Sunday, 6 March 2016

AUSLAN Box Making With Steve Hay Masterclass

For some time now I have been watching Woodworking Masterclass with Steve Hay & Bob.

Recently they have added AUSLAN to the Masterclass Videos for the hearing impaired......great work lets hope it brings more to enjoy woodworking.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

That Sudden Sinking Feeling

Hi all been ages yes I know, I am still around and busy only just caught up on the shared blog .

I have been suffering RSI in the right arm and shoulder using the mouse to much even just an hour is enough so have had to limit my time on the net etc.
No stopping me in the workshop though seems to ease greatly when working other muscles.

A warning to ALL if staying at motels please make sure the shower seats are secured well to the wall NOT just four screws into plaster board covered by tiles.

 please excuse the best side view of me.

This was in a newly renovated shower area at the Chelsea Motel in Coffs harbour in August on our way home from Toowoomba.

I had just transferred onto the seat as you can see the position I am in. Injured lower back and upper shoulder area just from the jar of the fall. Its taken until now to ease.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Jack Houwelling a Woodworker Piano Player with CMT/Charcot Marie Tooth

I am always on the search for something and I discovered Jack Houwelling's Youtube Channel    while doing just that and watching his video on a dovetail job I noticed something which stood out about him personally. His hands!!! I run the video again and yep there it was very distinctive.

I found he had a a website Jax  Design and through that contacted him regarding his hands I was amazed in his reply later in seeing more of his videos and reading his email and story. Jack has CMT Chacot Marie Tooth this is the same as myself.

From one of his video's I think he is located in British Columbia.
Hi Raymond,

Yes I do have CMT but don't let it get in the way. I still play the piano and am a fulltime piano technician and woodworker. You are welcome to share my youtube channel.

Jack Houweling

Jack has some amazing ideas and jigs made simply to aid ones woodworking go check them out and enjoy.

 Thanks Jack for allowing me to share.


Chris Lacey Update

Last July I posted about Chris Lacey, I recently had an email from him.

Hi Ray

How are you going mate? Hope you are moving better as the weather warms up.

Sorry it has been so long since I last made contact with you, or posted anything on the Forum. I have had a few health issues, but mainly I have just been very busy with organising social support for people living with Parkinson's in our area.

I have just finished the set I started well over 6 months ago. The attached pic shows the set in Melbourne at the Grand Designs Australia exhibition. It is part of a Tassie timber featured display from Distinctive Timbers - my local supplier.
I will shortly have a number of good pics of the set that I will post on the Forum. I designed a combined board and storage drawer that includes a high quality soft close mechanism. Very pleased with the result.
Chris sent more photos of his work and added that -:

The chess set is on display at the Grand designs was sold – yet to find out how much for, as the Distinctive Timbers owner is not yet back in the state.

Chris Lacey
2/11a Middle Rd
Devonport Tas 7310
PH: 03 64235208
Mob: 0448394836

Hi Ray

I thought that I would send you a little video taken recently.  It shows me in the state I often arrive at by the end of a day in the workshop.  It coincides with my having used up all my Parky medication.  Once the medication has been used up, the messages simple stop getting through effectively between the muscles and the brain.  This leads to the hunched over “Parky Shuffle”.  I am sorry that the visual is horizontal rather than vertical, but I don’t know how to change it.

Believe it or not, these physical effects are quite humorous – in terms of the weird movement at least.  What is a little harder to deal with is that my face loses all ability to express what I am thinking or saying.  It is surprising how much we take for granted being able to communicate very much through facial expression. I recently had my oldest daughter see me in this state and, even though I told her I was very happy, and only in that state because I had such a wonderful day in the workshop, my face was telling her that I was either very angry or very depressed – she found it rather freaky.  Needless to say, my next dose of medication followed by a good night’s sleep gets me back fit for another days work the following morning.

You are welcome to add the video to your Blog, as long as you use it to get the message across that these states are just a manifestation of “getting the most out of each day”.  If you approach life like that, it is inevitable that on some days at least, you end up using all the medication up.  To me it is just proof that I am living my life as it is now, to the very fullest.  I would not be dead for quids.

