Pro tip: don’t cut off your thumb!

Ahhhh! It’s been too long! When I decided I wanted to start a blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t let it rust in the garden shed of my priorities. And here it is, rusting like a handplane left in the rain.


Time to refurbish this baby!

It all started on December 30th….before then, I was doing pretty good, eh? Then tragedy struck!

It all started when I bought this beauty:

Grizzly 6 inch jointer

6 inch capacity, 1 horse motor, with a cutterhead that spins at 4800 RPM (*insert Tim Allen-style bark*). With this baby, I get straight edges and flat faces, making it a whole lot easier to get square pieces.

But, she’s a dangerous beast, as you’ll come to find out.

So, I unpacked the thing, polished it, waxed it, sang lullabies to it, and prepared to tuck it into bed. As I was moving the thing from one place to another, the side wheel caught on something. B’fore I knew it, this beast was rocketing toward the concrete floor of my garage.


I couldn’t save her. She crashed.

Now, one thing about jointers–they’ve gotta be perfect, perfect! If the infeed and outfeed aren’t exactly parallel, it’s totally useless.

So….after my mishap, I had to figure out if I knocked it out of alignment. So, I pull a couple pieces of oak out of my pile and start surfacing the thing….


The more I pass the relatively straight boards through, the more they bow.


I knocked it out of alignment.

Or perhaps…..

I began wondering whether I was holding it right. Maybe if I just press down harder, then I can straighten this thing out.

So I press harder.

But then the push sticks start getting in the way.

Oh, I’ve got an idea, I thought. I’ll stop using the push sticks.

Bad move, dude.

So, I remove the push sticks and put all my weight into the board, not even thinking about where my thumb was placed…

Then this happened:2014-12-30 22.39.01

And this:2014-12-30 22.48.54

And this….(warning! Graphic!):

2014-12-30 22.44.46Yup….chopped off the tip of my thumb. Grazed the tip of the bone and severed an artery.

The thing wouldn’t stop bleeding.


**** graphic description to follow ****

The most horrific thing about it was not the pain. It wasn’t the sight. Nor the metallic stench of blood. When the dude was stitching the artery, what I hated the most was feeling the paper towel rattle as the blood drip, drip, dripped onto its surface.

**** end graphic description ****

And I also learned that they’ve found a way to bottle hot lava. Before he performed the haphazard surgery, he injected me with it.

“This might hurt,” he says. “Only a little prickle and maybe a slight burning sensation,” he says.

Oh no. The dude injected the sun’s molten core into me.

Then came the surgery:

2015-01-06 09.13.49I begged the nurses to sprint down the halls screaming, “We need a doctor, stat!”

They were kind enough to grant my request 🙂

And of course, the obligatory cast and countless episodes of Thomas the Train with the lil’ one:

2015-01-09 11.47.01After a successful surgery and skin graft, my thumb looked only slightly better:

2015-01-14 09.25.17And here’s how it looks now:

2015-04-22 08.34.41Not bad, eh?

So…lesson learned. Always use push sticks when using a jointer. Otherwise, it may cost you a thumb.

2 thoughts on “Pro tip: don’t cut off your thumb!

  1. Pingback: The five minute wood patch | Dustin Fife

  2. Pingback: Facing rejection with a smile: a story of persistenceDustin Fife

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