Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Adam’s Finger Accident – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 3/31/20

Longterm haircut and beard trimming strategies are discussed this week as we enter week three of working from home. Adam tells the harrowing tale of a hand injury he sustained late last week that was truly frightening, Norm finishes the West Wing, and we point to some resources for makers 3d printing PPE for health care workers.

Comments (22)

22 thoughts on “Adam’s Finger Accident – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 3/31/20

  1. I’m seeing last week’s video again… The correct one is on YouTube though.

    I sympathise with the allergies. Mine aren’t as bad as Adam’s but the pollen has got to me too over the last few weeks. Injuring myself whilst working alone has always been something of a concern for me. So far I’ve escaped anything too serious and I do make a conscious effort to be careful. It’s always the thing you didn’t think of that gets you though.

    Fixing the equipment is also making. That counts in my book.

  2. I can’t watch until tomorrow but the thumbnail with both guy’s shocked looks is awesome. This is coming from someone 45 who’s had 9 & 3/4 fingers since the summer before second grade. 😁

  3. I understand the allergies, but I did grow out of them. I can remember way back in another life when I had a Vesper motor scooter that I took from home to college.every day. One beautiful spring day the allergies were real bad. So bad my eyes swelled up to the point I couldn’t see. I stopped the scooter got off and sat on the curb in the middle of Boston. A cop saw me, stopped and asked what happened. I told him and the next thing I know he came back with a very large paper cup with water to wash my eyes out. He told me he had it also and sympathized with me.

    Forty years later, I have grown out of the problem but too late, the motor is gone.

  4. I feel Adam’s pain I lost 2 fingers over a atv accident a few years back. I actually had them reconstructed 2x but didnt take and then had to have them removed. But a funny but painful enlightenment the last time I seen my surgeon they had left a screw that worked it’s way into protruding the skin, after so many surgery’s and visits he asked if I wanted numbed or put under to remove it I told him no and he unscrewed it as I watched right in his office lol Anyways I have had to learn new ways to do things and use tools. Also I wore a titanium tungsten wedding ring they couldnt cut off, I didnt ask how they got it off during first surgery but now wear a silicone ring and am very happy with it while working on projects now.

  5. Sorry(?), I’ve not done enough in a shop to have injuries – I’ve also gotten lucky and my few ‘experiences’ have been eye-widening but not injurious. a collapsing support while using the belt sander threw the work across the room, a different block moving had the drill press spin a long bar I was drilling around and THWACK into the backstop hard enough I’m glad I wasn’t in the way, but that’s about it.

    Re: watch order – I remember hearing the latest ‘recommended’ Star Wars watching order is now: 4,5,2,3,6..9 (skipping 1 altogether).

  6. I recently drilled through my thumbnail with a 2″ hole saw. Not as bad as it sounds. After a few days I patched it up with a bunch of crazy glue and sanding and it doesn’t look so bad. I’m glad Adam is still decimal.

  7. I’ve not had any shop accidents of significance, but listening to this makes me realise I need to really up my first aid supplies for if and when something does happen.

    I did have a couple of slips when bulding my house though. I was sawing through a piece of 4″ soil pipe at an angle and the saw suddenly skidded and went through the back of my thumb knuckle down to the bone. Saws make really messy cuts! There were little tendrils of fat sticking out and everything. Had a bunch of stitches in that one.

    Second one, I was trimming a window sill end cap with a stanley knife. I was pushing the knife pretty hard and just as I thought “this might slip” it did and sliced a 5-6mm thick fillet of flesh off the side of the end of my index finger tip, maybe 15mm long, and trimmed the edge of the finger nail as well. That was one of those ones where I didn’t want to look at it. That probably needed hospital attention, but I had too much shit to do and didn’t want to sit in A&E for 5 hours. As it was still hanging on by a bit of skin and flesh, I decided to super glue it back on. I glued it on a little bit wonky but other than that, it healed up pretty well!

  8. I have taken to wearing no Jewelry these days. It started as a requirement at karate, but I don’t wear anything as a rule now.

    No significant injuries for me. Planning to keep it that way.

  9. Adam is lucky! I know several shop teachers and have worked with machinists throughout my career with varying degrees of “phalangeal integrity.” Most of the stories I’ve heard about shop accidents typically happen during repetitive tasks that people have done many times before, at the end of the day when they are rushed, or when an operator is distracted by something other than with workpiece.

    Gotta ask: what kind of safety protocols are in place in the cave? Does Adam have lock-out-tag-out procedures to follow when servicing equipment that can bite?

