Throwing In The Towel (With My Aching, Swollen Hand)

Well, I’m done with the electrical work in my studio. Let me clarify. It’s not finished, but I am. I’m calling in the pros to finish it up for me.

And it’s not because I don’t know how to do it, or I feel like it’s above my head. It’s because I injured myself yesterday in a way that really scared me.

I could probably count on one hand the number of times in my DIY life that I’ve had a power tool accident that really scared me and injured me, but this was one of those times. And it had nothing to do with the actual electrical work. It had to do with this devil of a drill…

This is not my daily use drill. The drill I use for daily tasks, like putting a screw in the wall to hang a picture, or install drawer slides, is a little lightweight blue drill that I’ve had forever. I love that thing. It’s the perfect size for my small hands, and like I said, it doesn’t weigh a whole lot, so it’s easy for my wrists to support and use on tasks that take hours.

This big DeWalt, on the other had, is a beast. I pull it out when I need a super powerful drill to do a job that I know my friendly little blue drill can’t handle, like drilling large holes through two or three 2 x 4’s to get electrical wires through.

But this drill is big, and heavy, and powerful. Did I mention that it’s powerful? 😀

So yesterday, I was up on a ladder drilling a hole in the top plate of the wall for the half bath so I could get an electrical wire to the bathroom switch. Here’s the hole I was trying to drill…

My drill bit got about halfway through (so about an inch-and-a-half in), when all of a sudden, the bit caught on something (presumably a really hard knot, but I can’t be sure) and stopped spinning. So because the drill bit wouldn’t spin anymore, but the very powerful motor on the very powerful drill was still going (because this all happened in a split second), the drill whipped around and pinned my hand between it and the 2 x 4 wall stud.

But it didn’t stop, because the force with which it whipped my hand around put my hand in such a position where the force against my hand was causing my hand to continue pushing down on the trigger at almost full speed.

I tried to make my hand release the pressure on the trigger, but I couldn’t because of the position that my hand was in.

So I grabbed the grip of the drill with my left hand, trying to pull the opposite way against the force of the motor to free my hand, but it just wouldn’t budge. Did I mention that this is a very powerful drill with a very powerful motor?

So there I stood, on a ladder, in tremendous pain, with my right hand pushing down with almost full force on the trigger of the powerful drill while it was trapped between it and the stud.

I wrestled with that thing for probably a full minute, which seemed like an eternity in that situation, with me in tremendous pain, my phone out of reach, and Matt unable to come to my rescue.

I honestly had no idea what I was going to do, but finally, the little breaker switch on the power strip flipped and turned the power off. The force on my hand finally released, and I was able to get my hand free. It was red, scratched, and aching all over, so I immediately started trying to move my fingers to see if anything was broken. Fortunately, everything still worked. I was in tremendous pain, and my hand was starting to swell, but everything worked.

After pacing back and forth for a while to try to walk off the pain and shock, I flipped the power back on, and (very reluctantly) put the drill in reverse to try to get the bit out of the 2 x 4. But that thing would not budge. I began to think that I’d just have to leave the drill bit inside the 2 x 4 and close it up in the wall. But I gave it one more try, and that 1/2-inch drill bit literally just broke off. I mean, it snapped like a tiny little dry twig.

So half of that 1/2-inch drill bit will forever be inside that wall.

Needless to say, that whole thing frustrated me. But as I looked around the room to see all of the 2 x 4’s that still needed holes drilled through then, I decided I had had enough.

It takes a lot for me to give up on a task that I feel I’m completely capable of doing, and to admit defeat (or fear). But I’m doing it in this situation. I’ve gotten injured a handful of other times before, like when I cut the tip of my finger off (just the little fatty pad on the end — no bone) on my table saw while I was working on my pantry.

But those previous injuries were all ones that I knew without a doubt were my fault. They were caused by my carelessness, so that meant they were within my control. I just needed to pay more attention and be more careful and I could avoid having those things happen.

But this one was not within my control. It wasn’t caused by my carelessness, and my paying closer attention wouldn’t have helped me avoid this. And those types of things (which, thankfully, almost never happen) are the types of accidents that scare me. I don’t like not feeling in control of my tools and the outcome of using those tools.

