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As I wrote in one of my comments on the previous entry, I knew this would be a hot topic for the blog. And, I was right! Finally, the smoke has cleared a bit, so it’s time to stoke the fires again. If you please, I’d like to step up on my soapbox.

I’m amazed at the level of fear that woodworkers have for their power tools. I would never spend my well-earned money for a machine that frightened me each time I used it.  How could one comfortably get anything accomplished? Most of you do woodworking as a hobby, not for business. As a hobby, woodworking is supposed to be relaxing and guide you to your “happy place.” If you’re worried about using the tools, you’re not going to arrive at your intended destination. Spend the time to understand the tools and what they can do.

One comment suggested that all power tools are inherently dangerous. Does that mean we should forgo power tools in favor of hand tools? Wait , hand tools can be dangerous as well. So, should we pass on using them, too? I believe that we’re told so often how dangerous woodworking machines are that we’ve reached a state of panic instead of simply being informed. These tools are no more dangerous than driving a car, being hooked to the Internet via a computer or walking alone on a dark street at night (think about it). You have to pay attention and not become complacent.

No tool is safe in the hands of someone who is not paying attention to what they’re doing. Operator error is the number one cause of accidents in the shop. We have to be responsible for ourselves.

Everything has a level of risk associated with it. How we choose to face that risk speaks volumes about our personalities.

Here are a number of points about the blog entry and the comments.
–    Gloves should fit snug on your hand. I once bought an under-sized pair and found the fit perfect for use at the jointer (shown in the photo).
–    As I stated, I use gloves only at the jointer , not at the planer or table saw, as some of the early responders hinted toward.
–    I never, as seen in the photo both here and in the previous entry, allow my gloves or fingers to extend over the edges of the lumber I’m jointing. This is why I set limits to the width of boards I run in this manner.
–    I cannot remember a time when I ran Ã?¼” material over the jointer knives (nor can any of our other editors). To mill to that thickness, start with a 4/4 piece of stock, joint one face surface then move to a planer, band saw or table saw. If you find movement or twist after you’ve ripped to the desired thickness, you should finish with hand tools , or start over with a new board.
–    In reference to the above, I use kiln-dried (KD) lumber that has stabilized in my shop. In using air-dried lumber you should expect some problems in this area. I’ve run into it with KD stock too. I also never use boards with loose knots (a problem noted in a comment).
–    I’ve never had a piece of stock blow apart or jump from the jointer bed or become air-born. Perhaps this is a reflection of the lumber I’ve selected or, knowing the methods of work at the jointer (and each tool in the shop).
–    Replace worn gloves just as you would a dull saw blade or a dull blade in a utility knife. Do you check these other tools regularly or simply awake one day with the thought in mind? Don’t become complacent.
–    When I teach woodworkers how to use a jointer, I explain how things can go wrong using the machine, and how to use the push pads that come with the tools as well as designs for better devices (shown in Marc Adams’ article in the February 2008 issue of Popular Woodworking). Then I show them how I operate at the jointer with gloves. My students choose their preferred method based on their comfort levels.

I don’t want people to get hurt using woodworking tools. I also don’t want us to be afraid of these power tools, or any tools. We need woodworkers to have fun, complete successful projects and get the next generation involved in the craft.

Glen D. Huey


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Showing 35 comments
  • David Buswell

    For my two cents, I wear "mechanics" gloves most all of the time while in the shop. They fit tight but comfortable, they let me feel everything I’m doing, and I can pick up the tiniest washer or piece of wood. The rough suede also gives a great grip on wood and keeps my fingers nimble and warm in the shop when it’s cooler. So whether I’m using push sticks or not, I usually always wear gloves

  • Jeff Skiver

    Larry,

    I’m sorry for offending you by "using this venue to plug" my blog.

    By the way, when you read my articles in Popular Woodworking (the articles that F+W pay me to write)…they now give the URL of my blog in my bio.

    Assuming you are a subscriber, I want to personally thank you for helping me to buy the surgical gloves I mentioned above.