I have not yet posted anything on the forum – still hoping to get some more good shots from Distinctive Timbers.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Almost An End to My Sitting High and Mighty

Just over a month ago I replaced the castor wheels on my workshop stool, the old ones had worn down and the breaks would not hold when I was transferring. New castors were bought, what a day that turned out to be. Car wouldn't start due to flat battery at Richmond Castos and Wheels, thanks to our son and Richmond fellows who got us going again. Not for long though just streets away it stalled again battery dead, this time NRMA was called he got us started followed us down to Supercheap where he fitted a new battery. Car still stalled, seems Subaru Forester has to have the ECU re-set every time its jump started or battery replaced. Damn dangerous as the vehicle stalled in changing from 1st to 2nd or 3 to 2nd gear. Going into a round about or even just in general traffic this could cause a fatal accident. We survived had the ECU reset the next day.

Oh yeh he castor wheels and the stool, well 4 weeks after replacing the castors and thoroughly checking for cracks in the alloy base it failed while I was on it. One arm of the base snapped and I toppled no major injury just lucky I missed the bandsaw on the way down.

I have now taken the spare stool into the workshop and back doing things again. The old stool has been scrapped for parts as the gas shock, castor wheels and some knobs were all fine.

Below are photos of the broken ally arm. The stool has been used by me for now some seven years so it has done well.

Warmer weather on the way spring s here so is the rain and winds.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Winter Chills

Yes its winter here and this one although its been sunny and dry mostly we have had some windy chilli days. This has slowed any workshop time I have had on some day bring me to a stop as the wind comes straight off the Snowy Mnts down south some 350k away.

My body aches with the cold at times but there are days I have ventured out around 10am and as the day warms and I move about I loosen up. Yet the workshop can still be around 10C.

Over the last month I have been using the wheelchair to do some work from, cleaning up, rearranging things, finishing off a few pens ie:- sanding and applying the finish.

Using the wheelchair as I have said previously causes problems and now I am suffering upper and lower back pain, due to the stress of sitting position in relation to what ever I am doing.
When I have used the draughtsman stool again and I did while turning a wet piece of camphor a full day and yes I was sore and aching the next day but it was from using the muscles.

I have been jumping from project to project as I do i hope your all still busy and enjoying your time in the workshop or out doors.


Monday, 2 June 2014

Riaan Cloete An Able Turner

I found out about Riaan Cloete through his posts on Facebook, he had  posted some photos of the woodturners group he belongs to in Johannesburg . It caught my interest as I saw so many different people wearing a variety of clothing from a thick coat to short sleeves, woman as well as men at the lathes.

As usual I flick through often all to quick but hang on something caught my eye.........maybe it was just camera angle? OR the shirt he was wearing!! So I flicked back and I was right Riaan was turning using his left hand and right arm the latter which I saw stops at just below the elbow.

Happy if you share this. This last lathe is one that Schalk built - it working via a Toyota gearbox - you just select the gear and switch on the lathe. Dankie / Regards Riaan Cloete

 Thanks Riaan thats some lathe as is the one in the background.
I see you are well into turning demonstrating at schools as well at your group meetings.

I received more information from Riaan this morning and a few more photos.
He says he hasn't tried deep hollowing yet, doesn't count the gobblet as such LOL.

Hi Raymond

I don't mind the questions regarding my disability. I was born like this. In the 60s and 70s Doctors prescribed medication to expecting moms.(I am sure Riaan means Thalidomide)  They realise to late that this caused birth defects like mine. Our local Spar (shop) had a manager the same as me.

I was in a normal school that made me more determined to excel in everything I do. I achieved the first prise for woodworking in my last year in school.

I also need to adapt in the way I do turning. Luckily I have one of the best mentors that you can have. We discuss what I want to do and then together we workout how I need to adapt to do it.

I have not attempted deep hollowing - that is my next step. I actually need the correct tool for end grain turning. We are going to manufacture it ourselves.