So I called the same contractor that did the carport, and he’s coming tomorrow morning to give me a price for finishing up the electrical work, rerouting the HVAC ducts, and then insulating and drywalling.

Fingers crossed that the price is doable and that he can work us into his schedule very soon. I’m ready to get to the fun parts of the studio project.



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  1. Wow, that is scary! Good for you for knowing your limits despite how frustrating it must be to know that you are capable of doing the job. I hope you heal quickly!

    1. Oh no! I know how you feel my son is an Electrian and has done this also! It hurts, you may have a bone bruise and not realize it! Keep ICE on it and watch it!
      As for me I gave up the large heavy drills a long time ago! I LOVE my little blue Bosch drill, I have two! The small red One works well also! Be careful with a grain of salt my friend!

  2. I’m so sorry. So thankful you didn’t break anything. You’re wise to know when to call in reinforcements; this is still a DIY project!

  3. Im so sorry you were hurt. I hope you heal quickly. I wonder if predrilling a pilot hole would make that an easier task. But who knows, the same thing could have happened with that as well. Feel better soon!!

  4. Oh, that’s scary! I’m so glad you weren’t seriously injured. I often work on our cabin while my husband is not home and that’s something I’m always aware of.

  5. Glad you’re okay! It’s a good reminder that even ‘safe’ and familiar tools, like a drill, are in the end still dangerous if stuff goes wrong.

    As I get older I’m getting more and more careful. I won’t touch tools anymore without hearing and eye protection, whereas when I was younger I was far more careless about that. But a couple of close calls (and permanent hearing damage from using my nail gun in confined spaces without earplugs) taught me better.

    I keep being worried about my hands though. There is not much you can do to protect them really. Gloves in a situation like this would have done nothing… and that’s really scary to think about.

    I’m glad you’re letting the pro’s finish up the troublesome stuff so you can focus on making it pretty.

  6. How frightening! I am thankful nothing seem broken and I hope you heal quickly. I hate to say this but sometimes we have the knowledge but not the strength. But I KNOW you understand the work but you must not hurt yourself. Not only your livelihood but Matt’s care as well rests in those hands. Rest my friend! And good for you for hiring this out!
    Sheila F.

  7. Man! That’s scary! I’m a shorty like you and I do get frustrated sometimes when I know that if I were just 6 inches taller and a bit stronger XYZ task would be easier. But, given that the drill bit snapped like that, I’m not sure that being bigger and stronger would have helped! I agree. Let the pros do the rest. You don’t want to be out of commission from an injury that resulted from a task that was easily farmed out, like when you shoulder/arm had pins and needles for a week after demoing your bathroom. Sub-contract out and carry on. You should get a shirt made that says that! LOL!

  8. Oh gosh! That drill needs to go to the tool cemetery! I wouldn’t trust that one again. Try a hammer drill maybe? I am glad you are all right, but that was way too scary. Hope your hand heals quickly and that your guys can finish up the ugly stuff in short order for you.

  9. How scary! I cringed just reading this. Your health and safety is the most important thing. Smart lady for farming the rest of this job out. I hope your hand is better soon.

  10. Agree these are the most frightening kinds of accidents. Hope your hand and psyche are recovering. Awesome call on sourcing it out.

  11. So thankful you’re not hurt worse…. Heal up and enjoy letting someone else do the dirty work for a little while 🙂

  12. Grateful you are OK and a good reminder that we don’t have anything to prove and it is OK to ask for help! Heal quickly Kristi!

  13. Jeez!! I agree with Ishtar–I can count the only times I’ve ever been injured by power tools on one hand. The first time was a drill. Just a plain, lightweight drill–I was screwing into a stud, I believe, when it kicked back and hit the finger that was holding the stud. Tore up through my nail bed. The other time was with a nail gun, and the nail I was shooting hit something, went off in the wrong direction, and tore off a small slice of skin on my finger. This is serious stuff we’re working with! My injuries have always just been small, but painful. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would have been to have that happen with the drill… egads! Good thing the breaker flipped off, I’ll never complain about my breakers flipping off again now that I know one probably saved your hand. 🙁 I don’t blame you for hiring out! Got to know when to walk away and know when to run, right?