    However, you get these blog comments for free…

    It’s my way of trying to give a little something back…

  • Mattias in Durham, NC

    Allow me to plug Skiver’s blog then:
    http://jeffskiver.blogspot.com/

    (and no, I’m not my alter ego, I mean his alter ego; I really do exist)

  • Larry C

    As in SPAMMER, HACK, MORON?

    (Hint, don’t use this venue to plug your own blog)

  • Jeff Skiver

    OK…I have another legitimate comment to add (as opposed the comment where I canceled all of my subscriptions)…

    I just posted a major entry about this on my blog where I believe I have a solution that works for me. It provides the grip and control that Glen finds from gloves, while countering all of the anti-glove arguments I have seen here.

    SURGICAL GLOVES at the Jointer

    I think it’s brilliant. I tried it tonight, and it provided a phenomenal grip on the wood. However, the thin latex is not strong enough to pull a hand in if I decided to plunge a finger into the rotating wheel of pain.

    If you click on my name below, it will link to my blog.

    http://jeffskiver.blogspot.com/

    Feel free to visit and call me all of the names you’ve wanted to call Glen.

  • Dave

    The Saftey Police Will Love This!

    Taken from page 2 of an interview with Jammie Hyneman of Mythbusters for Popular Mechanics (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/extreme_machines/2155057.html?page=1)

    ATTACKING ALUMINUM
    Hyneman: Work on the show or special effects is never leisurely. One of my speed tricks is cutting aluminum, brass or bronze with woodworking tools. I regularly cut aluminum tubing, plates or extruded shapes on a table saw with a carbide blade. I spray on WD-40 so the metal doesn’t stick to the blade.

    Of course, cutting metal with woodworking tools is against every manufacturer’s recommendations and pretty dangerous: Don’t try it! (It’s my gear so I can use it incorrectly at my own risk; I wouldn’t even think of letting one of my employees use these techniques.) I brace the workpiece securely because the blade can throw it. As usual, eye protection is a must, but I also use gloves and a full-face shield. Sharp bits of aluminum are going everywhere and I usually end up with a lot of nicks.

    The most extreme thing I ever cut was a pair of 4-ft.-long swords out of 1/2-in. plate aluminum. They were used in a 3DO video game commercial, so they did not have to hold an edge. The blades were about 6 in. wide, with 3-in. bevels. I ran the 6 x 48 x 1/2-in. stock through the saw next to the fence with the blade at a slight angle. Freehand. I finished in an hour or so; it would easily have taken a sane person a couple of days to do it on a milling machine.

    The trick was to clamp a 6 x 60 x 4-in. piece of extruded aluminum tube on top of the blank, and raise the saw up into it. The fact that the stock and the blank were longer than the sword allowed me to cut the bevels while leaving the blank thoroughly clamped. The extruded tube gave me something solid and large to hold onto as I moved the whole affair along the fence. Like I said, we’re crazy. But I still have all my fingers–knock on aluminum.

  • Mattias in Durham, NC

    Hey Skiver, didn’t you get a $1 Billion settlement with the tool manufacturers on the condition you never say anything bad about power tools ever again? I bet they are going to cancel that check now.

    But seriously, I admire you a lot. I wish I had your talent for telling people off in a way that makes everyone feel special in a good way (or just happy they weren’t singled out).

  • Kevin

    I will repeat what I posted in the first thread.
    If you are going to wear gloves one word, Kevlar.

  • Jeff Skiver

    Well, Glen, I fall behind in my Blog reading and look what happens….

    I just added a comment to the first glove posting you had, and now I see the vitriol has spewed into a second posting. I thought you had stirred up the maximum level of bickering back in December when you poked that hornets’ nest of "Festool is overpriced!!!!" versus "Well, have you ever actually tried Festool???"

    So even though I supported you in the previous Jointer Glove post, I’m going to jump on the Huey-hating Hay Wagon and spew out some of the hate speech I’ve had to keep bottled up ever since my career on the LAPD fell apart after that hidden camera expose’ showed America the real me back in 1993.

    Mr. Huey, you are an evil, evil man. As a result of this post, I’ve not only canceled my subscription to PopWood, but I’ve also canceled my subscriptions to Wood, Fine Woodworking, Highlights, Readers Digest, Railroad Model Craftsman, Guns and Ammo, and American RV Racing Monthly as well.

