Adapt and Survive. In woodwork as well.

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11 May 2019
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Port Erin
Good mornig all.

I hope that this thread may be of some help to others who may already be in or may at some time join me in the position I now find myself.

So what is the problem? in a word, Blindness.

Usually we are born with two eyes, and in most cases they have excellent vision, which is a decided advantage for fine woodworking.

I had them until in 1962 a split scond of inattention which was entirely my own fault I lost my right eye. I was told ny my GP, a personal friend also, who fought behind Japanese lines in WW2 and lost an eye during one of his more exciting times that I must never let anything beat me as it might later lead to making it an excuse for not doing something.

This became a Mantra for me and led to getting a Pilots licence. SCUBA, driving fast cars amongst other things which included a lot of building, carpentry, DIY etc. So I have been a maker of sorts for many years.

A few years ago I was watching my Brother-in-Law turning a Pen Blank and after he showed me how to put it all together he challenged me to do the same.

By this itme I had had a Veinal Occlusion in that remaining eye which cost me the sight of the bottom right hand quadrant. OK but with a lot of trepidation, never having done wood turning, though a lot of it with metal lathework in the workplace, I had a go. Not too bad a result. This then led me into bowls, platters, etc.


At this point I should add that I am now on the verge of becomming a nonogenarian, yes, passing that 90 year old line.

A few years ago I found Vectric and this opened up a new world of possibilities...... CNC. Not knowing if it was the THING FOR ME and as with poor sight the thought of trying to build one from scratch as there didn't seem to be fully built ones at that time in the UK I imported a very small one from the USA, a Next Wave Piranha, which has only a foot square (300 mm, I still am stuck in Imperial) work area. In hindsight this was an error as it really limits job size.

I found this to be a really interesting road to go down and found that he more I learned, the more ther is lurkong on the horizon. I have moved up the learning curve and eventually did some of the Monthly Freebies inckuding the Paradise box and the Fancy That one as well.



But without warning on one of my eye checkups I was told that a cataract was forming and needed removal. I researched it and saw that it was safewith only 1 in 1000 with problems. Those odds seemed to be fine, so I agreed tothe op.

Came the day and it was done, but while waiting for the eye to settle I felt that something was wrong. Did I say 1 in 1000? Yup, but I was the ONE.

Spiked Occular Pressure off the charts, kept in overnight for observastion. Now I am totally photophobic. Any brightness and I am best part blind. Then to add insult to injury AMD joined the party so now I have lost my central vision as well.

So the Mantra kicks in. Now how do I cope with this? I use a PC with a large screen, and can magnify any text or drawing as needed. in fact I am typing this in 30 point and looking sideways at it using peripheral vision to see the typos etc.

The same applies to Vectric. Having moved up tp Pro I got the Box and Dovetail Creator gadgets. The thought of trying to make those by hand would be a complete fiasco, as would so much else, so stick with the CNC. Do the design and let the machine do the cutting. To see me in the shed setting the Home Point and the Touch Screen and finding the right toolpath to use, bent over the controlller peering through a magnifying glass, could cause some merriment for any chance observer.

I admit to having had a lot of problems with tight joints, some are fine but others a real headache as I try to use the same settings but get different results.





I have drifted into box making and would really like to get to the standard I see pictures of as they would make great gifts or even perhaps pay for the materials. Perhaps there is a croup that specialises in this?

We, that is my wife and I tried Craft Fairs but as I live on the Isle of Man there is a very limited market for pens etc.

I use just 12 mm ply for now as there is NO hardwood here and I do not want to waste very expensive timber with something that is not perfect. I used to be able to get Sapele but no longer available.I would like to use different woods for the sides and the ends.

I add a couple of photos of the test boxes and joints so far to show progress. Several went into the waste bin.

I hope this tale may help any on here that are starting to or already have the first signs of impending sight loss. The Mantra sequel is Adapt and Survive.

I shall post mors photos from time to time in the hope that I can gain advice and progress to Craft Standard.

Finally for now, my wife who is 20 years younger has insisted that I live to at least 100.

Best to all, stay safe and well.




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Hello EG, Yes listen to your wife you have a lot of work to get through yet, you have done very well so far using Vectric the ply must be giving you a headache it's not easy to work with, I to use Vectric Aspire to make 3d effect items.

My wife is totally blind but it does not stop her so I have a good idea what you are going through but stick at it.

Keep it up.

