Sunday, 30 June 2013

John Lopez AKA "ticklingmedusa"

I came to know of John Lopez through various woodwork forums his handle is "ticklingmedusa"
As a new turner I was/am always in awe of his work truly inspiring. It wasn't until one of the forums started a "Disabled Woodworker" section and John chimed into the posts that I discovered he is a wheelchair turner.

Johns a thinking man and loves to challenge himself, come up with new tools and turnings even built his own lathe set up to suit his needs. His tips and hints on tools on forums is with out a doubt great for any woodworkers use.

I have had contact away from forums with John as I needed some help with some USA information close to where he lives.

He has sent me this today. Thanks John for being a part of this small effort.
I have not done much in the area of turning wood lately. My shop space became gridlocked with many large slabs & blanks and lots of tools. I was given a pair of vintage lathes & a second bandsaw.  All of it treasure of course to a spinner of wood but after about 10 years of accumulation things needed a going over.

I gave away some of  the surplus tools and regained enough space to get myself to the far side of the room. I've been improving the shop with wood storage, a dust extractor hood & a new door with more sound dampening so I can work into the wee hours. I read the first few entries in your blog with interest and think it's pretty cool. We are a small club.

Since I'm not turning much at the moment I'd prefer to share a few shop ideas & maybe put up the link later. I have included early photos of a simple shop made rotary tool collet locking jig. Changing a bit on a rotary tool (Dremel) was taking me too long so I made a holder out of junk & later mounted it with a toggle on the bed of the lathe. I use it every time I remove a tenon and finish a bowl bottom.
A flap sanding wheel removes material more evenly than the drum in the photos.
It creates a nice fixed base allowing someone with impaired hand function
to change bit or operate the rotary tool safely in a fixed position.
It's summer here and I've been installing pvc pipe to irrigate my vegetable garden.
A locked spindle and a 4 jaw chuck ended up being a decent place to do pipe fitting.

Johns Dremel Jig

Here's a photo of an Aussie (a far North Queenslander) known as Old Croc (Richard in the green shirt ) who visited John last year.

I have had a visit from Richard myself he brought me down some real nice Quilted maple.

John doing some turning the series of eight photos are taken by Fernando Ramirez.
Fernando's main site because I love good photography another thing I am into I still have my Canon EOS 100 SLR 35mm yes thats right film.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Woodworking with Multiple Sclerosis

My dad had MS his last shed was an old outhouse about 4ft x 4 ft where he stored his tools a bench and small amount of wood to work with. His last project he finished was for our children Mark, Belinda and Peter a double sided small chalk board. He started on a doll's house for Belinda a simple Radiata Pine it was made with love and passion, but due to health I had to complete it this was while I was still working and walking.

I see a story on a gent who also did wood working while he could during his time with Multiple Sclerosis.

Dr. Phil Gross in his workshop
Dr. Phil Gross made several changes to his workshop in order to accommodate the limitations imposed by his disability.

Abilympics - Now What's That??

Have you ever heard of Abilympics "NO" don't feel bad neither had I. So what is?

 Abilympics exists to assist and enrich the lives of people with disabilites. Over our many years of operation our efforts have touched a lot of competitors and volunteers. Here is a small collection of articles and letters showcasing how these efforts have made a real difference.
I found this story among others.

Richard Higgins

 If I were to be perfectly honest, I'd have to admit that during my 23 years of being a paraplegic I'd never heard of the Abilympics until last year. That's a great shame, because after my recent involvement in the 8th Abilympics held in Seoul, South Korea, representing Australia in the wood carving category, it was a real eye opener. In my opinion the Abilympics should be embraced by many others who are disabled but have skills in which they can compete.
I didn't bring back any medals, but if you'll forgive the cliche, it's not just about winning but taking part that counts and having the opportunity to meet many other competitors from countries as far away as Holland and Canada. There were hundreds of disabled competitors in Seoul who all came together to compete and show communities around the world that it's about our ability not our disability!
This was the first time I'd been so far away from home with what started out as a group of strangers, but I returned home with fond memories and new friends. The whole experience from start to finish was an exciting adventure and I am sure there are many other talented disabled people out there who would benefit from the experience I had by proudly representing their country in the next Abilympics.
I found this amazing the more I investigated the more I discovered about Abilympics seems each state in Australia has a Gov dept which covers it. News to me!!