    However, canceling a subscription does not send a strong enough message. So I’ve gone a step farther. I am currently in possession of your Cockapoo, Mr. Squiggles.

    Unless you renounce your post AND retire from all forms of Woodworking AND manage to broker a peace between the Israelis and Palestinians…I will have no choice but to surgically remove the Dew Claws from Mr. Squiggles.

    I’ve got my eye on you, Glen, and I see the face of pure evil. I don’t know what Al Quaeda Training Camp you learned about this Glove Wearing Terrorism, but this is clearly worse than any threat faced by the Department of Homeland Security.

    This blog posting of yours is going to end up doing more harm to the world than Global Warming and Napster combined.

    Death and destruction are raining down from the sky and you, Mr. Huey, are the dark storm cloud that is expectorating it out onto America’s children.

    Well, you’re going to pay, Buddy. Mr. Squiggles is about to lose his dew claws, and it’s all your fault.

  • Dan

    Okay Marc – and Glen – you’ve convinced me. Using gloves is viable if you pay attention to a long list of do’s and don’ts that you would not otherwise have to worry about if you were not using gloves, and push blocks are acceptable if you pay attention to another list of do’s and don’ts. I was thinking of canceling my subscription but decided that my dislike of one editor wasn’t enough to make me drop everything else. I might even read some of Glen’s stuff later. Right now, I’m staying in spite of him.

  • Marc

    OMG, please let this take an end. There is no test needed to be done. I feel just angry as this all turns out to become ridiculous. The moment I had this accident, I can tell you, it was not safe to wear gloves, because at each day there is an end, on which you will be tired and want to finish the job. I put the oak workpiece too near to the cutters, the gloves slipped out of my fingers two inches or so as the board was quite heavy and long. The gloves got caught into the cutters, not my fingers, pulled my fingertips into the cutters, bones were cut finely but flaps of skin stayed attached, which the plastic surgeon cut to shape in order to stitch to a whole again later on. If I had not worn gloves I would have had no accident at the end of a long Saturday and could have had a cold beer and a fine dinner instead of lying on an operating table and wondering how my tips will turn out and if I could live with and how I could continue doing ww without all my machines.

    Is it normal business to wait more than a month on the first PWW Magazine when one paid? I just wanted to read Adam’s article on the secretary, hm. I can forget that I think.

    Cheers,

    Marc

  • P. Massabie

    Raney,

    If you are willing to put your hand in (on?) the cutters also make sure that the power cord is unplugged, or at least the power switch is turned OFF. No matter the depth of the cut. 🙂

    Cheers,

    Pedro

  • raney

    Pedro’s point is well taken. Next time I’m putting my hand in the cutters with the tables adjusted for a 1/4" cut (??) I’ll make sure they’re ungloved.

  • Mattias in Durham, NC

    I think Pedro is on to something here. Glen, you started this crazy discussion – and this could end it. OK, not likely. Just make sure Pedro uses his real hand when you shake.

    I would add that a test should be done without glove first. Once you have figured out the "hand" movement that causes a "normal" jointer damage (1" off a few fingers?), the exact same hand movement should be carried out with the glove to see what difference it might make. Maybe you can use blue rubber instead of red to prevent folks from barfing all over their keyboards.

    And you could get a 3rd party to do the test, like Chris Schwarz (I can hear him right now saying "oh-nooooo I won’t! don’t drag me into this mess").

    Maybe change #3 to 1/16" or less which is more realistic. There is plenty opportunity for hand damage still.

    Either way, the outcome can be that everyone comes away from this with a realistic expectation of what would happen if you stick your hand in the jointer, and an appropriate level of respect for the tool. When I say appropriate I mean a level where you are comfortable using the tool, but have no problem focusing on your safety for a long jointing session.

    I would really, really be interested in the results. Thanks!

  • Leon

    Glen, have you met Mark Adams, he provided a Jointer article in your Feb 2008 magazine.

    May I allow you to read and perhaps learn the first rule?

    Marc Adam’s Rules for using the Jointer
    1. Wear protective personal safety gear; remember your eyes, ears and lungs. Make sure all loose clothing
    is secured and away from any action that could pull it in – "no gloves". Always stay alert.

