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The Blind Woodsman

As a blind woodworker, the blueprints for any of my projects start forming as a picture held in my mind. As someone who previously had vision, it allows me to visualize the design and change it any way I need until it feels right.

Man with dark beard and long dark curly hair (John) is wearing a dark sweater and holding a large wood bowl. The bowl is dark with a light colored stripe through the middle. Bowl is made of Black Walnut, Pedauk and Ash woods.

As a blind woodworker, the blueprints for any of my projects start forming as a picture held in my mind.

As someone who previously had vision, it allows me to visualize the design and change it any way I need until it feels right. In my own way, I still use sight by forming a physical object that originated from an imagined diagram.

The journey in my own wood shop has mirrored my journey through blindness. Each project has brought its own challenge, much like navigating the landscape of a sighted world without sight.

I moved to Washington State in 2011 to attend the Emil Fries School of Piano Technology for the Blind. After a few years of running a piano rebuilding business, I realized my true passion was woodworking and started up again after a short hiatus.

Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have performed many school lectures on blind awareness and workshops on disabilities. These have been an important bridge to an often misunderstood impairment.

Teaching community members to fight assumptions held toward the blind has been imperative to public edification as well as to my own progress. Educating a sighted populace on the myth of limitations has been a favorite theme of mine.

For more about John and his story, watch this short YouTube video. You can also follow him on Instagram at @TheBlindWoodsman.

Samples of John’s work are pictured below, and some of his pieces are available for purchase in his online store.

Small bowl with medium color wood, has red and yellow striped wood laminated through the middle.
A small bowl made of Monkey Pod, Pedauk and Yellow Heart woods
A medium-sized bowl with an inward-curved lip and tapered bottom.
A medium-sized bowl striped with Pedauk and Yellow Heart woods
A striped wooden honey pot that has a lid next to it with a honey dipper attached.
A honey pot – striped with Yellow Heart and Black Walnut woods – along with its lid and a built-in honey dipper
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