Blind Washougal man creates beautiful pieces of art through woodworking


John Furniss of Washougal, Washington is totally blind, but you would never know it by looking at his work. His pieces are beautiful, with contrasting colors and precision cuts.

Explaining his process, Furniss says, "I take a picture, something only I can see in my mind and I make it reality. I make it a physical object and now you can see it."

Furniss has been blind since he was 16.

Working with power tools and grabbing sharp objects without sight seems scary, but Furniss says he was up for the challenge, "I've always been interested in that kind of thing. I've always been good with my hands. So I decided to give it a try and I took to it like a duck to water."

He was taking classes at the Utah Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired when he learned about Chris Hathaway's wood shop. "He was the best teacher, I've ever come across," Furniss says, "He knew how to read people and show them how to do anything really."

Hathaway teaching Furniss that there's not much difference between a sighted woodworker and a blind one. Furniss explains, "The main differences between a blind woodworker and a sighted woodworker is the ways that we measure."

Measuring and choosing his pieces by feel, Furniss creates works of art from ordinary chunks of wood, "I just kind of let it tell me what it wants to do. I've turned off the lathe at times and the entire design was already there. All I had to do was just accentuate it."

Anyone interested in wood items made by Furniss can check out his Etsy site, TheBlindWoodsman.

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