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Chisel Attacks!

I have investigated many accidents over my career and inevitably if you do a true root cause analysis sometimes you are surprised by the result.

Last week I continued working on my tool chest cutting dovetails and adjusting to fit. On the previous evening I had carefully marked out my tails, placing xxx’s on the waste and proceeded to cut off all of the parts that remained un-marked. We have all done that at some point, made every step to cut off the correct piece and then left our brain in the tool chest and cut to the wrong line. Realizing it was late and that I would not only have to recut the tails but also shorten the length of the opposite side and recut those as well, I called it a night. The next evening I trimmed the sides to match and set up to cut a new joint. This one would be pins first since I had already cut this joint and would be recutting to a shorter length. I have no fight as to whether you cut pins or tails first, that’s your choice; this was the first time I had cut pins first. It all went well until…..I had to trim one pin. I had the tail board laying on the bench and after trying to drive the pin board into its mate realized that at the bottom of the pin I had not cut to the line. Instead of removing the pin board and placing it into my moxon vice I attempted to pare away the material in place. Needless to say the chisel slipped off the wood and cut a nice gash in my left wrist. 3 hours later I returned with nine stitches and fortunately, full movement in my hand.

In 30 years of woodworking I have had no injury with the exception of a few splinters, why did this happen now? I spent a lot of time reflecting while waiting in the emergency room. The most obvious answer is that my left hand was in front of my chisel when it slipped, but I don’t think this fully answers the question.

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