  10. While I have a few stories of my own injuries, and several stories of witnessing others get hurt in shop, I feel that this one is my most notable.

    To set the scene, it’s the year 2005. I’m working at a tool and die manufacturer. We also dabbled in aerospace projects, and were listed as a tier two supplier for NASA. This is about 2 years after the space shuttle Columbia disaster. We were contacted for a rush job to manufacture a testing arm for the wind tunnels at NASA. The item we were making is a large steel shaft with pockets milled to house vibration sensing equipment to test the heat shield panels under varying conditions. Myself being the young guy in the shop, I would gather tooling and get everything ready for the machinist to do their job. After getting this large forged steel shaft placed into the lathe, with steady rest and tail stock, I turned it over to the lead manual machinist. He was then called into the office to answer a call from his doctor. He was then rushed out to emergency surgery after a biopsy came back with bad news. When I asked him what I was to do about the job I had just set up, he said “Good luck kid”.

    The next day several individuals from NASA arrived to supervise me while I was turning this 6-inch diameter 6-ft long shaft. After several days of manually roughing and finishing the shaft, while being observed by quiet NASA engineers, I was putting the finishing touches I.e. breaking sharp edges. It was a Saturday and only the owner of the company and myself were present. The owner walked away to take a call and I was leaning against the tail stock and filing the leading edge on the end of the shaft. For those not familiar, you file at a slow RPM, and always use a damn handle on the file. I was doing both of those things, but being a young individual, I was wearing a ill fitting Metallica t-shirt (my favorite at the time). While I was leaning on the tail stock, I felt someone tapping my arm. I looked over to what I assumed was the owner of the company, but no one was there. As I look down, the short sleeve of my shirt had gotten caught between the tailstock live center and the part. By the time I noticed this, the t-shirt had wrapped around the center at least two times. Keep in mind, the RPM of the lathe was very slow, but nonetheless this was a 20hp lathe. I was too far away from the stop pedal and emergency stop button. I yelled for some help, but the owner had gone outside for some damn reason. I then did the only thing I could do which was to pull against my sleeve to try to get myself free. I knew that this machine would pull me in, flip me over the part, then slowly drag me under the part, then continue to do so over and over. I started pulling as hard I could, leveraging my feet against the casting. I managed to rip the sleeve off my shirt and free my arm. The aftermath was a lot of torn skin and major bruising completely around my arm close to the armpit. I immediately shut off the machine, proclaimed the part finished, and left work. I healed up pretty well and still have full use of my arm, though it was pretty rough and sore as the muscle healed. Moral of the story, even if you are wearing short sleeve shirt, make sure it’s not too baggy or ripped. That was the second time that Causing lathe tried to take my life, but that’s a story for another time. But I still have that T-shirt hanging in my closet to remind me.

  11. This winter, I was sanding stair spindles, which I’d mounted on my wood lathe, because I was refinishing a boatload of them and it was faster than sanding them by hand in situ. I was wearing gloves because I’d been at it all day and the strips of sandpaper was eating my hands. A nubbin of the old finish caught the strip of sandpaper (cut up 1″ sanding belts) and spooled it, which would have been fine, but the tip of my glove finger caught in the sandpaper and was spooled with it, along with my index finger and thumb. I distinctly remember shouting “NO!” like it was a dog pooping on the carpet, but it was not so easily dissuaded. I broke the first and second digit of the finger (and lost the fingernail on my finger and part of the nail on my thumb.) and have only recently gotten use and feeling back in those fingers. I am right handed, because of course I am.

    I will never again wear gloves near a lathe (I damn well knew better) and only yesterday was willing to turn something (I was an avid turner before the accident) because a hammer handle broke and COVID concerns kept me from just running out to buy a new one. And yeah, what Adam said: I felt a damn fool taking that to the doctor because it was squarely my fault. I KNEW I would have to relate to them the list of Things I Knew Not To Do but did anyway. Shame to say the least.

    Which is a long way of saying I’m glad you didn’t lose your finger just as I’m happy to have use of mine back at last. Shame will hopefully keep me from repeating that mistake again. It’s cold comfort, but I think shame as much as pain is why mistakes survived are such effective learning tools for the survivors.

  12. If you’re having trouble concentrating on reading a book, trying watching and listening. Lots of authors are reading their work online while everyone is stuck at home. A couple of my favs are Chris Skaife the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London reading his book by chapter on his YouTube Ravenology channel, Catherine Valente is reading her Orphans Tales book live on Instagram nightly, and Levar Burton will be doing Levar Burton Reads live on Twitter starting Friday April 4h.