Here' a short video of another gent who to part on SkillsOne site.

Where did it all start from what I can gather in Japan Organization for Employment of the Elderly, Persons with Disabilities and Job Seekers

I digress a moment.

World wide moves are taken to recognize and put the word forward just like on Rehabilitation International

Friday, 28 June 2013

I Think Its Working

I opened Facebook this morning and found a PM from Frank from Patriot Woodworker  who has Pay It Forward Google the movie. Thanks Frank for the accolades and the guys for their comments posted on your blog .

This came about after my post on Mike Ellison. 

I have had a number of emails some I need to edit regrading posts already made some I am just waiting for more information and or photos as not all have web links. Thanks to those who have responded I will get around to posting those details but I need some time in my workshop too LOL.

Ray Sanderson

Thursday, 27 June 2013

George Claxton Rugby Player Woodworker

George’s Story…
George Claxton TrustOn Sunday 26 February, while playing for Blackburn U15s, George Claxton went to tackle an opposition player coming off the back of a ruck and threatening his team’s line. What happened next nobody really knows, except George committed everything and was left still on the ground. Seconds later the game was stopped and his life changed.
Several weeks and one major operation later George is now in Sheffield Spinal Injuries Unit, in a wheelchair and working hard to win the mobility and independence every young man wants but so few come to truly appreciate. Given the challenges he now faces his spirit is an inspiration. There is a bubble of positivity and humour around George that is infectious and humbling. George has no feeling below his chest and the control he has in his fingers is limited, yet despite this he is inventing extraordinary ways to interact via phone and computer, and if you tweet or email him he will respond.
As well as being a part of the rugby community George is student at St Wilfrid’s Church of England High School and Technology College with deep roots either side of the Pennines in both Blackburn and Sheffield. This website is here to help you and George connect and support the efforts of the community around George to raise funds for his Trust Fund and make some sort of difference. Please read on, join in, connect and donate

Another First For Me

This week I tried some wood turning in the Occupational Health workshop. This is the first time that the Therapist has had a Tetra attempt it.

For those who do not know I have no movement in my fingers or Triceps muscles, this makes it impossible for me to grip anything with any power and some arm movements are not possible. A quick check of Triceps usage is to put your hand on the back of your head and try to lift your arm straight up in the air.
I had the chisel bandaged in place and off we went, the therapist held on to me to make sure I was stable as I cannot use my stomach muscles either and I did a few “cuts”.
I have used a Lathe before at my Granddads so I knew how to do it.
I did not make anything this time but I am hoping that next time there will be something to show for the effort.
You can see my first attempt on the lathe on “youtube” by following the link below
George C :)

I can't recall how I found Georges site and his turning but he has granted permission as have many others. I am not sure I am keen on the safety factor of strapping a gouge to his hand one dig in or catch could have some disastrous results like broken bones. I would suggest an arm support type I can't find the image darn it as soon as I do I'll post and edit and put it up. Its a metal brace a frame which at the fore arm area is shaped like a U with Velcro to strap it on. A rod attached/welded down along towards the wrist and hand where gouges can be quickly be slotted into without need for changing the brace. If I recall I saw it for a one armed turner.

Looking at you having a go your slouch in getting stuck in. I love this vessel your grandad has done I think I have seen it somewhere before on a forum. Your in good hands if he's the one teaching you.

Edited 1346hrs Thursday 27th June.

