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Carpenters, I need your help (I'm a student)

CorigamiC's picture

  Hi everyone,

     My name’s Corey and I am a student at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), studying Industrial Design, which is essentially product design, with an emphasis on creative solutions, and comfortable and intuitive user interaction.

     I read an interesting quote recently, speaking of carpenters and the higher than average rate of injury. I was wondering if any of you could share a little story or some insight to help me out. I also have a quick 9-question survey online if you would rather fill that out. Thank you very much for your time and any help you can give me!



Here’s the link to the survey:

Corey (post #209503, reply #1 of 7)

42 yrs on the job, still with all my digits.

Broke a wrist on a house, falling over the side of a stairway I was working on the finish.

Shard of plastic laminate in the eye-urgent care removed it.

Body worn out from the yrs of work-but who's isn't after that much time.


My insurance rates are not bad-roofers I would think are a higher rate.  In the union, we would get a slight increase in hourly rate when off the ground maybe 10ft.

I know a flooring carpenter-he don't get up and stand straight anymore-he's got to be 70-at least he looks at least that.  Pretty hunched over-hell, he eats his lunch on the floor.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


There's some really helpful (post #209503, reply #2 of 7)

There's some really helpful information there Calvin, thank you.

helpful info? (post #209503, reply #3 of 7)


Here's another one.

I was a student too.  After 4 yrs (just short of the diploma) a friend asked me to help him build a headshop-I had a saw.

42 yrs later I'm giving out information that has absolutely nothing to do with my college education. 

Don't make the same mistake or at least be able to live happily with your decision.



Best of luck.

and thank you for coming back.  This has been done b/4 on this site and usually there's no followup response from the student.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


15 years a carpenter (post #209503, reply #4 of 7)

And 17 as an editor now. In the earlier 15 years, I had the typical gamut of injuries - Minor cuts, splinters, and bruises all the time. Two falls from ladders, no injuries. Sliced the back of my left hand open with a chisel once, took a bunch of stitches. Ran three fingers on my left hand through a tablesaw. No amputations, but required a skin graft and I'm missing bone. The fingers still work just fine, if you don't count that they hurt like hell in the cold. Chronic back pain, although that's diminished remarkably since I've been exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. In 15 years, I bet I didn't take more than a week off due to injury. The day after my tablesaw incident, I was back in my shop with my hand in a cast. That's not machismo, it's no work, no pay.  

In retrospect, none of my injuries were inevitable, and avoidance was always within my control.

Andy Engel

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Andy (post #209503, reply #5 of 7)

You brought my broken wrist episode back in the memory-

Probably a week till the hard cast and then right back at it.  Finished the stairs and the rest of the trim on that house.  Got to use it quite well as the positioner and pursuader, even mastered the switch on the mitre saw with the other hand.  Felt quite pleased with myself.

When the phy. asst. cut the cast off (first intro to the Multimaster) he asked if I had done " anything "with that arm over the 6 wks in the cast?  Well...............yeah, I sort of "worked" and used it "only moderately".


He was surprised that it wasn't the usual shriveled up thing he sees. 

The therapy was a breeze.


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Hmm:  have a 14 YO grandson (post #209503, reply #6 of 7)

Hmm:  have a 14 YO grandson named Cory, without the 'e'. 

Grandpa died from a ladder fall while painting a house.

There is an old 15 YO or so thread here I started titled "surviving falls" that has a few hundred responses, lots of info there, including a guy who fell off a grain elevator in MT and lived to tell about it with no permanent injuries.

Got yelled at by mom when 5 yo after pounding a pound or so of 8d nails into back porch - pop was understanding though when I told him I did not want the porch to blow off in a tornado - we had had a tornado do damage a few blocks away the previous month.

1958 - shoved chisel thru left hand doing a window mortice - just taped it up and went on 

1959 - ran table saw into endo of thumb doing freehand carving on TS.

1972 - 157 stitches in left hand when roller on end of chain saw broke, no perm damage  -- got new saw and medical paid by Sears and type of roller bar taken off market.

1974 - pulled tree on head with dozer (had removed FOP to change clutch and had not put it back yet), spent 2 weeks in hospital, about 1" away from being dead

2002 (some good safe years in that span, eh?) - dropped steel angle on left hand, 25 more stitches

2005 - tore rotator cuff taking tire off dump truck rim, required surgery and 9 mo recovery.

2011 - angle grinder slipped, cut tendon in back of left hand. LH stitches went over 200

Oh, BTW, 'just' a DIY, have built 3 houses and remodeld a few others, but all in addition to 40+ hr wk day job (eng)..

3 or 4 other injuries (nail punctures) from recycling large pallets for the lumber.  For tme spent, that is probably the highest injury rate per hour spent at the tasks.

15 YO to about 35 YO = no aches or pains, but did get tired at times building first house working 45+ hours a week at it plus day job. Can carry 300 # of concrete at a time if need be, a couple of times carried 6 (six) sheets of 1/2" 4x8 drywall at one time up a flight of stairs just to prove I could do it.  Had a contest once when boy scouts were sandbagging the river - carried 600# of sandbags at once about 50 feet (the bigger dads were having a contest, the boys would stack 2 high on each shoulder, 3 bags in each hand, 2 under each arm, and one balanced on head) - nobody could load up with more that that, 3 dads were able to do that size load)

35-50 YO  Once in awhile something does not feel too good

50-65 YO   an occasionl nap is nice.

65+ = gotta tear the drywall tape off the ends of bundle, hard to lift even 2 sheets at one time <G>

67 YO - gave up trying to keep up with 20 somethings at Habitat on  raw physical labor tasks (e.g just moving materials)

67 YO - did hang 60 sheets of 5/8 drywall that year, but used a motorized ift <G>

2ea  40# sandbags at a time is a good load.   

When DW hit 55 YO (15 years ago), she refused to continue cutting and splitting her share of the 10 cords of wood a year we used for heat, made me install a heat pump <G>    

At 48 years old (post #209503, reply #7 of 7)

I decided that carrying 1/2 a bundle of shingles up the ladder at a time was wise. At 51 years old, after losing 30 lbs., I discovered that carrying a full bundle wasn't a big deal.

Liked your timeline, Junkhound. And it reminded me that one way we testesterone-oozing construction workers get into trouble is by pushing our limits to excess. There's an old joke about an old bull wanting to run up the hill to visit one heifer in the herd, and the old bull saying to go ahead, and that he'd walk up the hill and visit all the other heifers.

So soon old, so late smart.

Andy Engel

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.