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Wheelchair Woodworking #1: Woodturning with a Disability

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Blog entry by Jamie Speirs posted 10-24-2010 01:12 PM 11613 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Wheelchair Woodworking series Part 2: Time to move on. »

WOODTURNING from the Wheelchair
(just a copy and paste from www.jamiespeirs.com )

Woodturning is one of the crafts that lends itself towards most disabilities. It can be done in a fairly small area with relatively inexpensive equipment. It is not overly strenuous and can be quick to show results; hence it’s mass popularity. The object of this is not to go into any great detail about woodturing itself, rather on guidelines on what look for in a course or in a tutor.

Red Pine Three Tier Altar/Shrine under construction.

WHERE TO BEGIN

Most people interested in starting woodturning have probably read at least one book at this stage; there are many available at your local library or from GMC publications. The best start to woodturning is to do a course. There are many advertised in “Woodturning” a GMC publication or “The Woodturner” a Nexus publication.

COURSE SYLLABUS

Most courses will offer a syllabus with all course details and prices. Make sure that all is clear from the start then you will know what to expect. You don’t want a course that is too bogged down with theory, as the best way to learn is “Hands On”. It is impossible for a course to guarantee that you will be able to complete a list of projects, as it will depend on the individual’s progress. However all courses should let you finish at least one small project.

CLASS SIZE

It is important to find out how many students there will be on a course. The fewer students, the more one to one tuition will be available. Some evening classes at colleges may only have two lathes for a dozen students, which means a lot of time watching and very little doing. For someone just starting I would suggest two students as being the ideal for a good blend of tuition and hands on. However, on specialised courses there may be a larger mix, depending on the experience of the group.

Justin doing some quality control on Rigid Seiza/Meditation Benches.

LATHES

Make sure there is one lathe per student. It can also be worthwhile if the tutor has a selectrion of lathes, as this will give a chance to try the various types before making a purchase.

THE TUTOR

Find out as much about the tutor as possible before starting a course. ” Check” If the course is close-by try and pop round for a blether first to see if you like their manner. If the course is going to be further away it good to get a recommendation. The AWGB is a good place to start or your local craft club. You may have someone you know who already turns, this is great to go for a look, but not all good woodturners are good teachers. Generally you will find that most tutors are a congenial lot and they teach because they enjoy teaching and people.

The Workshop

Make sure that the workshop is comfortable and well laid out. It is important that there is space in the workshop and it is not cramped and cluttered. A well laid out workshop that is tidy will reflect a lot on what to expect from the course. Doing a course in winter in a workshop that is cold and draughty will not be conducive to easy learning neither will a hot unventilated one be pleasant in the summer either.

YOUR PERSONAL REQUIREMENTS

There are no two disabilities the same, so this is where it is important to specify your exact needs. Do not expect the tutor to understand all disabilities. There are many adaptations possible and it may be that certain things will have to be attended to prior to the commencement. Should you require any advice, do not hesitate to contact me. Remember that to some people a barstool to get to the lathe might be classified as disabled friendly, this is not the case. Make sure there are adapted toilets, ramps and adequate vehicle access. In a word “CHECK”. It is the only way that you can be sure that you get what you want.

CARERS

Should you wish to take a carer with you, it should not cause any problems and might be appreciated if you have special needs. However should your carer wish to participate you must expect to pay for that, after all if the tutor has to teach two people this has to be paid for. Again, “CHECK” before you go.

ACCOMMODATION

Should you choose a course that is further away from home than is reasonable to travel, it may be necessary to find local accommodation. You will find that most tutors will have a list of local facilities. Remind them again of your exact needs. However the final decision on accommodation will be yours. If you are travelling by public transport, enquire if you can be collected. If your going with a partner who is not going on the course, it can be a good excuse for them to do a bit of site seeing.

INSURANCE

Most tutors will have insurance cover, but it is always better to “CHECK”. In the unlikely event of an accident it is always better to be prepared.

