Woodworking in the Dark

In case you haven’t noticed, the shape of our High-Carbon blades differs slightly from that of our A2 blades in that the HC blades have rounded top corners while the A2 blades’ corners are chamfered. I added this small feature when we started specifying the A2 blades so that we could tell them apart at a glance. I’ve often used the somewhat inappropriate and not-too-funny joke that we do this so that blind woodworkers can tell them apart. Turns out it’s not really much of a joke at all and I sincerely hope that that distinction is of value to the blind woodworkers that I recently met.

I was invited to join a conference call with a group of blind woodworkers and I think I learned more from them than they did from me.  We talked for over two hours about everything including blades, planes, sharpening techniques and tools as well as the ins and outs of sightless woodworking, automatic transmission rebuilding and golf. I told them how impressed I was, as a youngster, reading an article in Popular Science magazine about a blind turner. Of all the articles I read in that magazine during my many years as a subscriber, that is one that stuck with me.

Robert Sapp's Walnut Box

Like all other woodworkers I’ve met, these guys share their problems and solutions with their group of like minds and abilities, a group with around 150 members worldwide. They take advantage of the many creatively adaptive tools available such as talking tape measures and click rules and there are text-to-speech scanner/readers that can convert single pages or whole books quickly and effectively. But mostly they work with the same tools, both hand and power, that you do. And with beautiful results! Their website is full of interesting and valuable information and the member’s galleries are inspiring. Near the end of our call I put in my plug for Woodworking in America with the hope that they’ll come by the Hock Tools booth so I can get to know them in person. Our conversation was enlightening and I look forward to further contact.

By the way, golf is played with a helper and only one rule change: blind golfers are allowed to touch their club head to the ground in hazards. Otherwise it’s the same game. I mentioned how easy it was for me to simply miss the ball on a swing and the golfer in the group laughed and said he couldn’t begin to count the number of times he’s done the same.

The title of this post refers to one of the group’s member’s website. Highly recommended.

I thank Charles Neil for putting these artisans in touch with me. And my thanks to the group on the conference call. I hope you got as much from me as I got from you. Keep up the good work!

About Ron Hock

Owner of HOCK TOOLS (.com) and author of "The Perfect Edge, the Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers"
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2 Responses to Woodworking in the Dark

  1. Dave says:

    I remember talking to a refinisher once who said the hardest job he ever had was refinishing a pair of end tables for a blind customer. The customer mentioned how important the feel of a good french polish was to him, and while he could quickly get a finish that looked good, it was hard work to get it to feel good. That little cue to quality work has made a big difference in how he has worked since then.

  2. Cyrus Tabery says:

    Wow, it seems you really made lemons into lemonade here. Thanks for the inspiring story. My mom has always been into service for the blind, i am certain she will get a big kick out of this story. I also love the story from Dave about the feel of french polish. I will have to shoot for feel in the finish of my next project.

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