Originally Posted by from the artmetal mailist:
I understand about the "hands on" aspect, and would most likely feel as you do if our situations were reversed. On the other hand, I'm always worried about the liability issues. Some folks (on other metalworking sites that I won't mention my name) think I'm a moron for always harping on the safety issues of spinning metal, saying that spinning is no more dangerous than any other metalworking activity. If people want to think that working with one's hands in VERY close proximity to a razor-sharp disc of metal turning about 900 rpm's is not dangerous, that's their business.
And while we're on the subject of grizzly shop stories, here are a couple of my personal worsts: 1982, while truing up a 24" circle of 1/16" thick stainless on a spinning lathe running at 900 rpm's. The stick I was using (on top of the toolrest and braced up against the fulcrum pin) was pulled into the stainless disc followed by my hand. I was afraid to look, as the little finger (on the leather glove) was lying on the floor. Yup, I found the little finger (inside the palm of the glove). I'll skip the details, I don't really want to get too gross. First thing I did was throw up, and for some odd reason sat (I either sat or half/fainted, I don't really recall) on the cement floor. Just then, my potter friend in the studio next to me walked by, saw me on the floor, and rushed me to the hospital, where they re-attached the finger and casted me from elbow to fingertips. My pinky, unbelieveably works pretty well.
In '01, my hand got pulled into the lathe once again, this time cutting through the index finger knuckle. Even after some pretty delicate hand surgery the tiny ligaments that hold the tendon in place over the knuckle don't function quite right, allowing the finger to dislocate at the weirdest moments. That one was pretty scary too, since I could clearly see the severed bone, ligaments, sheath, and tendon all just hanging out all over the place.
Another gross accident occurred when I was spinning some brass over a maple chuck (also called a spinning mandrel, or spinning form) about 8" in diameter. Out of nowhere, the chuck literally exploded, with some parts hitting the flourescent fixture above the lathe (scared the sh** out of me) sending glass shrapnel all over the place, while a piece of maple hit me right between the eyes (10 stitches, I was lucky), and the brass part I was spinning did a number on my shoulder, opening up a 4" gash that took about 30 stitches, and breaking my collarbone.
#1 on my all-time scared sh**less list...I was spinning alone in my workshop during a pretty good lightning storm...gotta get that rush job done. All of a sudden, all I saw was bright white out of the corner of my eye, and the next thing I knew I was on the floor about 15' from the lathe wondering what the hell had just happened. I wasn't burned, the electricity was still on, and I couldn't see any evidence of a lightning strike. I went straight to the doctor...he told me he didn't think I was actually struck by lightning, he thought I just jumped out of the way (more like out of my skin), juiced up by adrenaline.