Lose a Finger? Grab a Toe! | Michigan Man Recounts Woodworking Injury News & Opinion

Lose a Finger? Grab a Toe! | Michigan Man Recounts Woodworking Injury

Life for Aiden Adkins Now Toe-tally Awe-thumb

According to WKRN Nashville, a Michigan man who lost his thumb in a woodworking accident back in April finally has a replacement for his missing digit. Aiden Adkins has had his left index toe surgically detached and used to reconstruct his missing thumb.


Ac-saw-dents Happen

As the story goes, he was making his ex-girlfriend a creative invitation to a dance in his workshop and accidentally sawed off his thumb.

“I realized that what I had seen fly was not anything to do with a piece of wood. It actually was my thumb I had seen fly. It didn’t hurt at all, not even a little bit.”

— Aiden Adkins



In order to reattach the shorn thumb, doctors needed to get Adkins into surgery within a four-hour window.  The problem is he couldn’t find it. In fact, it’s still missing, and Adkins had to live thumblessly for the next four months.

With your thumbs accounting for some 40% of hand function, Adkins eventually decided to look at his options.

Unsurprisingly to those of us around the power tools industry, this isn’t that uncommon of an injury, and surgeons have found some success in reassigning toes to hand duty. In August, doctors at the University of Michigan hospital removed the index toe on Adkins’ left foot and reattached it to his left hand.


Since the successful surgery, Aiden Adkins has spent months in hand therapy, teaching his hand to build strength and regain function in his thumb. According to his occupational therapist, “His thumb does bend and straighten pretty well. That’s the most motion I’ve ever seen out of a toe-to-thumb transfer.”

The surgery and subsequent strengthening exercises should get Adkins back into his passions: taxidermy and target shooting.

When asked about his injury, Adkins says, “God has a plan for everything. He does it for a reason.” And, while the reasons for his injury might not ever be exhaustively understood by Aiden Adkins, at least no one can ever call him “all thumbs” again.


We Never Saw It Coming

It’s just another table saw injury, right? Actually, what gets the thumbs down this time is a miter saw (the video shows a DeWalt model if you’re keeping score). We’re used to hearing about table saw injuries almost daily, but miter saw injuries don’t get the same bad press.

It’s not super-difficult to cut off a thumb using a miter saw, but it’s a lot harder to do accidentally than with a table saw.

To put it in perspective, table saws accounted for 33,427 injuries in 2018, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s estimates. Miter saws don’t get their own category (they’re listed in the “Power Saws, Other or Not Listed” group. The entire group was less than half of what table saws are on their own, hitting 15,298 injuries.

Whether it’s a miter saw, table saw, or another power tool, this is a great reminder that the equipment we work with is powerful and demands respect. All of us have a responsibility to properly train the next generation of Pros and enthusiasts in how to use them safely as we interact with folks in our own trades and hobbies.

Have you ever been injured using a miter saw? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Did I miss the explanation as to why a Michigan man is in our local Nashville news? Anyway, I feel for the guy. I had a table saw injury in 2014, middle finger on my right hand side swiping across the blade using a crosscut sled, the blade removed a lot of flesh, severed nerves, open wound to bone, blade nicked the bone. Plastic surgeon used Integra matrix since there was no skin to cover the bone. Took 5 months of hand therapy to regain some use of the finger, but no feeling on one side will ever return. Humans… Read more »