Stupid Turner Tricks -- Stopping the lathe with your hand

Discussion in 'Woodturning Health & Safety' started by Bill Boehme, May 7, 2013.

  1. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Don't try this one at home. Leave it to the professional safety officers to prove that this is dangerous and not a smart thing to do.

    The rimmed bowl was not very large and had almost coasted to a stop. But, the mesquite bowl still had plenty of wood along with the hefty chuck, lathe spindle, pulleys, and motor armature all contributing meant that it still had a good amount of momentum. I mentioned that it had almost coasted to a stop -- in this instance, almost meant that it probably would have come to a full stop in another nine or ten seconds ... fifteen at the most. I do not usually make rimmed bowls, but this one was a special request from the lady who tells me that my turnings look good enough to display in the house (most of the time) so it was put on the front burner.

    Anybody who has ever turned mesquite knows that borers like it as much as woodturners do. The abundance of tunnels frequently presents turners with an opportunity to collaborate with the bugs -- or else waste away lots of wood. This particular chunk of wood looked like it had some tunnels in the heartwood that might work as a collaborative piece so I decided to include some of the bug work in the piece.

    After a bit, it became apparent that the edge of the rim was a little too ragged with tunnels to work well so some of those tunnels needed to go so that the rim would have a nice smooth edge. However, I wanted to be careful to not reduce the width of the rim more than absolutely necessary so I made a mental note of where "absolutely necessary" existed. This would be a good time to mention that pencil marks are often better than memory for making accurate notes such as this.

    One other thing worth mentioning is that your hand is not a very good substitute for brake pads. It turned out that while using my hand brake to stop the spinning bowl that I learned that not all of the bug tunnels had been removed from the rim - see the attached snapshot. That little hook shaped notch caught the webbing between my thumb and index finger and ripped a ragged gash about 3/8" deep and a bit more than 1/2" long a it passed through my hand and slowing down only slightly. If there is any good news, it is that the bowl was unharmed in this unfortunate encounter.


    _MG_2576.jpg


    This was my first and hopefully only lathe injury to draw blood from contacting spinning wood. I have had a couple bad cuts from very sharp hand tools (a woodcarver's chisel not being used properly and contact with an inappropriately stored bowl gouge -- sitting pointy end up in a five gallon bucket). I learned something worth remembering about pain -- being cut with a super sharp tool is nearly painless for the first hour or two. The pain starts later after being sewn back together by the ER doctor. However, a ragged gash made by a relatively rough edged chunk of wood hurts like Hell right from the get-go!

    I wrapped the cleanest filthy shop towel that I could find around my hand and headed to wash up the wound. Somehow after washing up the wound, I managed to simultaneously keep pressure on while applying several butterfly closures and a pressure pad. Amazingly everything healed very nicely in about ten days with no missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle that was my right hand.

    So, what are the lessons to be learned? Here are a few things that come to mind:

    1. In wood vs. flesh, wood comes out ahead every time. I could not find even a slight bit of damage to the wood.
    2. Wood does not need to be sharp to tear through flesh.
    3. The pain of torn flesh is incredibly intense. It hurt so much that I could not even manage to utter any oaths against the wood.
    4. I don't plan on installing brake pads on my hands so that means that a spinning turning can just coast to a stop on its own and I will find other things to amuse myself while waiting for the lathe to stop turning.
    5. Would leather gloves have helped? I think that they might have made things worse -- here is why: I believe that the glove would have been hooked and caused my hand to slam against the tool rest -- possibly dislocating or breaking one or more fingers. That type of injury with ligament damage is very slow to heal -- taking at least a year and probably never regaining full function.
    My woodturning club bestows a good-natured "Safety Officer" distinction to members who have injured themselves as way to encourage safe turning by sharing personal experiences. It is not the kind of recognition that members intentionally seek, but we willingly share our lessons learned so that hopefully we all don't have to go through the same mishaps while learning the wrong way to do things.
     
  2. John Lawson

    John Lawson

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    Glad that was only a flesh wound, Bill. I will slow down my little mini-lathe by grasping the handwheel, and I can see how if I were concentrating on the wood I might touch the wrong thing. Maybe a brake pad isn't a bad idea....

    I assume you've already received your safety officer award, so there's no point in making a special trip to Fort Worth to cheer your presentation.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  3. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    That's the important thing.:rolleyes: Seriously, we all sometimes forget and do things that are not kosher. Glad everything is doing OK.
    I cut my thumb while making a salad; Clinic charge was $310 for three stitches. Should have gone to medical school.
     