I found a similar photo George see the brace set up on this, if velcro was strapped over the top along the arm bit and a hand brace made to suit your hand which had the ability to slot the various tools required to turn in bingo your turning like a pro.
This tool is from Lee Valley in USA but I am sure with
 Here's a similar one see the strap fitting.
I suggest a look at Rolly Munroe's tools or Robert Sorby modular set I am sure Grand dad knows these tools. I might be jumping the starting pistol but worth a try.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Richmond Valley Woodcrafters & Phillip Consalvo

 My first dealing with House With No Steps  was when at school and we had a visit from someone from the centre along with someone in a wheelchair.
Little did  know back then that over the years I would have closer ties with them through work life. When a coach driver I took groups who were raising funds for the House With No Steps to visit the centre at Belrose. Years later, on tour on the north coast we visited the centre at Alstonville just prior its opening. To see that they are still actively helping the community is amazing. 
Then a mate got a job in the office admin and he asked if I could organise a Hunter Valley wine trip which I did. What an amazing day staff and people from with in the facility and some how lived outside. One fellow who was wheelchair bound had traveled the world he sat beside me in his small wheelchair while I drove the coach a man full of life and knowledge. Those who could walk on did so and some had to be carried. By days end carers refused to carry them on and off that was after 4 wineries, lunch and all the tastings. The last top was Dr Jurds at WollombiI raced over to tell staff form Dr Jurds our problem soon jugs and glasses were being passed around the coach for tasting we left there with 4 boxes of Dr Jurds thats besides what was already in the luggage bin.

Richmond Valley Woodcrafters
House With No Steps, 253 Wardell Rd, Alstonville, NSW 2477

Operating Hours
Tuesday to Saturday inclusive: 9am to about 3pm.
Other times available by prior agreement with the Workshop Manager or Supervisors.
‘The club is incorporated as  a not-for-profit organisation to provide woodcrafting facilities for members of all ages and abilities.  Special facilities are available for physically disabled people.’
House With No Steps Relationship:
Located within the House With No Steps complex [near the Nursery] the club is part of their attractions and tours of their site include a visit to the workshop where club activities can be observed.
Workshop description:
‘ The recently completed 24mx10m workshop is now operating. Full workshop capability will gradually be realized as experience allows us to improve and eventually finalise the layout of the work areas.  The facility boasts a large wood-drying/storage shed on site. Additionally, an extension to the rear of the workshop is currently under construction.  The workshop operates under the control of Workshop Supervisors with formal Workshop Operating Procedures and OH&S Procedures in place.
G’day Ray

I was asked to reply to your recent email to our Club regarding people with a disability doing wood work

I  am a paraplegic (T8,9) and enjoy wood turning and other woodworking projects  .

I personally have a Carb-a-tec  Lathe , I chose this one because it came with a cheap base and had a swivel head for outboard turning,

I built my own stand , just high enough to allow my knees to clear the bed.   

I am very fortunate to be a member of the Richmond Valley Woodcrafters Club as they have been very supportive and only too willing to adapt a lathe and a Bandsaw
to my height requirements , and also made the workshop wheelchair friendly.

As far as  these purpose built lathes for people with a disability , I personally have not had any experience with them and probably could not afford to own one ,

I only turn for enjoyment and to keep my mind active, so it can become a bit expensive if you are not careful

I hope this answers a few of your questions and would be happy to hear from you in the future

Phillip J Consalvo

Thanks Richomnd Valley and Phillip for your in put, I am going to have to come up with some questions I think for those and myself as to how and what you do what you do.


Erik's Warren Originals and Autism

I have a scroll saw it doesn't get used often maybe twice a year my fingers are not as strong as they should be more use of it could possibly strengthen them.
In my life time I have known and experienced people with Autism and am amazed at their skills and hidden talents.

Erik Warren a fellow who has some amazing skill and talent with a Scroll Saw 

Welcome To Erik's Originals

According to the Centers for Disease Control Web site,, autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disabilities defined by significant impairments in social interaction and communication and the presence of unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autism have unusual ways of learning, paying attention or reacting to different sensations. Their thinking and learning abilities can vary from gifted to severely challenged. Autism begins before the age of 3 and lasts throughout life. It occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups and is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls.

However, this website isn't just about autism... It's about a man named Erik Warren who lives with autism and with guidance from his family, has found a true gift to help him deal with his compulsions. 
 Erik has also hit the news in the USA some videos of him working on this page.