We have a range of timber from hardwoods to soft. The nicest hardwood that I work with was Matumi (see attached photo of Penn's - #1&3 matumi), the softest Jackaranda. I just picked up two huge pine tree stumps.

Dankie / Regards

Riaan Cloete

 A couple of Pine logs he picked up.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Quiet but Busy

I am still here I have been busy with an long term project which is ending soon, my plan is to have it finished by Easter so its been head down tail up.

I have still been turning yet to put a final finish on those and making other things as well as having time out.
I have found others I can post to this blog but have not contacted them as yet, some are hard to contact as the only thing I find is video's posted by others.

I have found in my blog one post in particular that on Tickling madusa aka John I am getting spam comments,  I can not find the source or the reason why just his story I have deleted a number and sent them to the spam folder.
I did delete a couple of comments which I know feel were true comments to those people I am sorry.

Yesterday I had a morning out to see destruction testing centre at Sydney's UTS hope you enjoy the read.

I hope your all well and enjoying your time in your own workshops.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Insult to Injury

Hi to those who are following this and new comers in the last few months I have been busy sorting myself and workshop out along with computer problems. The latter ending up with a motherboard change due to a spike I had no idea was creating the problems I was having. I had to resort to turning on the old clunker soon to be anchor of a computer snails move faster so posting anywhere became a nightmare.

Some outings, Christmas getting closer a shoulder strain making it almost impossible to move around on or in the wheelchair. I however struggled and over came the pain to work on some pens.

I hope your all well and in the shed working on as much as you can, in parts of the world its getting colder while here today we are looking at 40C+.

Take care over the Christmas New Year eat drink be merry most of all enjoy our famlies may the new year bring much happiness.


Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Spanner Man John Piccoli

Over the last few weeks a number of people, friends mainly, have sent me emails regarding John and his amazing works in sculpting with spanners. I did a web search and found John doesn't have his own site, however I did find this document below which gives a pretty good insight into John's life and his works. The original PDF had John's phone number and still does though I have removed it from here.

I gave John a call but he wasn't home at the time and so spoke to his lovely wife Sonia who advised me when to ring. Last night I rang and had a great chat with John who has allowed me to post about him here.  Rather than put him through a phone interview I explained about the document I had found, he couldn't recall this interview The original link is the title.

INTERVIEW WITH ‘THE SPANNER MAN’       Maureen Lucas    
John Piccoli (known colloquially as ‘The Spanner Man’) still lives on the family property at Barraport  in the Boort area near Bendigo in Victoria. His grandfather Esias Piccoli (who came out to Australia from Switzerland) selected the land in 1876 and named it ‘Bryngoleu’ – which is a Welsh name for “view from the hill”. As you drive into the property there is a collection of old farming machinery on either side of the road. John says that he has an example of every machine used for farming in this area dating back to the late 1800’s.     
John was born in 1941 and when he was eight years old contracted Polio, after which he went into hospital. Three years later he came out. As you can imagine, he had a pretty torrid time, with the  treatments for this disease available at the time. It also meant, unlike today, that he had noschooling during this time and he found it hard to catch up; so, like many people of his generation, he is mainly self-taught.    
John’s father passed away when he was eighteen and despite all the setbacks he had endured,John recovered sufficiently to be able to run the family farm with the help of his mother.    
One of his passions is a love for animals and birds and all of his life he has had pet birds. StudDorset Horns and Stud Poll Dorset sheep were bred. He also had turkeys, squab pigeons, Wagyuand other breeds of cattle, deer, goats, ostriches, camels, pheasants, peacocks, Guinea fowl,finches, various breeds of ducks (including Mandarin and Scaup), different kinds of quail and alsomeat rabbits.     
In 1993 John obtained two pairs of Macaws from the first legal shipment that came to Australia. One pair was green wings and the other was blue and gold. He now has 12 Macaws and owns one of the best breeding collections in this country (including some rare colour variations which are sought   after). These are magnificent birds and several of them will talk to you.    
John says that he had always done a lot of welding. It is something that he finds easy to do and enjoys. He has a good workshop on the property and has accumulated tens of thousands of spanners over the years. In the early eighties he began making his garden sculptures using these spanners that he welds together in three-dimensional shapes. His first masterpiece was a coffee table, then two of them, then garden seats and now life-sized animals. Because he was using up his spanners so quickly, he then had to start buying more, which he still does today.    
John’s rusty sculptures are rather like iron lace pieces. He gets a photo of the animal or whatever it is he wants to sculpt and then creates a piece from that. He visualises in his head how he is going to do it and then proceeds without the use of drawings. Because he is now confined to a wheelchair, John works mainly on the ground and manoeuvres the pieces around with the use of ropes and overhead pulleys. It is truly remarkable how he does this.    
With exhibitions in Melbourne at Manyung Gallery, the Gary McEwen Galleries in St Kilda, Southbank, the Artist Garden in Fitzroy and Darling Harbour in Sydney, John is becoming very well   known for his work.     
‘Bryngoleu’ garden is a lovely setting for John’s sculptures and because it is quite large, gives a lovely canvas to be able to show them off to their best advantage. On the day I visited I saw many wonderful pieces, including a bull with huge horns, two fighting horses and a swordfish (all full size).    
John’s latest creation is a bucking bronco with a cowboy on his back.    
It was a pleasure to meet John when I visited his property in May 2009. He is a truly amazing man and an example to us all in what you can do to overcome adversity – a true genius in his own field.    
If you happen to be in the Boort area, it is well worth contacting John to see if you can visit his property and see his wonderful sculptures.    
The background information on John and his family was supplied to me by Paul and Cathie Haw, for which I thank them.   

