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  • Pete

Sore thumb, or should that be saw thumb.

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, the first week was half term so we spent most of that week doing things with the kids, BBQs, picnics, ice cream and kayaking at the beach. Last week I was all set to finish off a couple of projects: the boot jack, the beer box and the murphy bar. However, I had a bit of a mishap, table saw meet thumb, which put a spanner in the works somewhat.

Workshop safety

My time working in a lab, and more acutely my time working for National Grid, has given me a huge amount of respect for health and safety in the workplace and in life in general. My kids will attest to the fact they are warned about the dangers of this that or the other, several times a day and reminded to think things through properly before charging in. In general, I am reasonably good with my workshop safety, untidiness and lack of space being my main failing points. I do have a healthy respect for two machines in particular, the router/router table, and the table saw. Sharp things spinning at many thousands of rpm can have serious consequences. I have read numerous posts on forums and Facebook groups regarding the dangers and pitfalls of table saw use. As such, I spent a lot of time getting the riving knife and blade guard set up properly on my table saw (which is a bit of a poor design on the Record TS200C). Anyhow, I was doing one of the more risky tasks on a table saw, resawing 2"x1" battens into 2"x 0.5" strips to make a crate for the beer box. The design of the blade guard is such that it can't be used if the fence is closer than 3cm to the blade. So I was running without the guard and I thought I was being extra careful to account for this. I use a push stick at the rear in my right hand, and the left hand on the side of the board pushing into the fence and guiding it past the riving knife, securing it once past the blade. I had ripped 8 or 9 pieces and had 3 to go when for whatever reason I managed to slip my left-hand thumb over the edge and nick it on the blade. Even a momentary nick still results in several, 4mm wide, carbide teeth doing their worst.

I knew it was fairly bad, lots of blood, so I ran it under the tap for a while before bandaging it up, packing up the workshop, changing clothes, grabbing a book and a packed lunch for the little one then jumped in the car (as a passenger) and off to the minor injuries unit. Anyhow a few hours later and I was lucky in that I had missed any bone, and although it had split the tip of the thumb and the nail it was "not too bad". It didn't require surgery, just some steri-strips and dressing. A few more hours of waiting for various appointments, dressings and antibiotics and a week and a bit later it seems to be doing fine.

This whole incident has thrown me for a few reasons.

Firstly I was disappointed in myself for messing up despite thinking I was being careful. Yes, the damage wasn't bad, but it could have been much worse. Looking at it, there are a couple of other things I will do differently next time which include making a different fence that will work with the blade guard on thin cuts and getting a gripper block (although given the £90 price tag I may make one).

Secondly, the nature of the injury to the thumb means I've basically been unable to do anything for the past week and a bit. No work in the shed or garage, no rugby training or exercising, I can't even play my uke! Despite not having a job for the past 2 years we've always been busy doing things, either homeschooling the first time around, exercising or working on various projects. Having nothing to do at all has been tough, leaving me restless and unable to settle at anything.

Lastly, and this is probably the thing that bothers me most, I'm 42 fit and healthy and I've never been sidelined by injury or illness for more than a day or two. Aside from children, you can count the times I've been to the doctors or hospital in the past 25 years on one hand. Even 25 years playing rugby (albeit badly), some cracked ribs and a ruptured eardrum are the worst I've had to deal with aside from the post-tour hangovers! It's not that I thought I was bulletproof, as my Dad put it, but more that I am unaccustomed to not be able to just brush it off and get on with it.

The wheels keep turning, slowly

I have made a few small bits of progress in the last couple of days on two projects but I'll be saving the reveals until the customers have seen the items in the flesh.

Away from the woodworking I finally sold the old alloys on my car, which means I can fit the split rims and big brake upgrade that I bought over 4 years ago.

Whilst not massively relevant to this blog it illustrates quite well how a lot of my projects tend to go, lots of time and effort at the beginning gathering parts and planning followed by waiting (sometimes a lot of waiting!) for whatever other dependencies are in the way before making big leaps forward.

I'm a massive car fan and spend way too much time watching car shows on TV and day dreaming about building something cool. In the case of my Audi S4 cabriolet, it's a great car-half sensible as its an Audi - half daft as its a 340Bhp V8 Quattro.

It is the best car I've owned although the beachbuggy, cinquecento and mx5 were also cool in their own ways. I have amassed a large stack of parts and upgrades many of which have been sat waiting for several years, but since their fitment depends on other tasks, most will be fitted in one or two large projects. Wheels, brakes and suspension are looming once my thumb is workable.

Not to end on a flat note

Two weeks without being able to annoy anyone with my uke playing drove me to find another outlet. So I bought these, I had a couple as a kid but never got very far with it so figured I'd give it a go again.

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