Interesting Woodworking Link

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Episode #67 - Soon to be back in the shop!

What the heck is a flexor carpi radialis?

Here’s a hint, it’s not a tool and you can’t buy one at Rockler or Woodcraft!

Well, I am finally heading back to the shop . . . sort of. It’s a good feeling none the less. Thank you to everyone that wished me well while I recovered from a shop related injury. I haven’t discussed it much as it still makes me nervous to think about what happened. It happened early in the morning on a day off from my regular job. I was just finishing re-sharpening a plane iron for my rehabbed Stanley bench plane. I was using the Tormek to re-grind the blade square and sharp. My previous wet-sharpener had a bad habit of always making the blade out of square, regardless of what I did from the operator end of things. Once the blade was sharp and square, I moved over to the leather strop for final honing and polish. What I did not realize was that the jig is a bit “back heavy”, and with a plane iron secured, it has a tendency to tilt backwards exposing the sharp edge of a now vertical blade. It all happened in a blink of an eye and before I knew what happened I had a small cut on the inside of my non-dominant left wrist, approximately an inch in length.

Being an ER Doc, I immediately applied pressure and started ticking off in my head a quick assessment of nerves, arteries, veins, and hand function. Everything seemed OK initially, but I knew I had to go to the ER so I quickly cleaned up the blood and changed my clothes. I decided to get my daughter Kelsey up to drive me to the ER because Beth had a hard night sleeping due to a cold. I didn’t have the heart to wake her up . . . I also didn’t want to frighten her with my injury.

Kelsey was awesome. She is 15 and quite a responsible young lady. She has her permit and has been driving with me for a long time. So off we went to the hospital in our Ford Excursion, which had 2 tons of landscape rock in the back. I had planned on taking the rocks over to Sisters that weekend. There was no available ground-level parking at the hospital so Kelsey navigated up to the top of the five-story parking structure to park on the roof! To say I was immensely proud of her would be a gross understatement. Being a patient in the ER is not my cup of tea. I would rather be in my shop! I had great care by one of my partners and the wonderful staff I work with every day. Six hours later we headed home, after the hand surgeon repaired a partial wrist flexor tendon laceration.

The verdict was that I partially lacerated my flexor carpi radialis and that I should do well. I had to wear a splint for four weeks and take it easy for an additional four weeks . . . no straining the tendon repair. I have a great family. Beth was notified and spent time with me in the ER. Matt was there as well in between scheduled activities. Kelsey sat by my side the entire time. The rocks eventually made it over to Sisters and were unloaded by some very good friends. I’ve not been in my shop for the interim, except to look at things every once and a while. I am extremely safe with everything I do. I am meticulous with shop safety. Safety is something that was ingrained in me while on the Fire Department and hammered home again later in the Navy. Safety, Safety, Safety!

This accident did take the wind out of my sails a bit. I do know that I have, no, want to go back to my shop and start working again. Despite best efforts accidents happen. I will continue to be vigilant and as safe as I possibly can. I did feel it important to share this story so others can learn from my experience. I do have a way to prevent this particular event in the future, which I will share with a video in a later blog entry. Thanks again for all the well wishes!


Al said...


I am glad and relieved at the same time that you are doing well, and on your way to total recovery.

David Pruett said...

Al -


Vic Hubbard said...

It is amazing how fast a blade can attack. My last was in the kitchen and I cut down to the bone of my left middle finger. The nerves still haven't fully reconnected.
One other point, the times I've been hurt have always been with hand tools. I surmise that I have a healthier respect for what a power tool can do and tend to let my guard down too much around the hand tools.
I happy there is no permanent damage.

David Pruett said...

Vic -

I agree . . . it happened amazingly fast.

Hopefully back in the shop tomorrow!


Vic Hubbard said...

Be on the look out for a good editor.
I need to fire mine. "I happy there...????"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story about your injury. Six years ago I nearly cut off the fingers of my left hand. Reading your story provoked has vasovagal reaction as I recall the moments after my injury. It also is a great reminder that none of us are exempt from injury.
Thanks again,

David Pruett said...

Reinhardt -

Great description . . . vasovagal . . . I still get that feeling when I envision that razor sharp plane iron standing straight up on the support bar. You are absolutely correct that no one is exempt from injury. We all have to exercise maximum diligence to prevent injuries. That is why I shared my story. Interestingly I have a patient that I have sewn his fingers back together from a table saw injury . . . twice almost a year apart to the date. I run in to him periodically at Rockler!


Anonymous said...

Hi David.

I sympathize completely. At age 10 I went under a power mower with my left foot. Ended up with an amputation of the large toe and several corrective surgeries over the years due to the scar tissue (which ran from the end of the second toe to past the arch)not growing while the foot did. I had an excellent orthopedic surgeon and actually got into the air force with that foot.
Still get phantom pain once in a while, and it's been 54 years.

Get well soon, buddy.


Billp said...

David,Iam so glad to see your back in the shop. I can relate in May I slipped with a wood chisel and severed four tendons on the top of my left wrist. Had surgery and had it in a brace for 4 weeks and went through OR twice. I can't close my hand, but like you I have just returned to my shop. it's amazing with all the power tools we wind up hurtng ourselves with hand tools. David I started following you on lumberjacks. All the best. Bill P