Wheelchair Woodworking #6: Helping Hands part two

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Blog entry by Jamie Speirs posted 11-28-2010 11:46 AM 4306 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Helping Hands a two way street Part 6 of Wheelchair Woodworking series Part 7: Helping Hands part three Taking »

Sorry for the break, I’m not good at getting things down. I wander to much. :)

Well there was a post tutorial discussion with my Right Hand Man Gordon. (I must make a note to tell you about Gordon my RHM) Pulling teeth was our consensus. Gordon asked if he had paid the full eight weeks? Worse, nine weeks. I had thrown in an extra week. Some folk who travel will often come for a weekend or two. I prefer doing it weekly and give them homework for the next. After eight weeks they really know their way around the Lathe. It also gives Shirley and I some together time at the weekend. So I throw in an extra day. Normally for grinding/sharpening of tools. With some it can be an introduction to more advanced turning such as hollow forms or nests of bowls.
If anyone is considering doing some part time tuition and want returning clients, always have a next project. :)
I wander (I must rather put notes to come back to).
So after Gordon asked for Wednesdays off and me being mean turned that request down.
So the next Wednesday comes along and “ding dong” 9o’clock he arrives ready for the next lesson. Still collar & tie. I thought he had just worn it to make a good first impression. Don’t get me wrong my Pop (Grandfather) wore a suit collar & tie, but heck he was a Joiner Foreman and that was a wee while ago. He also put on a pair of Sweet Orr Bib n Brace when he got to work, I must look out a photo. I forgot to mention that I had given him several pieces of 1×1” to practice on and bring back for me to look at. It then let’s me know if we can procede or review the piece. His looked good although I suspected a wee bit of an abrasive finish. I’m a sly old fox. It was then onto his first chosen project. They can choose from a list that I give in the manual. They are graded.
All went well and his turning progressed well and it was coming up for his final week. It had been on a very business level would be the only way that I could describe it. It was finally that day and all went well. As we said our goodbyes and shook hands. He had that look I thought I only ever saw in my sons eyes. You know the look. Please spend time with me, I know your busy but…....... Ok, you know the look.
So I said, “you can come back anytime. If you think there may be more I can show you”.
That was his first smile.
He said he would see me again next Wednesday.
So that was six years ago and he has been coming since.
His daughter phoned me to say how excited her Dad was.
I think this sums up the “Giving” part of this relationship.

The “Taking” part of this is going to be a bit of an eye opener for ME. I’m going to continue on this students journey over the six years. A lot has happened over those Wednesdays.
I’m in a wheelchair as Kelly “Rivergirl” would say I put it out there. I do want to share the possibilities with others. It has been a lifesaver for me. Yes, “Overdose” “Anger” “denial” yes the whole seven. So if someone says to me “I feel this certain way”. Don’t need to say to them, Yes me to and begin a grouching session. No, I just look nod and “Listen”. No more. No judging. No advising. Just Listening. When they are ready to ask, that is when I will help and only then. There are experts and couch experts. There are plenty of them out there. “Listeners” now they are few.
Listening is a lot like reading. You will often hear what you want to hear and read what you want to read. That is not listening; sometimes the person talking or writing does not know what they want to ask. To listen you must not try to guess what the person is trying to say or put in suggestions. Follow their lead.
I wander.
Ok so Gordon thinks I’m crazy, he says “you dread him coming every week”. A few other remarks in more of a shop tone.
Eventually he opened up and what an interesting man He is an Elder in his Church, does maintenance electrical work & PAT testing for The Church of Scotland. He was an electrical engineer on the oil tankers and had seen the world. We have had many talks and laughs he has been to places in Africa that I also had. So things are going well.
We discuss everything, he aint no fool even for a Highlander(He comes fae wae up North, wild haggis country). We have made so many projects, I forgot them all. When he was getting bored with turning for a bit so I ordered a book on Bandsaw Boxes from Amazon (he had bought his own band-saw). I had never made one before unless you call a joiners brick box for oilstones a bandsaw box. I’ll need to discuss this with President of Grease Box Owners Guild (Mad’s) if he has any knowledge of this historical item.
It was great fun and he made bandsaw boxes for everyone, made one for Shirley that was a real beauty. I still must make one myself as they were all of his work. Very strange showing someone how to make something that you have ever mad yourself. All this time he is paying me for a weekly lesson. There were times when we spent weeks just sanding some of my stock items. The final straw came while sanding a huge table in Beech. The sander he was using burned out. The next week he comes with a brand new sander in the box. This I felt was a bit much. Paying me to sand My work then paying for the machinery to do it. Sort of reminded me of that American Fellow, Tom Sawyer?
So after a few weeks he finally agreed to a 25/75% split. This is something I came up with for folk who could not get funding, but Insisted in contributing towards tuition. 3hrs work for me 1hr of tuition. It sounds fair and I’ve heard (via carers or parents) that they have a pride in knowing that they are part of some bigger projects. Pre Christmas is a 99/1% split as everyone wants to make their Christmas presents. I normally have all my year end stock made by the end of October. Yes it’s a Buddhist shop, we also love Chrismas. At our Temple there is always a big Christmas lunch and prayers for world peace.
He has become very much part of the family now. In fact when my Mum came to die with us, I was a bit worried how he would take it as he had lost his wife also to Lung Cancer. He just carried on. He was always pulling her leg and visa versa. He being of the same religion and this was also good. He got to talk to her about all sorts of things as he was my Mum’s age also.
I’m wandering again, I hope I’m still on the track of “Taking”.

