Friday, 20 December 2013

Insult to Injury

Hi to those who are following this and new comers in the last few months I have been busy sorting myself and workshop out along with computer problems. The latter ending up with a motherboard change due to a spike I had no idea was creating the problems I was having. I had to resort to turning on the old clunker soon to be anchor of a computer snails move faster so posting anywhere became a nightmare.

Some outings, Christmas getting closer a shoulder strain making it almost impossible to move around on or in the wheelchair. I however struggled and over came the pain to work on some pens.

I hope your all well and in the shed working on as much as you can, in parts of the world its getting colder while here today we are looking at 40C+.

Take care over the Christmas New Year eat drink be merry most of all enjoy our famlies may the new year bring much happiness.


Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Spanner Man John Piccoli

Over the last few weeks a number of people, friends mainly, have sent me emails regarding John and his amazing works in sculpting with spanners. I did a web search and found John doesn't have his own site, however I did find this document below which gives a pretty good insight into John's life and his works. The original PDF had John's phone number and still does though I have removed it from here.

I gave John a call but he wasn't home at the time and so spoke to his lovely wife Sonia who advised me when to ring. Last night I rang and had a great chat with John who has allowed me to post about him here.  Rather than put him through a phone interview I explained about the document I had found, he couldn't recall this interview The original link is the title.

INTERVIEW WITH ‘THE SPANNER MAN’       Maureen Lucas    
John Piccoli (known colloquially as ‘The Spanner Man’) still lives on the family property at Barraport  in the Boort area near Bendigo in Victoria. His grandfather Esias Piccoli (who came out to Australia from Switzerland) selected the land in 1876 and named it ‘Bryngoleu’ – which is a Welsh name for “view from the hill”. As you drive into the property there is a collection of old farming machinery on either side of the road. John says that he has an example of every machine used for farming in this area dating back to the late 1800’s.     
John was born in 1941 and when he was eight years old contracted Polio, after which he went into hospital. Three years later he came out. As you can imagine, he had a pretty torrid time, with the  treatments for this disease available at the time. It also meant, unlike today, that he had noschooling during this time and he found it hard to catch up; so, like many people of his generation, he is mainly self-taught.    
John’s father passed away when he was eighteen and despite all the setbacks he had endured,John recovered sufficiently to be able to run the family farm with the help of his mother.    
One of his passions is a love for animals and birds and all of his life he has had pet birds. StudDorset Horns and Stud Poll Dorset sheep were bred. He also had turkeys, squab pigeons, Wagyuand other breeds of cattle, deer, goats, ostriches, camels, pheasants, peacocks, Guinea fowl,finches, various breeds of ducks (including Mandarin and Scaup), different kinds of quail and alsomeat rabbits.     
In 1993 John obtained two pairs of Macaws from the first legal shipment that came to Australia. One pair was green wings and the other was blue and gold. He now has 12 Macaws and owns one of the best breeding collections in this country (including some rare colour variations which are sought   after). These are magnificent birds and several of them will talk to you.    
John says that he had always done a lot of welding. It is something that he finds easy to do and enjoys. He has a good workshop on the property and has accumulated tens of thousands of spanners over the years. In the early eighties he began making his garden sculptures using these spanners that he welds together in three-dimensional shapes. His first masterpiece was a coffee table, then two of them, then garden seats and now life-sized animals. Because he was using up his spanners so quickly, he then had to start buying more, which he still does today.    
John’s rusty sculptures are rather like iron lace pieces. He gets a photo of the animal or whatever it is he wants to sculpt and then creates a piece from that. He visualises in his head how he is going to do it and then proceeds without the use of drawings. Because he is now confined to a wheelchair, John works mainly on the ground and manoeuvres the pieces around with the use of ropes and overhead pulleys. It is truly remarkable how he does this.    
With exhibitions in Melbourne at Manyung Gallery, the Gary McEwen Galleries in St Kilda, Southbank, the Artist Garden in Fitzroy and Darling Harbour in Sydney, John is becoming very well   known for his work.     
‘Bryngoleu’ garden is a lovely setting for John’s sculptures and because it is quite large, gives a lovely canvas to be able to show them off to their best advantage. On the day I visited I saw many wonderful pieces, including a bull with huge horns, two fighting horses and a swordfish (all full size).    
John’s latest creation is a bucking bronco with a cowboy on his back.    
It was a pleasure to meet John when I visited his property in May 2009. He is a truly amazing man and an example to us all in what you can do to overcome adversity – a true genius in his own field.    
If you happen to be in the Boort area, it is well worth contacting John to see if you can visit his property and see his wonderful sculptures.    
The background information on John and his family was supplied to me by Paul and Cathie Haw, for which I thank them.   

