In this series Ed Redfern, a joiner who is also registered blind, shares how he gets the job done. In this part he tells us about the tools he relies on. This is part 2. Read part 1 here.
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Now I get to my favourite subject at hand… TOOLS!
Yes, like any good joiner, tradesman, etc I too am a lover of good tools and can be found using my speaking Apple Mac, listening to tool demos, listening to written reviews and the likes of to keep my finger on the pulse.
Whether it’s the latest from brands like Dewalt, Bosch, Hitachi and others, I’m the nutcase who drools over new tools!
Finding the Right Equipment for the Job
The challenge for me over the many years is finding equipment that works the way I do and works the way I want them to do, without complex manuals I have to download from manufacturers websites before starting up.
Over the years, I’ve found that the designs of equipment have changed, sometimes for the better, and a lot of the time for the worse.
That upsets me, but there’s nothing I can do other than follow the trend and use what’s there on today’s markets.
In terms of power tools, I’ve used the usual makes like Bosch Professional, Dewalt,Makita and a few others, I was always a big fan of Hitachi and from a young lad who had sight, found their designs attractive when cordless drills were the standard L shape configuration and I openly admit to missing that design and wishing we could have a few of those drills back on the market.
The Challenge of Buying Tools When You’re Blind
One of the most difficult challenges of today is buying equipment in general.
When you have sight, you see what’s on screen or in a catalogue, you think it looks good and trust in the marketing for it, buy it, use it, there you go. When you’re me however, you have to have the tool in your hand before you buy it, feel it, test it for your needs and then part with that stuff with "pictures of dead presidents" on it.
The Love of Hitachi Tools
On a confessional basis, I’ve recently fallen in love with Hitachi tools. Think it’s something to do with a rather cute palm sander. I do miss the old designs but sometimes, the new designs of equipment have something to offer.
OK I admit to being a tool snob…. ish…. ermmm. OK! But – who isn’t?
I remember the first time I used a radial arm saw, a rather charming, old example of a DeWalt radial arm and I loved it. The feel, ease of use, using it for dado and trench work, was a real joy. Would love to own one but floor space won’t allow it unless I design the shop again.
Technology and Tooling
Technology and tooling go hand in hand for me, well… they have to. Today’s technical advances in product design make differences in my workflow, so much so that the speed of machining and assembly have tripled for me. I openly confess to being a FESTOOL user and couldn’t be without it. They design products and solutions which make a difference to my workflow and make my work so much simpler.
When it comes to hand tools, that’s a different story. I miss the old styles of woodworking tools like traditional hickory hammers, the old style wood planes, hand drills and braces, etc and at some point I want to go back to how I started before using today’s equipment.
Probably to give myself the edge I’m missing in myself.
When it comes to technological advances and changes and me, I have to say that track saws are a real god send, nail guns are the ultimate life saver and the cordless drill has to be the babe of babes in the tooling world.
I’m always interested in solutions to problems and I too solve problems with solutions, it’s just a question of finding or influencing manufacturers to see from this perspective, how the solution and product designs in question can be brought to life.
On the more digital side of life, the Mac is my computer of choice in the workshop. Yep, a 2009 Mac Mini updated using Mountain Lion with voiceover and all it’s kit, not only as a note taker but as a media suite. No person can live without iTunes and that goes for me too.
Creative Sparks Fly
When designing furniture or working on a project, I always like to road test and experiment with different techniques, products, finishes, you name it, I’m up for a challenge. I’m always searching for that "Unique" item.
I treat each job as a joy and an accomplishment as each job spurs me on to greater things.
In terms of achievements, I consider the design of my own workshop (still changing… just a bit – see previous post for images) to be an achievement in itself.
From start to finish, where each wall, the ceilings, etc the flooring, etc is fully strengthened to support tons of hardware, equipment, etc and have it as a 2nd home. Something I’m happy with.
The way I see it, my future is in one of a few areas and all these areas are what I love in woodworking. Either building my own range of cabinet maker’s workbenches and workshop furniture, complete wooden workshops, or maybe something away from that.
I like the parquet flooring theme somewhat, can’t think why, other than that interesting smell of polish and the feel of the joins and detail. Let’s see what comes of the future.
I always say "Live for the future and not the past."
After all, as we’re all human, we all have various destinies to follow, hey, why not…
Think of it this way, If Mc-Vities Chocolate Digestives didn’t exist, where would we be now without something to dip in a mug of tea?
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