Erik has attached some interesting links to do with Autism these may surprise even you they did me.

Erik calls this one "The Thinking Man's Seat"
 Hello Raymond,

Thank you for your inquiry, and please feel free to link to our website.  We are currently in the process of initiating some changes to the site, but when completed, we would be pleased to return the favor.

If I can be of further assistance, please contact me.

Best regards,

For Erik Originals

Thanks Erik and Bonnie

Ray Sanderson

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

"The Hobbiest Machine Shop" Daniel Kautz

As I said this Blog will be about many who have some form of health issue and not just into woodwork or turning but any activity where tools and machines come into play. I discovered Dan's site while searching for information on metal turning and discovered his similar medical complaint. I contacted him back then in regard to it explaining myself and my condition. Since then Dan has ventured further taking into his hobby shop woodworking as well as CNC.

Like myself Daniel has a form of CMT  called Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) of which I also get told I have signs of

Daniel with two of his metal lathes.

Hello Ray,

The link is fine with me. I have several. You can take your pick or all, they all cross link to each other. is my personal blog, kind of general coverage. (Some beautiful photography) is my machine shop web site. is the blog for The Hobbyist Machine Shop. is my non-machine shop activities and it contains an internal blog.

There are several more but that should be enough. Ha!

I need a new chair like yours. I just built a new low bench and need an office type roll around chair.
"Recently I decided I had to make myself as comfortable as possible while working in my shop. I have Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) and I am most comfortable when I am sitting down to work on things. I am able to walk around the shop and as you can see here, I am still capable of fairly large and complex projects.
I know my mobile ability will continue to decline so I have set my plans and mind to making smaller projects. With the tools and machines I have, I want to be working on precision metalworking project items that are commonly called metalsmithing. It is a bit of a slide from pure machine shop gears and levers and more of forming the metal. Far closer to jewelery work and model making than building an internal combustion engine. (but I will continue that.)"
The Video link
 I can still walk around by holding on to things but stool height is getting uncomfortable for long periods. And as you see I can do woodworking but have to be extremely aware of what could go wrong. I really want to get more into wax carving both with my CNC and by hand. (I really like some of the hand work I have seen.)The low bench is for hand carving and detail work. My hands are affected with CMT/PN so I want to use them before I loose them. I just posted in the blog my trials yesterday and I am not suffering (hand cramps, etc.) today. Full steam ahead...

I am going to add Dan's 3 Dimensional Art site also
I have often given thought to my fragmented hobby interests; just too many activities within which to divide my time. So what is a man to do? Make the best from all of them, of course.
I struggle to overcome what may be seen by some as a character flaw, that of being an pretender renaissance man or polymath. I have always aspired toward gaining a wide but significantly detailed range of knowledge and varied abilities. This does not automatically make me a genius as that is a definite distinction from polymath. I have not always followed the conventional schooled method of knowledge building, as I generally consider that route too slow and limiting. Self study and deep lifetime involvement serve me just as well.
 Many thanks Daniel  its good to read and see the variety of interests you have in life never let it stop you.

"Turning Tuesdays" with Bill Sands & Mikey Ellison

This post is well worthy of not just the fellow who is a wheelchair user but the people behind him the article was written back in 2010.

"Turning Tuesdays" is about Mike Ellison (Mikey) and his friends. The story is from Woodcraft with their kind permission, I am still waiting to hear from Mike himself.

The article is produced by Frank here is an extract but the whole story is worth a read click on Turning Tuesdays above. 
The weekly event takes place not far from the Parkersburg, West Virginia Woodcraft Store at the woodshop of Bill Sands. This is not a club, but a fellowship of men, centered around one individual through comradery, support, and the love for woodturning and woodworking.

