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Scary stuff - Woodshop News

Scary stuff

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Had a scary experience in the shop over the weekend. Nothing bad happened, but it got me to thinking about the scary things we encounter with alarming regularity.

I was cutting a simple curve on the band saw and it was going fine when suddenly, Bang! Yep, you guessed it: The blade broke. A snapping band saw blade has to be one of the most terrifying – and yet usually nondangerous – things that can happen. The sudden unexpected sound can stop your heart, even though the blade instantly becomes loose and unmoving. Still, it took me 10 minutes for my pulse to return to normal. That’s just one example. Here are some more.

• External noises & distractions – A phone ringing, a car backfiring, someone pounding on the door, or a spouse sneaking up behind you in a noisy shop to announce that she’s home (yes, I’m talkin’ about you, Sally). These can also make you jump out of your skin, but unlike breaking band saw blades, if you’re performing something already dangerous and critical – such as routing or sawing with fingers close to hungry, spinning steel – you could easily lose something.

• Power failure – I’ve related an incident where the power failed while I was ripping stock on the table saw, plunging me into total darkness. When everything went black, I couldn’t remember exactly where my hands were. I quit breathing until the blade spun down.

• The “almost” incident – This is a delayed-reaction scare. This is when you do something dangerous, but don’t realize it till a few seconds after you’ve already done it. The cold sweat that breaks out when the realization hits home is chilling.

• Dropsy – You drop something you’re working with. Whether it’s something that might break and set your work (and your wallet) back considerably, or something sharp or, God forbid, something running under power, there’s a moment of time so short you can’t do anything about it, and yet so long that it lasts a lifetime while you grit your teeth and wait for the repercussions.

These are just a few examples off the top of my head. Got any more?

Till next time,

A.J.

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