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Thread: Shop safety - got nailed with a broken bowl today

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Paradise, CA or Culebra, Puerto Rico
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    Shop safety - got nailed with a broken bowl today

    Just posting this as a safety reminder not to get complacent at our lathes.

    I got off easy this afternoon when I had a white oak bowl come apart on me unexpectedly. It was actually my wifes bowl and she'd just finished sanding it and needed to wax it (carnauba/bees mix) but she's a little skittish about being up close to things on the lathe while they're spinning too fast so she stopped and asked if I'd wax it for her. No problem dear.

    It didn't have any cracks or other visible damage/weakness and had been turned and sanded at a variety of high speeds for most of the morning but I always move out of the line of fire when bringing the speed up on these things. Today I didn't do that when I started and didn't think of it until about halfway thru bringing the speed up at which point I started to move my body to the side. I didn't quite make it before the bowl came apart and took a solid hit to the face.

    Unfortunately I didn't have my face shield on since it's too hard to see fine detail thru while applying finish. Fortunately I always wear plastic safety glasses, even under a shield (when I'm wearing it) and those almost certainly saved my eye. The glasses took the brunt of the impact (it broke them in multiple places) right over the center of my eye. I suspect the bruising will be impressive over the next couple days and is a nice solid oval in the exact shape of my glasses. Then some abrasion from where some of the bowl deflected down and scraped across my face. Also a moderate amount of bleeding in my sinus on that side that stopped before long. No concussion thankfully.

    Very lucky and very glad that it was me instead of my wife.

    The bowl was white oak (air dried 5 years), 3" by 12" (ballpark) and was about 1/2" thick in most places so nice and heavy. Photo taken a few minutes after the fact.




  2. #2
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    You are a lucky man, you coul have been very seriously injured.

    Jay Mullins

  3. #3
    Sorry about your mishap, but you may have saved a few of us in the process. All too often I only wear my safety glasses and forego the face shield. I may have to rethink that after reading your post.

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Wow. What a hit!
    Can you help us with a couple of details? Is that mounted on a tenon or in a recess? How fast was it spinning when it broke?

    Thank you.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  5. #5
    David, I am glad you are OK. I do notice there are a couple of cracks - one in each of the two larger sections and it may be that the separation occurred in other existing cracks. Also, the bottom/floor appears to be considerably thinner than the side walls and spinning a piece like that puts considerable stress on the floor of the piece, particularly if there is any difference in the density of the wood - and there almost always is some.

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  6. #6
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    Feb 2016
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    Walworth, NY
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    Is it an end grain bowl? And is there a recess?

  7. #7
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    Jun 2017
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    Jasper, Alabama
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    Glad you are ok David. Very lucky indeed.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Northern Arizona
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    David - First and foremost, I'm glad you're OK and thanks for the safety reminder.

    While finishing my last bowl project I noticed that a lot of heat can be generated during the buffing process. Does this have any effect on the structure of the wood possibly contributing to the fibers breaking apart? I was using the Beall system so the bowl itself wasn't turning but wondered at the time about what effect the heat might have on the wood.

  9. #9
    wow. Sobering experience. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Haubstadt (Evansville), Indiana
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    David, glad you are ok. I had one come apart on me. I was wearing a face shield and it didn't cause any injuries. Mine was due to too high speed and I did see a small crack that I super glued. I now think about that every time I have a piece on the lathe knowing it can happen.
    When working I had more money than time. In retirement I have more time than money. Love the time, miss the money.

  11. #11
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    Jun 2007
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    Clayton , North Carolina
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    As I am slowly teaching myself to use my Homecraft lath (around 50-60 years old) with the goal of working up to turning bowls, posts like this one, although they scare the bejesus out of me, also make me hyper alert to the dangers of high speed spinning things. Thanks, David and and am glad you and your wife are both OK.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Brimm View Post
    Just posting this as a safety reminder not to get complacent at our lathes.
    Thanks so much for posting that, David. Each of us needs reminders, over and over. I wonder how many never get mentioned.

    I wonder if a sticky thread compilation for accidents and near misses would be a good thing, not necessarily diluted with public comments but a single edited message for each story with photos if available: what happened, why, what to do differently.

    JKJ

  13. #13
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    Nov 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Kent View Post
    Wow. What a hit!
    Can you help us with a couple of details? Is that mounted on a tenon or in a recess? How fast was it spinning when it broke?

    Thank you.
    It was mounted by a dovetail recess on my SuperNova2. Not sure the exact speed but somewhere in the 1800-2000 range I suspect. I was bringing the speed up to put a little wax on it and hadn't touched it yet.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Keeton View Post
    David, I am glad you are OK. I do notice there are a couple of cracks - one in each of the two larger sections and it may be that the separation occurred in other existing cracks. Also, the bottom/floor appears to be considerably thinner than the side walls and spinning a piece like that puts considerable stress on the floor of the piece, particularly if there is any difference in the density of the wood - and there almost always is some.
    Thanks John. Yeah I noticed those cracks when I gathered the pieces afterwards.. they weren't there as far as the wife or I could see prior to it coming apart. Now the whole piece of wood is coming apart in strips like that so I suspect the entire piece was weak but looked good at the time. I also didn't realize until after the fact how (comparably) thin the wife had gotten the floor, it's more like 1/4" to 3/8" thickness. Both of us made poor decisions that led up to the accident.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn C Roberts View Post
    Is it an end grain bowl? And is there a recess?
    Not end grain unless I misunderstand your meaning and yes there was a recessed dovetail for the chuck.

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