In speaking with John I asked about his system for getting up to create the sculptures, he doesn't!!
He has a double cross over gantry and block and tackle system which brings everything to his level. Now when you consider these works are all 3rd he has got to have an eye for great detail producing the end results.
Its obvious from my web search (also try an image search "The Spanner Man") that many people have visited John and Sonia as they have Blogged or created albums in Flickr or on Forums. Media has also highlighted John and his work as well as his medical condition The City Journal has a video, ABC Rural even Auto Clubs  and Facebook spread the word.

 Below are some of the photos which landed in my inbox I hope one day we (Sue and I) can get down a visit John and Sonia.

So if your heading down to have a look yourself dig out those old spanners cause "Yacanna Hand a man a Granda Spanner"

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Inspirational Life of Richie Parker Engineer & Driver

I found this video and just knew I had to post it here this fellow has a high inspirational rating in my eyes. The company he works for as an Engineer needs accolade also for their part in his life he must be one heck of an employee. His proud and supportive parents.

Love the way he does things with a great smile of his.

With the Hard drive crash I lost many links and contacts so with my time spent in the workshop in this beaut spring weather I am slowly finding some again so please forgive the delays in posts.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Long Delay in Posting

Sorry for the long time between posting, but due to winter chills and serious ills that came with them I just had to stop and take a break of sorts. It might be hard to imagine someone sitting in their car in the driveway reading and snoozing in the sun but thats what we did on a couple of days as it was the warmest place to be. We had even got to the point of "Cabin Fever" after been stuck in doors for three weeks straight.

Both Sue my wife and I suffered the worst flu, bronchitis, headcold plus more, we have suffered in many years lasting some six weeks. Although Spring has arrived and we are well on the mend, it took quite a lot out of me, stripped of strength I am having to build myself back to a level where while turning or woodworking the next day I don't ache from head to toe.

During the time of ill health on those days where I felt I could, I still did do some woodwork or metal work or both, this may have been sitting out in the sun trying to warm through to the bones ease the muscles and clear the head. I couldn't work with machines as the head cold and sinus had me struggling to think on the worst days.

Pop over and have a browse at a few things we/I accomplished during that time on our shared blog.

I am getting there now able to do a full days turning with some breaks but those aging muscles let me know when enough is enough so I have a days break or half a day. In the midst of this we have both had to get new glasses eys checked etc, had a Grandsons birthday, a funeral of a long term mates 19 year old son and all those annoying things you have to do and catch up on which do not do themselves while your ill.

Then last weekend the computer hard drive decided to give a grinding noise and come to a sudden stop it wouldn't boot up. That was not funny we thought we had lost everything, well two new HDD's and a full install. A week later and I was able to get the old drive up and running again enough to remove major needs. Sadly we/I have lost many email addresses and info, I hope to restore those but it will take time. If your reading this and you have my email address pop me a note even a blank email I'll know who its from.

Thanks for being here have a wondeful weekend.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

One Armed Woodworker -Tim Lee

From a one armed turner to a one armed woodworker Tim Lee's story was presented back in 2004 through Canadian Woodworking I tried to email the author but email bounced back.

I recall a movie when a kid, a movie about three USA WWII returned vets " The Best Years Of Our Lives" . They met during their return and bonded in ways. The naval guy had lost both his hands and had prosthetic attached it was he who worked in his shed. Each suffered what we now call PTSD interesting to see how long we have known of this type of stress on service men and woman. 

Tim Lee Cuts Through Obstacles

When people enter Tim Lee's townhouse in Milton, Ontario, they immediately notice a beautiful cherry-wood table displayed in the family room. It's carefully polished and clearly stands out as the showpiece of the home. Lee is proud to show the table to his guests, because it's a piece that he made himself. The 37-year-old husband and father of three says, "When I finished it, I was really amazed. I still look at it sometimes and think, 'wow, what an accomplishment.'" Lee never imagined that he would be able to make such a stunning piece of furniture. Before starting, he knew fine woodworking would be a difficult challenge, and even more of a challenge for him. Lee has had to learn the craft of woodworking with only one arm.