  • P. Massabie

    In the interest of solving this issue once for all: A test drive… and a bet

    Here is the idea: On the next try-out of the jointers. (or if you want on own jointer) You get a fake hand (this for scaring people during Halloween) or a prosthesis (if you want to go pro). You get your glove or a brand new glove on this hand. From now on I’m going to call it the fake hand. (No offence intended)
    You run the jointer (with or without wood) better with wood to see the effect of a board in the middle of the experiment. You move the fake hand on top of the board but close enough to let it be cached by the blades and lets see what happens.
    My feeling is that the spinning head is going to suck the glove with the hand in it. If I’m wrong the glove will be cut and the finger will be sliced. (one cut and that’s it). I’m going to give you the advance of once the glove is in contact with the cutters you can retract the fake hand as if where your own (flesh and blood) hand. This would be the same as running accidentally your hand over the blades and reacting at the time. Which may happen even if you have all the safety gear.
    Here is the bet IF you win I will buy you a beer, and you get to shut up every other reader or profane. If I win you get me a free year subscription to Woodworking Magazine.
    Here are some conditions
    1. – The fake hand cannot be rigid in a way that it won’t flex when the blade touches it. Has to be finger articulated as a real hand is. I will accept rubber hands. (but not as flexible as rolling back in front of the blade)
    2. – The gloves have to be same as yours and in perfect condition and without any tear or cut.
    3. – The jointer has to be running at operating speed and the depth of the cut has to be at least ¼” (or the middle cut depth of the jointer)
    4. – The incident has to be properly documented by video and witnesses and posted on the video section of PWW. The camera has to let us see what happen at the moment that accident is happening.
    Now I dare you to run the (fake) hand over the jointer with gloves and no push stick.
    If you are wondering why you jointer and not mine is because you are the one with the crazy idea.

    Regards,

    Pedro

  • ROY!

    I’ve just cancelled my subscription due to your irresponsibility and arrogance. Have a nice day.

  • Jim

    I have to agree with Chris and Leon… not in my shop. Not if you want to work here. And nobody has commented on the length of the stock….maybe 18". On a jointer size does matter. I would never run a piece that short on a jointer…push sticks or not.
    Most people I have met in industry that were digit challenged beat the odds on all but one occasion. Looking at the picture I was reminded of a skit from the early days of SNL, Dan Akroyd and his "bass-o-matic".
    Glen, if you make your living writing I would take better care of your fingers.

  • Chris Friesen

    Like many others here I think the whole point of safety equipment is to cover the case when the unexpected happens.

    Someone accidently bumps you, the cat jumps up unexpectedly, a breaker blows and half the shop lights go out, your spouse triggers the overhead door–there are any number of things that can cause a brief moment of distraction, and that’s all that is necessary for your fingers to get shredded unless you have something between them and the moving pointy bits.

    I too think that gloves are far more likely to get tangled up in the machinery, dragging the rest of your hand in with them. If something ever happened I’d much rather lose a chunk of finger than a whole hand.

    I’m actually surprised that this advice got past the lawyers…it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • David Raleigh NC

    P. Massabie wrote: "Nobody will wilingfully put their hand onto spining blades."

    Perhaps not "onto" but "very near" – absolutely. I see Norm Abrams do it with a table saw on a lot of "New Yankee Workshop" episodes, and it gives me the shivers.

    I’ve watched a number of woodworkers use push blocks at the jointer, and nearly all of them place the lead block on the surface of the wood, and run it (and their hand) right over the cutter head, perhaps the thought being that in case of the wood fracturing all that will happen is the bottom of the push block getting skinned off. However, since their hand pressure is down, and it’s directly over the spinning cutterhead, there is a significant probability of the block failing and their hands going into the blade. I would maintain that it’s far better to never get your hands that close in the first place.

  • Glen

    Leon,

    I don’t believe that bringing debate and discussion to light on such a hot woodworking topic is reason enough to question one’s seriousness to the craft. And, I applaud your idea to be suspicious of my future comments – in fact, I think we should be suspicious of everything we read – including comments on this blog.