  4. john lucas

    john lucas

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    Man, glad it wasn't worse. I'm thinking you need to build a foot powered brake that can instantly be installed and removed and placed wherever it's needed. With a pneumatic braking system you could stop the bowl in a couple of revolutions, inspect it and be back to turning in less time than it takes for the bowl to slow down.
     
  5. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Bill,
    Glad it wasn't worse. Thanks for sharing. It may save some others.

    I don't think gloves would have helped.

    I wore gloves with cut off fingers for a short time. When I first stated using then,
    I got the dumb idea that I could stop a bowl now that my hand was protected.
    I stopped the bowl, my hand was fine, the palm of the leather glove had a 3" sliced opening.
    Can't imagine how my hand did not get cut.

    About 6 months later I was working with CA glue and a drop got in the cut off finger
    It did not bond the glove to my hand.
    It got hot and burned my finger. Hurt a lot and left a big burn blister.
    No more gloves for me.

    Al
     
  6. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    John,
    Saw a demo with a strobe light by Ron Gerton.
    He also wrote an article in the journal.
    Don't have to stop the lathe the light stops the image for you
    Ron used it in the demo to work something like a root ball.
    We could see all the little projections and he could leave or cut what he wanted and see it.

    Al
     
  7. Ian Thorn

    Ian Thorn

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    Thanks for posting this it will be presented to my club members at our next meeting if that is ok with you .my first and only one was when I caught a spinning block of 6*2 with the skew it hit me in the mouth lots of blood but only a split lip now I wear my face shield in stead of keeping it safe on a hook above my head :eek:

    Ian
     
  8. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Bill, I'm glad your hand has recovered.

    I especially appreciate hearing that club members share stories of their accidents with each other. I think it helps everyone be more safety conscious.

    Betty Scarpino, editor, AW
     
  9. Barry Elder

    Barry Elder

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    Bill, be honest now! Were you wearing your faceshield? Your years of experience, as some of us have already learned, has nothing to do with safety. I finally had to make up a "starter" list of "to do(s)" that would be the first step before going into my shop: (1) unlock shop and open door. (2) put brain in gear. (3) Press "Start". :D
     
  10. Jeff Gilfor

    Jeff Gilfor

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    Sorry Bill; glad you're okay, but I got you beat. Wasn't going to post this, but since we're on the topic:

    About a month ago, I was turning a bowl, and was finishing up the outside with a shear scraper. It was VERY STUPID, but I wasn't wearing a face shield (last time I'll EVER do that!). Anyway, a piece of wood gave way, and zoomed out into my face, just above my lip. Good thing it was a small piece, or it would have knocked out some teeth. Ended up with a nice cut (to the bone). Luckily, I was able to clean it and get the bleeding stopped long enough to CA glue it shut (yes, that's a good use for CA glue). Now I have a cool looking scar that remind me every day not to be an IDIOT!
     
  11. Yikes! A 1 tpb rotary saw blade.....!!!

    Wow Bill - what a story! I'm glad you healed well and that the damage was restricted to skin and did not involve anything more serious....

    In the image you posted, the geometry of the piece of protruding wood at the rim was highly reminiscent of a hook tooth on a band saw blade, with a 1 tpb (tip per bowl) cutting edge! I have gotten minor cuts from sharp rim edges on occasion, but I've never seen anything like this (other than on commercial saw blades and drill accessories!).

    Thanks for posting this - I think it will make people more aware that even the simplest things we take for granted as turners can have potentially nasty outcomes.

    Turn safely!

    Rob
     
  12. Tom Hamilton

    Tom Hamilton

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    Can I re-tell your Story?

    I'm glad to hear that you are okay. I was wondering if you'd need stiches.

    I'm the safety officer for my club, and if it's okay with you I'll share your story tonight at our clubs monthly meeting. Let me know.

    We just created the "safety officer" position in our club, but not for the same reasons as your club. We have not had an incident, and want to keep it that way.

    Tom
     
  13. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    my moment of carelessness and gloves

    Bill,

    Sorry to hear about the damage, very glad it wasn't worse!

    I have been pretty good safetywise with the wood lathe. Have a Uvex shield on it's way right now and will use it until I can afford an airstream type.