Rand, I’ll get to the next bit quickly. :)

In a very White Cold Scottish Morning

-- 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

18 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4160 days

#1 posted 11-28-2010 11:57 AM

you are a treasure!

listening – truly is a skill. Few have developed the ability. Also, rare, is that ability to see “that look” and have the courage or integrity to respond to it even if it doesn’t seem like it will be a fun experience :)

Bravo to you!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4127 days

#2 posted 11-28-2010 12:15 PM

A good and gentle read, here this cold Kentucky morning.
Teaching frees the soul to express what wonders exist within the artisan.

“Gi’e me a spark o’ Nature’s fire that’s a’ the learning I desire.”

-- 温故知新

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2780 days

#3 posted 11-28-2010 12:24 PM

Ah Jaimie.. We should put all this in a book. Wonderfull.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View chrisstef's profile


17386 posts in 3006 days

#4 posted 11-28-2010 03:35 PM

I had to wait until my coffee was ready before reading this one, and now that i have read it a few times over and my coffee is gone i want to thank you Jamie for your clever insight and teaching methods. You seem to have this inate ability to capture the best part of people. Keep up the good work and ill be eagerly awaiting the next post to this blog.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2983 days

#5 posted 11-28-2010 03:41 PM

Sometimes the unlikely relationships can lead to the best relationships. I’ve had a couple myself like that.

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

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2838 days

#6 posted 11-28-2010 03:42 PM

Now Jamie- I just need to figure out how to get some of my lost and lonely sometimes frequent visitors to either pay me for the privelege of hanging around here or to do some work in trade. ;) Actually, I do make them work- cutting logs- debarking logs etc. etc. but they generally grind to a halt- often in direct relation to the number of MY BEERS they have consumed during the process. On Thanksgiving, when several of the lost and lonely showed up (invited or not) for Thanksgivng dinner my kids said, “MOM- you have got to be f-ing kidding me! LOLLOL ) But I tell them to be gracious and be thankful that they have somewhere to eat. This year I ran out of plates and some had to use bowls. Not a soup kitchen exactly, but sometimes I begin to wonder. However, as you are well aware, most give what they can in their own way. For example, before Thanksgiving, an elderly neighbor- who has no car right now, needed a lift to the food bank. Of course took him and the line there was incredibly long. A sad testament to our soiciety I think. Anyway, he got a free frozen turkey at the food bank. Because he lives alone and lacks freezer space, he insisted that I take the turkey in return for giving him a lift. I resisted, he insisted, and finally I agreed to take the turkey. So I took the bird home, thawed it out, cooked it, and returned it to him, all neatly sliced and inserted into freezer sized bags. This same guy also gives me his food bank peanut butter throughout the year. He doesn’t eat peanut butter per se and he gets too much for his own consumption. So I take the P-butter that he leaves on my porch and use it to bake him peanut butter cookies – which he loves. So there it is. The food bank exchange saga. I like you have so many tales like that. Mine are usually about the kitchen and not the wood shop though. LOL. And really, the whole scenario that keeps repeating, either by the same person who across personages can be a real pain in the patooty sometimes, but it never fails that just when I want to cut all ties and run for the river I wake up sometimes and on my porch find a basket of fresh tomatoes or asparagus or a new pile of log slabs in the yard. And I feel terrible for thinking uncharitable thoughts. :)

-- 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

4168 posts in 2856 days

#7 posted 11-28-2010 03:49 PM

Thank You all.

Kelly, you got it in one.

-- 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 Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3115 days

#8 posted 11-28-2010 06:21 PM

I tip my hat and bow for you jamie teache how to do a thing you never have done yourself
waow that is incredible teachingpower even thow you had a book etc. but learn an old dog new trick
can bee tuff work

Kelly you have such a big hart :-)

thank´s for sharing both of you


View sras's profile


4799 posts in 3129 days

#9 posted 11-28-2010 10:46 PM

Another valuable story – I enjoy every post. Thanks for sharing…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3018 days

#10 posted 11-29-2010 02:49 AM

I love reading your posts, keep em’ coming!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View swirt's profile


2737 posts in 2972 days

#11 posted 11-29-2010 05:01 AM

Wonderful stories, wonderful actions, and please keep the wandering up too. i am enjoying it all.

-- Galootish log blog,

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2934 days

#12 posted 11-29-2010 07:42 AM

Thanks for part 2. I am glad he came back that means a lot.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3089 days

#13 posted 12-03-2010 01:07 PM

Another one for the smile.
I have no idea what a joiners brick box for oilstones are…
And just for the record you are always welcome in my workshop.
Best thoughts,

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

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3089 days

#14 posted 12-03-2010 01:12 PM

Ohhh yes, I have a little sweet one.
My old Punto car from 96 was broken, and me going to the Caribbian, so what do you do?
You have a wonderful friend who say: ‘I’ll take care of it’.
Then while you are done this guy gets the car fixed, and as a part of that he works for the mechanic to set up a wall, and even throw in some materials!
What do I do?
I offer him to go and buy some tools for his new workshop.
And he writes me back: ‘when I help a friend, I do it for the friendship, so I will not accept any payment’.
Wauuu it can be hard to recieve, I feel so lucky to have a friend like that!
(Just for the record, this guy is Napoleon here from LJ).
Best thoughts,

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

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2838 days

#15 posted 12-04-2010 03:15 AM

awww Napoleon is such a good friend for you to have!

-- 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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