    Glen

  • raney

    Samson,

    Let me be quite clear here: I am not arguing against push sticks. I am arguing that there are other safety ‘regimens’ if you will, that also provide a justifiable degree of safety. I am not trying to convince anyone that they should convert from whatever they currently use and feel comfortable with.

    All safety practices are a tradeoff of one sort or another. At the very least, there is the additional expense or time expenditure for many safety accesories. These tradeoffs are sometimes ‘no-brainers’, but not always.

    In the case of push sticks for the jointer, for instance, the tradeoff is increased distance and material between the operator’s hands and the cutters in exchange for a decrease in tactile feedback and control. To some people, this decrease may be very slight, and I understand that for many this is a clear cut worthwhile tradeoff. However, in my case, I feel that my practices regarding the position and movements of my hands are such that the danger of hands entering the cutters are pretty minimal. From that perspective, the reduction in control and tactile feedback is not worth it to me, and I think it would be a bad trade. Again – this is only true with stock of a certain size and thickness. As I’ve said, I generally just don’t use the jointer for extremely narrow or thin stock, as I agree that the danger becomes much greater then. I would rather use handplanes in those cases, or push sticks (I do own a few…)

    We’re obviously not going to convince one another, so I’m done here. I just wanted to make clear that I’m not asserting ‘my way’ is right, or even better. I’m merely asserting that there are perfectly valid reasons for differing procedures – it’s not just ‘ignorance and inexperience’ as one poster suggested, that may lie behind someone’s differing precautions.

  • Samson

    Raney:
    [My responses follow the **’s]

    I disagree. What if using push sticks made one more prone to such lapses or slips (which I think it certainly does)?
    ** Do you also believe that wearing seat belts makes drivers more prone to accidents? But seriously, doesn’t your argument prove too much: presumably people using their bare hands are more vigilant because at some level they realize they are at MORE RISK.

    What I disagree with is your presumption that what controls the stock is likely to end up in the cutters if there is a slip.
    ** Uh, what is it then that will end up in the cutters? I always foudn the counsel "always think of what would happen if the stock disappeared." to be a very useful thought experiment before undertaking a woodworking operation.

    I contend that my hand positioning and movement (which is quite close to what David has described above) are such that my hands ending up in the cutters is something I cannot see happening without some other catastrophic incident (such as someone pushing me, or an earthquake, etc).
    ** Yeah, that’s what a lot of guys with missing finger tips said about using their table saw without the guards back before they got the nickname “stubby.” Assuming your hand position and movement are infallible is dangerous. For example, my coordination in walking is nearly infallible – I rarely trip. But that doesn’t mean I think it can’t possibly happen.

    My safety practice with nearly all tools is to avoid whenever possible getting into a situation where the directions of force being employed would ever lead my body into the cutters.
    ** Yeah, no argument there.

    This is the reason that so many cuts on a bandsaw or tablesaw, for instance, can be done without any need for pushsticks.
    ** Yup.

    By way of illustration, look at the process of ripping 8-inches off an 18-inch wide piece at the bandsaw. Would you use pushsticks for this operation, or would your body and hand positioning and movement be such that the addition of pushsticks would decrease your control without adding any real degree of safety to the process?
    ** I don’t see this example as analogous to the jointer. What if we take that 18" wide stock and turn it on it’s side to resaw it (we’ll assume it’s 5/4 thick). That seems closer to the jointer scenario to me. And I can see arguments that because you can conceivable finish the cut by pulling the stock through, rather than pushing it, no blocks or sticks are necessary. I would agree that it can be a matter of preferred technique and experience, but both ways can be reasonably safe and equally effective.

    I tend to think that anyone who adopts a one-size-fits-all-circumstances approach to safety is sooner or later going to run into some trouble.
    ** Where did this come from? If you are suggesting that I was advocating a “one size fits all” approach, you are mistaken. Different circumstances and abilities and preferences and on and on can make for different “best” answers to safety questions. That said, to the extent one can generalize, anything that provides a barrier between your hands and blades moving at high speed whether it be a guard or a push stick tends to further limit your prospects of having flesh meet blade.

