I’m not afraid to pull down my pants, turn my head and cough when it comes to discussing workshop practice. And after reading this very interesting bit on treating wounds with French polish, I decided to discuss some of the stuff I do – advisable or not.
When I cut myself in the shop and it’s not ER-able, the first thing I do is wash out the wound in the sink with running water and soap. Then I put some Neosporin or some such on the wound.
But how do I close the wound so that I can continue to work? That depends.
If it’s real minor, I use fabric bandages from the drugstore. Yawn, I know. But these bandages – no matter how much money I spend on them – are usually wrecked when I move my joints. Most woodworking wounds are on the hands, so most bandages don’t last long.
So if it’s a bleeder, I take some other steps that have worked well in my shop for 15 years without any problems. First, clean the wound. Clean it. Clean. It. Then:
1. Blue tape and a clean paper towel. Yup, make your own custom dressing with these two common shop products. Why do I do this? It’s a much more “adaptable” dressing. Even good fabric bandages don’t last the whole day in the shop. Blue tape sure does. And the tape resists dirt. Fabric bandages absorb it.
2. Cyanoacrylate with accelerator. This is my favorite wound-closer. After cleaning things out, I’ll press the wound together, apply some cyano over it and squirt it with accelerator. If it’s a wound on a joint, I’ll usually add a second coat of cyano to make a tough skin. I follow that up with the blue tape/paper towel as noted above to keep the dirt out, and I am good to go.
3. Recently, I’ve made some bandages from clean strips of cotton (old T-shirts) soaked with hide glue. You make the bandages beforehand so they look like light brown strips of dried bacon. But they work. You wrap them around the wound and they tack pretty quick. I still prefer cyano over all the other methods, but this is a good field solution.
I know that the doctors will likely cringe at my methods. But I have had far fewer problems with infection once I started actively closing the wounds with cyano and blue tape.
— Christopher Schwarz