Woodworking and my Traumatic Brain Injury #3: Life in the "Fun House"

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Blog entry by Kent posted 09-01-2019 04:14 PM 682 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Learning about "channels" Part 3 of Woodworking and my Traumatic Brain Injury series no next part

Imagine putting on someone else’s glasses and wearing them for a few days. If those glasses were different enough from what you normally experience, they would distort your perception and start to make you feel like you were in a “Fun House” at a science centre or fall fair. It’s amusing as an experience, but as a way of life, it gets old quick. Trust me on that, because that’s been my reality for a few years now.

I’ve had several new prescriptions over the last few years to help correct the accident damage. While they have corrected where my eyes point, I haven’t had any one prescription long enough for my brain to adjust to the spatial distortion of each prescription. As a result, many normal actions have become uncomfortable so I’ve had to develop ways to accommodate the problem. Unfortunately, one of these methods has been to avoid moving my head and eyes in more than one axis at a time. “Oh look, it’s Mr Robotto”! Something as simple as stooping and bending to check for wind is usually enough to burn out that channel and stop me from continuing in the shop (or anywhere else) for a few days.

I have a lot of rough lumber that I collected before my accident that I want to mill square. I need to use hand tools because it wouldn’t be safe for me to use power tools in my condition and because I don’t have a place where I can set them up and leave them set up. Even if I did try to use my table saw (as an example), I would be too mentally fatigued to put the saw away after I had pulled the saw out of the tent and run the power, not to mention even gathering some wood and setting up a cut. Since I don’t want to leave a table saw and power outside for days or weeks, I use hand tools in my basement shop, where I can just walk away and leave something for a few days (or sometimes weeks) until I’m ready to proceed.

I generally start by placing a 2 to 3-foot long piece in my end vice. I’ll mark a straight reference on one side. Sometimes I use a marking gauge and sometimes I use a Sharpie.

I’ll carry the marks around all 4 sides and them I’ll plane a chamfer to the lines, like this.

Then all I have to do is plane off the high spots between the chamfers. This easy to do because it doesn’t require me to use my vision as much as if I was just planing to the lines. Once the surface is planed close to the lines, I bring out the winding sticks and start switching between my number 4, 5 & 6 plane until I have one surface flat and true. Sometimes this step is easy. At other times it can take days.

When things go this well it feels like magic.

When they don’t, I just walk away for a few days until I feel better. Sometimes I’ll get distracted by something else (squirrel!) to help me move forward.

I have a LOT of small and trivial projects partially completed and waiting for me. I’m getting to them, and that’s a good thing.

-- If I knew then what I know now, I'd have made a completely different set of mistakes.

2 comments so far

View TEK73's profile


167 posts in 188 days

#1 posted 09-02-2019 04:35 PM

Keep going and do the best out of it.
Seems like a very nice bench by the way – good to know it sees some useage!

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

View TwinLake's profile


1 post in 16 days

#2 posted 09-03-2019 04:26 AM

Keep it going, looks like a good piece of bench !

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