woodturning from a wheelchair- potential obstacles and solutions please!

Hello everyone. I'm brand new to this forum. I'm a 55 Y.O guy and a
fall from my roof 5 years left me in a wheelchair for the rest of my
life. I'm what the doctors call a T-8 complete paraplegic which means
there's no real feeling and no motor response to or from any nerves
below my 8th thoracic vertebrae. In laymen's terms, I'm paralyzed from
my mid chest down but I have full use of my arms and hands.
I was a decent woodworker before my accident and I've tried to work
in my shop from the wheelchair, but it's not working out too well.
Simple things like feeding stock thru a table saw is really difficult.
Four hands are needed to push the stock and push the wheelchair. I've
never done any turning before and I've been thinking that woodturning
may be more easily done from a wheelchair since there's not a lot of
moving around required. It's a hobby that I'd like to take up if the
obstacles are reasonably easy to overcome. One problem I can foresee
right away is that a lathe on a stand is way too high for me to work at
comfortably. I would need to build a lower height stand of some kind.
No real problem. I could handle that. Any advice would be helpful.
Is it worth it to try this out? Thanks.
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I shall have to ponder this a bit. In the meantime, have you considered the scrollsaw? It (and fretwork) are the only woodworking that I do sitting down so naturally it sprang to mind first.
Reply to
I'm sorry I can't remember their names, but I know there are a number of woodturners who work from their wheelchair. If I'm not mistaken, there is at least one who either used to or still does read and post to this newsgroup on occasion.
Here are a couple sites you can take a look at:
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> One problem I can foresee >right away is that a lathe on a stand is way too high for me to work at >comfortably. I would need to build a lower height stand of some kind. Seems like one of the mini lathes would be a good place to start, and they are easily stable enough, at least my Jet is, to be useable on almost any sort of stand you would care to put it on. Heck, even a couple of planks stretched across two stacks of cement blocks would work for the mini, in a pinch.
Anything is worth a try, if it helps you do something you enjoy. For the height of a standing woodturner, the rule of thumb is having the spindle height roughly that of the elbows. I'm not positive that this would be ideal for a seated woodturner, but it would be a good place to start. Since there is a slight leverage disadvantage to being seated over being standing, perhaps having the height a bit lower would be easier. Just a thought.
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One of the UK's most loved woodturning demonstrators is Tony Wilson who is also in a wheelchair. Despite this, his work is fantastic and he tackles large, small and unusual pieces. Nothing seems impossible for him.
I don't know Tony's e-mail address but he works for ASK Tools near Leeds. Their office e-mail is snipped-for-privacy@asktools.co.uk and I am sure that they would pass any enquiry on to Tony.
Tony is an inspiration to all turners, disabled or not. If you have a look at
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there is an article from our woodturning club on Tony Kindest regards and I hope you all have a wonderful 2006 Paul

Reply to
Paul Loseby
I myself am a disabled woodturnerI can manage to stand at the lathe for short periods so it is much easier for me. I attend Sheffield Northern General spinal injuries hospital once a week for occupational therapy which is where I got started on woodturning. The lathe there is mounted on a metal table with adjustable sliding legs and a hydraulic car jack is fixed at the back. In this way it can be adjusted to any height to suit those in wheelchairs or those who can manage to stand. I have seen many people in wheelchairs use this lathe (Myford Mystro) and they make a very good job of it. Hope this may be of some help to you and a happy new year to you and all the N.G.
Reply to
Tom D
In article ,
I have a good friend that does all his woodworking from his chair. As Bob suggests, all his equipment is "small", he has a Jet Midi and a small metal lathe, everything else (bandsaw, table, saw, etc) is all bench mounted to allow complete access.
But then he also a master archer (from his chair)
Here's another "it can be done" advice
Reply to
Ralph E Lindberg
George, The gentleman who taught me turning (pens) was a very experienced woodturner who used a jet mini lathe. I had only minor experience from highschool over 20 years prior, and I will always thank him for his patience and kindness. He had a real passion for the craft, and the wheelchair wasn't an obstacle for him with this lathe. All the best, Steve

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Good Luck George. And keep posting. There are a lot of new things to learn about turning that we can help on.
Walt C
Reply to
Walt Cheever

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