  14. Geez louise—that’s freaky!!🤞that you can turn that part of the project over to your guy. Then what comes next—insulation? I’ve that puppy for twenty minutes out of every hour. Hope it feels better soon!!

  15. Thank you for sharing that story. I think it’s really helpful to be reminded of the possible dangers–not so we’re afraid of doing things ourselves, but to be able to judge when it is better to get help.

    I hope you heal up quickly!!!!

  16. Oh my goodness, that must have been terrifying, I am so glad you are ok.

    I run a farm and feel like I’ve similar scary situations that were outside of my control. I always feel a combination of spooked and grateful once they are done.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that the quote comes in where you need it to be…..

  17. Wow. I had something smaller happen to me where the drill spun around on me because it caught and I didn’t have the strength to control it. A blessing nothing else happened to you so lesson learned. And the comment about needing to be there for Matt as well above is so true. Thank goodness the breaker snapped. On to better days!!!!!

  18. Yikes! I don’t remember reading about the table saw incident! I cut some of the padding on my thumb off this summer working on a project in my kitchen. I did this with a razor, not a power tool. My husband ( a job site safety inspector) gave me 5 pairs of cut gloves after that.

  19. Oh my gosh, Kristi, so glad your hand is going to be okay, and that you called in those reinforcements! Hope they’ll be able to get on it very soon so you won’t be tempted to start again. We’re all looking forward to seeing your studio’s progress, but not at the expense of any injuries. I for one have been very impressed with all that you take on and complete, but I agree that sometimes the pros are a great resource to fall back on.

  20. Knowing you, the frustration of the accident was as bad as the pain. Take a step back, let the electricians finish it up. Go have sweet tea with Matt and GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK TO HEAL THAT HAND!!!! Mama says so, that’s why!

  21. OMG I am cringing. Thank you for relating this scary event. You described this unbelievably second by second. We have been warned. Wise you are to hand the drill to another. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  22. I’m impressed with your smarts! I once left the hammer on the ladder which made a wicked cut above my eye when I repositioned the ladder. Urgent Care and stitches. Once had a piece of metal removed from the other eye. Urgent Care again. Paint chips in my ear caused scary bleeding. I’m 62. After 30 years, I’ve started asking for help. Finally! You learn much faster. I love your blog!

  23. Close call. Glad the injury was not serious, although it probably hurt just as much. It’s a cautionary tale to all of us who are not at the same skill level but like to tinker. Almost everybody knows a carpenter with one or more missing fingers. My husband’s aunt lost an arm because an auger for fence posts was more power than she could handle. Find a lighter weight drill that can handle tough jobs. I like our Makita.

  24. I hope you get better soon and am glad that you are hiring out this work! Do take a break, put ice on your hand and watch some movies while your guys take care of the next steps in the studio – you’ve certainly earned that, already without this scary accident.

  25. So sorry this happened to you and you feel defeated 😕. Yep, time to have a emergency plan in place. What would you have done if the breaker didn’t trip😵. It’s just not power tools that can cause harm, falling off ladder etc. Even a tripping fall and hitting your head can be detrimental.

  26. Eek! It definitely doesn’t help that you were on a ladder through all of that! I can never get leverage on a ladder.

    Last year, I repainted three of the main rooms in my house all in one weekend, trying to get it ready to sell. I was totally exhausted (the stupid paint took THREE COATS) but I trekked on to finish the rooms. I was hanging my curtain rods up and I think because my arms were so tired, I got sloppy with my drill. The drill slipped and I ended up putting a phillip’s head screw shaped hole into my ring finger. I’m PRETTY sure it went down to the bone. I can’t be 100% certain though because I only looked at it once and I basically fainted so I decided not to ever look at it again 🙂 Now I have a little star-shaped scar on my finger! I hope you feel better! Accidents like those will make you…….trigger shy 🙂 (hope that comes off as funny and not insensitive!)

  27. Perhaps someday tool manufacturers will realize that humans with small hands (both male & female) need tools “sized” for them. Heavy power tools and small hands are a recipe for injury. I can deal with the weight…if…I can get a good grip. I do hope your hand heals quickly.