It sounds like mission impossible, but this Milton tow truck driver has lived with a disability his whole life. Challenges come with the territory. Lee says, "You don't know what you can do until you try it." Equipped with this stellar attitude, Lee has taken on the many challenges of woodworking as they've come along.

He took his first crack at woodworking after many visits to his father-in-law's home. "He's always working with a piece of wood," says Lee. "One day I said 'give me a piece of that and let me try something.'" After making a few picture frames and such, he wanted to take a step further and build a wall unit.

Once Lee discovered that he enjoyed working with wood, he immediately wanted to learn the proper skills to make furniture. His first challenge was to find an instructor that would take him on. Once people learned of his disability, they came up with reasons why they couldn't instruct him. "It's not that people are being rude," says Lee. The attitude is more like 'Gosh... I'd like to help you, but I can't.'

Fortunately, someone was willing to help Lee turn his interest in wood into a full-fledged hobby. His name is Hendrik Varju, owner of Passion For Wood in Acton, ON (and contributing editor to Canadian Woodworking Magazine). When he heard Lee's story, he agreed to take on the eager student.

Still, working with a prosthetic, rather than a hand, was no easy task. Varju and Lee had to come up with techniques for working with the machines. For instance, when running the lumber through the jointer, the proper technique is to push the lumber through and over the cutterhead, keeping the lumber moving with your hand. Instead, Lee holds a push pad with the prosthetic to move the lumber through. Another challenge was using the handplane, which is technically a two-handed procedure. Lee says, "I have to hold it with my right hand and apply pressure with my prosthetic."

Varju says fine woodworking can be intimidating for any beginner. Even if people have worked with wood in the past, there is a definite learning curve. The willingness to learn is the most essential tool. Varju says, "Lee doesn't come to the table assuming he knows everything. He's open to learning. That's how every student should start."

Now, only two years since he started woodworking, Lee has already built his own workshop in his garage. He has equipped it with a table saw, drill press, jointer, planer, router, router table, and all kinds of other tools. He is currently working on a cherry wood TV stand and has a lot more projects planned. Since he has started to pursue his interest in woodworking, he has let nothing get in his way of becoming a better woodworker.

LAURA MORRIS is a Toronto-based, freelance writer.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Keaton Cousins - Cerebral Palsy. The One Handed Pen Maker

Some years ago I found a video on a one armed woodturner I tried for days to locate it as I had not bookmarked the site. During my search I found Keaton's video.

Keaton has his own website Cousins Pen Turning from where he sells his pens. I shot off an email to him and said he had to have parents permission if I could add him to my Blog. Kathy his mother replied and as a parent myself I would have done the same thing as Keaton is just 15 years of age. There are days I have trouble with two hands let alone one.

My name is Keaton I am 15 years old and I have been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I am a one handed wood worker with a passion for making pens. I started wood working in the 7th grade and have had a fascination for it ever since. These pens are handmade with acrylic and many different types of woods from all over the world. I hope you enjoy using my pens as much as I enjoy making them.   

 Keaton shared this with me about himself.
I was born with Cerbral Palsy which effects the right side of my body, which is why I am a one handed turner.  In 7th grade I was introduced to woodshop by my teacher Mr. Hanson.  I turned a bowl and spindles in his class and towards the end of the year I had discovered about pen turning through the internet and he taught me how to make my first pen (it was actually a pencil).
 My father is also into woodworking and has a shop so that year for Christmas with the help of family I saved up for my first lathe and introduced pen making to my father as well.
 I have been turning ever since which is now close to 3 years.  I do mostly make the slim line pens but have made a few others, such as pencils and a fountain pen but do not sell those as I have not gained a lot of experience with them.

Turning left handed is the only thing I know and as with everything else I have learned to adapt as I need to. 
 We have 2 dogs who are Basenjis, they are known as the barkless dog as they do not bark as normal dogs do but do what is called a yodle.  Scooby is the male and is my buddy and Callie is his half sister, same fathers.

I will be starting my sophmore year in high school at the end of August and unfortunately I will not have wood shop this year because I am taking a Spanish class to meet requirements for college.  I am somewhat interested in baseball but have difficulties with running due to my CP so never moved forward with it. 
 Keaton updated his lathe recently and now has a Turncraft Commander

 As a young boy I lived around the corner from the Cook family who had a son Holman with Cerebral Palsy as well as a number of other conditions he was one amazing kid. He'd play footy with us and his interest in cars and how he could rattle off statistics of many 1960 through to 1980's makes here in Australia.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Chris Lacey - Parkinson's and his Chess Sets

I came to know of Chris Lacey when he joined up on the Woodwork forum recently his first post of his Chess set had many a member in awe. He has used some highly figured Tassie Myrtle Burl and Huon Birdseye as the contrasting timber and the storage box.

