May 282007
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Foreign object in eyeThe other day I had a slight mishap in the shop that as in most cases, was completely avoidable. After breaking out into that “Jeez, THAT was a close one!” sweat, all I could think was “This is exactly how accidents happen – sheer oversight and carelessness.”
I was cutting thin slivers of wood from pen blanks on the miter saw to make segmented pieces. Since the blanks are roughly 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 6″, I was very concerned with how to hold them while cutting. After a lot of thought, I made a simple sled with a toggle clamp to hold the blank, which allowed me to keep my fingers far away from the blade as I chopped. I went so far as to use double-stick tape to further secure the smaller pieces to the sled, since I couldn’t clamp some of them down as well as I would have liked.
So I’m cutting away, carefully taping and clamping each piece, when a piece manages to fly up and hit me squarely in my right eye. Why? BECAUSE I WASN’T WEARING EYE PROTECTION!!! I took all that time to plan out my cuts and protect my hands, yet completely neglected my eyes and face. My eye seemed okay after the initial shock, and you can bet I put on a faceshield for the rest of my cuts!
Later I noticed my eye felt a little sore, so I looked at it in the mirror. I had a small chunk of wood about 1/16″ x 3/16″ stuck in the inside corner of my eye! No wonder it hurt when I blinked and even more so when I rubbed my eye! Fortunately I was able to remove the wood without incident. Again I felt my body flush with sweat as I considered how seriously I could have injured myself.
From the Merck Manual Home Edition:
The most common eye injuries are those to the cornea and outer surface of the eye (conjunctiva) caused by foreign objects. Although most of these injuries are minor, some—such as penetration of the cornea or development of an infection from a cut or scratch on the cornea—can be serious.
I guess shop safety entails protecting ALL body parts!!! Shop for safety equipment at Highland Woodworking
* Send us your account of a shop injury or close call for a future Wood News Online feature:

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