plane will take a much thicker shaving out of your flesh than it will endgrain beech.

After some swearing and a bunch of band-aids, I was back at it. Next, I had some mortises to chop.

On the last stroke, my chisel got stuck in the stock. I pulled hard with one hand, while holding the stock with the other. The chisel jerked out, and my natural reaction was to try to stop the momentum once the chisel was free. I then felt a scratch on my fore arm. Looking at it, I realized how sharp my mortise chisel still must be, as there was a nice crimson arc on my arm, ending with a pretty deep gash.

At this point, I decided to stop for the day.

I took lots of pictures of this project in progress, but wound up leaving my camera elsewhere. I promise there will be pictures of the project when I finish it.


  1. I feel really sorry for you, but I am afraid that I can't stop laughing at the same time. It is so refreshing that other people can have accidents as well.
    I hope all your wounds get better quickly.

    1. I'm glad I am a hand tool user. There are the possibilities for serious injuries with handtools, but for me, if I happen to not be paying much attention, I might just draw a little blood.

      I have a feeling if I would have been using a SawStop today, I would be sending off for a new brake tomorrow.

  2. Did you have some liters of the munich beer at the Biergarten?
    Next time you have to order a radler!

    Nice day and cure


    1. One must replace the fluids lost somehow!

  3. As a boy I remember reading about edible swiftlet nest harvesters in Borneo who worked atop bamboo scaffolding in caves. If a worker dropped his tool then he climbed down and stayed down for the remainder of the day; the incident serving as a warning that they weren't playing their best game.

    I hope it wasn't your dominant hand; injuries to one's dominant hand are more troublesome.

    1. It's a good lesson. Normally I am really good at stopping before my concentration wanders too far. Usuyally, though, my reasoning is that I would rather not make a mistake on the piece I am working on.

  4. Hope you heal quickly, finger injuries are the worst. That's the hazard of hand tools many more, though way less severe than with power tools. At least you are in good company. The most famous galoot is know for bleeding almost as much as his tool skills.

    1. Funny you should mention St. Roy. I was thinking about him while I was in the shop yesterday, musing on how he is a flurry of activity going from one step to the next.

  5. Ouch dude. I hope it heals fast. The nice thing about cuts from sharp objects (like chisels) is they tend to heal faster than scraping cuts from dull objects. Either way, it still sucks.

  6. Brian,

    Hmmm, I know how it feels to stab oneself with a mortise chisel.... Hopefully no stitches required :)

    1. Hi Gavin,

      No, no stitches.

      So I don't lose my right to make fun of you.

  7. ...Glad to hear you didn't get any further than laying out your mortise. I'm still pretty sure that a bad day in the shop beats a good at the office.