Using a modest amount of hand tools, Don Urquhart proudly displays his growing woodworking collection: a shelving unit and a prototype of an acoustic dock for small devices (ipods).
Although he has a few power tools — a guided saw and a powered screwdriver — he uses mostly the hand tools in creating his projects.
“I do it all by feel,” explained Urquhart. “The (power) drill doesn’t scare me. I’m still scared of the jigsaw … but I would like to conquer it. But hand tools are better — I like it that way.”
Urquhart is blind, and not only does he not let that stop him from his growing interesting in woodworking, but he tackles two routes, with nearly 150 papers, as a newspaper carrier for The Comox Valley Record.
He credits the newspaper route for connecting him to neighbours who have helped him develop his passion for woodworking.
“I’m more connected through the paper routes then the online world,” said Urquhart, who also works on website programming and evaluates sites for accessibility.
“There’s a lot of hype with technology being connected but it’s still easy to be disconnected.”
Following a move to his current residence in Comox, Urquhart said he enjoys mowing the lawn with a push lawnmower. He wanted to work with a weed eater, but it wasn’t something he could do with conventional tools.
He built a garden cart with a wooden platform and a seat and uses grass shears instead. He tends to a garden at his residence, but said carpentry turned out better than gardening.
From there he transitioned to wood, first building shelves for a garden shed, then a workbench.
He added through the paper route, he was able to meet neighbours and build a trust, which led to meeting an employee at a local lumber store, who constructed a notched stick for Urquhart which he uses to take measurements.
While he admits projects do take longer using hand tools, “when it’s a beautiful day, I’ve got the tunes going and the time factor doesn’t matter.”
His latest project is an dock/stand for small audio devices that amplifies sound through wood without batteries.
While he wants to keep it simple, Urquhart said he’s on his fourth prototype, and is using online resources such as YouTube to help.
Recently, he was commissioned by a neighbour to build a shoe rack, but isn’t sure given the limited space he has whether he’s able to turn woodworking into a steady job. There’s also the issue of keeping things simple.
“Some type of hand tools are hard to hard to find. It may just be a hobby. Right now I’m building with post-and-beam, but I haven’t graduated to finger joints. Only time will tell. For now, I’m just plugging along with small projects.”
As for the paper route, Urquhart explained it’s a great means for creating connections.
“When I do the route (in my neighbourhood), people come out and say hi. I’ve gotten invitations to dinner, met a hairdresser and I’ve gotten help with my woodworking.”
Each year, International Carrier Appreciation Week recognizes the importance and hard work newspaper carriers around the world. From Oct. 2-8, newspapers across Canada are getting involved.
This week, office staff at The Record are showing their appreciation by delivering papers for some of the carriers.