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Thread: One Arm Woodworker

  1. #1
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    One Arm Woodworker

    A friend is teaching Woodworking 101 - basically intro to power tools. One of his students has only one arm - no prosthesis for the other side. We have thought of all sorts of ideas - feather boards, jigs, clamps, etc., but they are all theoretical. At this point we are looking for proven tricks and techniques - if you have seen a one-arm woodworker (or if you know one or are one) please let us know, and share any suggestions they may offer.

    Sorry for posting here, but I wanted to be sure to get quick visibility (yes, I am guilty of ignoring off-topic threads most of the time). If this needs to be moved...ok, do it!

    Thanks, and thanks on behalf of the student who I have not yet met.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  2. #2
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    charlie, it`ll depend on what tool he`s runnin`?....of course a slider would be nice...but what`s the guys pocket book look like? he`ll need clamps, vices and various hold-downs.....think how we use our off hand....it`ll be a challenge but not that big of one....tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
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    Charlie, I don't think you posted it in the wrong spot at all

    How about that Gripper thing, that looks like you could use it one handed, with a set of board buddies....?

    A power feeder would the the way to go on most any machine, BS, TS, or router table, shaper etc.

    Did this person loose their arm fairly recently or were they born that way?

    I went to uni with a gal who was a Thalidomide baby, she had hands coming out of her shoulders, but not arms. She did just about everything you could imagine, and did not let her handicap slow her down, heck she rode a bicycle (with long tall handlebars). She said she was not "Handicapped" but she had "a handicap", a huge difference.

    I'm just saying this as I'm always so amazed at how well people adjust to their circumstances, and I'm wondering about this person. I'm sure there are all kinds of things they can do in woodworking with only one arm, they will just have to adapt and over come.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
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    Charlie, I'm going off-topic a bit here.
    Why doesn't he have a prothesis? If the family can't afford it, the Shriners will help. If you don't know a Shriner, contact me with an e-mail and we will get that boy a prothesis.

  5. #5
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    No personal experience, but something like an Ezi-Smart guided system might be easier and safer to use with one hand? As both the workpiece and the saw / router are clamped in place it seems like something you COULD operate one handed.

    Cheers

    Ian
    Last edited by Ian Abraham; 12-12-2006 at 06:19 PM. Reason: typos

  6. #6
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    The first thing that comes to mind is one of those vacuum clamping holders. Is that something he could adapt to use on various machine fences to keep stock against the fence and only need one hand to feed it?
    Last edited by Doug Shepard; 12-13-2006 at 11:00 AM. Reason: Spelling
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    ...Did this person loose their arm fairly recently or were they born that way?

    I went to uni with a gal who was a Thalidomide baby, she had hands coming out of her shoulders, but not arms. She did just about everything you could imagine, and did not let her handicap slow her down, heck she rode a bicycle (with long tall handlebars). She said she was not "Handicapped" but she had "a handicap", a huge difference.
    ...
    Still haven't met the guy or heard his story, but I can share others...

    I worked with a guy many years ago who lost an arm at the shoulder. Had a hook that was articulated (based on the way he twisted his back), and was able to light his cigarette with a match from a matchbook. He also had a fake hand that replaced the hook on social occasions, that he called his club, since it wasn't near as good as his hook. (Cigarette and hook show you how many years ago this was.)

    I had a friend who was blind... a teacher. I visited him at his school (he lived a couple blocks away and walked to work, without a guide dog or anything). He told me where the light switches were in the men's room, since the lights were likely off at this school for the blind. It was the only restroom I have ever been in that didn't have mirrors.

    Later I was in an accident where I lost my sight for several days (6 weeks before I could read again), and lost use of my hands for months (3 surgeons spent 3 hours putting me back together again). I was more worried about my hands than about my eyesight, seeing how well my blind friend could cope.

    Sooo, I am looking forward to meeting this guy, and helping any way I can. But the invitation to visit my shop and try my slider and power feeder are contingent on his having acclimated to his loss... not a recent amputee who is struggling to cope.

    I did get a PM from someone in Ireland who scanned an article from an English WW magazine about a woodworker who lost use of one arm in a stroke. Both an inspiring story and good ideas that I have already shared with the course instructor. This Internet thing really works
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  8. #8
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    Good luck to your friend's student; it sounds like you and your friend are working hard to help him out. And to add a bit to what Stu suggested, I will vouch for using the Grrripper one-handed for short rips. Wouldn't want to rip anything long without a second hand or Board Buddies, though.

    Not on the topic at all, but one of the worst beatings I've had on a pool table was by a one-armed guy (named Lefty, of all things). He was a great guy and an excellent pool player with a good sense of humor. I'm glad we weren't playing for money, because he'd have taken all of mine that night. Guys in wheelchairs can also be dangerous on a pool table. DAMHIKT.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
    There are a variety of gismos out there if you would amass them. For instance Shop Smith makes their miter guage with a gripper that holds the material so you can use it with one hand. There are an assundry of feather boards that clasp onto the table with a magnet, they can be adjusted with one hand. In combination with the Gripper as a pusher, ripping should be pretty easy to master.

    Make crosscut sleds with the cam action clamps, Ripping sleds as well with the cam clamps. Gripper clamps work well one handed, on down the line there are a tone of ideas, on needs to think up some and if money is not an object, the goodies are out there.

    I know a fellow who is a Quad, (both legs and both arms) I sat at a dinner table with him and was in awe as he manipulated his knife & fork to cut a steak. Pull one cigarette from a pack and strike his Zippo to light it. Drives a car and a motorcycle, water skis and almost anything either of us can do.

    Everytime I feel sorry for myself, I think of him...

  10. #10
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    If there is any way that we can help a fellow woodworker I am in as I understand (or will try) to understand as my wife is blind and supports my "hobby" 100%. Let us know how we can help.

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