As you can see from this mangled piece of trim, I recently had a router mishap. Thankfully I wasn’t injured — the only casualty was the oak trim — but it was exciting for a few minutes there, and the incident brought to mind a few things I thought I’d share.
When I was ‘round about fourteen, our assistant shop teacher –- a very grizzly, annoyed sort of man –- brought us all around the nearest shop station, told us to pay attention, and gave us the most effective demonstration ever.
“This is a router. I don’t want any of you idiots playing around with these like you do with everything else. These aren’t toys, and I definitely don’t want to see anybody doing this.” He turned the router on and put his hand in the path and looked up at us. “This is stupid, you can really…”
He stopped there because he’d just managed to chew half his thumb off with the router. It happened in a blink. Upon looking around, all of us were flecked in blood and stunned into inaction. This is where I learned routers are serious tools. It was an effective demo of what not to do, and it’s stayed with me.
Fast-forward to eighteen years later: When the router kicked towards me, I was prepared — I had both hands on it, and I pushed it hard away from me. It bounced hard off the wall. Once it spun to a stop, I counted all my digits and thought back to the old demonstration. Yep, I had not repeated the scene — all was good. Never play chicken with the router. No project is worth tearing a chunk out of yourself.
The difference between a router and something like a belt sander is a belt sander will sand off skin and hurt a bunch, but it’s at least a funny story to tell. A router accident is often a life-changing event. And I don’t care what you’ve heard; Stumpy, Lefty, Thumbs, and the Whittler are not cool nicknames.
Be careful with routers. Don’t put parts of your body in the path, and never get your fingers near the bit when it’s plugged in.
No routers were harmed in the telling of this story.