In speaking with John I asked about his system for getting up to create the sculptures, he doesn't!!
He has a double cross over gantry and block and tackle system which brings everything to his level. Now when you consider these works are all 3rd he has got to have an eye for great detail producing the end results.
Its obvious from my web search (also try an image search "The Spanner Man") that many people have visited John and Sonia as they have Blogged or created albums in Flickr or on Forums. Media has also highlighted John and his work as well as his medical condition The City Journal has a video, ABC Rural even Auto Clubs  and Facebook spread the word.

 Below are some of the photos which landed in my inbox I hope one day we (Sue and I) can get down a visit John and Sonia.

So if your heading down to have a look yourself dig out those old spanners cause "Yacanna Hand a man a Granda Spanner"

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Inspirational Life of Richie Parker Engineer & Driver

I found this video and just knew I had to post it here this fellow has a high inspirational rating in my eyes. The company he works for as an Engineer needs accolade also for their part in his life he must be one heck of an employee. His proud and supportive parents.

Love the way he does things with a great smile of his.

With the Hard drive crash I lost many links and contacts so with my time spent in the workshop in this beaut spring weather I am slowly finding some again so please forgive the delays in posts.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Long Delay in Posting

Sorry for the long time between posting, but due to winter chills and serious ills that came with them I just had to stop and take a break of sorts. It might be hard to imagine someone sitting in their car in the driveway reading and snoozing in the sun but thats what we did on a couple of days as it was the warmest place to be. We had even got to the point of "Cabin Fever" after been stuck in doors for three weeks straight.

Both Sue my wife and I suffered the worst flu, bronchitis, headcold plus more, we have suffered in many years lasting some six weeks. Although Spring has arrived and we are well on the mend, it took quite a lot out of me, stripped of strength I am having to build myself back to a level where while turning or woodworking the next day I don't ache from head to toe.

During the time of ill health on those days where I felt I could, I still did do some woodwork or metal work or both, this may have been sitting out in the sun trying to warm through to the bones ease the muscles and clear the head. I couldn't work with machines as the head cold and sinus had me struggling to think on the worst days.

Pop over and have a browse at a few things we/I accomplished during that time on our shared blog.

I am getting there now able to do a full days turning with some breaks but those aging muscles let me know when enough is enough so I have a days break or half a day. In the midst of this we have both had to get new glasses eys checked etc, had a Grandsons birthday, a funeral of a long term mates 19 year old son and all those annoying things you have to do and catch up on which do not do themselves while your ill.

