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Router and Power Tool Safety

I grew up with adults who were professional craftsmen and woodworkers, all of whom took the time to teach me cabinetry, furniture refinishing, framing - and the safety procedures to be followed as well.  More was learned in high school workshops, and every power tool I've ever purchased included safety tips which I have always followed. 

In early 2005, I learned that shop aprons, safety glasses, and hearing protectors are not sufficient.  I had installed my router in a new router table, and did not tighten down the router bit enough.  I had run a test board through the router, and as I reached for the power switch to turn the router off - the router bit spun out of the chuck, hit the back board of the table, and richocheted into my upper chest.  The impact threw me back against my workbench - I didn't feel any pain at first, and then I reached up to touch where the router bit hit me - and felt a large hole.

I now wear a bullet-proof vest with titanium inserts when I use my power tools - and have subsequently had the vest stop an oak 2x4 that, unknown to me had a nail inside, which when the saw hit the nail, kicked the board back, broke the kick-back rod, and hit me in the chest hard - the other piece of the 2x4 punctured the steel catcher on the back of my saw.  The second time the vest saved me from harm was when a high-speed metal bit bound in a hole I was cutting in my boat trailer and shattered:  The bit punctured the first layer of the vest but went no further.

Click on the thumbnails below if you want to see larger pictures.

The router beneath the table is an industrial-quality 2 HP router. The bit is a 3/4 inch Roman Ogee, which means it will cut a 3/4 inch pattern.

This picture was taken the next day.  I was lucky; the bit hit my collar bone.  Had it gone up half an inch more, it would have gone into my throat.

Side note:  I purchased the vest at a local gun show a week after the accident.  When the policeman at the front door saw me carrying it out, they asked me which beat I worked.  They became very suspicious as soon as I told them I was not an officer of any kind, which did not suprise me at all.  I then showed them the wound and told them what happened.  One of the officers said "oh my god", and rested his head on his hands.  Another officer asked him what was wrong, and the officer replied that his hobby was metal working:  lathes, high-speed drills, grinders, welders, and more. He'd also been on the force for nearly 24 years, and had a bullet-proof vest for the last 10 years - and never thought to wear the vest while working in his metal shop. He opened his shirt, showing us his scar-mottled chest and stomach - scars from metal bits and shards, hot metal and sparks from welding; some of which he had to have treated and stitched.

How much is your life worth?

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Last updated: Saturday, 03-Jan-2015 18:11:37 PST