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Fixing up the 66
In July 2003 I cut the tip of my left index finger mostly off on a table saw at a friend's house. This was of course my own fault for not being sufficiently safety conscious, but it probably would not have happened on better equipment. For one thing, the blade was very dull so I had to push hard on the wood to get it to go through the saw, which tempted me to push with my left hand instead of using it only for guiding the wood against the fence. So while I was using a pushstick in my right hand, my left hand ended up pushing towards the blade without a push stick. This contractors saw was pretty lightweight so I had to hold it down with one foot to keep it from tipping over while I was jamming this wood through it, which likely affected my concentration. It also had the stock throat plate in it, which leaves a very big gap to the side of the blade. I was ripping some thin strips from a 2x4, and getting to the end of a test cut when something happened which caused the offcut to get jammed into the gap between the blade and the throat plate. My left hand now had little resistance from the wood and went into the blade. I tried to pull it back, but it was too late and I felt a smack on my fingers as if someone had hit them with a piece of wood. Seeing a mess on the end of my hand I quickly put it in a rag and got my friend to drive me to the hospital. Fortunately, it was just the tip of one finger, which a good orthopedic surgeon put back on. Of course the bone was gone from the saw kerf area and had to be cleaned up, and the nail was mostly gone from one side, but the chunk he put back on the end has taken nicely and I even have some feeling back in the tip now. Its a bit shorter, looks and feels kind of funny, but all in all its hard to hope for anything better than that when you put your hand into a table saw.

I gave some serious thought to my lifelong interest in making things with tools that can maim. But in the end I decided that this is just too big a part of who I am to give up, and vowed to be more safe in the future but to continue using power machines. In order to give myself the best chance I decided to buy a cabinet saw, and fit it out with a great fence, zero clearance insert, and a sharp blade. After reading lots of accident accounts with table saws on the web, I also decided to put in some kind of splitter. I would also like to use a blade guard, but am still undecided on which approach will prove the least annoying.

About the same time, I discovered the Old Woodworking Machines web community, and opened my mind to buying something old and reconditioning it. This would also help me to know my tool and give some more though to the whole situation while my finger healed. So I found a Powermatic 66 for sale in the local Want Ads magazine and purchased it.

This machine came from a junior-high school shop, donated to a woodworker/preacher who had led the life of a depraved hippy in his youth but then one day had a rapturous seizure which led him to dedicate his life to god. One of the ways this manifested was that he built a lot of cabinets for god, built a church for god, built a house for god, worked with delinquent kids to build furniture for god, and resold donated woodworking machines for god.

I'm not sure of the undoubtedly depressing circumstances which caused a junior high school wood shop to close its doors forever, but it did bring me a 1973 special edition Powermatic 66 table saw. I had to take it mostly apart to move it home in my friend JD's truck and get it into my house. Here it is sitting in our spare kitchen.


You are _so_ dirty

After much work to recondition and replace parts on this beauty, which you can read about through the sidebar, I have it back to work now.


Sweet!

Design partially original and partially ripped off from other websites
by Holly Gates