I contacted Chris personally and he put together his story for me. Many thanks Chris and may your new found hobby grow.

Chris doesn't have his own website or Blog.

Living with Parkinson’s Disease – my personal journey

I was diagnosed by my Specialist Neurologist as living with Parkinson’s Disease in May 2012 at the age of 64. When given this diagnosis both my partner Marjorie and I smiled; we were a little surprised by that reaction when we thought about it after the consultation was over.  The story that follows should make some sense of that reaction which, on the face of it, was rather unexpected.

Nearly ten years before the diagnosis I became very depressed following the death of a sister who was only two years older than I was.  At the time, we put it down as an unsurprising effect of the loss and battled through it; however, with the benefit of hindsight, it may have been an early manifestation of my Parkinson’s story.  At that stage of my life, I was running my own Consultancy business in Occupational Health and Safety during the week, and then maintaining a 70-acre farm running beef cattle on weekends.  The farm was at Pipers River North East of Launceston and the consultancy clients were on Tasmania’s North West and West Coasts; there was a lot of travelling involved.  It sounds a bit crazy looking back on it, but at the time, it made for a busy, challenging, but rewarding life.

In the years that followed, that life style began to slowly get more demanding and correspondingly, less enjoyable; the changes were very subtle and difficult to pinpoint.  Life just seemed to be getting more difficult and less rewarding.  Perhaps it was just an “age catching up” thing!

In 2005, as these changes became more of an impact, Marjorie and I made a decision to sell the farm, and purchased a four-acre block and large home outside of Devonport. The home and land were in need of renovation.  Because the new home was close to where we worked, we figured that with the less travelling involved, and a lot less property to renovate and maintain, it was a step in the right direction; we hoped that this would remain our home until one or both of us needed full time care many years down the track.  Over the course of the next two years we managed to update the land and the home to a standard we felt comfortable with.  However, it proved to be not as easy as we had hoped; perhaps I was just aging faster than I expected!

By 2009, we found ourselves needing to downsize once again as my health slowly deteriorated further.  By then I had more periods where I experienced deep depression; I also suffered at times from extreme anxiety; living was now even tougher.  I could still manage most things provided I accepted that a lot more time was now required and plenty of recovery time allowed for. There were also other deterioration's, at a very personal level, that I will leave to your imagination. Therefore, we sold our four acres and moved into a home in Devonport on a normal sized block.  Surely I would be able to cope with that!

I had worked with a Clinical Psychologist on the depression and anxiety; my GP put me on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors that if anything, made matters worse.  The strength of my body’s reaction to them led to a diagnosis of Serotonin Syndrome, a possibly serious reaction to the SSRIs.  I felt better once off the anti-depressants, but continued having debilitating bouts of depression and moments of extreme anxiety; the latter was making functioning as a consultant very difficult.  At times, speaking to groups was almost impossible; I just wanted to cut and run.  I still had no tremor and my GP was unable to resolve the issues; I began to wonder if I “was going crazy”.

By early 2011, I began to get some new and rather obvious physical symptoms.  I was feeling tingling, pins & needles, and burning sensations in my fingers, but particularly in my feet.  My GP diagnosed Restless Leg Syndrome and treated me with Sifrol.  The only identifiable benefit of the medication was a slight improvement in sleep patterns.  I had started to have increasing difficulty with sleep, so was feeling very tired most of the time.  I also had difficulty breathing, and was diagnosed with, and treated for, asthma.  Was I one of those unlucky people who have more and more medical conditions as I aged?  Once again, the medication had little effect; not only did I have all these medical conditions, but the usual treatments for each were proving ineffective.  At times I felt somewhat of a freak; or was I just a “nutter” imagining it all?