  28. It’s great you are OK. Those moments are truly scary. Also great to save your momentum by hiring it out. While they finish it up, I bet you can ask your guys for tricks they use to prevent the similar injuries. There’s a lot of drill-like tools out there. Sometimes you never see the need, until you are there on the ladder, then think well this’ll be some drill yoga..
    I bet there’s one for the job or similar tasks than your big one, take this recovery time to see if you can find one with an extra kill switch for the big un.

    Another odd way I’d add safety is set-up a smart home speaker and smart plug. Especially if you are using plug in tools just plug the power cord into a specific smart plug and set-up a command you could yell or even Matt could activate. Just check if it’s beefy enough for the tools you plug in. Don’t forget to set-up the speaker with a few #’s to call so you could call family during a mildly tricky hands full situation. TP-link has a “kasa smart” line that works without extra hubs. For example, I have a small space heater set up on the mini plug that runs it until a specific time to make sure it doesn’t run continuously if we fall asleep.

  29. Kristi
    So glad you are ok. Don’t think of it as admitting defeat. Look at it as you are a smart woman that can hire some of the things that are beyond our reach. I also find it frustrating to not be as strong as a man when I want to do some projects. But I wouldn’t trade being a woman so I decided to be smart and just ask for help or hire help. Then we can be healthy and strong to do the fun things the men could never do. I hurt my back last July and spent 3 months not able to do anything. It really made me think and put things in perspective. I’m 67 but always did everything I wanted to do. Then last summer I thought what if I couldn’t do any kind of projects or any physical things again. (My back pain was so severe I couldn’t walk). Well it made me do some real soul searching and decided I should do the things I really love to do and leave some of the manual labor things to younger stronger people.
    No one does it like I would but I can improve what they do without crippling myself. You are so talented don’t lose the best of you by trying to do what anyone can do.
    I really enjoy your posts and I am amazed at what you can do. I love color as you do and can’t imagine all these new farm house style white on white on cream on beige. Keep up the great work and heal up but don’t push yourself.
    Would love to send you some pictures of what I’ve done but not sure how. Let me know when you have time.
    Thank you for sharing you.

  30. Oh my word!!! As I was reading this I was sure you were going to say you lost your hand! My brother’s jeans got caught in a tractor power take-off and ripped his jeans off of him with nothing left but the waist band and the pockets. It all happened in seconds and if it wasn’t for the fact he’s so tall and strong and was hanging on to the fender for dear life he would have been dead. You’ve been going at it pretty strong recently, that pantry would have put me out of commision for 6 months. You deserve to let some of this stuff go to others while you take some well deserved R-R. I don’t consider a week off over the holidays enough rest after all you’ve done. You take care now, we worry about you!

  31. That must have been so scary! So happy that nothing is broken and that you’re going to be okay. Hope the swelling goes down soon, Kristi!

  32. Wow! I’m sooooo glad that the incident wasn’t as serious as it might have been, and thanks so much for sharing it! If something like this could happen to you, well, I shudder to think how we newbies would have fared! But you’ve made a very sensible decision (and I’ll bet anything Matt agrees) to let the pros handle this one, this time. You have such a clear vision of what you want, they’ll be able to do it to your satisfaction in no time. And, as someone suggested, ask them similar incidents that happened to them and how they handled it. Not that you want a repeat performance, but being prepared is always good!

    And now, you can save yourself for the really *important* jobs ahead: putting up walls that you can decorate with color like crazy!!! And counters, and cabinets, and lighting, and seating, and . . . well, you know! That stuff you do soooo well!!!

  33. You reminded me of an old, I think it was Budweiser, commercial…. KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN!!!!

    Very smart move on your part…. prayers for speedy and uneventful recovery 😀

  34. Okay, Lady. I’m going into MOM mode on you! First off…HUGE HUG…and I am glad you were not injured worse than you were and I hope you feel better soon!


    I was the youngest of 3 girls, no boys. We did all the things that a Dad would teach his boys to do. Yard work, gardening, and working at the family bait shop. I took to DIY, having watched my parents build their own home. My Dad was a plumber. My Mom was also very handy and raised a farm girl.

    I married, and was divorced with 2 kids by the time I was 28. No husband. Then my Dad died. I did all the things by myself, including building two walls of built-in shelves, a desk, and a toy box into my daughter’s room. I built their outdoor jungle gym by myself. I moved a lot…and did all the moving myself.