Mike (Mikey) Ellison is the reason for the group’s existence. Ellison is also the father of two boys and an electrician for ten years at Borg Warner / GE Plastics in West Virginia. One day Mikey was deer hunting from a tree stand. All alone, he descended from the stand, grabbing on to a branch on his way down. The branch snapped dropping Mikey 21′ as he attempted to land on his feet; the impact shattered his ribs and crushed his spine. As a result, Mikey will be paralyzed from the upper chest down to his feet for the rest of his life.
Mikey had always been a strong and healthy individual; now left with only the use of his arms and hands, he found himself recooperating from this accident with his life partner Suzy, who was instrumental in helping him adjust to his new life.
One of the first things Mikey started to do was enter wheelchair race competitions, but he found he needed more to keep himself active and creative, both mentally and physically. He found his niche in woodworking. For the past nine months Mikey has expanded his interest, “turning” his abilities into the art of woodturning.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Adam Hood Wheelin' 24/7

I took great interest in a video showing Adam Hood a 24/7 wheelchair user and his purpose design and built lathe.

Adam Hood of Florida is the first person to get a new Independence lathe, designed specifically for seated turners. Adam was one of a group of seated turners who helped us evaluate our design as it progressed. Adam had this to say about his new lathe:

Got the lathe yesterday and all I can say is, I LOVE This THING!!!!! I was on it all day yesterday. The wife had to come out and drag me in for dinner. I couldn't sleep last night either so I went out and turned on it from 2 am to 7 am. Amanda took a few pics to send to you. I don't know how to say it other than thank you very much. This is gonna help me develop my skills a lot I can tell.

Adam uses "The Independence" lathe designed and built by Robust Tools
The 16" Independence lathe was designed for turners who work from the seated position. The lathe is height adjustable and the bed can be tipped towards the turner to improve access to the work.
Indpendence has many of the features of our other lathes and shares the same seven year mechanical parts warranty. In addition:

· Sliding headstock
· Corded Pendant Controller
· 1.5 HP/110 or 220 volt  or  2.0 HP 220 volt
· Premium Vector Drive with Auto-Tune
· Variable Speed, Forward/Reverse
· Integrated Tool Rack
Click on the photo for a larger image.
Click below for additional information:
Video featuring seated turner Adam Hood
Spec Sheet
Photo Gallery and Design Details
Further specs.

Specifications:-1.5 HP (110 or 220) or 2.0 HP (220v)- Adjustable height-Bed tips forward 0 – 30 degrees - 16” swing, 28” between centers (Thats as good as a Nova) -Built in Tilt - Away
 My Thoughts (Ray)I see this as a great design and well thought through with the end user in mind the steel tube frame allows good movement around the whole lathe. It looks sturdy and versatile although turning a 16" platter could have some consequences unless the seated turner could position themselves clear of the swing. A price tag US$ which is in the area of the Vicmarc VL200 sit down which is just a midi lathe. 

I asked Adam for some in put. (thanks Adam)

My name is Adam Hood. I am a T-11 complete para. I have been hurt for 6 years from a motorcycle accident. I have been turning for around 3 years and 2 years ago I was put in touch with Brent English with Robust Tools LLC. We went back and forth along with a few other seated turners around the nation and came up with the design of the Robust Independence. I received mine last march. I was turning on a Jet 1014 VS and the independence helped me out tremendously. It was a blessing to be connected with Brent English and get this lathe. If you have any questions about the lathe for someone who has "been there and done that", feel free to contact me. If you have any other questions, I think that you would be able to contact any of us to get answers. Check out the video on either Don's site or Brent's site under the independence tab. If you want other videos I'm pretty sure that I could get my wife to video me turning if you want. Feel free to email me if you need anything.
I don't have any discomfort other than what I usually feel in my chair. I have no use of my legs so I can't sit in a different chair and turn. I am in my wheelchair from the time I get out of bed till the time I get back in bed at the end of the night. I have back pain due to sitting all day but that is normal for me whether I be at the lathe or not. 

If you have any more questions for either myself, Brent or Don, feel free to ask.


From Don Gieger
 Hi Raymond:
Thank you for your message. The Independence lathe from Robust provides many benefits for seated turners. 
Please feel free to add links too:

I've shared this reply with Brent English, president and owner of Robust Tools, LLC. He designed the Independence lathe.
I've also shared it with Adam Hood, the seated turner featured in the video on my site.

