Just wanted to let you in on a jig, I just made for my self. I have a self made bench, but no end vice for clamping, on it for gluing or painting work. Any way I use round dogs and then clamp the work at the end. I was feeling sorry for my self...
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15 posts in 1953 days
Location: bergen county, nj
Hi I am Louis Scrivani.
I lost my sight when I was 24. At the time, I was starting a career as a plumber / electrician. While on the job, I was hit by a truck. I always enjoyed working outside & working with my hands & using tools. After the accident it took me a long time to get back into it. In fact, it took 15 years for me to give it a try. I was very apprehensive about trying to do the work. After my accident, my father attempted to get me interested & involved, but I was pretty indignant and didn’t even want to put much into trying to make it happen. I thought, why even bother to try. I assumed failure and well, we all know what happens when we Ass-U-Me! Finally, it was after I got married, that I decided I wanted something to do. I selected a few small hand tools and used part of the basement as my workshop. I started small; with bird houses and a few music boxes. With time & practice, I moved on to larger projects like a bookshelf, printer stand, and footstool. Now, I feel like I am back in the swing of things, well, almost. In one respect, I was fortunate because having seen previously, I can still picture how things look and are setup. I find that having a visual memory helps me with safety issues & building, but there are other blind woodworkers who never had any sight. I am amazed by others who never saw and do it as well as I do, if not better. It’s not so much a competition, but has become more of a therapy. I love doing the work, and it keeps me busy. It’s a self-challenge. If you ask my wife, however, it is the exact opposite since when I mess up she hears my yelling and swearing. My dog doesn’t like it either because he thinks he’s in trouble and runs for cover. My wife on the other hand has learned to ignore my outbursts. I have trouble understanding how my wife, who is also blind and an avid knitter, seems to stay calm when she makes mistakes. She just seems to redo it. I suppose wood is very different from yarn. Either you have to get it right, or scrap the wood or change the plan! You can’t just rip it all out and start over.
Sure, woodworking is possible and doable for a person who is totally blind, but there are certain challenges & adaptations that need to be thought out. Tools used in woodworking can sometimes be a bit restrictive, but I try to adapt those products so that they can be used without sight. I guess I’m a problem solver at heart. Some of the steps, like staining in the finishing of a project might require a sighted family member or friend to give it a once over. I have done my own staining, and sometimes I get it right, while other times I either miss a spot or go at it to aggressively.
As a blind woodworker, I have to make up extra jigs, to accomplish jobs, such as a safer miter gauge and a feather board. But, hey, those are things that fully sighted woodworkers do for themselves as well.
Really though, the one major difference is safety! The old saying is measure twice cut once. This is especially true when you’re blind. I Measure twice, and then check and re check that my hands are clear from the blade. Safety is prime. I have established certain rules for myself, like if I’m feeling sleepy or under the weather, then I won’t let myself go near the shop. My energy level starts to run low around three in the afternoon, so that’s my quitting time. Like any smart woodworker, I also use a safety mask, and am aware of what I am wearing when I go to my shop – no long sleeves or jewelry. Hearing what’s going on is important to me, so I don’t use any of the protective ear plugs. This is one of the really big differences.
Not every blind woodworker does every thing exactly the same. You have to find what works best for you and makes the most sense. For example I use an audio feedback level; this is quite simple in that it emits 3 different sounds for each state level, high or low. The sounds are quite similar to the state of the level.
I use a talking tape measure which can measure down to a 16th of an inch, it is good, but not great. There are other measuring devices like tactile rulers & yard sticks, but I prefer the talking output.
I in addition use a rotomatic, for more exact measuring. Which is a 3/8” threaded rod 16 threads per inch, it is filed down flat on 1 side. Every 8 threads the thread is intact which represents a half inch. There are two nuts on it which turn freely. One nut is used for butting up to the other nut to prevent movement after measurement. The other nut has a groove on it for marking the position of the turn. If you turn this nut a ¼ turn, it represents 1/64th of an inch.
1 whole turn is 16th of an inch. Both can be purchased from www.nfb.org
In addition I, keep a block of wood handy that serves as a measuring block. Into the block of wood, I drilled a 3/8 inch hole into the side. It can then be used in conjunction with the Rotomatic as a square.
I use a miter gauge that clamps the work, while cutting on the saw. Rockler sells this and it’s called a clamping miter gauge.