    Then I had to get cortisone shots in my elbows, had to have physical therapy multiple times for my back…and now have arthritis and fibromyalgia. My orthopedist said that if I wanted to be able to keep my job typing for a living, I shouldn’t lift more than 10 lbs. Ever.

    Well…that’s not going to work, because I live alone and somebody has to carry in the groceries. I moved into an apartment because I couldn’t use the stairs anymore…and couldn’t do the maintenance on a house. At work, I don’t even lift reams of paper to put in the copier.

    You do TOO MUCH. And you need to be there for the day to day for Matt and your critters and yourself. You are wonderful and able and so smart and creative and we all know you CAN do it all! But you need to preserve your body for the long term. Repetitive stress is a thing, even if dangerous injuries when you work alone were not.

    And that’s my finger-wagging Momming.

    We love you. We want you safe. Please be careful!

  35. Could you tell me about your little blue drill? I’m using a heavy one and would like to get something lighter and easier to use.

    1. It’s a Ryobi 3/8″ drill with variable speed, and the highest speed has a picture of a hammer on it, so presumably that some sort of “hammer drill” setting. I’ve had mine for a very long time. I just tried to search for a new model, and apparently they’re bright green now. And I can’t find one that fits the exact description of the one I have. But I’ll keep looking! MIne has a short in the cord, so I need a new one.

  36. Glad it wasn’t even worse. Also glad you’ll call in some help, hopefully you’ll rest and recover. Perhaps some Netflix? And when you are all better: Get yourself a new drill. Something in between the little blue one and the bruiser. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I have 4 drills and I love every one of them for their different abilities.

  37. Oh no! Poor you. I have great difficulty drilling into studs. In fact I gave up recently. I just can’t get the power behind it. Hope the quote comes in doable for you.

  38. So scary! I’ve had a drill whip around and sprain my wrist. I use a hammer drill now when I large holes in wood. The handle gives me more control and acts as a stop if it does flip around. I like the ryobi, you can turn the hammer function on and off and it’s strong enough for big jobs.

  39. The drill bit likely hit a nailhead that was put in from the top. No way you can avoid that happening now and then. It is amazing that there can be 4 screws in an 8 foot board and some darn drill is going to aim right for it. I use a cordless drill for virtually everything. If the job needs a powerful one it has to be corded for the power but that’s when I ask for help. I was a child when my father put a spinning drill bit into his upper arm and every time I pick up a drill I am still reminded of that. I have hit a nail or screw inside a board more than once with my battery operated drill and luckily the kickback with a less powerful motor is much gentler. If the hired crew can do the drywall for you then you can spend the time healing and dreaming about all the things you will do in that room when they leave. I can’t wait to see that awesome wallpaper up on the wall and all the terrific things you will do around it.

  40. I’ve had a similar injury and it is scary as well as painful (and, quite frankly, made me mad too! lol). I hope your hand heals quickly! Can’t wait to see the continued studio progress and BTW, I just noticed your Keto blog pics, wow – you go girl!

  41. Kristi, I am so sorry that this happened and caused such pain. It must have been very frightening. I am glad your hand is not broken, and that the power strip saved the day. I see many comments about accidents and know that you are very careful. Sometimes things just happen and we can’t prevent it. I hope for a full and speedy recovery for your hand, and that the price of having others come in is not very high. You know their work, and that is very reassuring. I know you will not let this hold you back and that it was a freak accident. It will be good for you to get to the ” fun stuff” and gives you something to look forward to! We are all behind you and looking forward to each post with your progress.

  42. I am so sorry this happened, Kristi. Your description of the unfortunate event may well help others to deal with an emergency of their own. It wasn’t carelessness on your part. Just one of those quirky things.

    I hope you get some rest and heal quickly.

  43. GEEZ, I can just imagine how scary that was, and I’m glad you weren’t injured any worse than you were! Dang hidden knots make me fearful of so much, because that’s how my husband lost the tips of two fingers, and scared me to death. He was bleeding so bad, I felt compelled to look for “parts” before rushing him to the hospital, afraid I might actually find them. Luckily, I didn’t because they were shredded! I think it was worse for me than him, except for the shots he got to numb the pain! Glad you are hiring out the job, it’s worth more than money at this point. And you can use the time to binge watch while you heal!

