As I mentioned in my first entry (This isn’t actually my first entry, although the title says so), I was an Industrial Arts teacher for a number of years; starting with high school crafts, then moving to middle school wood and drafting, then high school wood, then high school, wood, metal, photography, yearbook, auto, lunch duty and D-hall. When teaching shop, safety is of the utmost importance, especially when middle school students are involved. Today, the idea of turning middle school students loose in a room filled with power tools, and sharp instruments, is not all that appealing; frightening, actually, but not so in the early ’80’s.
Shop safety, it was drilled, it was tested, it was enforced; but one year, I forgot a cardinal rule when using the band saw: DO NOT CUT ROUND WOOD, unless it is adequately and safely secured, clamped, etc. I discovered an oval chunk of wood. I don’t remember the species, but I remember that it was oval, and it was interesting in appearance. I decided that it would make a great band saw box. So, one day, during my lunch hour, I clamped a rip fence on the band saw, stood the oval on it’s edge and began to slice the top loose. Things were going well, so well that I’d forgotten a very important rule.
Within and inch into the cut, the band saw blade hung on the edge of the oval, pulling the front end down, forcefully. So forcefully, that it spun it, kicking it up off of the band saw table, “rifling” it right off of the fence, up into the left side of my mouth. Upon striking my jaw bone, the oval careened up across my safety glasses and my forehead, knocking me backwards. “OUCH, THAT”S GONNA LEAVE A MARK!" Boy did it.
The oval laid my upper lip OPEN. Blood was going every where, but I quickly grabbed some paper towels to stem the flow. I quickly, staggered to the front office, at which time the school principal drove me to the emergency room. The ER doc looked me over and said stitches were in order.
Back then I, as I have since high school, I wore a mustache, and at that moment, the left half was now in two halves, itself. The nurse said that I was going to have to shave it, so the doc could see to stitch me up. Now the last time I was without a mustache, junior year in high school, I had shaved my mustache off and my nose grew by about two inches. That was not going to happen again. “How about a pair of scissors?” I asked the nurse.
“Why do you want scissors?” was her reply. “So I can trim the doc a path to sew me up.” She rolled her eyes, produced a pair of scissors and I did snip away. Don’t remember the number of stitches, but I do remember that one was internal. Any way, I got sewed up and hauled back to the school.
Of course, the next day I had to explain to all my students what had happened and what rule I had broken. They never let me live that down; the principal too. At the end of the year awards assembly, he introduced me as a great shop teacher, who “had a problem with following rules.”
So, with all that said, remember that safety rules are for a reason. After all the years of teaching shop, I still have all 10 fingers, and a scar in my upper left lip, hidden by my mustache.
Keith “Shin” Schindler
-- Keith "Shin" Schindler