What Would You Do?

by | Mar 27, 2014 | 24 comments

The extractor bags inflated in to life and the thicknesser whirled up in to action. My knees buckled, back groaned as I took hold and lifted up half a bench top. I eased it on to the table of the thicknesser and heard the familiar sound of the anti-kick back fingers lock in to place. Then I realised my mistake. I could push it no further. ‘Bastard!’ I forgot to engage the power feed. With those fingers locked in there was no pulling it back out.

What would you do?

A) Try to engage the feed lever with one foot whilst taking the load of the top on your other leg?

B) Crawl underneath, trying to take the weight of the top on your back whilst lowering the table to allow it to be backed out?

C) (the option which I took) Make sheep noises and await rescue?sheep

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ken

    HaHa yep I think I would pick option 3 my self buddy. You take it easy my friend 😉

  2. Dan Noall

    Almost laughing too hard to type! “C” for me as well.

  3. Simon

    Have you ever considered adding some kind of crane to your workshop? Either a gantry crane or an engine crane? It would make moving heavy benches a lot easier and safer!

  4. John Walker


    I had to smile, having been in similar scrapes. But that was a seriously unpleasant moment or two. Have you considered using a ‘gurney’; height adjustable, and with lockable rollers on the top? I don’t know where you’d get one from, other than an undertakers! Seems to be what you need to position the tops prior to pushing into the feed of the thicknesser.
    just a thought.

  5. Arthur van der Harg

    D) Sit down, holding up the top from below. Then engage the feed lever with my (now free) feet.

    But it would be some serious exercise 🙂

  6. ScottV

    Did you try to just let go of your feelings and use “THE FORCE”?

  7. mike murray

    I sure like the picture. Nice looking sheep. Are they yours? What breed is that, Cotswold? Kind of different to see sheep with the mottled color face like that.

    Sorry, don’t know what would have been the best thing for you with the half benchtop. Possibly using some kind of mobile support like was mentioned by Mr. Walker

  8. Jim

    Option B for me, I have a strong back and way to much pride to have my wife see me like that. My kids would ignore me no matter what noises I made – teenagers!

  9. Fred

    In the absence of a wife sensitive to sheep noises, what noises would you think appropriate?

  10. Daviid Nighswander

    Since you were able to type this I expect your rescuer arrived.
    Sometimes it’s just a pain to be alive.
    To avoid such an situation in the future I might put a time delay on the power feed so that after the thicknesser started and got up to speed the power feed and collector would start automatically.
    The only need for a timer would be to avoid blowing breakers, or fuses if that’s what you have, with the inrush current from 3 large motors starting at once.
    Alternately you could just tie the power feed into a contact switch so when material enters the thicknesser the power feed starts.
    I have a 13″ molder/planer that I tied the collector into the start circuit because I kept forgetting to start it and constantly plugged the planer chip outlet.

  11. EllBee

    That must have been a Kodak moment. Maybe a portable infeed table, like a saw bench, and matching outfeed, that are stackable, may be in your futute?

  12. Michael Forster

    Don’t know the answer, Richard – but if that’s my benchtop I shall treat it with added reverence for the extra effort that went into it!

  13. Dave

    Donkey work! Pah! 😉

  14. Sylvain

    I am surprised that you could make sheep noises louder than the extractor and thicknesser combined. May be you had the help of your mobile phone?
    So what about mobile phone/a pair of Cordless telephones/talkie walkie/”babyphone”/… as a safety device?
    There are mobile phones “intended for the elderly” with a big red button. It might be useful.

  15. John S

    Hello Richard,

    Many years ago I used to keep sheep in Shetland, a wise old Shetlander once gave me some very good advice – when compromised at the thicknesser never make sheep noises, – there may be a ram about!

  16. Vic Tesolin

    Baaaaa!… Baaaaaaaaa!….Bleeeet! Good call…. 🙂

  17. Rob Stoakley

    Sheep noises will usually do the job Richard, but they’ll be an automatic loss of hard won Brownie points when Helen saunters in, brew in hand, muttering under her breath…”What a frickin’ muppet”

  18. Mark J

    D. Stand in doorway and laugh, until you promised great bodily harm. Then I would lend a hand. Like so many others that posted….been there and done that. Baaaaaaaaahhh

  19. Patrick

    Hope this event doesn’t make you “sheepish” around the rest of your power tools. (Somebody had to say it.)

  20. fred

    Not just me then. Sounds like EWE need to give it a RAM….sorry for the poor puns. I had similar problems in a small workshop and moving large sheet material. My solution. All the work benches, bench saw and cupboards are all purpose built at the same height. This means I can then use all the surfaces to slide the timber and sheet material around the workshop and save my back. Off now as I need some painkillers 🙂

  21. Matthew

    Done that one myself. Thankfully, the off switch is very easy to hit with any sort of attached limb or falling debris…

  22. Ian Elley

    Take on an apprentice ? Just a thought

  23. Bob Sanchez

    Richard, you have elevated yourself to my top three favorite bloggers. Fantastic and valuable videos and blogs aside, Option 3 shall now reside in my rolodex of witty comebacks for my poorly thought out antics. You are now my hero, right beside Mr. Schwarz and Stumpy Nubs.

  24. Maryellen Burdwood

    Ah, that made me laugh! I’ve made my share of sheep noises… On the other hand…
    We had a shop buddy for a couple of years, and one day, when I cut myself rather badly, and went to him quietly, trailing droplets of red behind me, and asked for a hand to bandage me up, he looked at me and said “you know, you are weird.. when you are hurt fairly badly, you say nothing, but come to me for a hand fixing you up, but when you make a tiny mistake, you scream like a banshee… and I always come running, for fear you are dying… what’s up with that?” I’ve no answer… except that mistakes maybe bother me more than injuries.


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