wheelchair woodworking is taking it's toll, need help

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Blog entry by cdaniels posted 06-16-2014 12:54 AM 2415 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve always gotten a lot of support from everyone on here while i’m relearning how to redo everything in a wheelchair. That being said i’m starting to get worn out when woodworking. I love using a hand plane and I’ve received my veritas low angle smoothing plane and got it sharp and tuned up but It’s so dang hard to push it through a board that I can only work for about 10 minutes at a time before i’m in so much pain that I have to quit. If any of you have a damaged spinal cord you’ll know the kind of pain that i’m talking about. I can’t prevent tear out at all planing these maple boards that I got and it’s irritating me because I was supposed to have this project done allready. I’m at the point where i’m considering getting an electric planer because it’s so hard. I don’t really know what else to do or if i’m doing something wrong for it to be so hard to use. It didn’t seem like the crappy new style stanley bailey no. 4 was this hard to use and it is the bottom of the barrel planer. is it because it’s a low angle that it’s so hard to use? I love woodworking and I wish I could do it 24 hours a day but i’m getting so worn out and tired of the pain that it’s taking time away from my work. need some advice on this one guys.

Iron Sides

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

17 comments so far

View punk's profile


181 posts in 3571 days

#1 posted 06-16-2014 01:25 AM

dont know how bad you are but if you can revamp a chair to were you are sitting more on your knees and leaning ahead more make a strap for around your chest to help seport your wait if posible. or make your seat tip ahead and use a seat belt. ontill i had my second op. thats watt i had to do it helps get your body wait over what youare doing. have a good day and lots of luck. norm

-- Punk in PA

View Steve Kreins's profile

Steve Kreins

358 posts in 2786 days

#2 posted 06-16-2014 01:43 AM

I decided to send my reply in a private message. We are praying for you.

-- I thank God for everything, especially all of you!

View sras's profile


6232 posts in 4285 days

#3 posted 06-16-2014 01:51 AM

I have 2 thoughts to share…

1. As punk pointed out, posture can make a big difference. Maybe consider different heights for your work surface – maybe even resting on the arms of your wheelchair?

2. Nothing wrong with an assist from a power tool.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 4194 days

#4 posted 06-16-2014 01:54 AM

I have found that as I have gotten older and don’t have much of a back left that it is much less painful to pull rather than push the plane. I think I have seen some videos of Japanese woodworkers doing it that way. I am 83 now and have had back trouble for 60 of those years. I think sanding with power sanders is a better option than a hand powered plane if you are having tear out problems. I wish you well.

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View cdaniels's profile


1320 posts in 2657 days

#5 posted 06-16-2014 02:25 AM

Now pls don’t take it as me looking for pity. I’m just looming for advice from people who are or have been in my shoes. I have enough saved to either get a drill press, a tabletop planer or a bandsaw and I’m not positive what to pick up next.

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2704 days

#6 posted 06-16-2014 03:19 AM

Hang in their bro, keep on going. Get the electric planer, no harm in that. Use the hand plane when you can.
I understand the pain thing. I have different issues and I won’t get into that. I take a morphine pill daily. I take 3 oxycodone daily on top of that so I don’t shake from the pain. I’ve been unable to carve since about last Dec. Me and the docs haven’t figured out what’s going to work yet…but we will. Find out what works, adapt and carry on bro.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4464 days

#7 posted 06-16-2014 03:49 AM

An electric planer seems like a good solution. I know you said you enjoy using a hand plane but a hand plane is just one method to get the job done and there are so many other aspects of woodworking that are so enjoyable. This one step in the woodworking process should not stop you from doing what you enjoy so much.
Good luck…you sound like a determined person that will find a good solution…

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2641 days

#8 posted 06-16-2014 03:59 AM

Most Japanese planes are made for pulling if that may help. Good luck buddy.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4496 days

#9 posted 06-16-2014 04:09 AM

check these blogs
for wheelchair work

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View widdle's profile


2073 posts in 4154 days

#10 posted 06-16-2014 04:17 AM

Sounds like there should be a fix for this..Will be interesting to here others suggestions.. Im not in a chair, I’ve often thought that if i had a huge workshop , that i would build a bench with a large notch on one edge...Ecxuse my scribble

View CFrye's profile


11323 posts in 2995 days

#11 posted 06-16-2014 10:48 AM

Sounds like you’ve got some great suggestions already, Chris. Not sure if a high angle scraper plane would be better or worse. Maybe something to consider trying. Hang in there.

-- God bless, Candy

View Oldmanwheeler's profile


11 posts in 3477 days

#12 posted 06-29-2014 05:11 AM

Hello, I have a website dedicated to helping and sharing information for Wheelchair Woodworkers. I would like to make you two offers: 1) visit the my site at and 2) write some articles for the Wheelchair Woodworking sharing with other people who are experiencing what you are and provide them with new ideas and solutions.

Thank you,
Bob Fleege
[email protected]

-- Oldmanwheeler, Iowa,

View cdaniels's profile


1320 posts in 2657 days

#13 posted 06-29-2014 06:33 AM

Mr. Fleege,
Thank you very much for the information. I will look forward to helping anyone out that is looking to learn. There’s a lot of great people on here that have helped me out a lot and i’m still a new guy here. I’ll check out the website this evening and hopefully I can contribute something useful. Thanks again.

Iron Sides

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

View Oldmanwheeler's profile


11 posts in 3477 days

#14 posted 07-17-2014 09:44 PM

Iron Sides, Just curious how things are going for you? I also wanted to share a little bit about my experience. Like you, I was an avid woodworker before my accident. The one think I’ve learned is that our situation requires much for forethought before we start a project. We have to look, and even experiment, with every step to make sure we are physically able to do it. Some times we are just fine, but a lot of time we have to re-think how to approach the task. In your original post you mention that you even thought about using a power planer. My response to that is there is absolutely nothing wrong with replacing what we use to do by hand with a power tool to assist us. The fact that we are still able to do woodworking is what’s important. One note, however, make sure you can safely use it.

I spend almost as much time on the internet research different ways of doing different task. I’ve learned that there are more than one way to skin a turkey. My next suggestion is to keep what I call a technique journal. Write down what your task was, what the obstacle was and how your overcame it so that the next time you run into you have detailed notes on how to do it.

When you are in a wheelchair absolutely everything you do changes and woodworking is no different. Keep a positive attitude and don’t be afraid to ask for help. We are all in this together.

PS it’s Bob or Oldmanwheeler, not Mr. Fleege :-)

Wheelchair Woodworker

-- Oldmanwheeler, Iowa,

View cdaniels's profile


1320 posts in 2657 days

#15 posted 07-17-2014 10:48 PM

Thanks for your interest. I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet researching everything from a-z. I have a degree in cabinetry and furniture making but it means nothing when you’re put in a wheelchair. My shop is temporary right now because i’m just waiting for the day when they say get out!. I won’t get anything done perfect unless I can see how the best does it in person. I’m a do-er and can’t learn any other way unfortunately.
Iron Sides

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

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