In the latter half of 2011 my condition had deteriorated to a point where I was unable to work in the consultancy and increasingly less able to maintain the gardens and home.  I had taken up light, artistic woodwork called Intarsia, involving utilising the colour and grain characteristics of various species of timber and shaping them to create pictures.  This hobby was light physically; much of it completed sitting down.  I ultimately could only complete about five minutes of this light work before requiring lengthy rest periods.  Also by this time, I was having difficulty walking.  I could manage to walk around a single town block from home, but felt as though I was pushing a tonne weight up hill; my muscles did not want to work for me.  My lower legs felt what I described to my GP as “spastic” (I now recognise that this was cogwheel movement of my muscles).  Throughout I never manifested a tremor.  I was always very tired and becoming increasingly apathetic –quite happy to just sit and do nothing (in absolute contrast to my normal almost hyperactive state).  By now, I was averaging between two and three hours sleep each night and in a constant state of exhaustion. Sometimes I would “lose it”, angrily responding to what were very minor annoyances.  It was frightening for me, and both frightening and extremely hurtful for Marjorie.  There were lots of “Sorrys” and many tears shed.  My personality was changing and definitely not for the better.

When I arrived at a point in November 2011, where I was barely able to walk into my GP’s office, it was at last recognised that “something serious neurologically” was going on, and I was given a referral to see a Neurologist.  By this time, I found concentration on almost any activity difficult; I have seen this referred to as “fuzzy thinking”.  It was a further six months before I saw the Neurologist.  It took him less than ten minutes to conclude that having Parkinson’s Disease was the only diagnosis able to fit all of the symptoms being experienced.  The proof that the diagnosis was correct would be a positive response to the levadopa medication that he prescribed.  This proved to be the case as my response to the drug Madopar was fantastic.  My Neurologist also provided me with medication that is helpful in managing the anxiety and sleep.  It felt so good to know what we were dealing with; we now had something we could learn about and begin to manage.  I was not crazy after all.

During the period of waiting to see the Neurologist, Marjorie and I made a further move into a Unit.  This has to be the last move surely! – the only move from here is full time care should that be required some time way out in the future  The Unit has an additional large garage that allows me to use my woodworking equipment.  I no longer have the hand/finger dexterity to make the Intarsia pictures in wood because most designs include very small pieces within them.  The neuropathy (lack of feeling and dexterity) in my fingers no longer allows me to manage small items close to moving saw blades, sanding machines, and the like.  Therefore, I have taken up making beautiful chess sets using the best and very special, of Tasmanian rare timbers.  The photos, I trust, speak for themselves.  It is a wonderfully therapeutic activity, and extremely rewarding to be able make things of beauty, and even more wondrous to be able to say with total conviction that it is “thanks to Parkinson’s Disease” - without Parkinson’s it is improbable that I would have taken up this work.  I also read several books each week and have found the interaction with the work of authors of a mix of classic, modern, and historical works to be enjoyable and stimulating.

I have to acknowledge that I went through a period of depression sometime after receiving the diagnosis.  I have received wonderful help from my Clinical Psychologist and can now manage my thought processes allowing me to live “in the moment” all of the time.  To focus on the past reminds one of what is no longer possible; to focus on the future is to emphasise the slow deterioration that is an inevitable part of the disease.  Both viewpoints lead inevitably to a “glass half empty” and rather depressing mindset.

Our Neurology Nurse Specialist/Educator in the North West of Tasmania has been immensely helpful with many of “the practicalities of living with Parkinson’s” issues.  She also introduced Marjorie and I to what has now become the “Young Onset Parkinson’s Group” in the North West.  This group is a fantastic meeting point for those living with Parkinson’s and their Carers.  We have lots of fun doing what to the rest of the world would appear to be unlikely things for people living with a chronic movement disorder, such as playing Mini Golf and Ten Pin Bowling.  We find it entertaining ourselves; others who observe some of our antics and odd movements find it amusing as well.

I am looking forward to the rest of my journey in life with Marjorie; I feel more positive than I had for many years (or should that be decades?) prior to diagnosis.  As the old saying goes, “I wouldn’t be dead for quids”!

About the timbers in the photographed chess set and the tools used:

The unbelievable beautiful Tasmanian timbers in this set are Birdseye Huon Pine and Burl Myrtle.  Other beautiful Tassie timbers I have access to are Musk (the rarest of all the Tassie timbers), Black Heart Sassafras, Tiger Myrtle, Flame Myrtle, Blackwood, Leatherwood, and others.  Most of them are available in variations including spalting (some of which appears in the photos of the board), birds-eye, quilting, white bait and other types of figuring.  It is a real privilege being able to use such fantastic timbers.

I have some reasonably good pieces of equipment that allow me to produce work of a reasonably high standard.  They include:
An Excalibur Scroll Saw,
A Drill Press;
A good Dust Collector;
A Table Saw;
A Router (with home-made table);
A Jointer / Thicknesser; and
A Dremel rotary tool with flexible drive (for finishing work).

