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.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Few local situations

Local media is always a good source of finding out whats happening in your area and thanks to the net we can now do this almost nation wide. I found a couple of articles regarding a couple of turners one from the North Coast of NSW  Lower Clarence area a Men Shed .

Mens Sheds are a fast growing past time world wide check and see if there is one in your area. They even have their own on line discussion section.

This must have been fun for the fellows who pulled together and came up with maybe not the newest machine but suited the purpose.

The story comes from The Daily Examiner a local paper.

Shed mates adapt lathe for wheelie Dave

ADAPTING TO NEED: Dave Hawkings sits at the lathe at the Lower Clarence U3A Men’s Shed. A bracket was made to lower the lathe so Dave could work at it while in his wheelchair. Photo: Adam Hourigan
ADAPTING TO NEED: Dave Hawkings sits at the lathe at the Lower Clarence U3A Men’s Shed. A bracket was made to lower the lathe so Dave could work at it while in his wheelchair. Photo: Adam Hourigan
DAVE Hawkings from Lawrence has always been pretty handy when working with timber.
Keen to learn new skills and tips from other woodworkers, last year he decided to join the Men's Shed in Maclean.
While he enjoys making a variety of timber pieces, Mr Hawkings' wheelchair has meant some projects have been out of reach.
But not any more.
Thanks to the help of his shed mates, Mr Hawkings can now safely use the woodturning lathe which has been lowered and modified so all the controls are within reach and in a safe position.
"I try to keep positive and active and the wood lathe proves that most obstacles can be overcome, with a little ingenuity and some friendly assistance," Mr Hawkings said.
The modern Men's Shed is an updated version of the shed in the backyard.
Members come from all walks of life. They are men with time on their hands and they would like something meaningful to do with that time.
A Men's Shed has a co-ordinator who has both the technical and social skills to develop a safe and happy environment where men are welcome to work a project of their choice.
The shed can also help ease the transition from full-time employment to retirement.
The Men's Shed supports local groups and charities through a variety of projects.

Then on the opposite side of Australia the The Weekend Courier and a story of one of the members Alan of Wandi Wood Turners. This became interesting due to the nature of Alan's situation and needs and how the group, Alan's  Occupational Therapist are all working together.

Lathe a positive turn for disabled


making woodworking accessible making woodworking accessible
THE pleasure of crafting something from wood can now be shared by people with a disability at Wandi Woodturners.
A community development grant from the City of Kwinana helped the club purchase a $5500 lathe that can be adjusted to accommodate people with wheelchairs or limited mobility.
Group member Rod Cocks said the machine was purpose-built in Queensland, had variable speeds, and was designed for use while the operator was sitting rather than standing.
Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams presented the lathe to the group during Wandi’s recent 25th anniversary celebrations.

A big difference between these two stories, the groups involved and the machines, one built the other bought. I emailed the Wandi group and had quite a few replies from Robin Campbell regarding Alan (photo and story above).

Hi Ray

Yes that photo shows Allan looking uncomfortable, his teacher and the lathe for disabled turners.

Firstly about the lathe. It is a Vicmarc and is suitable for those in a wheelchair or people who just need to sit and turn. It is not ideal for a one handed person in a motorised wheelchair. We are currently looking at modifying a Woodfast of getting a MC900 or Sherwood that we can modify to accomodate the size of the chair. We have worked out how to make a set of tools for him that will allow him a fair degree of independence. We have contacted his OT team and they re-assessed him yesterday. We hope that they will be able to help us develop our ideas for Allan.

Allan can stand long enough to get his wheelchair on and off the car. He has use of his right hand only. Today he finished turning a mortar and pestle for his wife. We have to help him with the difficult bits at present but hopefully with his new tools he will need less and less help. Allan has taken about 6 years to get this stage and it is through his guts and determination that he is there. He just wants to be useful. I personally have the greatest admiration for him. We have just sourced a second hand lathe and that is being modified for him to use at his home.