I made up a jig for setting up the angle of the table saw blade and the miter gauge. It consists of two boards that are 5" x 5". The boards are bolted together at the lower left hand corner and they can open like a fan. There is half of a protractor on one of the two boards. The protractor is cut off straight down at the 90 degree mark. The protractor
is made specifically for the blind, so at every 5 degree mark there is a raised line
that can be felt. When I open the fan or boards the back piece of wood
lines up at the screw that I put into the jig at the 45 degree mark; with the degree mark I want to use. I then tighten the bolt with a wing nut and set the blade to that angle. Additionally, I can lay it flat and then but one edge against the blade and the other against the miter gauge to set that angle. But first I make sure the blade is set to 90 degree’s.
Another jig I made for myself is a two fold item. It is a table saw jig. First, it is used for cross cutting so I can use the fence. Second, it is used as a safer way to rip.
The jig is made up of three pieces of wood bolted together using a wing nut. I
can loosen or tighten it. The nut is on the side of the fence away from the
blade. Two pieces are 4" x 5" and the center is the thickness of the fence
and 5 inches long. It can fit over the fence. At the rear of the outside
board, I drilled a hole which is perpendicular to the outside. In the hole
I placed a 6" quarter inch rod.
How it works:
First, to rip, I remove the jig from the fence, then I adjust the fence the correct distance from the blade and place the feather board so it is against the wood. Next I put the jig back on the fence, and tighten the bolt on the jig, lightly. Then, I start to push the wood into the blade. When the end of the wood clears passing under the jig, the rod drops down too the table top, and then I can push the jig and it drags the wood for the rest of the rip.
First, I adjust the blade to the fence with the jig on it at the point where the blade is., Then, I lock the fence in place and draw the jig back to the beginning.
Next, I but the wood against it and sit it against the miter as well and cut as usual. After it passes the block the blade will cut and there is no fence in its way.
I’m cutting using the miter gauge against the fence or this piece.
Next, when I rip, I set up my cut with the blade to the fence, and I do not use the jig at this time. I put the feather board in the miter slot and the jig, place it over the fence and onto the board.
Now when I push the board it will travel as normal and when it gets to the table of the saw the bolt will drop down and I move my hand to that jig
now to push the wood from behind the fence. I step to the side so kick
back doesn’t get me in the belly.
Larry Martin, brings most visually impaired woodworkers, up to date. He narrates about 3 wood working magazines and places it onto a cd, monthly then mail’s, them out to the individuals who subscribe to the blind woodworkers group. He also put together a blindwoodworkers manual, as well and narrated it.His Email is firstname.lastname@example.org, You can aquire info from him about it. He does this all for free, his time is donated as well.
ario Salazar, of Salazarsolutions.com ,produces the ProMiter-100, he was the first person who was willing to modify his equipment to be able to work with and for the visually impaired user. He is currently working on modifying his product. If a small husband & wife run company like Salazar Solutions is willing & able to adapt their product, I don’t understand why other companies don’t put the same effort into making better, more accurate, & easy to use products for everyone. I had been searching for about 1 year for a company to take on this challenge. I’d talked with many different companies, but none of them were either able or willing to make the modifications I was looking for. That is until I came across mario, and thank god, he took the challenge.
I’m posative that I’m not the only blind person looking for better ways to work with both tools & wood; ways of getting more accurate cuts, & the different angles I need for a given project, and looking to build in better safety mechanisms, but there are a lot of times when I get tired of having to make so many adaptations of my own and I can’t get right to the wood. The cost of making these jigs & different adaptations is another sore point for me. Yes, this gets me PO’d.
Another problem with being blind, is that I cannot jump in the car and run over to the local hardware store or lumber yard whenever I need something. The internet and my talking computer are helpful in many cases for looking up information & finding supplies. The internet is not always a total solution to my problems because there are many web sites/companies that don’t give a good verbal/text description of what they are
Another helpful thing are people like Charles Neil,
who are willing to share information and help describe his DVD’s in more detail. He answers a lot of my questions via email. With his designs & timely answers to my questions I’m currently working on a sugar chest.
Another person who I can not forget is John Nixon, he has also risen to the challenge of helping me, by describeing in depth any and all questions I have about anything at all. His web site is
I guess I can leave off by saying when things get tough don’t quit. Try to find a way to make things work for you and make modifications where you can. If anyone has suggestions or input, I would appreciate E-mail’s, my address is email@example.com
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