Cleaning up a printed in place joint

Don’t filet your thumb….

Note to self, don’t filet your thumb. A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning up a 3D print with an X-acto knife. It was one of the more intricate pieces of a 6 speed automatic transmission. As a professionally trained woodworker and long time maker I’ve spent 20+ years around very large, sharp and potentially dangerous tools.

Cleaning up a large print....
Cleaning up a large print….

I got home from work at a decent time for a rare change and was cleaning up a print as I waited for my wife to get home from work. In trying to free up a printed in place joint I had a brand new X-acto knife blade shatter. I was holding the gear in my left hand and the knife in my right and pulled off an impressive feat — I was able to deeply lacerate my right hand thumb!

Getting into the details with an X-acto knife
Getting into the details with an X-acto knife

It didn’t hurt at first and I thought it was just a light cut, but wow it was bleeding. It was not until I rinsed it in the sink that I realized how big and how deep the cut was — my thumb was filleted open and I could see veins etc — the worst cut I ever gave myself.  I washed and packed it down as I frantically paced waiting for my wife to get home and as I used one hand to get my 2 year old son and 7 month old son ready  for a trip to the emergency room. It was not how I wanted to spend my Friday night. The result was 12 stitches in the skin and 3 more in the muscle to put my thumb back together. This ended my hand modeling career. 😦

12 stitches on the outside and 3 more in the muscle.
12 stitches on the outside and 3 more in the muscle.

Why are you telling me about your self mangling adventure? 

I’ve never had great timing. About 2 days after the above incident I got an email from the folks at NoCry who manufacture “Cut Resistant Protective Work Gloves with Rubber Grip Dots” and they offered me some gloves to try out. I wish they found me a week earlier, but given my recent set of stitches, I definitely wanted to try them out.

Testing with the same model X-acto and fresh blade from the same box as the one that shattered and slashed my thumb
Testing with the same model X-acto and fresh blade from the same box as the one that shattered and slashed my thumb

The first thing that I thought about when I envisioned a cut resistant glove was the heavy chainmail style carving glove like what Lee Valley sells here. I’ve looked at them in the past, but at $89/glove the price was prohibitive.

I checked out the NoCry gloves website here http://www.cutresistantgloves.org/ and read up on how they work. The fabric in these gloves is woven from a mixture of stainless steel, polyethylene, glass fiber and spandex.

Little gun shy at first but pressing quite hard and attempting to cut....
Little gun shy at first but pressing quite hard and attempting to cut….

The gloves are designed to take at least 5 cuts in the same exact area   with a reasonable solid amount of pressure before you’d be able to cut through them.

Long cut with a freshly sharpened Leatherman Surge
Long cut with a freshly sharpened Leatherman Surge

I tried cutting the gloves with the same x-acto knife that cut up my thumb, along with a freshly sharpened Leatherman Surge, a classic Swiss Army knife and a few other sharp instruments I had at my maker workbench.

You can see the lines left from earlier attempts to cut into the glove.
You can see the lines left from earlier attempts to cut into the glove.

I was impressed with how well the gloves fared. On some of the harder tests (pressing hard and trying to slice through the fabric) you can see some lines where I made inroads into the fabric after a couple of repeated cuts, but it definitely would have helped protect my thumb if I had them when that X-Acto blade snapped on me.

To see the sort of slicing I attempted in action you can watch this YouTube video from the company here.

Having said that, do note that they are not impenetrable — meaning something sharp and pointed like an skinny awl or a puncture from say the tip of an X-Acto knife pressing straight in on the point could likely get through some of the knitting, but the far more dangerous slicing laceration is well protected.  The palm side of the glove also has a nice tight array of silicon dots that help you keep a grip on whatever you are holding. The dots worked well even when I sliced through a few to see if they’d fall off.

The textured buttons really aid the grip.
The textured buttons really aid the grip.

I’m 6′-1.5″ inches tall and have large hands. Based on their sizing chart I got a size Large and found the gloves to be the perfect size. For me gloves usually are too short in the fingers or too tight or way too big. They seemed to stretch well and are machine washable.

At $15.99/pair on Amazon as of the time of this post they quite reasonably priced and a worthwhile investment/insurance policy for your hands.  If you’d like to try them out you can find them on Amazon here.

After my thumb incident and since writing this post I’ve used these gloves regularly as I clean up 3D prints and I’ve continued to be happy with them.  If you get a pair and try them out, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of them.

Take care,
-Bill
@TheRainford

P.S. I do not work for the NoCry company nor was I paid for the above post beyond noting that  they did provide me with gloves to test.

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