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Okay, okay, so the woodworking community has spent all week talking about how to be safe in the shop, but let’s be real: Accidents happen. So when they do, how do you treat it? From time to time I read in the forums or bulletin boards about treating cuts with Super Glue, and invariably someone questions how safe it is to do so. So for Woodworking Safety Week 2008, I spent a half hour Googling the topic and here’s what I have for you:

It’s fine. Go for it.

Okay, now for the longer answer. One of the first practical uses of Super Glue (also referred to as “CA” for its chemical name, cyanoacrylate) was to treat wounded soldiers during the Vietnam War – to control the bleeding until they could get back to the hospital. It wasn’t just used externally, either – it was apparently used for such things as patching up lacerated livers as well.

CA is a great workshop solution because it instantly and securely seals off the cut and quickly eliminates pain (because the pain, apparently, is from oxygen hitting the exposed nerve endings). It wears off naturally in a day or two, so you may need to reapply – but by then, the bleeding has stopped and the pain is much less anyway. CA apparently also reduces scarring.

Experts (who are these guys anyway?) say that CA can irritate the skin and should not be used on deep cuts. A more helpful “expert” advises that over-the-counter CA is less preferred because it has a cheaper type of methyl alcohol in it. No one seems to have a problem with using CA on smallish surface cuts, especially those that can easily be closed up while glued. For a medical variant of CA, try Dermabond, Band-Aid Liquid Bandage or 3M No-Sting Liquid Bandage Spray.

Personally, I’ve recently become brave enough to try it, and now I’m a big fan of Super Glue. Just last month I ran a marking knife into my thumb up to the nail. After a minute of holding it under the faucet, I dried it off, glued it up and was back to woodworking in minutes, with no worry about bleeding on the workpiece. And just yesterday I ripped a fingernail pretty bad at the pool (when is Swimming Pool Safety Week, anyway?), and put some Super Glue over the nail to help seal it up. Yeah!

EDIT: Okay, 3 years later this post has become a bit of a spam magnet. I’m turning off comments for this post, so email me if you have something you want to add to the discussion!