I was taking a fingerboard off of an old Kay mandolin this weekend.  It had obviously been removed before and was reglued quite poorly.  It almost looked as if they didn't use clamps at all and just laid the fingerboard on top of a big puddle of glue. Not sure what type of glue was used (it was hot pink!).

Long story short, it broke free MUCH faster than I expected and I ended up stabbing my left hand index finger with the rounded corner of a very sharp, thinned, and beveled putty knife.  Very messy, but thankfully no instruments were in line of the "spray".  Not my finest moment.  I know better.

I think that's about the worst I've done to myself so far in the course of repairs.  The closest call I had before that was when I was using CA to glue some cork pad onto a caul and a drop shot right to my eye when I put a clamp on it. Thank god I got my eye shut before it got there, but opening it again was a slow painful experience.  I don't pick up a bottle of CA without glasses now.

I've seen what a lot of you can do with guitars.  Just curious what's the worst you've done to yourselves while doing it.  I know I'm not the only one!  :P

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Well, when I was making a set of fret bevelling file holders, I nibbled the end off my left pinky with my jointer. Trust me, your 'I know better' moment is nothing to be ashamed of compared to this. I did something utterly stupid with complete over confidence that I was the master of my machine. I was lucky though, it could have easily taken at least the next two fingers down to the first knuckle if it had happened only slightly different. This was nearly two years ago now.

Pic not for the queezy.

Ouch!  That picture speaks a million words.

It sure left a mark!

Funny thing, just this morning I almost did the same thing Jon did with one of those dog-leg pallette knives stew mac sells for joint seperation. I was seperating the fingerboard extension on an acoustic and the knife slipped free of the joint right out the end of the f board. Missed my hand by an inch. Fortunately it went in the soundhole instead and the guitar and I remain unharmed.

Yikes, Andrew!  That doesn't sound like fun.  As you said that is probably a "lucky" result from a jointer injury.  Could have been much worse.  Scary stuff. 

I'm assuming that most of us on here are players also.  That makes it even more scary.  I know there are plenty of good players out there who are missing fingertips, whole fingers, etc..., but I don't want to be one of them! 

It's not my story but given your post Andrew, I got to tell it.  Years ago, I worked with a man that cut a small part off of the tips of the second, third and forth finger while running cedar singles through a table saw to make shim stock for framing doors and windows. He thought that standing behind the saw was too slow so he moved to the side of the saw and whipped the shingles from a pile through the blade with his finger tips. He took the tips off of those fingers before he realized one of the shingle was getting too narrow. A couple of years later he was showing someone else how to cut shims "quickly" and removed the ends of the same three fingers at the joint doing exactly the same thing.

 One from my past. Many years ago, I caught one of my thumbs between the back roller and the housing of a belt sander while trying to thin a shim. I can't really remember what happened exactly because it was so fast. I was holding a narrow shim against the belt one second and the next I was looking at one of my thumbs that was missing a big chunk on one side. It took about a quarter of my thumb nail in a straight line from the tip to the first knuckle then tapered to the edge so I lost the top/side but kept all of the pad. It happened so fast that I didn't feel anything for about 10 seconds.  I was extremely fortunate to be dating an ER nurse at the time so my medical care was superb and the wound healed very well. Today all I have to show is a  triangle of scar tissue on the top/side of the thumb near the knuckle and a wife. ( I married the nurse.) 

Ned, that one about making shims on the table saw is about the worst I've ever heard. I hope at least one of them learned something when he was "teaching" the other guy how to cut shims!  I'd like to think I would have learned that one the first time!

The sander thing sounds bad too.  As dangerous as hand tools can be, it is still crazy how quickly power tools can go from "no problem" to "no fingers"! 

Two years ago, things were busy busy. And I (let's be honest) was rushing to get a double bass repair finished. After filling, recutting the neck mortise and regluing the neck. There were a few bits and pieces (read small pieces) that needed to be shaped and glued. I sharpened my 1 1/2" wide chisel to a razor edge and was slicing a small piece of maple..well.. into an even smaller piece of maple. Trying to speed things up I started taking heavy cuts and leaning pretty heavily on the chisel. 

Sure enough the small piece tipped over..and the left hand wasn't were it's supposed to be. It nearly took the chisel to the bone.

Afterwards the doctor assured me it was a "nice" cut (being straight, sharp tool, no rust). I told him I was glad to hear that as blood was dripping down my left arm..

When I did my pinky the surgeon told me if I had to cut the end of a finger off I did it right. Basically the radial cut of the jointer "scooped" off the top of the end of the finger from almost the knucle on, leaving the pad in place which he was able to fold over the wound, after trimming the bone smooth. Such a relief lol. Fortunately I keep my jointer knives very sharp as well, which probably meant the machine didnt kick as much as it could have, and the bone was cut very clean with no impact fracture.

Even though it has been a good many years since I made a living from my tools I still break out in a cold sweat when I think about injuries sustained or those narrowly escaped. 

Daft things like leaving a chuck key in a lathe chuck and switching on, done it myself and been narrowly missed by them, having the lathe on a high speed for a finishing buff while in screw cutting mode and watching your near finished job mangled, not using a jack to support something heavy but propping up with bits of wood only to see intricate pieces of machinery on the deck when it gives out. Putting  a finger in a hole to see if it has lined up only for the whole thing to suddenly shift taking skin with it.

These little accidents stop you getting complacent and remind you of your mortality. Always treat tools with respect, use them safely, don't take risks and if you don't know how to safely use a tool seek help. 


Yeah, our best safety tool is our brain.  Getting into a hurry is a major source of accidental injury.  I once watched one of my friends pickup a motorcycle seat, lay it on his thigh just above the knee and drill a 1/4 inch hole through the seat and his thigh.  I also worked with a guy who showed me a scar across knee where he picked up a short length of 2X4, laid it across his knee and used a power saw to cut a point on it so it could be used as stake. The concrete truck was backing up so the pour was about to start but they needed one more stake. The scar he show me was about 10 inches long.

  One thing I would add to your list is to resist being too lazy to walk across the room for the right tool  and resist trying to finish a job with a dull tool. Take the time to stop and sharpen even if you are almost finished. (Personally, I've cut myself more often with a dull blade then with a sharp one.)

...t being too lazy to walk across the room for the right tool  and resist trying to finish a job with a dull tool. Take the time to stop and sharpen even if you are almost finished. (Personally, I've cut myself more often with a dull blade then with a sharp one.)

Too true!!!

Chisels, any kind of chisels.........


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