Wood working might challenge any of us who have never got to grips with a lathe – but one man who wowed mid Wales last week has told how he picked up the skill in spite of being blind.

Chris Fisher who is currently the county’s only professional blind wood turner put on a demonstration of his work at an event held by Mid Wales Woodturners – creating a bowl from scratch out of a block of sycamore to wow an audience in Carno.

Chris lost his sight due to toxoplasmosis and learned woodturning by listening to 600 hours of YouTube videos but the start of his journey with the craft came from his love of horror films.

“I wanted a vampire stake as a Halloween prop and I didn’t just want to get a piece of wood out of the garden and just whittle a stick or a twig, I can do better than that," he said.

“After getting the lathe and starting it was probably about a month of trials, tribulations and errors and mistakes until I had a vampire stake that I was happy enough to display as a prop.

County Times: Chris with a finished piece.Chris with a finished piece.

“That was just the start and from that it evolved into all the other things that woodturners are synonymous with- goblets, platters, bowls, beautiful handmade pens."

Chris ruled out being a production turner “because the time it would take me would be prohibitive because I’m start, stop, feel”. He has now evolved into being a wood turning artist producing more colourful and inventive works.

Chris’s method is based on using his alternative senses which he said became more sensitive not long after becoming blind: “Your brain really does need the information and input to function. It goes from you lost your sight, which plays a part in everything you do to relying on your olfactory sense and your auditory sense and your sense of touch. It was very quick, certainly within weeks all my other senses started getting more acute.”

Such is the sensitivity of his fingertips he can detect the minute difference after wood has been sprayed with fine paint purely by touch.

Chris has been professional for four years this August after being encouraged by other professional turners to apply and hopes his success can lead to others giving it a go.

“Hopefully that’s opened the gates for other visually impaired wood turners that might want to go for their professional accreditation.” said Chris.

County Times: Some of Chris' workSome of Chris' work

“I’ve done it, so there’s certainly nothing stopping them. At the minute I’m the one and only but hopefully there will be more in the future.”

The Mid Wales group has people with all different types of physical abilities with members who are blind, visually impaired or deaf all taking part. Chairman John Morgan said that anyone is welcome, including those who haven’t tried before, with a drop-in event next month.

Events Secretary, Dai Bell encouraged anyone interested to just give it a go: “It can be a steep learning curve. It can be quite exciting at times. I find it quite satisfying you can evaporate 2-4 hours in your workshop without even thinking about it.

“We could do with some younger blood. These skills will be lost if no one tries to learn them. We’re quite a small club at the moment with about 30 members but it has been about 40 or 50.

“People are still scared of the idea of coming together in a small group and yet we still have everything in place- there’s no reason to worry at all.”