    Slow spinning down is ten times worse with a metal lathe. I was finishing a little play pretty at two or three AM to show off to my benchrest buddies and be the envy of all that didn't have one, nobody else did. I was fitting to almost air tight, aluminum on aluminum. Over and over, shut down the lathe, watch it take forever to spin down from almost eight hundred RPM, reverse direction, ten seconds with a file, watch it take forever to spin down from eight hundred RPM, test fit. Repeat a half dozen or more times. I was spending seventy-five percent of my time watching the lathe spin down. Surely if I were careful getting the end of the file past the chuck jaws I could touch the aluminum with the file while the lathe was still spinning towards me reducing the eternity of watching the lathe spin down by half.

    I'm here to tell you that this worked just fine. The file was absolutely unharmed when I touched a chuck jaw with a finger tip, just a gentle brush. Unfortunately that finger and the other two that were whipped into the chuck in an instant didn't fair so well. First thing I did was grab the three fingers as tightly as possible in the other hand to slow the bleeding and hang on for a couple minutes. I couldn't feel what the damage was and was wondering how many functional fingers I had left.

    When I finally looked it wasn't too bad, a nail ripped pretty much in half down most the way to the quick and then out the side, very large chunk of flesh ripped to match but still dangling, the other two fingers had no feeling but were still there in their entirety. Feeling did come back a little later! Lots of feeling. My first thought was thankfulness though, could have paid a lot more for that moment of foolishness and I lived alone. The one handed drive to the hospital twenty miles away wouldn't have been any picnic. CA would have worked better but I used plenty of tape and finished my project cursing the blood getting on everything.

    I came close to starting a thread yesterday concerning safety and refrained since I am very much a newcomer to wood turning. I am watching many many hours of video from both expert and nonexpert wood turners and I have to say as a whole safety practices are horrible! They will be doing something while busy telling you not to, and the practices around natural edged bowls send chills through me. Accidents are often caused by something you have done dozens or hundreds of times before. A few years ago a machinist was wearing a jacket turning on a metal lathe in a commercial machine shop not too far from where I worked in a similar shop. This time for whatever reason his jacket got in the chuck or workpiece. No nice way to put it, it was a closed coffin funeral.

    I see gloves being worn in video and mentioned in posts. I also know someone that insists on wearing soft cotton gloves in the belief they will tear when they need them to. There is perhaps no article you can wear more dangerous than gloves when turning. Gloves get hung in things and whatever they are covering gets drug behind. I have had even thin plastic gloves hold like iron when I was trying to take them off after doing projects not around machinery. Even if gloves do tear they may tear after they have guided your fingers or hand into machinery or workpieces and neither have a heart or soul, they will mangle you without a thought.

    I won't bother with a story but there was some impressive screaming going on at the vo-tech for long minutes after long hair was caught in a very slow turning drill press. Loose clothing, long hair, jewelry, anything you don't need on when working around rotating equipment needs to be gone or in the case of hair, well contained. My ex was unhappy that I wouldn't wear a wedding ring. I worked around rotating equipment a good bit of the time and sometimes climbed iron for a living. Rings make wonderful strippers when they get hung in something.

    I promised myself if I ever have another metal lathe it will have a brake on it. If I start turning with a wood lathe that takes long enough to spin down to be an annoyance it too will have a brake even if one designed and built by myself.

    Sorry for the long post. I have ran dozens of crews over the years and safety is important to me. The first major injury on one of my jobs, over a fifteen year period, was the superintendent. Me. Unloading a truck when it wasn't my job to do anyway. Nobody else handy, just a few things, only take a minute . . . Twenty-five years ago and I still pay every day for that mistake.

    Hu
     
  14. Tom Coghill

    Tom Coghill

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    Hand stopping the lathe is one habit that I broke when I moved from a small lathe (VicMark VL 100) to a full sized lathe (OneWay 2436). It only took me a few tries at slowing that thing down to realize there is a LOT more rotational momentum in the larger lathe (even when it is empty).

    The OneWay has two stopping speeds (slow and fast). The switch changes the braking program for the motor. I really like that the lathe actually breaks internally.

    I will say that I nearly always use the slow breaking. Another lesson – use those set screws on the chuck adapter when turning larger pieces if you want to use the short breaking times…. Otherwise when you hit to stop button your turning will walk around the shop after the chuck unthreads itself from the headstock…. :)eek: insert you own visual photo representation here).

