This hand surgeon likes meeting fellow woodworkers – but not at work.
by David Shapiro
I long ago lost track of how many people, upon learning of my interest in woodworking, have puzzled aloud over my table saw. They follow up with, “Do you know how important your hands are?” or, “Do you know how dangerous that thing can be?” The answers are, “Yes,” and “Absolutely.”
I’ve spent my entire professional career as a hand surgeon and have seen more woodworking injuries than probably anyone else (except for my hand-surgeon colleagues – many of whom are woodworkers). I’ve grown to respect the power of the machines we use, their ability to wreak havoc in an instant and our own inability to turn back time. I’ve seen injuries ranging from hyperaggressive manicures (“warning shots”) to life-changing amputations. This hasn’t at all diminished my enthusiasm for woodworking, but has given me insight into what causes injuries and how we can stay safe.
Many woodworking risks can be minimized by good practices such as keeping an uncluttered workshop, wearing masks, eye and ear protection, using dust collection and disposing of rags and chemicals correctly. And injuries happen with hand tools too – I’ve treated tendon and nerve injuries caused by errant paring chisels.