For small thing like boxes old furniture is good source for cheap or free hardwood.
There'd be a boat yard or builder on the IOM I expect. They could have lots of interesting offcuts.
Guessing you are the same ElderlyGent on the Vectric forum, the problem with ply, especially the sort you are using is that you are never going to get perfect results, if you do then it is probably going to be a fluke lol, I understand what you are saying about not being able to get hold of decent hardwoods but as someone has suggested old furniture might well be a good option if you can get hold of it. For small projects then you don't need large boards.
Incredible that you have shown such perseverance not only to keep up after your eye issues but I couldn't get my very computer literate dad aged 65 to work a CNC so to see someone only 5 years younger than HIS dad use one is incredible.

With regard to your sight, does it help if you run your PC display in a darker theme? For example rather than typing black text on a white background, type white text on a black background. If so, many applications offer the option to change things like that with might help you out.
My goodness I admire you and your very positive outlook on life.
I once created a talking bar code scanner for the visually impaired. My tester was totally blind, but regularly used spread sheets. There seems to be no limits to what can be achieved. I am myself very slowly losing the quality of sight in my right eye because of glaucoma and lack of treatment during the pandemic. I get frustrated sometimes but next time I'll think about how you persevere with a very positive attitude. Keep up the great work and post regularly. It is inspiring to see what you have made.
As many have said, one of the limiting factors is your (forced) choice of materials. Your work is never going to look as good as it really is if you use the plywood in the photos.
Can I make a suggestion?
You are not needing huge pieces of timber and, for someone with limited vision and (I guess, at your age) mobility, opportunities to source old furniture and then break it down intoi suitable sizes and thicknesses are pretty limited. However, there is a whole community of us out here with access to table saws, band saws, planers, thicknessers and timber. Surely, among us, we can find enough people who could each make up a small postable pack of pieces to keep you busy well into your century.
I'd be happy to start that off - probably best if you were to say what sort of sizes of timber you would find to be useful. I'm limited in my kit - only got a small lunchbox thicknesser. Others have better!
Would that help?
Well EG, that's a fantastic story and good for you mate!

There has got to be joiners over on your island and they will have all sorts of good bits for you to use and if you ask nicely they would probably size them for you too? I get a lot of my wood from my local joiner/cabinet maker and they are only too glad to get them to good use. As a thank you I took a small bit that I had turned back into the boss man. He was chuffed to bits!

Good luck and stay safe.
Wow! What an inspiration you are EG. Your story should be told far and wide especially to all those moaning minnies who want compensation after they get a pimple on their finger.
Whatever it is you are doing, keep doing it. If you can bottle it please, please send me some. Keep healthy, keep safe.
My father, who died last year suffered declining eye sight over his last few years

He had glaucoma and macular degeneration -I took hi for most of his eye appointments -TBH the hospitals werent very helpful, I go tthe impression theiy didnt bother much with old people

What was really sad is that my Dad had a cataract, they told him it would make a significant difference to his eyesight, but he develped a macular hole in that eye and the cataract operation made zero difference.

He died last year, age 92 in May -just in the fist lockdown
Good morning all

My grateful thanks for your great comments, they are so muxh appreciated

to Bristol Rob. I had not seen the Blind woodworker from over there but was encouraged by the UK Blind Woodturner, Chris Fisher, His stuff is amasing, He is sponsonred by Axminster check him out.

I asked my wife to fill in the carvings with Glitter Glue to give the carvings a better look. It seems to work, and there are other things like crushed stone, Mother of Pearl etc to play with later
The work Area on my cNC is only 330 mm or 12 inches square so that limits the size of any timber I can carve, Smaller is fine as I use a lot of two sided tape as a hold down. This worls fine

I am for now just using ply to get the tookpaths firmly in my head, but have sourced a possible go to for Sapele. As I aalo will use pine to get a colour difference that will work later. But so many thnaks for the suggested donation post. Knowing the cost of postage to get ANYTHING over here is horrendous I would hate to put others to that cost. As an examplea paperback sent to the USA cost $17 or $25 I did ask a UK firm who quoted £42 for a small 20 Kg parcel. from the UK to the IOM. sheesh!!!! so please put that idea on hold.........Old furniture might be around,

I have a shed full of machinmery bought when I had proper sight, so I know how to use it safely for planing, thicknessing etc and talking tape measure and well luminated digital calipers etc.

I think that this is enough for I'd better stop. Thanks again, Stay safe and well.

EG AKA Drew.
Slight tangent - but I googled Port Erin out of curiosity.

What a beautiful town - have always been interested in visiting the Isle of Man.