The Chess Set design:

The set design in the photos is a standard Staunton design; what makes it different from most available sets is that it is not “turned” or “molded”, but compound cut on a Scroll Saw.  Each piece has lead shot epoxy glued into its base; this ensures that it does not easily tip over if bumped during a game.  I purchased a book written by a clever American guy, Mr Jim Kape.  The book is titled “Making Wooden Chess Sets – 15 One-of-a-Kind Projects for the Scroll Saw”.  Many of the designs are based on the architecture found in cities around the world.  The Kings, for example, vary from representations of the old Colosseum in Rome, to the Eiffel Tower and the Stanchions of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  I am looking forward to making them all over the next few years.

The book also describes all of the techniques needed to successfully produce the chessmen, boards and storage boxes.  I would recommend it to any “woodies” out there interested in making chess sets.

If you would like to contact me please click my name and send me an email.

Chris Lacey

Chris you have had one amazing journey and still you are producing such fine works truly inspiring work.


Thomas Cleary - Model Engineer

I have often visited the HMEM forum browsing the site for information and to view its inspiring works produced by its members. It is one of a few forums that has a separate section Machining with Disabilities  specifically to encourage and inform those with problems and information on how too's. I like the introductory statement from Gail . Its through this section I spotted Tom's thread about him and his workshop.

I received an email from Tom this morning as he doesn't have his own website along with some photos of his work. To see his shed and set up click on the links below.

 Ray, I've been in the chair 13 years this week. The result of being hit by a car while riding my motorcycle.  Machining has been a Hobby of mine for about 10 years, but I've been a mechanical guy all my 61 years. Go Karts, Mini Bikes, Motorcycles cars,boats, Model RC aircraft. 

A gearhead all my life. I went to college for automotive technology  and became a Factory Rep for Mercedes Benz, and then Freightliner Trucks which was owned by Mercedes.Aside from a couple years of metal shop in HS I am self taught in machining.

I left the Freightliner Corp and started a Motorcycle Dealership selling Honda and Suzuki Motorcycles, ATV's. I then sold that business and retired in 2008.

My retirement gift to myself was a 16 x 30" workshop added to my house for my tools to hang out in. You can see some photos in the Shops forum of HMEM. Today I have a Monarch 10EE lathe, a Rockwell 10" lathe, Bridgeport Mill, Myford Cylindrical Grinder, TML 5 x 10 Surface grinder, Mohawk Drill grinder to 1.25" and  various other small tools. 

Past projects have been a number of mechanical puzzles, double faced quarters, Some 10 gauge Black Powder salute Cannons. Current projects are a Corliss stationary Steam engine, and a  1:12 scale steam locomotive. Both will be working models. Many projects are for friends, Steering arm for a sailboat, a missing part here and there,  Wheelchair repairs for a guy who sells used Chairs. And before you know it the day is over. 


Above- Fence Washer for vinyl Rail fence.
10 ga BP Salute cannon

Nut Puzzle, Shown is 5 of the 7 pieces

Sunday, 28 July 2013

WheelchairDriver - John Williamson (Burgerman) Engineer

This profile of John is taken from his WheelchairDriver forum.

I am a 12 year T4 paraplegic, that has a rather good grasp of engineering, physics, power wheelchairs and vehicles generally. Can design, fix, redesign and improve anything! Its what I do.

Before my accident I used to build big drag race V8 powered cars, and turbocharged and nitrous injected very fast bikes. And also design and build Nitrous injection systems, jet engines, automotive dynamometers. Much of it commercially. So I dont find wheelchairs very complicated at all! In fact I find them pretty under developed and overweight.

I live with Arnie (German Shepard), Vera (small young fit blond - another one of my interests) in an adapted house in a quiet Grimsby street in the UK (East Coast near the Humber Bridge)

Am also into computers, photography, beer, model planes and helicopters and far too many other things.

If your wheel has fell off ask here how to fix it. You wont get the usual "contact your healthcare professional" bullshit on here!


While this is from John's Power Wheelchair build site 
 I have spent the last 14 years in a wheelchair after a bike accident.
I was disgusted at the crappy build quality prevalent in most of this industry along with poor & outdated design, & antiquated cheap components of even the BEST power wheelchairs.

 I asked John about his workshop his reply.