I am hopeful that we will be able to progress him to the stage where he can embellish his turnings by the use of pyrography and Dremel. He may also be able to use some paints on his work. These outlets will give him a sense of purpose and I see no reason why he can not be very successful at it.

Happy to keep you informed of how we go with Allan and hopefully we will have his tools ready for him soon enough.

Kind regards
Robin Campbell 

In the second email Robin went on to say :-

Hi Ray.

Just looked at your blog and tried to post a comment to the Vicmarc, great lathe but really has severe restrictions on who can use it. I said this in my comment but unsure where it went. . So if it didn't make it let me know and I can send direct to you and you can use it.


A third email was quit in depth but I have just added the last statement as the people assisting in rectifying the situation for Alan are still active this includes Vicmarc and Alan's OT.
As well as the fellows from the group making tools to Suit Alan's needs.

Allan and Graham are OK with you using the article and any information we can share we will be happy to do so.

We are still working on the tools, what I am suggesting for Alan is the Easy Wood Tools tips. Hopefully we can make a handle that can be attached to Allans arm with a wing nut in the end that he can turn with his fingers. The tips will be put onto square steel shafts and he can push them into the handle and tighten the wing nut and then use them in a slotted tool rest. This will give him the control that he would normally have with his left hand. I discovered that these people have also made a new self centering chuck with pushin and clip jaws. This I imagine would allow a disabled person to change jaws more easily.

Will keep in touch


I haven't heard from Robin as to the progress but I will if I receive an updates gladly put the information in a post.

 A Mens Shed Narrellan posted a video on their Facebook page (who said old blokes can't handle technology, besides we invented it).

This short film (Published on Jun 16, 2013) is about a program in the Hunter region of NSW for men in the early stages of dementia and male carers of people with dementia. The program, run by Alzheimer's Australia NSW, in conjunction with the Australian Men's Shed Association, looks at reducing the social isolation often felt by men who are either caring for someone with dementia or have been given a diagnosis themselves.

Thanks to Sarah from Alzheimer's Australia  who granted permission to link to the video

Hi Ray,

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I've been on leave.

Happy for you to link to our new short film from your blog. As long as the video is not amended and we receive appropriate credit, that is fine.

Thank you,


Video Link

 Having seen one of my father in-law's friends when he was placed in a nursing home as we had a couple of visits taking Matt to see his old mate, it opened our eyes to what can happen. The fellow Peter remembered Sue and I but even though Matt (father in-law) handed Peter a bag of fresh fruit Peter had to ask who he was. Peter could recall our wedding but looked blank faced at Matt. Matt  took all this very hard, little did we notice that years later the fast way Matt went himself. Driving to the local shops he called in to our home we realised all to late he had forgotten his way home. One of my old mates dad visited him from Perth never to return as he went down while visiting. One of Sue's friends from spinners is a concern at present 84 years still active and full of life but some little things keep popping up when the group meets.

Keep safe and well. Stay active as your body will allow you.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Michael Louis Smith Blind Woodworker

I have to thank Frank from Woodcraft for putting me in touch with Michael Louis Smith Woodcraft did a story on Michael called "Hooked On A Feeling" back in September 2012.

I found Michael website Falconcrest Woodworks contacted him and he is glad to be a part and allow this to spread.

I see no reason not to link to my web site. If I can be of help to others I wish to make myself available to that end. Time here is short and what we do now is what is important. I am not much on this technical marvel so just let
me know how I can be of help to others. Mike

