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Woodworking on wheels/Chuck Isaacson shop

When this solder had to trade motorcycle thrill-riding for a wheelchair, he jumped into woodworking with both feet.

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  • Soldier jumps into woodworking with both feet

    A tragic helicopter crash left U.S. Army Flight Engineer Chuck Isaacson paralyzed from the chest down in 2007. Despite multiple surgeries and a grueling rehab, Chuck barely slowed down as he settled into life, and woodworking, in a wheelchair.

  • Locate workstations to ease your woodworking

    Chuck's shop features wide, unobstructed paths with multiple staging surfaces for project parts. Lumber enters the shop through the double doors leading from the garage and travels from station to station with an entry and exit staging surface for each machining operation.

  • Reign in your reach

    Chuck's shop displays a distinct "waterline" showing the extent of his 6' reach from a sitting position. Wide roll-under spaces keep him close to tools and workpieces.

  • Make horizontal space serve double duty

    To make Chuck's mitersaw supports, construct the frame first, attaching the crossbars with pocket screws. Clamp the frame in position on your benchtop and drill through the crossbar and into the benchtop. Finally, attach the top, and glue dowels in the crossbar holes.

  • Overhead and overweight is off limits

    Because he stores his lumber upright, Chuck never has to lift it far when he pulls it from the rack. This arrangement also preserves valuable horizontal real estate.

  • Easy-access clamps are important

    Chuck stores unwieldy clamps heads down in a Woodpeckers clamp rack. With centers of gravity closer to the ground, the clamps are less top-heavy as he pulls them from the rack.

  • 30"-high work surfaces fit him just right

    The low-riding assembly table, from issue 196 (March 2010), was designed with Chuck's needs in mind. But it works well in any shop to bring large projects down to a manageable height or let you work while seated.

  • Like any good woodworker, Chuck looks for good deals

    A day of tool shopping at Grizzly's Springfield, Missouri, tent sale ended with a surprise: Vice-president Don Osterloh heard about Chuck and gave him all of his selected tools--nearly $1,000 in machinery--free of charge.

  • Tablesaw tango

    Positioned an arm's length from the tablesaw, with the brakes of his chair partially engaged to hold him in place, Chuck begins guiding the workpiece through the blade.

  • Chuck takes his time when starting a cut

    Seated on the edge of his chair, Chuck leans forward as he feeds the workpiece until it is fully supported by the table and at the limit of his reach.

  • Chuck moves closer to the table as the cut continues

    Then he uses the saw to pull himself, chair and all, up to the table. The weight of the saw allows him to overcome the chair's loosely locked brakes.

  • Chuck completes the cut

    Finally, Chuck completes the cut, relying on his ample outfeed table to support the workpiece. For narrow pieces, he finishes with a pushstick.

  • Locked brakes allow Chuck to maximize his leverage

    Leverage is critical when jointing. Chuck increases his with locked brakes and a heeled pushblock.

  • A custom base positions Chuck's bandsaw to the perfect height

    Tricked out with a riser block and a precision fence donated by Kreg, Chuck's bandsaw sits on a custom lowered base.

  • The beauty of the broadcast

    Chuck broadcasts his shop live at woodmagazine.com/chucklive, pausing to answer questions in the online chatroom.

  • View his online shop tour

    Chuck takes you on a video tour of his shop woodmagazine.com/chuck.

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