Then last weekend the computer hard drive decided to give a grinding noise and come to a sudden stop it wouldn't boot up. That was not funny we thought we had lost everything, well two new HDD's and a full install. A week later and I was able to get the old drive up and running again enough to remove major needs. Sadly we/I have lost many email addresses and info, I hope to restore those but it will take time. If your reading this and you have my email address pop me a note even a blank email I'll know who its from.

Thanks for being here have a wondeful weekend.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

One Armed Woodworker -Tim Lee

From a one armed turner to a one armed woodworker Tim Lee's story was presented back in 2004 through Canadian Woodworking I tried to email the author but email bounced back.

I recall a movie when a kid, a movie about three USA WWII returned vets " The Best Years Of Our Lives" . They met during their return and bonded in ways. The naval guy had lost both his hands and had prosthetic attached it was he who worked in his shed. Each suffered what we now call PTSD interesting to see how long we have known of this type of stress on service men and woman. 

Tim Lee Cuts Through Obstacles

When people enter Tim Lee's townhouse in Milton, Ontario, they immediately notice a beautiful cherry-wood table displayed in the family room. It's carefully polished and clearly stands out as the showpiece of the home. Lee is proud to show the table to his guests, because it's a piece that he made himself. The 37-year-old husband and father of three says, "When I finished it, I was really amazed. I still look at it sometimes and think, 'wow, what an accomplishment.'" Lee never imagined that he would be able to make such a stunning piece of furniture. Before starting, he knew fine woodworking would be a difficult challenge, and even more of a challenge for him. Lee has had to learn the craft of woodworking with only one arm.

It sounds like mission impossible, but this Milton tow truck driver has lived with a disability his whole life. Challenges come with the territory. Lee says, "You don't know what you can do until you try it." Equipped with this stellar attitude, Lee has taken on the many challenges of woodworking as they've come along.

He took his first crack at woodworking after many visits to his father-in-law's home. "He's always working with a piece of wood," says Lee. "One day I said 'give me a piece of that and let me try something.'" After making a few picture frames and such, he wanted to take a step further and build a wall unit.

Once Lee discovered that he enjoyed working with wood, he immediately wanted to learn the proper skills to make furniture. His first challenge was to find an instructor that would take him on. Once people learned of his disability, they came up with reasons why they couldn't instruct him. "It's not that people are being rude," says Lee. The attitude is more like 'Gosh... I'd like to help you, but I can't.'

Fortunately, someone was willing to help Lee turn his interest in wood into a full-fledged hobby. His name is Hendrik Varju, owner of Passion For Wood in Acton, ON (and contributing editor to Canadian Woodworking Magazine). When he heard Lee's story, he agreed to take on the eager student.

Still, working with a prosthetic, rather than a hand, was no easy task. Varju and Lee had to come up with techniques for working with the machines. For instance, when running the lumber through the jointer, the proper technique is to push the lumber through and over the cutterhead, keeping the lumber moving with your hand. Instead, Lee holds a push pad with the prosthetic to move the lumber through. Another challenge was using the handplane, which is technically a two-handed procedure. Lee says, "I have to hold it with my right hand and apply pressure with my prosthetic."

Varju says fine woodworking can be intimidating for any beginner. Even if people have worked with wood in the past, there is a definite learning curve. The willingness to learn is the most essential tool. Varju says, "Lee doesn't come to the table assuming he knows everything. He's open to learning. That's how every student should start."

Now, only two years since he started woodworking, Lee has already built his own workshop in his garage. He has equipped it with a table saw, drill press, jointer, planer, router, router table, and all kinds of other tools. He is currently working on a cherry wood TV stand and has a lot more projects planned. Since he has started to pursue his interest in woodworking, he has let nothing get in his way of becoming a better woodworker.

LAURA MORRIS is a Toronto-based, freelance writer.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Keaton Cousins - Cerebral Palsy. The One Handed Pen Maker

Some years ago I found a video on a one armed woodturner I tried for days to locate it as I had not bookmarked the site. During my search I found Keaton's video.