We hope that innovative systems such as the Independence will encourage persons who need or want to be seated to pursue woodturning as a hobby or vocation.

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write me.

Don Geiger

Issac Curran @ Wheelchairwoodturners

Some time ago I spotted or was directed to Wheelchair Turners this site is run by Isaac Curran.
Ike granted me permission to use his material to spread the word take a good look at his site, his set up and what he does.

Ike along with Spinal Injuries Scotland produced a short video
Ike has his own Youtube Channel also in some of these he shows his workshop and talk about his lathes and other workshop tools.

Me on my Wheeled Highchair
I served 27 years in the Armed Services, during that time I suffered a spinal injury, which is now degenerative and to cut a very long story short, now means that I can walk very little and mostly use a wheelchair for getting around, because of that I have been accepted as a member of BLESMA (British Limbless Ex Servicemen Association). I also have heart disease and have had 6 heart attacks. As you will see from my workshop pictures I am able to use stools to work from and my favorite is now a wheeled kind of high chair, which allows me to pull myself around. (you can see it on my workshop page)
 I am lucky that I manage to sell all of my work either through the Craft Fairs we organise (see Craft Fair page) and other locations this finances the workshop, well almost!
Me at the lathe June 2009
My Workshop is completely Wheelchair friendly.  The concept of WW is to set up a workshop and organization that can help and advise other people who are disabled or have limitations, whatever they are as well as able bodied folk who want to learn a new skill and get involved.  To have a website that you can contribute to, if you have solutions or ideas mail me and if they fly I will post them and give you credit.
The WW workshop now has four lathes, the VB36 NEW IN MAY 2009 (see Report),  and I also have a Silverdrive Statesman 280 (see Report) which can be worked at stool height, plus I have also purchased a Charnwood Mini Lathe (see Report) which is for use in the workshop and also for taking to locations for demonstrating and a Delta Midi lathe which can be used at wheelchair height.  The original garage needed a complete refit to be good for purpose, I have funded about 50% of this re-build myself and also obtained a grant from Scotland UnLtd which has allowed me to finish the work  Ongoing sales of items allows us to maintain the workshop and be self funding. 
I am offering beginners the opportunity to come to my workshop and learn the basics, plus being able to sort out what they need to set up their own place, I desperately want to keep this all FREE, so I am hoping to get advertisers on this site,   I have also built the mobile setup so that I can go out to locations and give demo's.  In time I also want to mount a webcam in the workshop so that if someone wants to see maybe how to make a certain object, then hopefully, if I'm up to the task, I can show them.  If anyone knows how to set up a webcam on this site contact me please. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

How and why this Blog page got started.

I was prompted to write this in regards to well meaning people encouraging a gent who has suffered/recovering from a stroke. He is being pressured into buying a Vicmarc VL200 Sit Down Lathe and/or the club he is a member of. I spoke to the gent at a turning demonstration we were both at. He was a towering man of over 6ft using a walking frame to get about. He is well aware he is loosing strength in his legs and ability to get about but can still stand, he is already into turning. So I suggested something like my stool instead. Using the lathe he has already at home and the club lathes many of which I saw set up for tall people only. None seem to have adjustment for short people, they used whats called a duck board to raise them up.

My personal opinion  of the VL200 sit down lathe is "well done Vicmarc for having a go but sorry no first prize".
No I have not used one or am I likely to ever try, I have used a large normal Vicmarc and hated it.
Firstly I could never afford one and I would not expect any club or institution to buy one so I could. Not at a price of $4,000 to $6,000 and you must buy tooling on top (thats the same with any lathe).
Second The steel frame which supports the lathe will radiate cold during winter and this is detrimental to anyone able bodied or not.
Thirdly The location of the motor will not allow anyone even on the office chair shown above room for knees or to move into the lathe. You have to remember wheelchairs are made of metal.