    What about the newbie, for instance,. who walks away from this discussion content to believe that if he uses pushsticks then he is completely safe at the jointer?
    ** Another straw man: “completely safe.” All safety is relative. Personally, I cannot imagine how one is MORE likely to get hurt when properly using push pads and hook sticks on the jointer as opposed to pushing directly with one’s hands (gloved or not). You can suggest that the degree of danger to the hands when used directly is not significant enough to worry about, but on that we can agree to disagree.

  • P. Massabie

    Glen,
    "Thus far I haven’t seen reference to any statistics or studies on the matter, and therefore what we are left with is opinion, and nothing else…"
    And you wont see any, because the use of gloves around rotating equipment is generally avoided (or totaly forbiden) in any decent shop factory or refinery. The reason can be infered from next paragraphs.
    David, You too?
    "Gloves, however, are different… the fabric/leather on a well-fitting glove cannot move indpendently from your hand. If your glove gets caught in a spinning blade, then your hand was FAR too close, as well. Think about it – your fingers are attached to your hand, and they can just as easily pull the rest of your hand into a blade as a glove."
    Your flesh is less resistant than the fibers of the gloves. In the event of your hands going into the roating piece of a equipment, probably a cut in your finger (or your finger cut) will end the tragedy. But with gloves the fibers of the glove will pull your hand into the blades, far more than a bare hand would. (the point Glen is missing) In consecuence you wont have just a finger missing your hand will be totally ruined. Yes, agreed your hand was too close but that is EXACTLY how the ACCIDENT started: For a strange reason your hand got to close to the blade. Nobody will wilingfully put their hand onto spining blades.
    Treating you "american" jointer as "european" is a good practice, but the diference is your "american" jointer wont return the favor. In case of everything else failing the "european" still has the cover between the blades and your fingers (another of the things Glen is missing) but the "american" does not.
    If your hand, accidentally, gets too close to the blades the combination "american" jointer + gloves is just a recipe for a disaster. (still don’t see it?)
    Yet again is not impossible to use gloves is just unsefer than using push pads or sticks. Is the same as J-crossing a street or crossing on the corner, both are unsafe (or has inherent danger) but the frst is far more dangerous. And yes, you don’t need statistics nor a study to realize that.

  • raney

    Samson said:
    :It is self evident that if one has a lapse (makes some mistake as far as hand placement or what have you)on the jointer such that whatever is controlling the stock meets the blades, you’d much rather have it be a push block or push stick than your gloved hand.

    I think it’s really that simple."

    I disagree. What if using push sticks made one more prone to such lapses or slips (which I think it certainly does)? It is then not such a simple issue…

    What I disagree with is your presumption that what controls the stock is likely to end up in the cutters if there is a slip. I contend that my hand positioning and movement (which is quite close to what David has described above) are such that my hands ending up in the cutters is something I cannot see happening iwthout some other catastrophic incident (such as someone pushing me, or an earthquake, etc). My safety practice with nearly all tools is to avoid whenever possible getting into a situation where the directions of force being employed would ever lead my body into the cutters. This is not possible with all tools and at all times, such as with very thin stock (as Glen addressed), but it is in general quite a good practice. This is the reason that so many cuts on a bandsaw or tablesaw, for instance, can be done without any need for pushsticks.

    Given MY habits on the jointer, I contend that Glen’s glove suggestion makes some sense. Furthermore, I contend that for the way I work, push sticks are generally a disadvantage as they provide less control. By way of illustration, look at the process of ripping 8-inches off an 18-inch wide piece at the bandsaw. Would you use pushsticks for this operation, or would your body and hand positioning and movement be such that the addition of pushsticks would decrease your control without adding any real degree of safety to the process?

    I am not suggesting in any way that this should be a standard practice. I am also not (and don’t think anyone is) suggesting that push sticks should be abolished. The most important safety tool is an alert operator who is well aware of what he is doing, why, and where the dangers are.

    I tend to think that anyone who adopts a one-size-fits-all-circumstances approach to safety is sooner or later going to run into some trouble. I can’t think of many safety precautions that don’t have some serious exceptions, and I also don’t think we’re doing anyone any favors making suggestions that there is only one approach. What about the newbie, for instance,. who walks away from this discussion content to believe that if he uses pushsticks then he is completely safe at the jointer?