  44. How scary! Glad to hear you are ok. Please take time to rest that hand and heal. Here’s hoping your guys can come in and do the work really soon. In the meantime, take it easy. We can wait for a post. ((Hugs))

  45. YIKES, Kristi…..! I’m so sorry to hear you are injured…. I love my bright green little Ryobi……. I run my torque at ten always…… definitely something to really be aware of….. I never would have ever given it a second thought…. isn’t just like you to be so unselfishly thoughtful to enlighten us with your full disclosure of your near miss tragedy….. prayers of thanksgiving that it is not any worse than it could have been… & abundant wishes for a quick recovery….Pat

  46. Like everyone else, I am sorry to hear of your injury. I hope you heal fast and take a little break and let some one else finish that stuff. You have been working so hard for so long. I am going to let you off the accountability hook and encourage you be lazy for awhile. 😊

  47. Try a spade bit the next time. If you don’t have a spade bit try drilling a pilot hole and then work your way up to the desired size. You take less wood out so it is less likely to bind up. Our old house was constructed of fir and when we run electrical or cable through those joists it is like drilling into concrete.

  48. Kristi, I am so sorry you got injured! I second Jan about the spade bits. What you used seems like a masonry bit to me. A hole with such a diameter through wood is easily done with one of those flat drill bits. Please, take care of yourself, xoxo

  49. And another thing – when I work on my own, I always have a phone in one of my pockets. Usually wear a mail shirt with a breast pocket and the phone is there at easy reach. And if I feel tired, I stop straight away, doesn’t matter how little work is left. A trip to the emergency after I splashed some acid into my eye in the very last second of what I was trying to do, taught me this.

  50. Sorry to hear you got hurt but pleased to know you have engaged a professional. Here in Australia it is illegal to go anywhere near electricity unless you are a licensed electrician. Fines are in place for anyone who does, not that many do as it has always been the case. Homeowners can dabble in renovation but must have a tradie for the final sign off. This means that for a kitchen renovation the homeowner can install the cabinets but must have a tradie do the electrics including lighting, the plumbing including the dishwasher and any waterproofing for tiling. Needless to say tradies are in high demand and make a good living!

  51. I’m so sorry that you got hurt with that nasty drill. I hope you hand is better with ice by today. Good call getting someone to finish that work. Then you can get on to all the CREATIVE stuff!

  52. Wow, Kristi. I hope your hand is on the mend. This made me absolutely cringe to read. I have always been afraid of my nail gun but never thought twice about a drill! I had been thinking about finally breaking down and buying a small table saw, but now think maybe I’ll just get my things cut at the hardware store! Thanks so much for sharing so we can know the dangers! I’m so glad you didn’t break anything.

  53. I’d do the same! I don’t think it should be very unreasonably priced for what needs doing. Hope very much that no permanent damage was done to your poor hand!

  54. I am very glad you’re mostly okay (no broken bones anyway). I know the type of accident your talking about, and I know that there is not much you can do to “be more careful”. It’s a hidden trap and can happen to anyone no matter what size or age or how prepared… although that hammer drill set up sounds like a good idea!
    Heal well! Good luck with the contractor!

  55. This sounds like a complete nightmare during daytime. Glad you are okay, but I am sure nevertheless shaken. Time to take a break and concentrate on pretty things and let someone else finish the grunt work.

  56. yikes!! so glad you are ok and all that happened was soreness and a reevaluation of the project plan!! I’m sure whatever the cost at this point is money well spent.

  57. I’ve had accidents like this (once it even broke my thumb), and it makes me reconsider the jobs I really want to do myself. I have small hands too and there’s only so much we can handle without wandering into idiot territory! I was demolishing tile when I broke my thumb though… demolition can be scary too. I would keep ice on it because even though everything still “works”, you can still have bone and tendon injury.

  58. I’m late to this post but my 2 cents is you need to save those precious creative hands for the “pretty” stuff!

  59. I echo all the concerns above. I’m also asking for your help on an issue I’m having. I stopped receiving notices of your updates about the same time as you updated your blog. Completing the “subscribe” portion didn’t get me back on your mailing list. Can you help?