Hey boo-boo

Iíve never had a major injury in my shop*, and with strict attention to safety procedures I hope I never will. But what about those little injuries?

There is almost no time in recent memory where I can say that I donít have some tiny little injury somewhere on my person. For one thing, I bruise very easily, so I always have a collection of them. I have no idea how I get most of my bruises, but just bumping an elbow or shin in the shop can usually guarantee one.

Drawing blood is the same thing. I always seem to have a little scrape, cut or nick somewhere. I get those constantly in the shop, usually from innocuous causes Ė poking a finger with the sharp tip of a screw while grabbing a handful or picking up a splinter while wiping dust off the bench with my hand.

Inevitably, all these minor injuries are in annoying spots Ė fingertip, knuckle, tip of my nose (donít ask) Ė so they constantly remind you, despite their diminutive size, that they are still there.

My latest woodworking injury? A paper cut. I need to make eight shelves for my new shed, each of which has to fit snugly in the corners between opposing 2-by studs with appropriate cutouts for the studs. Thought it would be a good idea to cut a template first out of corrugated cardboard, fit it correctly, then just use that as a guide to cut the shelves.

Cut the template fine, and while testing it in the shed for fit, I cut the tip of my finger on the cardboard edge. As with all these annoying minor injuries, itís perfectly placed to ensure maximize annoyance while woodworking.

In this case, my woodworking task for today is typing up a woodworking article. Boy, that cut smarts.

Till next time,


*I did have a major injury on a job site, but that was nearly 40 years ago, and I like to think Iíve learned my lesson. My shop record is clean.


  • Ken says:

    Setting a picture frame saw is time consuming, delicate work: two, 14-inch blades, paper shims, take the cover on and off with each adjustment… It was 7:30 pm. I was working alone and had been at it for far too long. “Just this once,” I said to myself, “I’ll leave the cover off…” The cut was fine, but as I turned to pick up the newly cut piece my index finger hit the blade… Ding… and then the longest moment in the evening: making the decision to look closely at the bloody finger.

    Bottom Line: the scar on the tip of my finger shines in the light from my computer screen. Finger is still there; lesson is burned in my brain: every piece of equipment in my shop is operated with the guards in place unless a particular cut requires that they be removed.

    As for the minor cuts and bumps — they seem, as A.J. implied, to be part of the experience…

  • Doug Stowe says:


    Sorry about the boo boo. I had a finger injury unrelated to woodworking when I was writing one of my books. My mom’s neighbor noticed the injury while looking at the book and turned to the next chapter. “All better,” she said. I hope your injury heals as quickly.

    Yesterday I dropped something on the kitchen floor and it rolled under the refrigerator. I reached under to pull it out and pulled off enough skin instead from a sharp edge that it still bleeds 30 hours later when I check the bandage. I seem to have much better safety when I’m in the shop. At least there, I know which edges are sharp and I pay careful attention. I know the risks and take special care. But, who in the world would have anticipated being attacked by a refrigerator?

    Doug Stowe

  • Ted Sager says:

    NO BLADE GUARD ON TABLE SAW! Saw was shut off and spinning down. I raked a thumb over the top of the spinning blade. Shredded about 30% of the nail and left strips of thumb still attached. My local NP sewed up what he could and wrapped it up. No problems! I am afraid that like most cabinet people I do not use a valid blade guard. I’ve tried several times and ALWAYS, on the next set up I have to take it off. Best believe that I’m really leary of the saw now. I guess the best part is, I’m the boss, and no employees.
    Ted Sager

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