Keaton has his own website Cousins Pen Turning from where he sells his pens. I shot off an email to him and said he had to have parents permission if I could add him to my Blog. Kathy his mother replied and as a parent myself I would have done the same thing as Keaton is just 15 years of age. There are days I have trouble with two hands let alone one.

My name is Keaton I am 15 years old and I have been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I am a one handed wood worker with a passion for making pens. I started wood working in the 7th grade and have had a fascination for it ever since. These pens are handmade with acrylic and many different types of woods from all over the world. I hope you enjoy using my pens as much as I enjoy making them.   

 Keaton shared this with me about himself.
I was born with Cerbral Palsy which effects the right side of my body, which is why I am a one handed turner.  In 7th grade I was introduced to woodshop by my teacher Mr. Hanson.  I turned a bowl and spindles in his class and towards the end of the year I had discovered about pen turning through the internet and he taught me how to make my first pen (it was actually a pencil).
 My father is also into woodworking and has a shop so that year for Christmas with the help of family I saved up for my first lathe and introduced pen making to my father as well.
 I have been turning ever since which is now close to 3 years.  I do mostly make the slim line pens but have made a few others, such as pencils and a fountain pen but do not sell those as I have not gained a lot of experience with them.

Turning left handed is the only thing I know and as with everything else I have learned to adapt as I need to. 
 We have 2 dogs who are Basenjis, they are known as the barkless dog as they do not bark as normal dogs do but do what is called a yodle.  Scooby is the male and is my buddy and Callie is his half sister, same fathers.

I will be starting my sophmore year in high school at the end of August and unfortunately I will not have wood shop this year because I am taking a Spanish class to meet requirements for college.  I am somewhat interested in baseball but have difficulties with running due to my CP so never moved forward with it. 
 Keaton updated his lathe recently and now has a Turncraft Commander

 As a young boy I lived around the corner from the Cook family who had a son Holman with Cerebral Palsy as well as a number of other conditions he was one amazing kid. He'd play footy with us and his interest in cars and how he could rattle off statistics of many 1960 through to 1980's makes here in Australia.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Chris Lacey - Parkinson's and his Chess Sets

I came to know of Chris Lacey when he joined up on the Woodwork forum recently his first post of his Chess set had many a member in awe. He has used some highly figured Tassie Myrtle Burl and Huon Birdseye as the contrasting timber and the storage box.

I contacted Chris personally and he put together his story for me. Many thanks Chris and may your new found hobby grow.

Chris doesn't have his own website or Blog.

Living with Parkinson’s Disease – my personal journey

I was diagnosed by my Specialist Neurologist as living with Parkinson’s Disease in May 2012 at the age of 64. When given this diagnosis both my partner Marjorie and I smiled; we were a little surprised by that reaction when we thought about it after the consultation was over.  The story that follows should make some sense of that reaction which, on the face of it, was rather unexpected.

Nearly ten years before the diagnosis I became very depressed following the death of a sister who was only two years older than I was.  At the time, we put it down as an unsurprising effect of the loss and battled through it; however, with the benefit of hindsight, it may have been an early manifestation of my Parkinson’s story.  At that stage of my life, I was running my own Consultancy business in Occupational Health and Safety during the week, and then maintaining a 70-acre farm running beef cattle on weekends.  The farm was at Pipers River North East of Launceston and the consultancy clients were on Tasmania’s North West and West Coasts; there was a lot of travelling involved.  It sounds a bit crazy looking back on it, but at the time, it made for a busy, challenging, but rewarding life.

In the years that followed, that life style began to slowly get more demanding and correspondingly, less enjoyable; the changes were very subtle and difficult to pinpoint.  Life just seemed to be getting more difficult and less rewarding.  Perhaps it was just an “age catching up” thing!

