I am surprised how many emails and notes I get from people who have had or arm disabilities, asking me for suggestions on how they can hold their tools easier. The people I hear from have everything possible you can imagine from arthritis and joint pain in hands and arms, others like me have carpal tunnel conditions in their wrist, some have injuries from work or home incidents that may be temporary or permanent, sports injuries ... the list goes on. Some of these I can help, others I cannot, but it always amazes me what innovative ideas others come up with to help them hold their tools more comfortably and safely.

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/opvz7vIHyM8

Of course, there are many, many solutions, often easy ones like raising or lowering work surfaces like work benches, or even having small portable platforms to give yourself some extra height, sometimes something as small as 2 or 3 inches can make a huge difference.

 Many of you who are following my channel will know that one of my "go to" products is that anti-skid material that is sold in many locations, even dollar stores, and it comes in a variety of weights from thin to thick, cuts easily with scissors and can be used for myriad of uses, and is most useful for adding BULK to tool handles and grips so that when you grip something you don't have to have full flexibility and being anti skid material, it really grips well so it also becomes a safety asset.

Anti-Skid Materials 

Disability Tips

To add to the use of this material, I discovered a kind of elastic tape that adheres to it'self. It's not sticky and it's not Velcro but it seems to have some similar properties to Velcro in that you can wrap it tightly around something and it holds it on .. then you can take it off and re-use it. I don't know how long you can re-use it, but my strip is months old but I suspect dust and dirt will eventually require cutting a new strip. This tape is not cheap but for some circumstances, it's a perfect solution. 

Arthritis Paint Brush

Arthritis Hand Tools

And speaking of adding bulk to handles, there are many options for foam to add bulk, and one simple one is pipe wrap foam that you can often purchase at most hardware stores. The idea with this foam is to help insulate metal pipes to help them retain hot or cold water, but this foam can easily be adapted to adding bulk to tool handles or even hold things like doweling.

Here is that Grip Tape, I talked about in the video, but there are many other variations on it, check out and see what else Amazon might have that will work for your situation.

Quick Release Clamps for Extra Power

Wood glue tips

You don't have to have any kind of an arm or hand disability to have trouble getting the glue out of plastic bottles. Sometimes all it takes is the glue that is an un-heated workshop and very cold, does not want to come out of the glue bottles easily. A quick answer to that is using a quick release clamp ... super easy. 

Get A Grip - With Shop Made Wooden Knobs

Wooden Knobs

There are even things you can make that can help you get a better grip. I sometimes use plastic knobs for some of my jigs, but I find that the wooden ones I make myself, often work as well or better because I can make them bigger, and I can make them our of good quality plywood scrap material they are just easier to hold and adjust. I think the reason for this is the wood is easier to grip than the shiny plastic.

More Shop Made Aids

Arthritis Jig

Woodworking with Arthritis

Then there are the assists, like the Star Knob that I use for installing hooks or even tightening and loosening wing nuts which I sometimes have difficulty tightening. An easily made knob that takes a couple of minutes to make and uses up scrap plywood.

Changing Blades the Easy Way

Changing table saw blades 

Some table saws are inherently difficult to change saw blades with which is a real pity because woodworkers sometimes miss out getting better cuts by installing blades that are better suited for the job. Again, you don't have to have an arm or hand disability to struggle with changing blades but it can certainly make it more difficult. The answer to this it to make yourself another shop make aid, that you can use to hole the blades, No instructions are needed, every woodworker can design their own to fit their saw and their situation. All you need is a bit of scrap 1/4" plywood and bit of time to design something that works for you. 

If you have other ideas that we can all share, let me know ... I will even give you credit for your idea and we will all benefit from better and safe working in the workshop.

Copyright Colin Knecht
woodworkweb.com 

Woodworking with Disabilities

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