The pluses are.
Its made/assembled here in Australia so parts and service etc should be first rate.
Its Variable speed with a 1.5kw motor so can handle some big stuff.
For a mini lathe it has a good swing  400mm meaning a plate of 400mm dia can be turned it has the same between centres.
A remote switch which can be moved to suit the user.
Height adjustable although it will take more than two people to do this and unless the wheelchair user has access to a lift he will not.

. "The stand is designed to be adjustable to suit many different applications and sizes.  The adjustable legs allow up to 150mm height adjustment (every 25mm) and the pivoting bed allows a tilt angle from 0 to 45 degrees.

The height range from the floor to the centre of the spindle while the lathe is tilted at 45 degrees is from 750mm to 900mm and when the lathe is tilted at 0 degrees the height range is from 950mm to 1100mm.  "It rakes to an angle of 45 degrees"
This set up is not one for someone who is independent and wishes to turn more than just spindles and platters from my view point with or without the stand. If the lathe was bought for a club that has more than one sit down user not even in a wheelchair and those users all were different stature the need to constantly adjust would have other members or staff of collages, schools etc constantly altering it.

I have done some editing above this morning 22nd June.

The lathe above to me needs a better stand set up one more suited to multi users for clubs, collages and schools.

Ray's View

Ray's View

This page is being kept separate from our main blog as its more for editorial comment on working with what is classified by others as "A Disability" not just mine but others who have granted me permission to add their links and stories. As well as reviews on tools other than anything to do with our - Sue's and my blog activities.

Anyone wishing to contact me on this subject can do so at or comment on these pages. I do ask a contact be left so I can return an answer please. Please keep it with in the frame of people whom suffer any medical condition and hobby interests regarding machine and there use no matter how small or minor you consider that to be.

I am disabled as classified by others and in ways by myself, often because of others and how they see me. This is the same for many who suffer any medical condition.

I have no connection with any company mentioned here other than I have bought or am interested in someway in the products be it the use of for myself or for others who have some form of medical condition and in which I see the product can be bettered for their use.  It is not a product or company bash but as Safety issues have taken over common sense many machine designs have now become for some impossible to use. I hope as I point out what I see as grave design flaws for people especially those with alternative needs or possible improvements they maybe taken on board and improvements made. The trouble is none of us are the same and needs are different for each and everyone able or not.

ABOUT ME and my medical condition/s.
I have whats called Charcot Marie Tooth or so I was diagnosed at age fourteen after seven years of investigation. Yes thats right seven years before I was slotted into CMT. Poked, prodded, X-ray, scanned, shocked and in one test shaken like a cocktail with a blue dye in me,  some would say tortured.  Dr's had no decent link to what was wrong but CMT came closest, I was at the bottom end of the scale so far removed from the mainstream with NO hereditary links. So I was stuck in "The to hard basket" an anomaly.
Since 1996 I have had 4 DNA tests done all of which have proved without a doubt I am not mainstream which thanks to Prof James (Jim) McLeod who I had seen as a specialist from age twelve until he retired had discussed with me and verified long before these DNA test came into existence. Smart man that one talks to his patients and listens even if they are aged twelve.

In essence the nature of my disability is like a tap which is turned down so low a trickle of message from the brain gets through to nerves which then give commands to muscles to do the work ( I have not been able to wiggle my toes since age ten). My condition is in the extremes like hands and feet where strength are effected, but if I work these areas I gain some strength.


Like in some work places where bosses hand down tasks and employee's refuse to work. Thats what some of my muscles do but more like they just do not react. I have all sense and feeling and no pain from this. I do have pain from arthritis, lower back injury, neck and shoulder injury etc. Just like whats classified as a normal person if there is such a thing (do you suffer any medical condition, poor eye sight, hay fever, hair loss?). My reaction times are often faster than others my own age and my ability to sense danger also and act accordingly where others more able may wait till it happens.

