Today we must announce the passing of our founder, fellow woodworker and very special friend Larry Martin.
Larry passed away peacefully at home in the presents of his wife and children on November 6, 2021.
Larry not only created over 2,100 recordings with over 600 hours of content, but he was always available to help us figure something out if he could.
This web site exists because Larry, while he could not develop this site himself, he encouraged us to create the site and provided some financial assistance to get it started and keep it going. Now WW4b has over 150 members throughout the world.
Larry and his lovely wife Mary Jo opened their house and hearts in 2011 and again in 2012 to a bunch of blind guys to come and participate in a four-day summer workshop. Because he encouraged us to continue these workshops, they have become an annual event which are held in different locations around the country and Canada. We get together to do hand on projects and discuss problems associated with doing task without sight.
Larry always encouraged us to get out in the shop and make sawdust.
Although we are almost all in different parts of the world many of us have become very good friends and talk and visit all the time.
El Supremo, you may be gone but your legacy will continue. Thank you so much for all your efforts.
I remember I was in search of a new hobby. Although I had some basic woodworking in the past and did my own home repairs, I thought my days of being in the shop were over. All I had left were a few basic hand tools and an old radial arm saw. Then I found a single page web site saying if I provide some proof of my vision impairment, I could receive recordings of woodworking magazines.
So, I started listening to them and the bug kind of bit me. I still didnít know how to start but Larry and I began talking and he helped me connect with other folks and I just started with a simple bird house.
Within a couple of years, I began to buy tools. They were all used at first and I set them up in my small uninsulated and unheated garage. Twelve years later that space is a four season, fully equipped shop I work in all the time. I have made many toys and pieces of furniture my children and grandchildren will Charis for a lifetime.
Thank you, my friend. Darrel Vickers
It is a sad day for blind woodworkers and of course for Larry's family.
I had all but given up woodworking until I found his website. Larry sent some CDs of his recordings. Those recordings and the knowledge that there were other blind woodworkers gave me a new perspective. I'm forever grateful to Larry for showing me the possibilities. The first summer workshop was at his home in Deer Park, Illinois where I met lifelong friends. Sharon and I also caught up with Larry and Maryjo in Florida for day trips and supper.
You made a better life for many of us Larry. Jim Nordquist
Something we all knew was coming but I still can't believe it. We often had talked on the phone sometimes it seems about nothing.
He was a friend and willing to do so much for anyone. If all you knew of Larry was his starting this group or his hours and hours of reading, you missed out on a wonderful experience. Bob Kennedy
I am so sorry to hear this news. He was a great guy with a big heart. I will always be grateful for the advice and the hours of recording he did for us. Keith C.
Here is a reminder how woodworking for the blind got started.
It all started with a sighted woodworker, Larry Martin. We will let him explain in his ownwords.
Here's the history of Woodworking for the Blind.
In mid-2005 Woodcraft would run online articles from their new magazine and an article about Gordon Mitchell, a blind woodworker, caught my eye (pun intended). I loved the comment about how nervous people got because they could hear his power saw running and he was working in a dark basement without any lights on. But what really caught me was Gordon's statement about how difficult it was to learn new things and keep up with new developments in woodworking.
I did a little internet search and telephoned him in Ontario to say that I would be happy to be his eyes and help him with projects. Our first project was a whirligig that I called Gordon Chopping Wood. In our discussion I was struck by the difficulty I had in conveying how the circular motion of the whirligig's propeller converted to the up and down motion of the figure chopping wood. Eventually I was able to slowly describe all of the parts involved and the Eureka moment came when Gordon said is that all there is to it? That lesson has stayed with me because I then realized how much information a sighted person gets from even a quick glance at a photo or illustration. So now I try to take my time in describing a photo to first set up the general scene and then to describe the specifics. It seems to me that this is the biggest contribution I can make. The woodworking magazines are wonderfully illustrated with photos and drawings. Many photos are there only for the purpose of an interesting layout but many more photos convey essential information so that's why I try to spend plenty of time describing each one carefully. Gordon and I went through a couple of projects over the telephone and by email and then I tried to send him additional information by scanning some articles. That was not very successful because my primitive scanner made too many mistakes with words and, of course, was often thrown by illustrations and photos. I spent a lot of time correcting these errors and I began to think that I could simply type out the entire article more rapidly than I could correct it. One day while getting help at the Mac Genius Bar a young girl suggested I record the material instead of typing it. She then gave me a quick lesson in Mac's GarageBand program, I bought a new Mac Intel computer, a microphone, some CDs and mailing envelopes, and I was off and running.