There are numerous ways in letterpress to get body parts crushed, amputated and otherwise be subjected to various kinds of mayhem… just like in pretty much any other area that involves power tools. Impalement, though is unusual enough that I thought that I would post this here, even though it is not strictly letterpress-related.

With the price of California job cases attached to an Elon Musk rocket, I thought I might try my hand at making some myself. I am a relatively experienced woodworker, having been working with power tools since I was a child, so I thought “how hard could it be?” Just rip some strips, cut notches for the assembly and apply glue where appropriate, right? OK, this was slightly simplified.

Anyways… I had a full bundle of tongue & grove oak flooring in the wood shop that I probably won’t be using for anything soon Oak is hard, dimensionaly stable and fairly easy to work with, so I thought this flooring might make a good candidate for ripping into thin strips. I set my rip fence to rip a strip the thickness of a saw kerf and made my first cut. This meant, of course, that I could either rip the tongue or the groove off the piece of oak. I chose the tongue.

As I was not at all concerned with what happened to the cut off scrap, I did not bother with using a block to push it through, but I did remember the old rule my father taught me about not having my body in line with the saw blade… thanks Dad.

At the end of the cut, the piece of oak tongue was forcibly ejected from the saw and flew past me. I heard it hit something but was more interested in the surface of the piece of flooring than I was a wood scrap, so I killed power to the table saw and looked it over. Then I turned around and beheld an oak “arrow” embedded in the side of my improvised work bench. See image.

Given the speed of the saw blade, I would “guestimate” the velocity of that projectile to be right around 800 feet per second or so… which is faster than most of the bullets I routinely shoot. What this would have done if it had hit me in the belly I’d rather not think about.

Probably going to be very careful for the rest of this project.

image: DSC03186.JPG


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must shoot a .45. i do

Make certain your off cut is not trapped between the blade and fence. It is safer to push the main part through with the off cut on the outside of the blade.

jhenry: Yes, it would be safer, but I will eventually be cutting maybe a thousand strips the same thickness and would not want to re-set the rip fence for each cut. For removal of the tongue and groove, though, your idea has merit. Thanks!

ericm: No, mostly .38 S&W, .38 Special, .44 Special… and various muzzle-loaders.

This is off topic, but it reminds me of my days in the USAF, where prop driven aircraft (like C-130s) have a vertical red line painted on the inside of the fuselage where the props rotate. This is so people can avoid sitting in that area, in case an engine throws a prop blade. (I try to avoid sitting next to the engines on civilian aircraft to this day, by force of habit).

Looks like tornado damage!

You can avoid this issue by using a push block with a notch at the back. It will also help to maintain alignment as you cut off a number of strips and the work piece gets smaller.

image: pusher.JPG