More Help For Wheel Chair Users - Router Forums

 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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I hope this post isn't interpreted as spam because this isn't my intent. I have no financial interest in the company, I'm just an enthusiastic fan.

About 4 years ago or so I bought my first EZ Smart tools. It's a guide system for circular saws and routers. It worked great for me but I still used my tablesaw, miter saw, and radial arm saw for a lot of my cutting. In December of 2004 I managed to ride my motorcycle off a small cliff and really destroyed my right knee and severed my left Achilles tendon. It was a bad day. I was in a wheel chair for many months and eventually progressed to a walker, crutches, cane, and now I just limp forever.

Well, I couldn't work for a long time and I still wanted to do some woodworking but I found the regular tools weren't very wheelchair friendly. At least not how I had them set up. I also found that trying to wrestle the wood around and push it through the tablesaw was difficult at best and downright dangerous at worst. To put it mildly, it scared the @#%% out of me.

I started using the EZ Smart tools that I had, (just the basic system at the time) and I found that I could actually do accurate cuts safely and I the amount of wood wrestling was kept to a minimum. I was still slow but at least I was getting somewhere and I didn't need my wife to stand with me out in my shop to help me. Being able to work on my own without any help brought back a little of my self confidence.

I eventually was able to stand up and after 3 1/2 years I'm able to walk around. But I still have and will always have a pronounced limp and my knee is very weak and hurts pretty much all of the time I'm moving around on it. So while I may now be able to use all of the tools in my shop again, I find that using the EZ Smart makes it a whole lot easier. I still have to pick up a sheet of plywood or lengths of hardwood and set them on the cut table but I don't have to move them around as much. You move the relatively light weight tools on the wood, not the heavy wood on the tools. I still use my other tools too but not nearly as much now.

There is a forum dedicated to the EZ Smart and there's a guy who occasionally posts on there who is much more disabled that I was. The EZ Smart is what allows him to still do woodworking. He doesn't have the use of his legs and I believe the use of his arms and hands is limited. He makes it work and he does so safely. Maybe not quickly but he gets it done and that's what counts.

It's safe because you can be in the middle of a cut and if you have to stop for whatever reason you just take your finger off the power trigger of the tool. Reposition yourself or the workpiece, answer the phone, take a break to give your back or arm muscles a rest, do whatever and then start back up again. You can't, (Or at least shouldn't) do that with a tablesaw. I tried it on my tablesaw when I was still in my chair and let me tell ya, being down at nearly eye level with wood just itching to get shot back into your head isn't a fun thing.

Another thing about the EZ Smart saw guide is that the chance of a kickback is virtually eliminated. When using a circular saw free hand there is a risk of a kickback. I've used circular saws for probably 35 years and I've never experienced a kickback. But I have heard of plenty who have so I know it's a possibility. But when the saw is mounted to the special EZ Smart base and then slid along the guide rail the saw just doesn't kick back. I've done thousands of feet of cuts, never a kickback. I've read every single post on the EZ Smart forum and never seen even one mention of a kickback with the EZ Smart. I've seen videos of Dino, (EZ owner and inventor) trying to get the EZ Smart to kick back and it wouldn't do it.

There is an accessory for the EZ Smart called the SRK. It stands for, "Smart Router Kit". Basically, it's a way to attach your router to the guide rail. It allows you to accurately and precisely slide your router either in or out from the rail or along the rail. You can add stop blocks to make a very accurate X Y axis routing jig. I don't know that the SRK has as big of an advantage over my router table as the EZ guide for my circular saw has over my tablesaw. But I do find it easier to use and safer too. That being said, I still use my router table quite a bit for many tasks. I find the SRK to be so amazingly versatile and fun to use that I prefer to use it whenever I can. It will do things you can't do on a router table.

I doubt that I'll ever stop using my router table but I'm finding that my tablesaw is becoming more of a table and less of a saw. I will always have a very weak leg and it keeps me from confidently moving wood around my shop. I find that I don't have to move the wood nearly as often when I use the EZ Smart so this helps me a lot and I'm sure it would help people much more disabled than me even more. There are so many more details and accessories available for the EZ Smart than I mentioned here. Dino is the owner and inventor of EZ Smart and he's one of the nicest and most generous guys I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. He has a very thick Greek accent so his typing is sometimes a little, "Greek" and talking to him on the phone requires you to listen very carefully. But he won't steer you wrong and he'll help you any way he can.