Michael Smith

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Michael Louis Smith was born on July 21st, 1952, in Artesia, New Mexico. He is married and the father of five children ranging from the ages of seventeen years to thirty-eight years (two boys and three girls).
Michael is a retired Navy and Air Force veteran. For twenty-five years Michael worked as a maintenance electrician. His favorite hobbies were fishing and woodworking.
On July 5th, 2009, Michael woke up with blurred vision in his left eye. He immediately went to see an ophthalmologist who then referred him to a neurologist. After several tests at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, including cat scans, spinal taps, and a double biopsy of the eyes, doctors determined he was totally blind in his left eye. They decided he was fine to return to work in September of 2009. They believed he would learn to adjust and deal with vision in one eye and work successfully again.
On October 23, 2009, a Sunday morning, Michael woke up and realized he was losing vision in his right eye. Within five days he had lost 95% of the vision in that eye as well.
In February, 2010, he was admitted to a VA Blind rehab center in Birmingham, Alabama, where he spent three months learning to deal with his disability. While he was there he learned he could once again do woodworking. Michael came home with a new outlook on life and began working immediately making wooden bowls, cutting boards, serving trays, chess/checker boards, etc.
Michael spends his days working in his shop, praying, and working on woodworking projects. He believes that God has a reason for his blindness and that he can minister to others through his woodworking. (Romans 8:28)

Click on this image to see a Video of Michael turning.  

Thanks you Michael for sharing you story.

Doug Gordon Redwood Valley New Zealand

I found out about Doug Gordon just from a search and discovered his website I emailed him and got this reply.
04-Jul-13 06:36, doug wrote:
Hi Raymond,
Thank you for your email ,my apologies for the lateness in getting back to you. Since opening my studio in 2001, I have been told by numerous overseas visitors that I should write a book about all the tools, jigs, etc I make for specific jobs. Having an engineering background certainly helps in this regard, with both M.I.G and gas welding equipment in my w/shop.

I had a story in the English Woodturning Mag in Sept 2009 issue 204 about my green turning and boiling of bowl blanks which was well received. Also article about the split collars I use to hold footed bowls in a scroll chuck to take out the insides of bowls, this avoids any jaw marks which would have to be removed with a vacuum chuck, or Cole jaws.
Also photos of my miniature turning chisels in the American Fine Woodworking mag, issue number (missing) The editor asked for members who make their own tools to submit photos, well they got over 1400 replies, so did not think a woodworker down in the bottom of the Pacific would get a look in, but there you are.
Over the years I have had many comments that the 17 machines I have is far more than a woodturner needs, but I do a great deal more than just turning. Have been working on French Oak wine barrel furniture this past 18 months, have just sent the 7th Oak table to a Sydney couple last month.
These include tables, lazy susan turntables, barrel stave and barrel end serving trays, outside seats, plus many other ideas in the pipeline
The work you see on my site is not a true reflection of what I make, presently working on mounting a clock and a bowl inside the bronze cage's of large roller and ballbearings. These both came from 200mm dia shafts off big sanding machines at the huge MDF manufacturing plant 15 minutes from our home, these two pieces will certainly have that industrial/mechanical look to them.
Anyway Raymond, think I have rambled on quite long enough, my w/shop sanctuary awaits me.
Doug Gordon.

Doug Gordon

I took up woodturning after retiring to Nelson in 1995. Wood has always been my passion and after 20 years of running my own engineering business in Queenstown, I decided it was time to rediscover the beauty and versatility of wood.
I live in the Nelson region with my partner, Robyn, and our two cats. For more information about me, read the following article.

