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Brian Kent
11-20-2012, 6:15 PM
I just visited a good friend who wants to do more woodworking in his retirement. Yesterday he had glaucoma surgery and 90% of his optic nerve is gone in one eye. His clear vision in that eye is in a very limited area, sort of like tunnel vision. His other eye is fine.

He will retire soon and had hoped to do a lot of woodworking. He now is thinking this is unlikely.

So my question is, Is there a safe way to use tools with possible problems in depth perception?

His power tools are a table saw and a built in router table. I am thinking about extra heavy duty reliance on push sticks and feather boards and jigs - maybe even going as far as a Saw-Stop. For the router table, the same use of extra length push sticks, sleds, etc.

What do you think? Should he give up a dream of woodworking or can he adopt effective safety techniques despite this new handicap?

Fred Perreault
11-20-2012, 6:54 PM
I have a close friend, and former employee, that has been totally blind in one eye for 30 years. He is 62 years old, and lost his eye from flying chips from a chainsaw and subsequent complications/surgery. He has been operating heavy machinery.... bulldozers, excavators, backhoes, etc. He also has been his own mechanic and uses all power tools, including radial arm, table saws, routers, etc. There was a serious "break-in" period for him to obtain his own version of depth perception and other vision values. He does have trouble with peripheral vision, and playing ping pong. It just happens too fast for him to adjust to the ball flight.
I'd say that your friend would be fine if he has an inherent grasp of safety, a good feel for woodwork, and a strong desire to keep busy, creative and productive. I imagine that there are others with more experience with this sort of problem.

Brian Kent
11-20-2012, 7:15 PM
Thank you Fred.

Ken Fitzgerald
11-20-2012, 7:26 PM
Brian,

There was even an television article about a guy who professionally builds furniture and he's completely blind. His work was amazingly beautiful.

Chris Padilla
11-20-2012, 8:03 PM
We only have one brain so I think one eye would be fine! However, it is up to him as to how he feels about it.

Jay Runde
11-20-2012, 11:44 PM
Check this out (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865560610/Man-creates-woodworking-class-for-the-visually-impaired.html?pg=all). This guy is blind and teaches woodworking to the blind so if the blind could woodwork safely, I don't see why a person with one eye could not.

Ken Fitzgerald
11-20-2012, 11:51 PM
Thanks Jay! Interesting article and person!

Ole Anderson
11-21-2012, 12:10 AM
Fear not. Absolutely no reason he shouldn't be able to continue his WW. I have no depth perception and I have as many wood scraps as the next guy.

paul cottingham
11-21-2012, 12:42 AM
I have no binocular depth perception for a variety of reasons. Many things affect the quality of my woodworking but my eyesight is not one. I probably have to pay attention a little more than most people would to be safe, but that's not a bad thing. It also encouraged me to use more hand tools. For example, I do almost all my crosscuts with handsaws, then shoot them square with a plane.

Curt Harms
11-21-2012, 5:17 AM
I have no binocular depth perception for a variety of reasons. Many things affect the quality of my woodworking but my eyesight is not one. I probably have to pay attention a little more than most people would to be safe, but that's not a bad thing. It also encouraged me to use more hand tools. For example, I do almost all my crosscuts with handsaws, then shoot them square with a plane.

That was my immediate thought. Hand tools and someone with limited vision has a better than average case for a sawstop if they want a table saw.

Gary Max
11-21-2012, 5:34 AM
Yup--- as the rest of the members have said--- it can be done.

Personally

Woodworking is dangerous with both eyes working and wearing safety glasses.

Rich Engelhardt
11-21-2012, 6:32 AM
I was born with about 90% loss of vision in my right eye.
(My only problem doing WW'ing is that I'm not all that hot at it - but - I keep plugging away.)

Sorry -I really can't be of any help since I was born this way and don't know anything else.
It's not like I experienced a loss of something I never had.

Belinda Williamson
11-21-2012, 5:00 PM
It can be done. You can't have depth perception without vision in both eyes, but you can adapt. A person who has had depth perception has a longer "learning" period than one who has never had depth perception. I worked for an ophthalmologist for many years, mainly pediatric, and one of my job duties was evaluating depth perception. For many daily activities it isn't that critical, but when operating saws, etc., it is, so please advise your friend to have a "spotter" in the beginning until he gets a feel for things.

Matt Meiser
11-21-2012, 5:09 PM
I've neve had depth perception due to muscle issues I was born with and have had several surgeries for. It causes me some issues but mostly I've learned to be overly cautious so for example I often don't pull far enough into a parking spot. But for woodworking it really doesn't affect me that I know of.

Brian Kent
11-21-2012, 8:10 PM
This is all very helpful.

Ole Anderson
11-21-2012, 8:26 PM
But one critical piece of advice: Protect that one good eye with a pair of proper safety glasses. (Remember Norm's advice on every one of his shows?) You loose the other one and it is a whole different ballgame.

Mike Cutler
11-21-2012, 11:31 PM
Brian

I believe he can. Will he be able to "eyeball" a cut? I don't think so, but if he is willing to use measuring devices to compensate for his lack of binocular perception, he should be fine.
Life is meant to be lived, despite limitations.

paul cottingham
11-22-2012, 1:48 AM
despite my lack of binocular depth perception i can and do eyeball cuts all the time. mind you that may be why I use my shooting board all the time. :-)

Mike Cutler
11-22-2012, 7:21 AM
despite my lack of binocular depth perception i can and do eyeball cuts all the time. mind you that may be why I use my shooting board all the time. :-)

Paul
Even with normal vision, I still use a shooting board,and mess it up.:eek:

I remember many years ago reading in a shotgun magazine about the differences in Monocular and Binocular shotgunning. Seems the camps were evenly divided on the issue, although I side with the Binocular shooting group. If your brain can compensate and shoot a duck coming into decoys, or a grouse exploding from a tree, with only one eye, I imagine wood working can be done also.

paul cottingham
11-22-2012, 10:36 AM
I read a story about a SEAL who was awarded a congressional medal of honor who got gravely wounded and was saved by another SEAL who was subsequently awarded the MOH as well. He lost the sight in one eye as a result of his wounds. Once he retired, he applied to the FBI, who hired him. He then became a shooter in the hostage rescue team, because in the words of William Webster, "it may mean I will have to hire the next one eyed MOH recipient who comes along, but that's a chance I'm willing to take." He was apparently a fantastic shot, even with one eye, and became a team leader.
I guess the moral of that story is that you can be a good shot, even with one eye.

I suspect most of my problems with woodworking are related to lack of patience, skill level and arthritis, not my eyes.

Ole Anderson
11-22-2012, 1:40 PM
despite my lack of binocular depth perception i can and do eyeball cuts all the time. mind you that may be why I use my shooting board all the time. :-)

Same here. Shooting board? Don't need no stinkin shooting board!:p

Rick Fisher
12-01-2012, 2:28 AM
I am blind in my left eye. Its called wax paper vision.. Basically like looking through a sheet of wax paper. There is no problem with woodworking because our brains adapt so fast. The places I have problems are backing up a vehicle, stuff like that .. Depth perception is not mandatory.. our minds have other ways of knowing what is further away ..