I'm not going to post any contact information here because I'm afraid this will sound too much like a sales pitch. A Google search will get you to the EZ, (EurekaZone) website and you can find a link to the EZ Smart forum at the website. If anyone has any questions you can either contact me via PM or here on this thread. And NO, I don't sell any of this stuff. I don't get a commission. I don't get paid in any way. I just really believe in the tools and when I saw this forum for, "Special Needs Woodworking" I thought it would help some fellow woodworkers. If anyone who reads this knows of any disabled woodworkers who don't read this forum maybe you could point this thread out to them. For me it meant the difference between sitting in front of the TV, (or computer) and getting out and making some sawdust.

One last thing...The EZ is 100% American made.

Bruce
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 10:57 PM
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There are other companies producing saw and router guides, Festool being the best known and most expensive. I have a jig now for doing miter cuts with a circular saw or router. I have no idea of the maker but am trying to find out. Hopefully other members will mention specialty jigs or devices they have seen.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 11:26 PM
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Hi Bruce,

Excellent post....I can see these devices supply a very important need for those that have a physical disability. I'm sure you will help some achieve more than they thought they could with less pain than they would have had.

Thanks for sharing what you've found to be a very successful system for you and hopefully many others.

Ed......:-)
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-26-2008, 03:30 AM
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Hi Bruce,
Great post and good information, any help in overcoming another problem in life is always good.
Cheers
Pete
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-27-2008, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
There are other companies producing saw and router guides, Festool being the best known and most expensive. I have a jig now for doing miter cuts with a circular saw or router. I have no idea of the maker but am trying to find out. Hopefully other members will mention specialty jigs or devices they have seen.
Hi Mike. Yes, there are other brands and styles available and some will offer some or most of the utility that the EZ offers. I'm quite familiar with the Festool saw guide and while it does have a very loyal following I'm not a big fan of it. As it relates to people with limited mobility, the main reason why is that because it uses a spring loaded plunge cut saw you have to be able to stand above it and push down firmly throughout the entire cut. That's hard enough to do when you have two good legs, a good back and you're stretching all the way across a 4' sheet of plywood. Try doing that from a chair or if you have some severe back or neck pain. I'm not saying it can't be done or that people aren't doing that right now. But in my opinion it makes it far more difficult to use than the EZ Smart with any standard style of circular saw. There are other issues too but suffice it to say that I just don't think it works as well or is as versatile as the EZ system. Others will disagree and that's fine. My point wasn't/isn't to sell the EZ Smart or slam the Festool but rather to offer some insight into how I overcame a problem to others.

There are also some other simpler saw/router guides available that cost less and could help someone with limited mobility. They are designed to use a standard circular saw too. Hartville Tool has one of their own design that looks pretty cool. I guess it comes down to how much you want to spend or can afford and how many useful features you want. But any brand of saw/router guide, (EZ Smart, Hartville, Festool, etc.) will make woodworking more accessible for people with limited mobility and that's something that more disabled people should know about. And you don't need to be disabled to find that they're very useful.

Bruce
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 06-27-2008, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Pete and Ed, thanks for the kind words. It's so depressing to be sitting in the house while there's a shop full of wood and tools and you can't use some or any of them. And for disabled people who aren't yet into woodworking, a saw/router guide system can help them get into a great hobby or maybe even start a small woodworking business of some sort.

While I am a fan of the EZ Smart I think that with several other brands available to suit different needs and budgets just about anyone with limited mobility can make their woodworking easier and, more importantly, safer. I'm very hesitant to push or describe the EZ Smart any further because I really don't want this to sound like a sales pitch. As I stated before, I have no financial interest in EZ Smart. Private Emails and PM's are always welcome for any questions about EZ or just basic tips I found helpful when I made my shop more user friendly. Thanks.

Bruce
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-12-2008, 10:16 PM
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I do not think that this is a spam. Indeed has given a great piece of information. I am sure this would help most. I would like to share this information with many of my friends. Keep your good works going on.
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