more Dennis

Dennis showing us a square bowlIn  2004 I visited a local woodworking shop. They had lathes for sale. The owner of the shop worked with me to try woodturning. From there it did not take long for me to move from woodworking to woodturning exclusively. Although cutting boards was a lot of fun, I found a greater satisfaction in the creativity of woodturning.

The challenge I had was learning how to turn. I had the desire, but many people were apprehensive about teaching me to turn. A friend in New York taught me how to turn a bowl. Then the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) sponsored a trip for me to spend two days with Robert Rosand, a master woodturner living in Pennsylvania. Now, it is my turn to give back to the AAW and the woodturning community. In 2013 I worked on a project with the AAW to create teaching materials so woodturners can assist people who are blind in learning how to turn.

When I started woodturning, I needed to create adaptations to accommodate my blindness. I did not have many role models so many of the adaptive techniques were trial and error. To measure, there is a click stick I had used in woodworking.  I can measure from a sixteenths of an inch up to over 3 feet. For centering, my mentor Robert Rosand created a series of disks with a small hole at the center so I can create a small dimple with a punch. When I glue a waste block, I have a hole drilled through the center of the block so I can insert a nail to find the center-punched dimple. The way I hold the turning gouges allow me to feel the cuts by lightly resting my hand on the spinning wood after turned to a round. I also use my sense of hearing to assure my cuts are smooth or to determine the thickness of a hollowed form.

I have been teaching and performing public speaking for many years.  Every day for nine months I presented to a group of high school students in my role as a teacher.  When I worked at the IBM Support Center for Persons with Disabilities, I traveled the country teaching workshops and making presentations to employers on the abilities of people with disabilities.  When I worked as a director at the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic organization, I traveled in the United States and Europe making presentations about the technologies for recording materials for those with print disabilities.  I have continued to use my business education degree from The Ohio State University to teach and make speaking presentations.

Recently, I have combined my accomplishments of overcoming challenges in both my work and woodturning with motivational speaking.  If I can do it, others may be motivated to overcome challenges to find their dreams no matter the obstacles.  I was asked to give the keynote speech at The Ohio State University Facility Services banquet.  There were over 700 attendees that were able to hear my presentation on overcoming challenges.  I have been asked to make presentations at several local events such as the Rotary club and televised panel discussions.  The combination of my presentation and teaching skills along with my personal story provides me with a unique opportunity to help others reach their dreams.