  13. I worked with a lathe during my first go at college and it was terrifying at first. They were 1950 Cincinnati Milicron Lathes. I’m sure they were as big as my car at the time. I was fortunate not to sustain any injuries other than minor cuts and scrapes. Putting the 4 jaw Chuck in the thing was the scariest to me because it had the jaws protruding out. I was always afraid I was going to reach in the wrong place and just watch a finger disappear.

    So glad you’re ok Adam.

  14. Hey Adam, Norm, and Will!

    I have never gotten a major injury while working in my personal shop! I hope I never will; but I’m only 25 so you never know. However, I worked for a granite counter top shop in the QC department and got two pretty nasty injuries. In QC we were tasked with…you guessed it! Making sure the product was up to snuff before it got installed in someone’s house or business. That meant we had to put each piece onto wood tables about waist height that were roughly 3′ x 3′ each. Two ways you could do it: 1) If they are under around 250lbs me and my co-worker would lift and slide them onto the tables (hopefully not breaking them). 2) Use a suction crane for the large islands that weighed 250lbs to 1000lbs.

    The first nasty injury you could probably guess was a torn lumbar from lifting 250lb slabs of granite over and over again five days a week for eight hours a day. That was 3 months of physical therapy and still being worked on everyday with routine exercise. Yay! The second one was a lot more like what happened to you. After the pieces were checked, fixed, and cleared we would load them onto a flat cart all together as one big pretty order to get picked up. Well, one day as me and my co-worker finished putting the last sink counter on the cart the entire cart decided to fall over with all six granite pieces. Thankfully most of me was out of the way, but my left thumb was not so lucky…It got stuck between two pieces and I nearly lost my thumb, luckily I got it out and my co-worker was a recently retired army medic. Huge laceration that needed a bunch of superglue and of course months to lose and regrow a nail!

    Welp that’s the story! Hope you read it and it makes sense (writing isn’t my strong suit). Thank you for all the great content over the years! Stay safe and I’ll see you guys on the other side of this invisible war!

    Another Will

  15. I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries. Most have been manageable with skin glue or dressings. I am however making a move towards building safety into my more ‘bitey’ machines. Like Adam, I also have a large disc sander and part of the install process for me was making sure it would stop in seconds. To that end I added a dynamic brake resistor to a variable frequency drive that’s running the motor. So rather than the 5ish minutes it took to stop on its own, it now stops in 5ish seconds!

    There’s a full video including a build process if you’re interested – youtube.com/maltandmake

    (comment won’t post with links)

  16. I recall my very specific thoughts while using a box knife to cut some drywall on the ceiling, standing upon a somewhat tippy ladder: “This is dangerous … I could slip and cut the hell out of my – OOPS!” 5 stitches. Adam, I can relate to what you went through (especially mentally). I have lots of power tools in my shop and (knock on wood) have NOT been injured by any of them – only by hand tools. But just about EVERY injury I’ve encountered (mine or others’), has engendered a feeling of stupidity and embarrassment. I sincerely congratulate you on the un-severity of your injury, and on your correct evaluation and response to it. Stay well!

  17. Every shop worker has had an accident with his hands. Every chef has had a bad cut. Every programmer (of which I am one) has lost unique, critical, and important files. The times I have lost a lot: my boss was using my backup tapes as scratch tapes, I found an old printout in a 3ft pile I had (I quit shortly afterwords), Reel-to-Reel tape drives and SCSI drives disappeared quickly and I lost all files before 1997. I had a power surge and lost my only drive — I got most, but not all back by paying a recovery company $800. I have lost files by deleting them and waiting too long to recover them. I have files that I cannot read because the programs no longer exist (Wang anyone). Now I have 3 backup stores for most of my system, and one backup for recoverable media (music/TV/Movies). My most critical files are also on Dropbox Documents are now in Markdown or LaTeX. I am still looking for a text solution for diagrams. Only mental pain, but fear as sometimes I lost stuff that was required in an hour and had to frantically recreate it.

  18. Hello- been blade smith for 40 years. 20 yrs. ago got really really bad allergies, and luckily found out my nasal/lung/eye protection from chemicals and ‘sharp dust’, was to put it simply, atrocious.

    Began using full face mask when using any machine, along with side fans and air purifiers.
    Key to my getting over allergies was use of the Neti Pot and Eye ball cup.
    Vids on how to use Neti all over web.

    After a year of ‘detoxifying’, allergies disappeared – UNLESS I did not wear mask or use Neti.

    Then I would get a royal round of nasoid or eye thrashing.