  • David Raleigh NC

    Samson – My point with the comment about the carving gouges was intended as an example about having digits/limbs in the danger zone, or momentum/force of a limb directed towards a sharp/spinning cutting edge. Both hand tools and power tools are very dangerous in this regard.

    On the other hand, keeping your body parts out of harm’s way with both power and hand tools renders both comparatively safe.

  • Leon

    If you want people to take you seriousely you should wise up and quit suggesting dangerous practices. I’ll probably be suspicious of your comments from this poing forward. I have doing serious woodwoking for 30 years and this and the previous on this subject is wreckless.
    Many recognise your ignorance and or lack of experience with these 2 articles.

  • Samson

    David, you say:

    "And yes, it is possible to get severely and permanently injured with hand tools"

    Who said it wasn’t? Anything is possible, and sure a sharp blade can always cut tendons and nerves. What I said was that power tools are in a different league as far as their likelihood to do significant injury. I also said that chisel or gouge cuts are "usually" just a matter of stitches. Your experience seems to be that it "typically" requires surgery. I doubt either of us has statistics to show how many slips with the chisel need bandaids, stiches, or surgery.

  • David Raleigh NC

    There is, I think, something missing in this post and most especially, in the firestorm of comments added to the original post.

    Using gloves at any stationary power tool is NOT any more inherently dangerous than going bare-handed. This is not the same as wearing loose clothing or jewelry – these items move independently to your body and can (and do) pull woodworkers into a spinning blade when they move unexpectedly.

    Gloves, however, are different. Assuming you’re not missing a digit and wearing five-finger gloves, the fabric/leather on a well-fitting glove cannot move indpendently from your hand. If your glove gets caught in a spinning blade, then your hand was FAR too close, as well. Think about it – your fingers are attached to your hand, and they can just as easily pull the rest of your hand into a blade as a glove.

    Finally – Glen does not describe his movement with his hands at the jointer. I personally treat my (American) jointer as I would a European jointer, where the blade guard goes over the top of the board and blade and prevents access by your hand to the danger zone. I do use gloves and don’t use push sticks at the jointer, but my lead hand stops moving forward at least 4"-6" before being over the cutter, then shifts to the outfeed side to keep the board firmly pressed to the table as I push it through with my rear hand. As the cut nears completion, I shift the rear hand to the outfeed table and use both hands to pull the board through. In this way, neither of my hands is ever above the spinning cutter, and since the jointer does not have a power feed (as a planer does), the board cannot pull one of my hands forward into it.

    The point to this post is the point that Marc Adams has made repeatedly in his series of articles about shop safety – if a part of your body does not enter the danger zone, nor is momentum or force directing any part of your body toward the blade, then you will not be injured even if something does go wrong.

    And yes, it is possible to get severely and permanently injured with hand tools – just ask any beginning woodcarver that attempts to hold a piece onto the bench and push a razor-sharp gouge through the wood with his other hand. The inevitable result is impalement that typically requires surgery, not just stitches.

  • Herb

    There are some topics Glen that are not politically correct for several reasons and in this case it’s a radical departure from anything ever taught about safety. For you this is logical and makes sense. My comments here are not made to challenge the correctness of your sharings as with your experience it is likely quite sound. But I don’t think a good topic for a e-newsletter like this with the diversity of readers and their skills. Dan Falia, a fine cabinetmaker, now teaching at his alma mater-The Northe Bennett street School in Boston and who worked at the Winsdor Institute in New Hampshire where I met him, did a short feature in FWW showing an advanced faux finishing method. His method included setting the finish on fire for a couple of moments to bubble its composition. Well from the reaction in the letters to the editior that seemed to go on for months, you’d think he was suugesting throwing the chair into the fire and retrieving is as a flaming brazier. In retrospect I think sharing this in such a forum was a perscription for communication disaster. The lesson here is: General consumption sharings should be within well-known practices and should avoid conflict with "preconceived" saftey notions. I don’t think the objective of these e-newsletters is to be the "Thomas Paine" level of challenging the status quo. Just me 2 cents.
    Herb Lapp

  • Samson

    Raney asked: "Is it more unsafe than push sticks? This is more worthy of discussion. So far I have heard several people say that it is ‘obvously unsafe’ but I have not heard anything at all that I would consider a valid argument for that."

