Hello fellow woodworkers. Rich Christianson asked me recently if I would provide WoodworkingNetwork.com with a little more insight into what inspired me to invent the table saw safety device which we now call “Whirlwind,” and I am happy to share some thoughts and reflections on that experience and maybe answer a few questions from readers.
I was enrolled in the Cabinetmaking program at Boston Trade High School at the age of 14 where I formally learned the craft. That early high school four year education schedule was a week of academics followed by a week of shop time. The shop was huge and basically divided into a mill section and bench work section.
I immediately gravitated toward the mill section with the noise, the dust and excitement where perhaps a half dozen machines were running at any given time. This place was a throwback to an earlier time, still equipped with an overhead line shaft driving a 36“ thickness planer, and a 16” jointer among the many other independently powered machines. There were a couple of bad accidents while I attended, but I personally witnessed only one, which was not a table saw injury.
Upon HS graduation the US Navy accepted me and provided several months of electronics training and I became an Electronics Technician working both ashore and shipboard. In a few short years, I left the Navy for civilian life where I was fortunate to be offered a job with IBM.
After more months of classroom and lab training I was assigned to work on the huge prototype SAGE air-defense computer which was still under development by MIT, IBM and the Air Force. I was indeed fortunate and spent most of my professional career in computer related electronics and developments.
Over the years as time, work space and budget allowed I built up a home woodworking shop and acquired a few machines. During that time I did much carpentry and built many small things and occasionally would build a reproduction of an American classic furniture piece.
When we moved into this house about a decade ago, I finished the new basement with my office a den and a good sized shop with proper power and lighting and very important dust control. Sawdust is really very bad stuff to breathe over an extended period. All species of wood dust are now recognized internationally as a Class 1 carcinogen. I hope I dodged that bullet, but I do seem to have minor chronic sinus problems.