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Thread: Woodworking for a blind craftsman

  1. #1

    Woodworking for a blind craftsman

    Can anyone direct me to a blind person who cuts dovetails by hand? Yes. Seriously. No joke. This is a sincere question.

    I have been retained to be an "accessibility guide" to to a blind student in a Community College Fine Woodworking Program. By law, the school must make accommodations for all disabled students. I had a great discussion about woodworking with the instructor at the Colo Center for the Blind and I am comfortable with most activities in the shop. But he had no familiarity with dovetails.

    The student is intent on hand cutting dovetails, as required of all students in the class. Various jigs and guides have been helpful. But I have come to the conclusion that the only thing worse than "the blind leading the blind" is "the sighted (me) teaching the blind".

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    see my link in the recent digital angle gauge thread.
    Bil lD

  3. #3
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    I can cut dovetails with my eyes closed. But they will look like I had my eyes closed.
    I donít know how a blind person could dimension stock. One of the most important parts of dovetailing.
    Square to the face , square to the edges & thickness.
    Itís not gonna work.
    Aj

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    I can cut dovetails with my eyes closed. But they will look like I had my eyes closed.
    I donít know how a blind person could dimension stock. One of the most important parts of dovetailing.
    Square to the face , square to the edges & thickness.
    Itís not gonna work.
    Thanks. My observations too. That's why I am looking.

  5. #5
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    There was a discussion about an angle cube that had Bluetooth capability. No one could think of an application for it. Would it help cutting dovetails if the Bluetooth angle measurement was converted to audio? May need one cube on the wood, one on the saw....

  6. #6
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    “By law”. Is this the same law that requires Braille on bank drive through kiosks?
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  7. #7
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    Maybe you could cheat just a little and use a magnetic guide?

  8. #8
    Hi Dick,
    Just so we understand... do you yourself already know how to hand cut dovetails, and are looking for ideas to teach that to this (courageous) student?

    Or do you also need to learn it yourself and then teach it?

    If you need to learn it yourself, look at this LINK from Derek's site. Another excellent source is "The Complete Dovetail", by Ian Kirby.

    As far as how to teach it, I need to think about that. Probably some clever jig or something required. I'm not sure.

    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Day View Post
    Maybe you could cheat just a little and use a magnetic guide?
    Or have a helper.

    When I was in the industrial ventilation business, I had occasion to interact with a maintenance mechanic who was blind. He repaired rooftop equipment. He called me for tech support and once I helped him out he was willing to talk awhile so I could get my head wrapped around what he was doing. He fixed electrical controls, switchgear, gas train components, etc. Helper made sure the electrical disconnects were off, gas was shut off, read manometers, etc. This guy had a great diagnostic mind and knew what he was doing. He said he’d feel the whole controls enclosure and paint a mental picture, then go to work. He had a multimeter that talked to him (I heard it over the phone). Craziest thing I ever saw. He was on a mission.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  10. #10
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    The only way I can see to accommodate the requirement is what's being done now...physical jigs/guides to help the worker keep the hand saw at the correct angle and either someone else's eyes to indicate "stop" or a physical indicator that they can feel to indicate when to stop cutting. Chopping out and refining is going to require the same. Realistic expectations have to be there for both the student/worker and those who are assisting and evaluating. Don't underestimate anyone's ability to learn and refine a craft, either...if someone wants to accomplish something, they will as long as no unrealistic barriers are put in front of them.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
    Thanks to all who responded, and my apologies for the delay in responding. Yes, I know how to cut dovetails. Yes we have been using a magnetic saw guide. Works well. Yes, we have tried various ways to determine when to stop cutting with marginal results. I have been the assistant, but the results are still marginal. A major problem is laying out the dovetails to start with.

    I really hope to find a blind person who can do this already.

    I will continue to research.

  12. #12
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    I toured the Kansas School for the Blind back in the '70s. The one thing that really stuck with me is that they had found a way for the kids to cut with a bandsaw. I only half believed it then and only half believe it now. What they did was affix a template to the surface of the wood so the student could feel the line. Then they had a bandsaw with this little rod attached to the upper guide just (and I mean 'just') in front of the teeth. So the kid put their finger up to the rod and then fed the wood under the finger. It still makes me cringe.

    But if those folks really figured out how to let blind kids use a bandsaw maybe they had some success with dovetails.

  13. #13
    This is the first I have ever heard of the blind using a bandsaw. Thanks!

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