    Bill – First: Glad you are OK.
    Second: Thanks for being brave enough to share this with us.
    Third: I hope this is the last time you get hurt.

    Cheers, Tom
     
  15. hu lowery

    hu lowery

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    I have wondered about some of the more fragile pieces too


    Tom,

    I didn't realize just the motor programming would be enough to unscrew a chuck. It's a frightening but I have to admit funny visual thinking about what could be bouncing around a shop!

    What I have been thinking about when wanting a brake on a wood lathe is the questionable structural integrity of some of the pieces. Seems likely this could be an issue too. Spin down time isn't an issue with my little lathe, I am hoping to graduate to bigger toys though.

    Hu
     
  16. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    This happened a couple days after the meeting. I might write a piece for the club newsletter since we have not had a safety article in a while.

    Great idea as long as the chuck is being braked and not the spindle -- otherwise the chuck might unscrew and start another mess.

    You are most welcome to use this at your next club meeting. I posted this to help promote doing things safely and it would not make sense for me to tell folks to keep it under their hat.

    I also think that it is a good idea that our club does this. I hope that most clubs take the time to include safety as part of their regular meeting activities. Perhaps you could make a suggestion in your column that clubs could do something along those lines.

    Yes, I was wearing my 3M Airstream helmet and had the best view in the house from my front row seat.

    The similarity dis not escape my notice especially when photographing the rim. I even considered including a close-up of one of my large bandsaw blades to compare gullet geometry.

    You are most welcome to share this with your club. This was not exactly how I had envisioned achieving my fifteen minutes of fame, but you take what you can get sometimes.

    Please don't let being a beginner stop you from posting on any aspect of turning, especially not the topic of safety. Because of the varied backgrounds of woodturners, each of us is able to bring something to the table that benefits all of us that not necessarily dependent upon woodturning expertise or creativity.

    I mentioned my bucket and bowl gouge incident. It was preserved for posterity in our club's newsletter a few years back in this article.
     
  17. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Drum Roll, Please . . .

    OK Bill, the committee has been polled and you have been awarded, by acclimation I should add, the 2013 Spring "Charlie" Award. The Charlie is given four times a year to deserving recipients who, while competing for the more prestigious Darwin Award (always posthumous) don't quite meet the Darwin criteria, meaning they survived the attempt.

    Your Charlie will be delivered by Airborne Express as soon as the warehouse where the trophies are kept will release it (something or other about unpaid storage fees).

    Congratulations! Heal fast so that you may continue your efforts and remember, "Practice Makes Perfect" "Keep You Nose To The Grinder, Your Shoulder To The Wheel, and All Safety Equipment In Your Locker"

    :D:D
     
  18. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    Bill, glad you ar OK. Nice you added a bit of humor to your story. And glad you chose to share it.
    I have tried to develop things that work for me. It is rare I touch the outside of a natural edge work while spinning as I also had a booboo years ago. Not as bad as yours but it did make my eyes pretty big and it took a bit to heal. When I rough out I do wear a glove on my left hand. Those hard flying chips hurt sometimes even through the glove. They would rip skin without the glove. But I am not touching the bowl with a gloved hand.
    I try to be careful. I do a lot of very thin turning where my hand is rubbing the outside of the bowl to dampen vibration. Knock on wood I have never had a piece blow up and catch my hand. It would not be pretty.
    To the videos saying dont do this while the turner is doing this. I do those things cause I am comfortable doing so. In a demo I do tell folks to not do that unless they are comfortable doing so. I tell them my stories of what could happen. Mostly its adjusting the tool rest while the lathe is on. I would have to think if I do other things in a demo that should not be done in a perfect safety demo.
     
  19. Mark Mandell

    Mark Mandell

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    Kelly,

    We had a bit of a discussion on demonstrations and the demonstrator's liability on WoodCentral a week or so ago. Keeping in mind that my comments were limited to the law of the State of New Jersey, you might want to take a look . . .
    http://www.woodcentral.com/woodwork...eryone-is-personally-accountable-for-themsel/
     
  20. Dale Miner

    Dale Miner

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    We (maint tech group) would often use a strobe to stop or nearly stop rotating spinning objects to help in vibration analysis. Trouble with it was that folk not aware would want to reach out and touch the spinning piece because it looked to be stationary. We never had an accident from it, but did have many hands stopped before getting in harms way.

    The worm hole looks like a tooth on a cirlce sawmill blade. OUCH! Hope it heals well.
     

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