    Adam- I am huge fan and respect what you do and have done, but Dude- your anal/eye protection is atrocious.
    I remember cringing watching you breathing in all manner of dust and chemicals on Mythbusters. I would yell at the screen- Dude- give your snoid a break !!
    Never to late to start good snoid etiquette. Power to the snoid.

  19. Hello- been blade smith for 40 years. 20 yrs. ago got really really bad allergies, and luckily found out my nasal/lung/eye protection from chemicals and ‘sharp dust’, was really bad.
    Actually they were not allergies, but I became ‘intolerant’ of the constituents of the chemicals
    and dust I was breathing in. Once the trigger factors causing the intolerance stopped, my system got a chance to self correct. Same thing can happen with a food one cannot ‘tolerate’.

    Began using full face mask when using any machine, along with side fans and air purifiers.
    Key to my getting over allergies was use of the Neti Pot and Eye ball cup.
    Vids on how to use Neti all over web.

    After a year of ‘detoxifying’, allergies disappeared – UNLESS I did not wear mask or use Neti.

    Then I would get a royal round of nasoid or eye thrashing.

    Adam- I am huge fan and respect what you do and have done, but Dude- your oral/eye protection is atrocious.
    I remember cringing watching you breathing in all manner of dust and chemicals on Mythbusters. I would yell at the screen- Dude- give your snoid a break !!
    Never to late to start good snoid etiquette. Power to the snoid.

  20. Alright, if you really want stories… here’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

    Circular saws, amiright? They never scared me because I grew up with shop safety in my dad’s shop in the basement. He taught me how to use every tool I know how to use today. I’m always careful, always cognizant of danger. I always assume the worse.

    I also share, because kindergarten taught me that. So when I was using a circular saw all day long in college to rip 8′ boards into quarters because the school wouldn’t let us use their table saw (long, dumber story), I felt just fine and I knew what I was doing well enough to take precautions to keep me and others safe. Then I decided that I was hogging the saw and asked if anyone else wanted a go. A friend stepped up and didn’t have the experience I did, but said she was competent enough. Immediately the now very thin boards started hopping all over.

    Against my better judgement, I put my right hand down as far back as I could, knowing that I was in danger, but believing her to be ok enough to not injure me. I believed I was doing the right thing by attempting to keep her safe.

    She tripped over the power cord, lifted her hand without releasing the trigger, caught the saw blade on the wood, and kicked it back over my hand.

    I grabbed my hand with my other hand so fast no blood got on the floor or my clothes or the wood. First thought was “Of course it would be me.” Then, “No, these things don’t actually happen. I’m probably fine.” Third, “Ok wow, I can actually feel the bones inside my hand.” Two surgeries, one semester of physical therapy, and ten years later, this is what I have. Almost all function, though the pinky is not great at all. Scar tissue has cemented the tendons together inside, so all the fingers kinda move together slightly. That’s a pain.

    Word to the wise. If you know what you’re doing, safety is more important that someone else’s feelings. In the end, since she did have an accident, I can only imagine it would have been worse if my hand hadn’t been there. It could have swung up and out and caught her in the leg or something. Who knows? And if you’re going to get a circular saw through your hand so that only the muscle tissue on your palm is holding it together, that’s exactly the line you want to take. No lost fingers, no extreme internal damage to make the hand a useless club.

    Incidentally, 7 months prior I had 1200 pounds of glass fall on my foot and crush all my toes. That hurt way worse than the initial saw injury (which has a lot more funnier bits later on) but not even a tenth as much as my hand and arm hurt after waking up from the second surgery. I haven’t made any such bonehead mistakes since, much to my wife’s happiness. She’s only known me with all the scars. She begs me daily not to add to them.

  21. I know that feeling–yikes, dammit, oh! I wanted to post to share a quick bit of my family lore. My great-grandfather was born in 1905 and lived into his late seventies. As I know it, once his youthful ambitions were crushed not making the cut for the San Francisco Seals, he moved to the East Bay, married and worked as a carpenter. I knew him for a good eight years or so before he passed. Both of his hands were missing fingers. One thumb and index finger on one hand and the end of a finger on the other. He could work with either hand, because he taught himself to be ambidextrous due to the injury. He retired as a cabinet maker and was ‘down in the garage’ making something useful until the end. I don’t recall anyone with any details of his injury, but one anecdotes was mentioned–lost fingers was common among ‘ol timer’ who my great-grandfather worked with. Early power driven saws in a big shop were driven off of a system of belts. The power was uneven, and could cause the stock to lurch. Bang!

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