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What Not To Do: Router Base edition

Welcome to What Not To Do, the first (and hopefully last) in a series of object lessons in workshop safety wherein a WOOD editor illustrates the improper procedure. Do not attempt to duplicate this at home. We are paid professionals.

Now, take a look at this editor’s hand and try to guess what is wrong with the picture:

Router Bit Injury

No, it’s not A. That is what later became known as “the lawnmower incident.”

Nothing wrong with B, a symbol of wedded bliss.

C is evidence of recent painting and perhaps some dirt under the fingernail, but signifies nothing worse than poor personal hygiene.

Ah ha! You’ve spotted it. D is this week’s lesson in What Not To Do.

His mistakes should be obvious from the photo. Let’s discuss:

The first thing this editor did wrong was to forget to turn off the router’s switch after using it in his D-handle router base with an auxiliary trigger in the handle. Secondly—you guessed it—when he borrowed the cord from the router to test it’s placement in his newly assembled router table, he left it plugged in. Thirdly, he never checked the switch or the plug when he returned to the shop a couple days later. And finally, when he moved the router to his table-insert-mounted fixed base, he plugged the cord into the router motor—switch still on—with his finger dangerously gripping the insert next to the bit.

His wife thinks it’s a shame that the bit wasn’t more stylized to leave him with a prettier profile on his finger (“Maybe a nice ogee,” she was heard to remark). But as it was, the straight bit stitched a nice line of cuts from the base of the fingernail about halfway to the second knuckle. The soft start was a finger-saver as the bit didn’t immediately spin into full motion before he had time to yank the cord again.

Fortunately, the urgent care center didn’t find an urgent need to add stitches to the ugly mess the next morning and sent him home with an updated tetanus shot and antibiotics. Two weeks later, the finger is healing well, but with a slightly lumpy scar.

Learn from his example, dear reader. Don’t get in a hurry like our excited young editor. Double check your tools before you begin to use them for the day. Ensure all switches are in the off position and all cords are unplugged before you begin to change blades or bits or to work on tools.

And we look forward to no further episodes of What Not To Do.

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