I suppose I had best start by saying what my disability is. I am classified as a quadriplegic. My spinal cord is severed where the neck and back join. This means that I am a man paralysed from the nipple level down. This makes me paraplegic. I have partial damage to the cord in my lower neck which means that I have no feeling down the back of my arms and muscle changes in my hands and fingers: this is the quadriplegic part of my injury.
I am not writing an account of how to turn wood but a description
of my equipment. The turning is something you learn to do when you
try to follow what "walkers" do.
My lathe was made to suit me so that my legs go under the bed with about 40 mm clearance so there is no bracing. I can only turn things that are reasonably balanced so that the lathe does not shake to bits. The head swivels so that I can turn outboard and is locked in place with a cam lock.
The switch is mounted on a bracket with a T bolt so that I can
move it to a convenient position when I am turning outboard.
Most of my chisels have short handles so that I can move them across in front of me. I have to turn left and right handed as it is easiest if I cut from one side or the other.
All of my technique has come from trial and error. Getting into the right position sometimes takes a bit of fiddling and I may have to move the chair small distances to be comfortable. I also have to remember to put the brakes on, otherwise I just move backwards. I some times have "design changes" due to overbalancing.
The other problem is that chips hit you in the chest and higher so I need an apron that comes right up to my throat and a face mask is essential. I have one with a cap that is attached to a hose and a battery operated fan that blows air over my face to keep fumes and dust out.
I keep my tools standing up in holes drilled in the top of an old TV cabinet. I have several of the each type of chisel and as one gets blunt I use another so that I do not have to keep going over to the grinder. I have a grinding session later.
I find that having a small table on castors beside me is handy for putting small things such as callipers, drawings, story boards etc.
I also need a stiff brush to get chips off my clothes and a feather duster to clean my feet and chair so that I do not carry shavings in to the house and I keep on the right side of "her indoors".
Turning in a chair is mostly trial and error. You learn as you go along.
If you can find a spare chair, put some of your "upright" mates in it and see how they go. They will only want to do it once.
Robin is a
well known member of the Peninsula Woodturners Guild and was our
speaker - demonstrator at a recent meeting. His subject - "Life in a
Wheelchair" was received with intense attention by the members
He told us how he was injured in a car accident about eight years ago. He has spinal injuries and has been wheelchair bound ever since.
Robin's talk was followed by a demonstration on his own lathe. He described the specially adapted lathe and then demonstrated his woodturning skills. It was most interesting to see the differences in turning technique required by someone "sitting down".
There were many lessons driven home by Robin's talk, but possibly the most outstanding one was that Robin may have injured his back, but he didn't lose his determination to be independent.
At the end of his talk, he was given a rousing round of applause which obviously was as much a tribute to his accomplishments as to the talk and demonstration.