Woodturning changed lifestyle

Doug Gordon, Redwood Valley Turnery The Leader, December 11, 2003 When Redwood Valley woodturner Doug Gordon had a car accident in 1974 he was left paralysed on one side, spent six weeks in intensive care and a further seven months in hospital.
The accident meant he had to take a year off work and give up his career as a builder. Despite intensive medical treatment, he remains semi-paralysed to this day. "It has left me with a partial right-side hemiplegia," he says. "It's the same symptoms that you get from a stroke but it came from a different cause." However, he has refused to let his disability restrict his lifestyle. "You can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself."
After the car accident he realised it was no longer possible for him to be a builder. So after a recuperation period working in a hardware store, he started an engineering business which he ran for 19 years. He was based in Queenstown but says he grew tired of the way the town was developing and wanted "to get out of the rat race".
So he moved to Nelson in 1995 as his partner is originally from the city. In an effort to meet people, he joined the Nelson Districts Woodturning group soon after he arrived. "There's a certain rapport you have with people who are into woodturning." It was a decision that was to change his lifestyle. He started to devote a large amount of time to woodturning and these days he spends seven days a week working at his craft.
After becoming frustrated at his lack of success at selling his work through local art and crafts shops he subsequently built his own studio, called the Redwood Valley Turnery. He did this shortly after he moved from Stoke to his current five-hectare property in Redwood Valley.
While his disabilities slow his work rate, he still produces a prolific amount of work and carries on undeterred. "I do suffer from double vision which makes it hard to measure depth. It makes it difficult sometimes but the brain gets the right message after 30 years."
Because he has a background in engineering, he even makes many of his own tools. He is proud of both the number of different woods he works with and the variety of crafts he produces. "There's probably a bigger variety in this studio than any other studio in New Zealand." He says the crafts he produces include bowls - specifically from New Zealand silver and red beech burls - pens, clocks and wall hangings.

A Quote from Doug's site

"My philosophy in setting up a studio/workshop is the sharing of the rapport which is universal between woodturners and people who have a love of wood and the beautiful things that can be crafted from it."
Doug Gordon, Wood Craftsman

Doug is going to email photos of some of his workshop and tools I will be editing and adding these when they arrive.


Sidelined Not at All

Never as long as I have people who are willing to allow me to post about them on here and I am capable I will do so.

We have had some sunshine for the past week and so I ventured into my own workshop to create some dust and shavings. That will be posted on our main blog when finished.

I have also been doing something else and its taking me time to do.

But I will today link to two more who enjoy what they do.


Edited:- 1608 hrs To add

I just checked the statistics for the blog and am pleased to say it has had 527 Page views  since the first post on 23rd June.

If this helps even one person its done what it was meant to do.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Tim Clark Pen Turner Down Syndrome

I came to know of Tim Clark (aka Timboclark) through a woodwork forum and another forumite Barry White who introduced him to the site and mentors Tim in Pen Turning.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tim and his parents last weekend 30th June when they called in as they were down from Tamworth visiting and Tim seeing Dr's

Tim has Down Syndrome and is visually impaired and a heart condition.
I got to see two of the pens he made for his mum and dad (Pauline and Mathew) very nice and they support him doing this and many other things.

Here's a little about Tim seems he just loves life and is into everything he can be.

Tim Clark pen turner
He is 23 years has 2 other sibblings, lives at Kootingal on an 1800 acre property where his family have Santa Gertrudis Cattle

He won two Gold medal swimming at the Launceston Special Olympics in 2009.
I was told he caused quite an incident while at the blocks ready to dive in. A marshal assisting Tim mentioned the block Tim was on was one in which Aussie Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe used. Tim stood down and refused to get on the block. When questioned why Tim said "Thorpe fell in on that one so I am not using it". They allowed Tim to start from the edge.

Loves to go hunting, rides a Quad bike around the property.

Attended Oxley High to year 12, South Primary prior that.

He is into Ballroom dancing.

Goes camping with friends and loves his country music living in Tamworth he's in the heart of it.
Keeps fit at the Gym twice a week, I thought handling the cattle and horse would be enough of a workout.

Works one day a week at the  Welcome Way horse stud.

At present he's also attending TAFE computer studies.

Now Tim doesn't have a website so with his and his parents permission I have downloaded photos from his Facebook page.

It was a pleasure to meet Tim a country gent a big smile and strong hand shake, loves to laugh. Hope to see you some time soon Tim.


Tim and his Ballroom dancing.

Tim and his dad and friends often go out shooting, the area is renown for its wild bore.

A small sample of Tim Pens, these he is mentored by Barry White

The pens below are those he made for him parents.

Tim Clark standing and me