A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

I became disabled several years ago and now use a wheelchair. I can only say that woodturning has totally changed my life. It not only has given me the means to doing something practical; it has also given me a great social life. My workshop, which is fully equipped and adapted to suit my needs, does not necessarily meet every one else`s. I’ve taught many people, both disabled and able bodied and no two people are the same. Yet the one thing that we have all shared is a great love of timber and woodturning. My background is carpentry & joinery, then moving on to furniture design and making custom one off’s. Woodturning, thanks to the missus, is for me an extension of these. Giving me the opportunity work in the medium that I love and releasing my artistic side. When I get the opportunity to share all this with someone wanting to learn “Nirvana” is here.

Yours Jamie
info@jamiespeirs.com

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



15 comments so far

View mafe's profile

mafe

11157 posts in 2554 days


#1 posted 10-24-2010 02:08 PM

Thats a wonderful guide.
I think it’s acually a good guide for all, since it covers all we all need to think about, when we lay out a shop.
Thank you for this, I will use this if I find a class to check out.
Best thoughts,
Mads

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23181 posts in 2332 days


#2 posted 10-24-2010 02:15 PM

Jamie, you have given some good advice and I know that it will help many people. Thanks

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1684 posts in 2387 days


#3 posted 10-24-2010 02:16 PM

Hi Jamie,
I am amaze with the way you approach the teaching/learning process for everyone. This is exactly the same when I do design course for the advance simulator courses. There is one that was not mentioned above. This is in respect with assessment. It is good to point out where a beginner, an expert and master turner will be. The difficulty and also the competency must be identified. I am just suggesting and don’t be offended. For example. Bowl making is quite advance. Centering might be basic and probably the more advance one is making a long stick using a compound and follower rest.

Your blog is very educational. Thanks for posting and keep it going. God bless.

-- Bert

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3201 posts in 2303 days


#4 posted 10-24-2010 02:44 PM

Bert- an excellent and valid point. Assessment- you are singing MY song. LOL “special education” is a verb something you do- it is not a noun- as in a place- room 221. Special education services begins with assessment then moves to an individualized plan of instruction-then to implemenation of the plan. Skill Assessment can be very formal (psychologists reports/inforamtion from Occupational Vocational Rehabilitation etc.) – or informal (teacher made). Both types of assessment are valid and reliable (if the teacher is skilled at assessment). Both are very important pieces of effective teaching. When designing an informal assessment, the teacher begins by looking at a specific skill that they would like the student to master. Let’s say turning a bowl on the lathe- (I know nothing about lathes LOL). Then the teacher has to think backwards- and make a checklist that covers all the little skills that lead up the the finish line- a bowl that is made on a lathe. Considering I know NOTHING about lathe work, I am certainly not an expert on this subject, but I think the first thing I would assess is pincer grasp. Can the student close the fingers enough to put wood on a lathe or hold a chisel and then go from there. Interesting isn’t it, that both Jamie’s description of rehabilitation type services for the disabled as well as Bert’s example of “advanced simulator training” are both examples of “special” education, and in terms of good instruction, both proceed in the same manner. And I believe the the really cool thing is that really- “specialized education” is the most effective manner of teaching all students old or young, disabled or not- especially when assessment that shows growth- as well as lack of progression (so that instruction can be modified accordingly) is ongoing. Way to go you guys! You guys are demonstrating that not only are you outstanding woodworkers, you are great teachers too! I am so excited about this blog! And I am here to help in any capacity. :) GO GO GO!

