Saturday, July 14, 2012

Learning to See Through Blind Woodworkers


Yesterday I received an email and a link to a U-Tube video from an old acquaintance, Larry Martin, who was instrumental in starting an organization called Woodworking for the Blind. The video is pretty amazing; check it out HERE.
His email jogged my memory about a chapter I wrote in my book, A Splintered History of Wood, a few years back. Part of the writing focused on Larry’s work. There were a number of sight-impaired woodworkers who were having difficulty gleaning the needed information on woodworking projects from books and magazines. He began reading and recording CDs containing information on the projects. He also made himself available via phone to answer questions that sight-impaired woodworkers might have. He did all of this because, well, he’s just a nice guy. Click HERE for more information on the Woodworking for the Blind.
Larry directed me to three sight impaired woodworkers who I interviewed over the course of one long, amazing afternoon. I talked with David Albrektson who loves making furniture.

David Albrektson with his hollow mortise machine

 And Ron Faulkner who gravitates toward cabinets and dovetailed boxes
Ron Fualkner with a few of his decorative boxes

And Gordon Mitchell who not only enjoys building furniture, but built his woodworking shop and a house to go along with it. 
Gordon Mitchell at work in his shop (that he built!)

When I hung up the phone, I realized I hadn’t heard one utterance of “poor me,” only words of thankfulness and positivity. Wow. Turns out, these woodworkers are no different than any of the rest of us. We all savor the touch and warmth of wood. We all experience highs and lows. We all make mistakes. We all love to innovate out way through problems. We all enjoy the fellowship of other woodworkers and savor the solace that comes when working alone. And that’s what makes woodworking the best pastime of all.

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