    Safety devices – like the Brett Guard on my table saw, for example – are not there to protect me for the 99.9% of the time that I do everything right; it is there for the one time in thousands that I have a lapse or something unexpected happens.

    It is self evident that if one has a lapse (makes some mistake as far as hand placement or what have you)on the jointer such that whatever is controlling the stock meets the blades, you’d much rather have it be a push block or push stick than your gloved hand.

    I think it’s really that simple.

  • raney

    Pedro,

    I think part of the point here is that everything is dangerous. There is an element of risk with nearly everything we do – and that includes driving, riding motorcycles, diving, etc. The use of any of these devices is ALWAYS a compromise. Period.

    Is it unsafe to use gloves at the jointer? Perhaps – in the sense that it is unsafe to turn on a power tool at all. Is it less safe than not using gloves, and going barehanded? Is it more unsafe than push sticks? This is more worthy of discussion. So far I have heard several people say that it is ‘obvously unsafe’ but I have not heard anything at all that I would consider a valid argument for that. Nothing but anecdotal evidence (none of which seems to actually be related to the jointer) and what-ifs that frankly would never happen in my shop.

    Thus far I haven’t seen reference to any statistics or studies on the matter, and therefore what we are left with is opinion, and nothing else. Your assertion "the point is that is unsafe. The worst part is that you just don’t see it. Or don’t admit it." carries no weight with me. I just don’t buy your premise.

    As I’ve said before, I think this discussion is extremely worthwhile simply because it’s caused me to think in more detail about how I use the jointer and what my safety practices are.

  • P. Massabie

    Hey Glen I just hope your insurance broker doesn’t know anything about you woodworking techniques or your insurance goes to the roof. Ha!
    The argumentation you’ve made is in the same structure as the person who justifies J-crossing, driving without seatbelt, riding bike without helmet, diving alone, etc. As these examples you’ve just arranged a set of conditions to justify that you’re using your conscience to do something unsafe. (Now I can see why they make laws to enforce people to use some safety devices).
    The point is not if you are capable of doing this without getting injured, the point is that is unsafe. The worst part is that you just don’t see it. Or don’t admit it.
    This is a free country and you can do as you please. Enjoy your woodworking.

    cheers,

    Pedro

    PS a better title for your post is I don’t use push pads or sticks, I dare you!

  • Samson

    I have plenty of power tools, and I’m not afraid of any of them in any kind of woosified way. I do have a healthy respect for how quickly and devastatingly they can harm me, however. nor is fear (in the sense of adrenal response to danger that focuses the mind) incompatible with enjoyment; plenty of folks ski black diamonds, bungee jump, etc.

    As for hand tools, they are not in the same league as power tools as far as their potential for devestating injury. Have you heard of anyone losing a finger to a handsaw? Or maybe to a Stanley 5? How about a piece of cabide flying off a router bit versus your potential to hurt yourself with a molding or rabbetting plane? Chisels and carving/draw knives can cut deep, but the slice is usually handles by no more than some stiches.

    As you say, most anything we do is fraught with risk. That said, we all take reasonable precautions – wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle, wear a seatbelt when riding in cars, quit smoking, etc.

    I read your thesis as: gloves, used within certain limits, are – as safe as – blocks and sticks and have the benefit of giving your more "feel" and hence better results. Fine.

    But please don’t mock a healthy respect for the danger posed by power tools as some sort of pitiful fear. Fear is healthy; it keeps us safe and focused. It’s the macho posing that is dangerous; it leads to people removing guards and taking unnecessary chances.

  • Mattias in Durham, NC

    Well, this should be interesting

    I only object to the mismatch between the title "don’t use push sticks…" and the content "my students choose their preferred method" which might cause some people to use gloves although they never read the eight caveats (count em!).

    A healthy sense of respect (not fear) for your power tools is probably good. A completely relaxed mind might not be the best state for using power (or hand) tools.

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