Wheelchair Woodworking #5: Helping Hands a two way street

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Blog entry by Jamie Speirs posted 11-27-2010 04:21 PM 4212 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Woman's Work Part 5 of Wheelchair Woodworking series Part 6: Helping Hands part two »

Thank you all for the encouragement.
I’ve had some really great PM’s, with some great questions.

In this title I could relate to many wonderful folk over the years. I thought though I would relate a story of one of my Jolly Rouges who is now a mere 76.
In 2004 I got a phone call asking about woodturning lessons for this woman’s Dads 70th Birthday.
They live in Glasgow and although that is only a slow one hour drive, I suggested that she find someone in Glasgow.
Next I new she was at the door. She explained that her Mum had recently passed away and her Dad was very lonely. He was an armature winder to trade and ex merchant navy electrical engineer. He had a wee workshop under his house where he pottered around in. He had mentioned to he would like to try woodturning and she wanted me to teach him.
Why is it when you say no, they hear “come over and we can discuss it”?
Well I wrote out a gift voucher for eight 4hr lessons materials included. She had already put the money in my shirt pocket. In hindsight I should have offered her a job in sales. So I gave her my forms to be signed and the manual for him to read. It lists all the possible projects that he could make.

So begins the journey.

When I have a Fee paying student (rare) Shirley always makes up something nice for 11o’clock tea break. She gives the turning smocks a wash. I also clear a path from the shop to the toilet. Move the pile of woodworking magazines from the toilet book rack, sharpen all the tools and prepare the blanks for the day.

My favourite purchase.

So a few weeks later he arrives at 9am on the dot. Complete with collar & tie. Hey! I grew up in the 70’s we burned our ties and woman burned there bra’s. I notice things like that. He forgot to bring a smile though.
The first lesson is extremely boring, I’m going to explain it a in a wee bit o detail so that it helps a couple of folk who PM me. So you can skip this bit.

I check that they have signed my release form and understood it. Then it is onto the safety LAW’s and instructions. We then go through the Instruction manual for the chosen machine, get that signed (I’ve a page stapled to each manual)Then on the on switch hangs another safety notice that they have to remove before starting. I know this sounds extreme, but as I wrote before, there have been no accidents on my watch in any woodworking shops that I’ve been responsible for. I was taught by men that were proud of their safety by showing ten fingers ans these men started in shops with steam driven belt drive machines. One other thing is all my machines except the Lathe are not for Students use. This includes the grinder. If they want to learn to grind. It is on their grinder on their chisels. Notices on All machines.

The first thing I do is show the settings and turn a sample of what they are going to make. This I find helps and is also a gift for the students Mum or Other Half.
Then it is the students turns out the same item that you have just turned. Make sure you have like 20 blanks for this job. Don’t ever scrimp, it makes the student feel nervous. You will only use two or three but I know from past that students commented on not getting stressed as they were not worried about ruining their project. I also tell them that no one has ever made a faulty item in this shop. This is accompanied by a wink and pointing toward the wood burning stove.
We have tea & sandwiches during this “Critical” break. Seriously, the experts that have came here have said that a “Routine” was one of my strengths.So when 11o’clock comes, we drop our tools with the speed of a “Union Shop.” Amazing the speed at this time of day. I normally run a woodturning DVD during this. It helps break the ice. In this case it was needed. He was a hard egg to crack.
This is the first day so back to the Lathe. Managed to produce two saleable Spurtle’s. It was then one o’clock on the dot. He thanks me, proceeds to dust himself of with the airgun. AAAAaaaaaaaaah! Note to self; Put misuse of air-hose onto the safety instructions.

Boy, I’ve bored you enough.
I’ll continue.
Would I do it as part two or add it onto this?

Yours Jamie
In a Sunny but freezing 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

16 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4214 days

#1 posted 11-27-2010 04:48 PM

you leave us hanging!!! you devil :)

I chuckled at the tasks done for paying customers :)
and you’d best start a new blog for part II so I don’t miss it! .. hanging on the edge of my seat.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Rob200's profile


313 posts in 3223 days

#2 posted 11-27-2010 05:12 PM

it is not boring at all and it is cold hear to just got back from Texas and it is cold there to

-- Robert Laddusaw and no I am not smarter then a fifth grader ( and no I canot spell so if it is a problem don't read it ))

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2910 days

#3 posted 11-27-2010 05:27 PM

Thank you. That makes sense.

I wondered where you were.
I thought Texas was hot.
I met a Texan on board the old Mail Ship SA VAAL.
He taught me how to eat steak, although when I order it in Texan not everyone understands.
He said the only thing that a good steak needs was to polish it’s horns and wipe it’s tail.

-- 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 helluvawreck's profile


31707 posts in 2920 days

#4 posted 11-27-2010 05:33 PM

Jamie, you are a wonderful fellow. I wish that I could come to Scotland and be one of your students. However, I don’t fly because I don’t see how an airplane can pull off the road to make a quick repair. :) Therefore, I would certainly have to find a boat to take me over. One of these days I want to come visit the old country, especially Scotland and Ireland where most of my folk come from, and if I ever do perhaps I could someday visit with your wonderful self. :)

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4181 days

#5 posted 11-27-2010 05:38 PM

A good read!

Saith Rabbie, “What’s done we partly may compute, But know not what’s resisted.”

-- 温故知新

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2910 days

#6 posted 11-27-2010 05:42 PM

Nothing wood be finer.
Would be good to meet up share a cuppa, blether and tales. :)


-- 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 Schwieb's profile


1860 posts in 3515 days

#7 posted 11-27-2010 05:42 PM

Anticipating more soon….... You are extremely well organized for safety and liability considerations. You inspire us all.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3139 days

#8 posted 11-27-2010 06:26 PM

Thank you once again for sharing and the safety warnings, may have to use them as reminders to myself,
familiarity breeds contempt, and if I do not remind myself, I have a tendency to let things slide. I tend to
have my morning tea break here at the computer every day, the doc took me off coffee about 10 years
ago, thank you again for making my tea break so enjoyable.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2892 days

#9 posted 11-27-2010 07:13 PM

I think you should continue this here on this thread. We are waiting on edge… a cliff hanger…. :)

-- 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 racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2834 days

#10 posted 11-27-2010 08:45 PM

Och eye laddie, a great tale to go with the tea.. Dinna stoop nahw, ye need to fill in the gaps ! And WHERE did y’r student have to put that tie ?
(love these stories, it brightens the morning..just under freezing with a grey overcast here !)
And I’ve got a “right” to the Scots or sort of Scots pseudo speech roots are on the Isle of Lewis..

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2910 days

#11 posted 11-27-2010 09:58 PM

Thanks you.
I’ve found writing it in Word easier as I can make the print bigger.


-- 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 lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2988 days

#12 posted 11-28-2010 06:27 AM

I wish you were closer, I plan to take some turning classes soon.

So did he come back?

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3169 days

#13 posted 11-28-2010 07:03 AM

thank´s for the saftybreak near the end of a long long nightshift with a little snow and ice on the roads
funny enoff this little island hadn´t got the amount of snow the rest of this tiny country has
some part of it already had 50cm of snow friday

take care Jamie

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3161 days

#14 posted 11-28-2010 07:59 AM

You have this old hi-tech redneck in pins and needles from stopping the story half way through. It’s not nice to keep a redneck in suspense, you know. lol Looking forward to the exciting conclusion tomorrow.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3037 days

#15 posted 11-28-2010 03:24 PM

Its sometimes harder to teach an old dog new tricks as they think they have a good idea of what they are doing. Look forward to hearing more in this adventure.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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