In 2005, as these changes became more of an impact, Marjorie and I made a decision to sell the farm, and purchased a four-acre block and large home outside of Devonport. The home and land were in need of renovation.  Because the new home was close to where we worked, we figured that with the less travelling involved, and a lot less property to renovate and maintain, it was a step in the right direction; we hoped that this would remain our home until one or both of us needed full time care many years down the track.  Over the course of the next two years we managed to update the land and the home to a standard we felt comfortable with.  However, it proved to be not as easy as we had hoped; perhaps I was just aging faster than I expected!

By 2009, we found ourselves needing to downsize once again as my health slowly deteriorated further.  By then I had more periods where I experienced deep depression; I also suffered at times from extreme anxiety; living was now even tougher.  I could still manage most things provided I accepted that a lot more time was now required and plenty of recovery time allowed for. There were also other deterioration's, at a very personal level, that I will leave to your imagination. Therefore, we sold our four acres and moved into a home in Devonport on a normal sized block.  Surely I would be able to cope with that!

I had worked with a Clinical Psychologist on the depression and anxiety; my GP put me on Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors that if anything, made matters worse.  The strength of my body’s reaction to them led to a diagnosis of Serotonin Syndrome, a possibly serious reaction to the SSRIs.  I felt better once off the anti-depressants, but continued having debilitating bouts of depression and moments of extreme anxiety; the latter was making functioning as a consultant very difficult.  At times, speaking to groups was almost impossible; I just wanted to cut and run.  I still had no tremor and my GP was unable to resolve the issues; I began to wonder if I “was going crazy”.

By early 2011, I began to get some new and rather obvious physical symptoms.  I was feeling tingling, pins & needles, and burning sensations in my fingers, but particularly in my feet.  My GP diagnosed Restless Leg Syndrome and treated me with Sifrol.  The only identifiable benefit of the medication was a slight improvement in sleep patterns.  I had started to have increasing difficulty with sleep, so was feeling very tired most of the time.  I also had difficulty breathing, and was diagnosed with, and treated for, asthma.  Was I one of those unlucky people who have more and more medical conditions as I aged?  Once again, the medication had little effect; not only did I have all these medical conditions, but the usual treatments for each were proving ineffective.  At times I felt somewhat of a freak; or was I just a “nutter” imagining it all?

In the latter half of 2011 my condition had deteriorated to a point where I was unable to work in the consultancy and increasingly less able to maintain the gardens and home.  I had taken up light, artistic woodwork called Intarsia, involving utilising the colour and grain characteristics of various species of timber and shaping them to create pictures.  This hobby was light physically; much of it completed sitting down.  I ultimately could only complete about five minutes of this light work before requiring lengthy rest periods.  Also by this time, I was having difficulty walking.  I could manage to walk around a single town block from home, but felt as though I was pushing a tonne weight up hill; my muscles did not want to work for me.  My lower legs felt what I described to my GP as “spastic” (I now recognise that this was cogwheel movement of my muscles).  Throughout I never manifested a tremor.  I was always very tired and becoming increasingly apathetic –quite happy to just sit and do nothing (in absolute contrast to my normal almost hyperactive state).  By now, I was averaging between two and three hours sleep each night and in a constant state of exhaustion. Sometimes I would “lose it”, angrily responding to what were very minor annoyances.  It was frightening for me, and both frightening and extremely hurtful for Marjorie.  There were lots of “Sorrys” and many tears shed.  My personality was changing and definitely not for the better.

When I arrived at a point in November 2011, where I was barely able to walk into my GP’s office, it was at last recognised that “something serious neurologically” was going on, and I was given a referral to see a Neurologist.  By this time, I found concentration on almost any activity difficult; I have seen this referred to as “fuzzy thinking”.  It was a further six months before I saw the Neurologist.  It took him less than ten minutes to conclude that having Parkinson’s Disease was the only diagnosis able to fit all of the symptoms being experienced.  The proof that the diagnosis was correct would be a positive response to the levadopa medication that he prescribed.  This proved to be the case as my response to the drug Madopar was fantastic.  My Neurologist also provided me with medication that is helpful in managing the anxiety and sleep.  It felt so good to know what we were dealing with; we now had something we could learn about and begin to manage.  I was not crazy after all.