My workshop doesn't exist. I build chairs, and other stuff in the bedroom I sleep in. And the garden wall, or in my kitchen, or wherever!
 Go have a read of John's site his work on these wheelchairs is awesome I for one would love something like this.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

We all have Vices or need them

No not the type which lands you in a trouble with the law.
Those which are used for holding, clamping, squeezing things the type that lands you in trouble with the wife for buying more. 

In any workshop be it hobby or otherwise you'll find a vice of some description, sizes vary from tiny Jewelers, to large engineers vices for metalworking. I did a tally of all the vices I have and came up with nine of them in number of which not one is permanently affixed. 

I would like to have them all set up, bolted down, so I can use which ever one I wanted right there and now, firstly I'd need a bigger workshop (don't we all) more benches as well.

This is leading somewhere in particular for those seated when working in their sheds.

A seated woodworker David Barron who doesn't seem to have a medical condition but finds comfort in setting up his work space thus. It was David's Video Channel  that caught my attention at first in particular his Moxon bench vice video  
Here's David Blog step by step set up on the Moxon Vice.

David Barron from Southhampton UK
A woodworking fanatic! He makes fine furniture as well as a range of very popular hand tools which he demonstrate and sell at shows. He teachs woodworking courses at West Dean College as well as write regular articles for Furniture and Cabinetmaking magazine. He has also recently made some instructional DVD's. See my website

Hi Ray,

I do most of my work sitting down and have designed my work benches to work like a desk so my knees will go under. Having a height adjustable stool gives added flexibility to work bench tasks. 
Please feel free to link in to any of my videos.

All the best,
Thanks David 
I can see I will soon have at least one vice which will be affixed to a bench, this will suit my needs for a number of jobs coming up.

Mike Ruch Underground Woodworking

I found Mikes pages in a search he has a Blog called Underground Woodworking

Hi Ray,
     I am disabled due to not being able to turn my head due to an accident. I am in extreme pain all the time and an on morphine. On my good days I am able to work in my woodshop. I walk with a cane since I tend to fall down a lot but I use my shop time as sort of therapy. I'd be pleased if you linked my blog and/or my Facebook page to your page. The more people we can get to know that disabilities don't have to stop the creativity.  Check out a couple facebook pages of my friends, Cool Tool Shed and workshopaddict. If you haven't started a Facebook page you should, my page has changed my life.
Also, If you haven't done so, you should got out to and join up. It's all free and you can show off your work, ask questions and occasionally they have contests too. they have one going on now to win a free 18 gauge nailer. No cost, not even for shipping if you win. All the guys out there are wonderful and don't judge. 

These are my creations made in my Underground (Basement) Woodworking shop. Most all the items I make are made from recycling wood pallets. I'm a disabled woodworker that enjoys the time I can spend in my shop. I re-purpose a lot of items from thrift stores for hardware. I hope you enjoy my creations and leave me a message. Check back often as I try to make new items regularly.

I really like Mikes pallet tool box/chest there is a pallet challenge happening on the at present I wonder if any will produce such as this.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Another Sit Down Lathe This one from Hager

This Hager sit down lathe

HAGER front seat Star lathe

Specifications: Center height 225 mm turning length 700 mm Variable speed 200-2600 rev / min Equipment: electronic speed control, hand rest and tailstock with eccentric clamp, tool rest 250 mm; Vierzackmitnehmer D = 24 mm MK3, revolving center MT2; spindle handwheel

Here's the Hager Front Star in action.

I am not quite sure the fellow turning is a wheelchair user as he seems to exert leg force when turning. He does show that a clear area is accessible in using the wheelchair, switches tool rest, tail stock and even motor are all accessible. Height adjustment of the bed seems on this stand fixed, yet its sturdy, it would be a lathe which would need to be bolted to the floor or a good set of weights on each end.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Doug Gordon's Tools

Have to say a big thanks to Doug Gordon for sending me some photos of tools he's made for his use, some quite ordinary by that I mean what you might buy straight off the shelf, yet adapted and handles made to suit his needs.

I like Doug's Table Saw buttons extension .
The only better idea I could come up with is a remote switch, I have for a few years used a remote switch set up for my Nova lathe and the 1hp dusty the switch was one I bought from Aldi. You have to be careful where the remote is, I have left it in my apron pocket bent over and switched things on not good.
The location of many machine On and Off switches leave me cringing and that is long before being a wheelchair user, some located behind the work area so you have to lean past or under or move to the other end.

