Small, but rewarding

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Project by Tootles posted 04-06-2012 07:47 AM 3743 views 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I originally wasn’t intending to post this as a project – technically there is not much merit in it. But by the time I had finished it and handed it over I felt so rewarded that I thought it would be good to share the story.

I do volunteer work for a local charity that designs and makes one-off items to simplify the lives of people with a disability. Recently I was asked to make a cup holder for a client, whom I’ll call Tom. I don’t know what Tom’s disability is, but that is not important. He is wheelchair bound, does not have great control of his arms and hands and cannot talk at all clearly. But he has a mind and knows what he wants. One of the things he wants is to be able to drink without the assistance of anyone else.

To achieve that, someone once made him a box with a hole in which to place a cup (picture 5). This worked for some time except that his wheelchair table was modified such that he can no longer have it close enough to him. Then, to top it all off, someone bought him a new cup that has a handle and so it does not fit into the hole. Enter our charity – can we please make him a new cup holder?

After some discussion with one of his carers, we decided that it was necessary to not only alter the shape of the hole, but also to raise the cup and move it closer to him. This could all be achieved by simply adding a new cup holder to the existing box (picture 6), which is really heavy and so stable.

The making of this cup holder was fun because I also recently bought a new router. I did not have this project in mind at the time, but it proved to be just the tool that I needed. Plus I took the opportunity to test the router and router table (if you can call it that) that I have in the workshop at school to chamfer all the edges.

But the real reward came today when I took the new cup holder to install onto the old one. It was a simple job, just plane down the high spots in the corners where the MDF had peeled upwards and then put in four screws to hold the new cup holder onto the old one. Tom wanted to help! I’d no sooner screwed in the fourth screw when Tom’s carer put it on the table of his wheelchair with empty cup in place and a straw bent as required. Tom went to it, wanting a drink. So his carer poured in a drink and Tom drank with relish.

Tom wasn’t finished though. As I was packing up, he made it clear that he wanted to carry my toolbox and cordless drill case to the door. So onto his table they went and he wheeled off with us in tow.

Chances are that I’ll never meet Tom again. But I hope I made today, and some of his tomorrows a little brighter, because he certainly did that for me.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

23 comments so far

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 3043 days

#1 posted 04-06-2012 08:00 AM

I feel that we would all be so very happy to do things like this for people in need, with out charge to them if they only knew how to contact us.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View Brit's profile


7545 posts in 3045 days

#2 posted 04-06-2012 08:46 AM

A wonderful story and a great use of your skills. Whenever you help others, you always end up helping yourself as well. It’s a win-win situation. Well done!

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile (online now)


16140 posts in 3536 days

#3 posted 04-06-2012 09:35 AM

Great story that shows how a little kindness can go a long way. It is easy for us to forget how even the simplest things can be almost impossible for people with handicaps. Good and truly worthwhile work.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3238 days

#4 posted 04-06-2012 09:40 AM

Good project, Tootles and good story too. Your router looks like a good buy.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Timthemailman's profile


327 posts in 2978 days

#5 posted 04-06-2012 09:43 AM

I second what lizardhead and Brit said.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2704 days

#6 posted 04-06-2012 10:15 AM

Thanks Gents

Lizardhead, we are really fortunate to have a charity organisation that brings together so many talented people and those who need a little something that just cannot be bought. Unfortunately, since the charity is not well supported by either National or State Governments, there is usually some cost to our clients. They pay for any materials that we buy and a small admin fee to help keep the office going. All labour, however, is free and that can be a really significant saving.

Martyn, I am very glad that I listened to the advice from my forum question and bought it. I already had this project to do at the time but didn’t initially link the router with this job. Oh well, I got there in the end.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View patron's profile


13640 posts in 3543 days

#7 posted 04-06-2012 10:23 AM

and the world
is suddenly
a better place

well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View T. D. Reid's profile

T. D. Reid

275 posts in 2547 days

#8 posted 04-06-2012 11:28 AM

Hats off too you sir and your charity! Cheers

-- Head to the shop its calling you – Todd

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2700 days

#9 posted 04-06-2012 12:12 PM

I hope there is someone around like you when my hands and body no longer do what I tell them to. Who appreciates control until it’s lost? Not many. Who appreciates an act of kindness? All. Your post will encourage many to do similar work I think.
Great post and yes, technical merit too.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21737 posts in 3307 days

#10 posted 04-06-2012 12:44 PM

It sure makes you feel good to do things like this for people in need.! Great job and great story. I’m sure any one of us will help out in that capacity if we are asked….................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View michiganmark's profile


82 posts in 3267 days

#11 posted 04-06-2012 12:58 PM

People like you. Make the world a better place

-- Michiganmark, I dream in wood......I'll blame it on my grandfather

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3510 days

#12 posted 04-06-2012 01:19 PM

Good deed for the soul.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4420 days

#13 posted 04-06-2012 01:36 PM

That’s got to be the best charity idea for woodworkers I ever heard! Thanks for sharing.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11066 posts in 3631 days

#14 posted 04-06-2012 02:28 PM

”and the world
is suddenly
a better place”

“well done”


-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Hacksaw's profile


185 posts in 3578 days

#15 posted 04-06-2012 02:55 PM


-- Nothing's just gets expensive

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