During the period of waiting to see the Neurologist, Marjorie and I made a further move into a Unit.  This has to be the last move surely! – the only move from here is full time care should that be required some time way out in the future  The Unit has an additional large garage that allows me to use my woodworking equipment.  I no longer have the hand/finger dexterity to make the Intarsia pictures in wood because most designs include very small pieces within them.  The neuropathy (lack of feeling and dexterity) in my fingers no longer allows me to manage small items close to moving saw blades, sanding machines, and the like.  Therefore, I have taken up making beautiful chess sets using the best and very special, of Tasmanian rare timbers.  The photos, I trust, speak for themselves.  It is a wonderfully therapeutic activity, and extremely rewarding to be able make things of beauty, and even more wondrous to be able to say with total conviction that it is “thanks to Parkinson’s Disease” - without Parkinson’s it is improbable that I would have taken up this work.  I also read several books each week and have found the interaction with the work of authors of a mix of classic, modern, and historical works to be enjoyable and stimulating.

I have to acknowledge that I went through a period of depression sometime after receiving the diagnosis.  I have received wonderful help from my Clinical Psychologist and can now manage my thought processes allowing me to live “in the moment” all of the time.  To focus on the past reminds one of what is no longer possible; to focus on the future is to emphasise the slow deterioration that is an inevitable part of the disease.  Both viewpoints lead inevitably to a “glass half empty” and rather depressing mindset.

Our Neurology Nurse Specialist/Educator in the North West of Tasmania has been immensely helpful with many of “the practicalities of living with Parkinson’s” issues.  She also introduced Marjorie and I to what has now become the “Young Onset Parkinson’s Group” in the North West.  This group is a fantastic meeting point for those living with Parkinson’s and their Carers.  We have lots of fun doing what to the rest of the world would appear to be unlikely things for people living with a chronic movement disorder, such as playing Mini Golf and Ten Pin Bowling.  We find it entertaining ourselves; others who observe some of our antics and odd movements find it amusing as well.

I am looking forward to the rest of my journey in life with Marjorie; I feel more positive than I had for many years (or should that be decades?) prior to diagnosis.  As the old saying goes, “I wouldn’t be dead for quids”!

About the timbers in the photographed chess set and the tools used:

The unbelievable beautiful Tasmanian timbers in this set are Birdseye Huon Pine and Burl Myrtle.  Other beautiful Tassie timbers I have access to are Musk (the rarest of all the Tassie timbers), Black Heart Sassafras, Tiger Myrtle, Flame Myrtle, Blackwood, Leatherwood, and others.  Most of them are available in variations including spalting (some of which appears in the photos of the board), birds-eye, quilting, white bait and other types of figuring.  It is a real privilege being able to use such fantastic timbers.

I have some reasonably good pieces of equipment that allow me to produce work of a reasonably high standard.  They include:
An Excalibur Scroll Saw,
A Drill Press;
A good Dust Collector;
A Table Saw;
A Router (with home-made table);
A Jointer / Thicknesser; and
A Dremel rotary tool with flexible drive (for finishing work).

The Chess Set design:

The set design in the photos is a standard Staunton design; what makes it different from most available sets is that it is not “turned” or “molded”, but compound cut on a Scroll Saw.  Each piece has lead shot epoxy glued into its base; this ensures that it does not easily tip over if bumped during a game.  I purchased a book written by a clever American guy, Mr Jim Kape.  The book is titled “Making Wooden Chess Sets – 15 One-of-a-Kind Projects for the Scroll Saw”.  Many of the designs are based on the architecture found in cities around the world.  The Kings, for example, vary from representations of the old Colosseum in Rome, to the Eiffel Tower and the Stanchions of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  I am looking forward to making them all over the next few years.

The book also describes all of the techniques needed to successfully produce the chessmen, boards and storage boxes.  I would recommend it to any “woodies” out there interested in making chess sets.

If you would like to contact me please click my name and send me an email.

Chris Lacey

Chris you have had one amazing journey and still you are producing such fine works truly inspiring work.