Hi Ray,
Here are some photos of various tools and aids I have made for my w/shop, is easier for me to list the number
of each photo, then explain what its function is.
Will send you some additional photos of the w/shop machinery in the next few days.
These are the split collars I told you about which I had in the English Woodturning mag, have a range from  35mm I.D. to 127mm I.D, with increments of about 5mm.  I have a card above the lahe headstock listing each I.D., with the required dia the bowl foot has to be turned down too, the split collar is actually sprung onto the foot. Most important that the sawn slot is located at a point 90 degrees to the run of the wood grain, otherwise you will simply split the collar when you spring it on. No good trying to make thes from ply, as you have no spring in the cross laminations
This is a texturing tool I made from the main drive gear wheel off a Dewalt battery drill that died, each end of the gear was turned out, and a small bearing pressed in. When mounted on the holder, the teeth were ground to a point using the side of my aluminium oxide tool grinder, this tool works a treat. Most certainly was not going to pay $180-00 for a Robert Sorby kit to do this job.  Will show the effect it creates.
This tool I made for end grain hollowing on lidded boxes, think it is Robert Sorby that make this tool as well,  but hellish expensive in this country.Shank is 20mm 304 grade stainless steel, with a 12mm x 75mm long tang into handle. A flat face was milled half the 20mm dia, it is this flat face that sits on the tool rest, with the cutting tip made from 1/4'' dia Swedish engineers tool steel. This cutter too has a flat face ground on it to its full length, this flat face sits against the flat face on the tool shank. Cutter is held in place by short section of the 20mm stainless rod, which had a half round groove ground out to sit over the cutter, this held in place by a 4mm button heal cap screw drilled and tapped into shank. Cutting tip has a different profile ground on each end, with the tip being able to be set to any angle, simply by  loosening the cap scew. Made a simple tool holder to hold the cutter whilst sharpening it, very differcult to hold onto something this small without it, will show you this as well
Vee tool made from a section of buzzer/lointer blade, use it too cut two small vee cuts on the bottom of my footed bowls. Other tool I made is for squaring up the hacksaw cuts on brass ferrules on tool handles. Is a section of an old carbide tipped tablesaw blade, this was brazed into a slot cut into the end of a piece of 12 x12mm square mild steel. Cutting tubing nice and square by hand hacksawing is not east, this tool gets
over this problem.
Being unable to open my fingers very well on my right hand, I came up with these aids to hold the timber down  as you push it over the buzzer/jointer, Bad practice to have the flat of your right hand pushing down on the end of the timber, with a short grained section often breaking away as it passes over the cutter. The one with the saw handle end is for pushing a narrower board through on its edge.
Cranked scraper made from 304 stainless steel, this was heated and pulled around a former. The end has a rebate cut out, then a section of H.S.S buzzer blade brazed on. This tool is an absolute dream for cleaning up ridges on the many undercut pieces I make, shank dia is 10mm
Center tool is another scaper I made for undercutting, is 3/16'' tool steel fitted into 10mm 306 stainless steel shank. This is held in place by a small grub screw, the sharpening of this cutter is done with the same small cutter holder that I use for sharpening the end grain tool.
This scraper I made from a short section off a Landrover leaf sping, onto which I brazed a piece of Swedish power hacksaw blade. As you can see, it is ground with slight radius  to the center, is used in a shear action, with tip rolled over to about 45 degrees.I use it mainly for the final shear cut on he bullnose edge of circular cutting boards, after the initial shaping is done with 10mm bowl gauge
These 3 shear scrapers with all made from H.S.S. planer blades, which I have holes pieced with a plasma cutter to take a 4mm button head cap screw. Shanks are all 304 stainless steel, they all work a treat. Jacobs chuck has a nice wee handle so that you can get a better grip.
Miniature turning tools that were in the American Fine Woodworking mag, made from good quality Allan Keys with pieces of H.S.S tip brazed on to the ends. Allan keys are heated and pulled around a former, shew chisel is from a buzzer blade, parting tool from a power hacksaw blade. A point worth mentioning here, all the brased joints between shank and cutter tip are cut to about 45 degrees to give you a greater surface area for the joints, this applies to all the tools I make with brazed on tips
Three phase switch on my tablesaw, added these spring loaded extensions so that I did not have to reach under so far.  Ideally switch location should have been on the left hand side of the saw to suit my left arm, did look at this option, but too much messing about.
      Ray there a few more photos I could send you, but perhaps this is quite sufficient. Not not entirely sure as too whether your readers will see any worth in this, but all have been nice to make, and all of them most certainly do the job intended.