Do as I say not as I do AKA Don't do this at home


Hi gang
As I was cutting some wood on the table saw today the thought came to me that what I was doing is not something I would recommend to my woodworking students. My father’s words came back to me “do as I say not as I do”.
Because I’m a 30 year woodworker my experience allows me to do operations or techniques I would never recommend or teach to a New b. Such as (New bs cover your eyes :)) free hand ripping a angle on a table saw of free hand hollowing out the back of the end of a board on the table saw free hand, pulling a board back at you on the table saw when the cut starts wrong.end cutting a slot on a board standing upright. ripping thin strips on a thin board with a circular saw an more. Are these operations dangerous? YES! Do I do these things on a every day basis ? NO . Even as a very experienced woodworker I can still get injured doing these things so I don’t recommend these techniques to others.
These are my true confessions what are yours?(woodworking only please LOL)

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

25 Replies

true jim I have had kick backs and pull through they will get you have to be careful all times keep your mind on your work


Opening the guards on the bandsaw while it was running – doh! Came out with only a scratch but also the thought to never do it again.

I try to be pretty careful in my shop but sometimes I catch myself setting up to do something incredibly stupid, like eg. cutting a very small piece with the mitre saw…usually catch myself…have a bad habit of reaching around the running TS blade to clear the offcuts.

Rob, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

that’s right I have done the same thing you have to be on your toes when cutting


I’ve been pretty fortunate since I started woodworking in the early ’80’s, but I broke one of my shop rules in ’86.

Never cut round wood on the band saw, without securing it. I tried to re-saw a slice off of an oval of 2" thick something. Using a fence, I was feeding it freehand when the blade caught the oval, spinning it quickly, which kicked it back, right along the fence into the left side of my face.

Luckily I was wearing safety glasses, but that chunk of wood split my lip, requiring inner and outer stitches. My principal drove me to the emergency room, where the nursing staff tried to get me to shave my mustache so I could be stitched.

Finally got it done when I clipped a path for them, to get into. Hadn’t been without a mustache since ‘77, so wasn’t gonna lose it then. Caught crap from my students and the principal, the rest of the year. :-(

Keith "Shin" Schindler

you right about that I have done the same thing blade will get in a bind bend the blade it happends


Good point Jim, At the beginning of each semester in my adult woodworking class I always have a safety meeting and at the end of the safety tour and talk I always say at the end"and the most important safety tool of all is this" pointing to my head.

Michael Ray
“I’ll never do it again” we live and we learn.

Glad you didn’t get hurt worse. Safety glasses is something I try to never forget or get away without using. If I remember right you teach high school shop ,I imagine it’s much harder to live down a mistake with high school students than with my adult students,we all have those days.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

You got me. Guilty of all of those and possibly a few more. Isn’t it interesting that most of them are on the beloved table saw? I always wear glasses and hearing protection and often wear those grippy rubber gloves. But I can freehand an 8’ rip on a table saw when it has to be angled so the fence is no use. ? stay safe all and count your fingers before you start. And again after you’re done.

My Woodshop is my happy place?

I haven’t had too many things but, one I remember. Tried cutting a half piece of plywood on table saw in tight quarters. Blade caught and the board came back and hit me square in the chest. Took the wind out of me but, somehow had the sense to shut the machine down. I always use my guards, this time it didn’t help. Not too bad really, God has watched over me. Only way I can explain it.


when cutting strips you have to watch they will come back at you like a bullet


Those kickbacks can be deadly ,I always teach my students to stand aside and do the same myself.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

I was making the last pass on a bowl in my lathe . It was getting a little thin because of the pattern I wanted . Well half way across it blew apart . Pieces flew every where . A pc was stuck in the insulation in the roof . a pc in the insulation on the wall . One pc hit me right below the right eye . I was wearing regular safety glasses over my glasses . Now I wear a full face shield . PS , being as the pcs were so big , I was able to glue it back together and finish the job . My Dad still has the bowl .


Whether or not I would free hand a cut depends of whether I was using my cabinet saw or my little Bosch. The former isn’t going to bog for much of anything. The latter can be stalled, in a pinch. Accordingly, I have never free handed on the Unisaw, but have done several such cuts, on long or large pieces.

Of course, I don’t make it a habit of doing these things.


I did teach shop, Jr High and High, not for years though. Speaking of kickback. One of my high school students forgot to not stand in line of the table saw blade, had a good size piece kick back and hit him right in his “Manhood.” Put him DOWN! Luckily, no permanent damage, but he never forgot that rule.

Another student had a 3/4" by 3/4" piece of Oak come off the saw and punch through a 1/2" Plywood tool rack, also knocking it back about two feet. It was free standing. 1/8" wide by 48" tall.

I’m ALWAYS watching the table saw, the blade, my hands, the wood, when I’m on the table saw.

Uses to tell my students, “If the wood gets out of your hands, DON’T try to catch it, let it go.” Student forgot, wood slipped while working the jointer; he grabbed for it and the board had forced the guard open. He lost the tips of three fingers.

Y’all be safe out there.

Keith "Shin" Schindler

I had a habit of not wearing safety glasses during nailing with pneumatics. I make it a point to point away from myself, to whatever degree is possible. Working one day, I noticed about 1-1/2" of a brad sticking in the paper of my as-of-yet not covered insulation. That was a good reminder of how easy it is for an angled brad to be deflected by the wood you’re shooting, and what it could do to an eye. That was a good reminder of why eye wear is a good thing.

Both good points Keith and Kelly.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

Shin – back in 1969 in shop at school , I was trying to trim a 1/4 " off a piece of 3/4 " plywood 1 ft sq . It jumped up out of there and landed flat side on the blade . Hit me right in the gut , knocked the wind out of me and bruised my gut . I was in a hurry , never again . I take my time and prepare .


A wake up call for us all. Good topic of discussion. If nothing else, shows we are not alone in our moments of pain. Be safe and be aware.