You Have to be Smarter Than Your Tools.

This time around, I thought I’d remind you of some of the perils of power tools. These are the things most of us already know, but forget in the heat of the moment, usually to our chagrin. Over the decades, I’ve seen some dumb things done to people by them selves, and the fact it was self-inflicted, and the victims were far from “short bus” mental-power-wise, makes it even more embarrassing for them.
First, it’s called a drill for a reason. I’ve lost count of the number of times my co-workers did their level best to bore holes in various parts of their bodies. One day, I was working under an Airstream, and I heard an electric drill running. Suddenly, the drill made a funny groaning noise, followed by an unidentifiable teeth-gnashing noise. I looked out from under the trailer in time to see John heading for the office at top speed, trailing both a stream of blood and an electric cord which seemed to be growing out of his hand. Things got even more interesting when John tripped over the cord, yanking the drill out of the spot it had been imbedded in his hand as well as doing a nosedive into another trailer. A trip to the emergency room, a Tetanus shot, and a few days off work later, John was nearly back to normal.
Then there is the champion of digital elimination, the table saw. While I’ve only seen one severed finger over the years, I have seen a lot of serious damage caused by people doing things they know not to do. One memorable incident occurred when a now-retired member of the shop forces held a chattering block of wood down on the saw table with his bare hand. The spray of blood was impressive, to say the least. 22 stitches later, the employee remembered there are tools and other things meant to keep your hands away from spinning blades. If you absolutely have to hold down a small or thin piece of wood, lay a second piece of wood over the one you are cutting. That will not only keep the wood from chattering and give you a much smoother cut, it will keep your extremities out of direct contact with spinning cutting parts.
Next is one even I have been guilty of. When using a knife or other sharp cutting blade, always make sure it will tend to go away from you if the blade slips or breaks. I still have a scar on my hand from where I was using a razor blade to scrape off glue. I was pushing the blade away from me, not realizing I was pushing the blade toward a finger. That one only took two stitches.
Another tool that deserves more respect than it gets is the lowly screwdriver. Many times, people will shove for all they are worth, trying to break a rusty screw loose, only to end up stabbing themselves when the screwdriver slips off the screw.
There are many hazards, and nobody can avoid them all. The most we can do is use our common sense, and stop to think about where that tool will go if the unexpected happens.

About the Author

Lug Wrench is a long-time mechanic, multiple Airstream owner, and dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist. All tales guaranteed 100% true, although names and certain details may be altered to protect the guilty.