I began working life from age fifteen through till a work related injury (I fell and broke a Patella) and insurance companies refused to cover me because I have CMT. As I found out they will not  insure people with disabilities here in Australia for workers compensation, that was a recent as 2000. After a lot of research I discovered that this is all sanctioned by our Federal Government and Human Rights Australia. So I was employed, miss-lead by not just Government bodies but also the leaders of the the Nation and Insurance companies that I could and would be treat just like any other employee. Apparently its not just here in Australia either.

I have done a range of jobs from as young as twelve, paper runs, pamphlet drops before leaving school, a Christmas 6 weeks at Roseland Grace Bros in sales menswear. I had two choices when leaving school Edited sorry I had three choices. To do what mother wanted of me or do what I wanted of myself (mum and Dad had separated in 1966). The third was partly mothers choice as well, a visit to Prof J Mcleod's office where had papers to sign me off for life on Disability benefits back in 1966 I walked out of his office insulted although returned where he and I discussed me going out and having a great life doing what ever I wished work wise.
I chose a Mechanical apprenticeship but transferred to Motor Vehicle Building talk about physical work outs.  My work life centered around two main industries Autos, Bus and Coach industry, some of these have been discussed on our main blog.

Here's me and a Coach I drove in the late 1980's a job I loved doing.

Now onto the Main theme.
Ever since becoming involved in wood and metal work as a hobby it has been a misconception of others that I work from my wheelchair, even though some have seen how I get about in my own workshop and use my tools and machines.

Strange isn't it I started my hobby when a kid really, then again back in 2000 when I started to consider a hobby long before I had to use a wheelchair to get around. I started using one in 2003 for safety reasons, while out and about, after a kid who's mother couldn't be bothered keeping him in check let him run about in a major shopping mall, he clean knocked me off my feet.
Further injury in physio at the local hospital I was there having splints fitted and walking to the toilet. I ended up with a broken Tib and Fib of the left leg more strength loss during recovery time of 16 weeks and then a heart attack four years ago.

Like some I do not work from the wheelchair more like I hate to its not denial its painful !

I have given it a try with my Jet Mini VS lathe, this caused some serious discomfort to my lower spine and upper neck and shoulders region not just for a short period during but for days after. The whole set up was wrong for me personally. I have used a kitchen steel framed stool and normal bench at 750 high and the lathe on top, great but getting about the workshop was still a case of transfer back to the wheelchair etc etc. Ha ha ha I recalled wiggling the stool about the workshop short distances till I cracked the weld. Fixed that still have the stool and was using it just this week.

I have used a Triton Table saw from a wheelchair was just not practical and down right dangerous as there is no control at all of the timber. As I can still stand but lean on my arms for support I can not walk, I sat on the stool better but limitations to move about to adjust and pick things up.

I upgraded thanks to a good friend Geoff who scored a stack of office chairs, two being Draughtsman gas lift stools which I grabbed both. From here on in after fitting better wheels to the draughtsman stools, three with locks to stop the stool rolling away while transferring to it gave me much more freedom.

Here's one of them in my office Left set low to work at the desk. Centre At full height Right new wheels with locks
 The cast aluminium gives additional strength and support I can unlock the breaks with my heel just a tap is required. The only draw back is I have to adjust to the height I need first then climb onto the stool using a bench to stabalise myself.

I can now use my Bissato 4 bandsaw, my Nova 3000 wood lathe, Jet Mini, Myford ML7 metal lathe, Pedestal drill, GMC sliding compound saw and have access to almost all on my shelf system. Hop over to the main blog to see these. There are occasions I still require Sue or others help to reach or move things but with the stool its a lot less.

The only thing I do use in the wheelchair is the scrollsaw sometimes but again seriously my lower back and neck and shoulders suffer for days after so it is set it up on a stand or bench and me up on the stool. Why because to work with hands at comfortable angles tables would need to be so low I could not get my knee's under, therefore having to lean forward or to the side to work. Its all about Ergonomics.

Its strange how people think instantly of classifying others who have suffered a health related disability or serious accident as lesser able, less intelligent and not capable of choosing for themselves. When given all the facts a true assessment encouragement and the persons determination should be taken into account. All to often I have seen talented people side lined because others do not think they suit the profile.

Ray Sanderson