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2322 days


#5 posted 10-24-2010 03:41 PM

Hi Bert & Kelly,
thank you.
I do need to get things right. It can cause others confusion.
I was having a conversation with A1Jim about this in a PM.
I use the woodturning as an assessment.
Lots of folk get enough disappointed prior to coming to my shop.
The main reason I start with woodturning is that to date I’ve never had anyone not make something that in most cases is a treasure. After the woodturning I can normally asses the persons capabilities. No one leaves with a second rate project.
I have a young woman who is blind and has cerebral palsy. Her father asked me not to let her make anything to take home as there was a collection of poorly made items filling their attic already.
I was Shocked, Enraged and lots of other words that I cant spell.
Well after a few months she had made presents for everyone on her Christmas list. We duly helped her wrap.
Her father came an apologised to me. I told him that the apology should be to his wonderful daughter who had all of the potential, just previous “teachers” that did not care.
We went to one of her day groups as her special guests. There were 4 full banqueting tables full of the projects she had made with us. I had forgotten how productive she was.
My right hand Man Gordon deserves a lot of the credit for this as there was a fair amount of 3 hand turning.
Please keep up the suggestions.
This is something we can share and help others.
There are some really amazing parents and caregivers out there that are single handedly giving quality of life for their familys and just by us talking now, we may just give a wee bit of hope for them.

Jamie
in a glorious sunny Scotland

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3201 posts in 2303 days


#6 posted 10-24-2010 04:27 PM

You warm and fuzzied my day Alba! I do miss the “aha” moments and miracles that occured when I taught school. If only schools could exist without do nothing administrators. LOL

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View GaryD's profile

GaryD

623 posts in 2834 days


#7 posted 10-24-2010 05:25 PM

Jamie, thanks for the info. I think everyone can use it.

-- Gary, Little River,SC I've Learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day and neither can I

View DanCo's profile

DanCo

66 posts in 2363 days


#8 posted 10-24-2010 05:32 PM

Thank you Jamie. I really think you are doing a great service. There is a facility about 2 miles from my house that is a rehabilitation center for people that have had traumatic brain injury. I have a neighbor who was a patient and also worked there. I talked with him last night and he called the director (they are still friends). I meet with them next week. I really like the idea of turning as the assessment. I have 3 lathes and that is what I was going to approach them with. Thank you again. I will be in touch with you in the next couple of days. Kelly, I was afraid of missing the aha moments. I might not have to miss them after all. Thank you.

-- Daniel

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2322 days


#9 posted 10-24-2010 05:48 PM

Hi Daniel,
I had a lovely young woman come to learn.
She was a tanker Captain and skippered one of the larger Super Tankers prior to having a brain tumor.
She unfortunately cant remember me. Big Deal.
But I managed to get her a lathe and she turns daily, her Dad keeps in touch and lets me know how she is doing.
He always thanks ME. It was her who had such potential.
Her memory capacity is so bad that she writes a note when she goes into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Yet she can happily work away with a list of what to do.
I’m so Lucky, I love my job.

Jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115202 posts in 3042 days


#10 posted 10-24-2010 05:48 PM

I am so amazed at the work you do Jamie . your program is wonderful.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2322 days


#11 posted 10-24-2010 05:52 PM

Jim from you that is a huge compliment, as I know that you also are active within your own community and further afield.
I think that folk may not realise how much “I” get from it.
It is such a two way project.

Jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115202 posts in 3042 days


#12 posted 10-24-2010 06:53 PM

Jamie
I always want to help folks but there’s no comparison to all the people you help I’m so proud to be a lumberjock when folks like you are here. You always get when your give.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 2580 days


#13 posted 10-24-2010 09:23 PM

its a fantastic blog Jamie tankĀ“s

take care
Dennis

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1684 posts in 2387 days


#14 posted 10-24-2010 11:16 PM

Kelly, Thanks for your supportive comments there. I never thought that you are a teacher too. Well most of us feel the behavioral aspect as we are with these students. Experts on the job like other LJ may have different attitude towards instructional skills… when you do like Jordan or others … they are already in the midst (feeling) that anyone who is interested must know the proper way both theory and practical… Consider myself as a student of Jamie…. my objective maybe to learn lathe… but in the end Jamie might be developing myself in how to teach lathe rather than perform projects from lathe… different ha… as it is… we have to be objective on the course and assessment goes a long long way. Thanks again.

Jamie, I am very proud of you… not only being a woodworker but in promoting assistance to those on wheels. Keep up the good work.

-- Bert

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3201 posts in 2303 days


#15 posted 11-18-2010 01:03 PM

Bret- yepper I am an old school marm. Do you also teach? Jamie is a great teacher and I am proud to call him my friend.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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