The Access by General line of woodworking machinery customized specifically for woodworkers in wheelchairs was conceived just two years ago. “After a year or so of hearing these kinds of questions come up at trade shows and other venues, we asked ourselves why no one is making machinery for people in wheelchairs,” Norman Frampton, General’s director of marketing and communications, recalls. “It occurred to us that maybe we should be one of the first companies to do it.”
The company launched the Access by General line with five machines: a 10″ tilting arbor cabinet saw, a 16″ x 42″ lathe, 15″ drill press, 8″ jointer and a 15″ woodcutting band saw. “Our goal was to cover the basic machines for furniture making. The only machine we don’t offer at this time is a stationary planer, but planers are already at an acceptable height for most wheelchair users,” Norman says.
The Access line consists of pre-existing models: four are made in the company’s Drummondville, Montreal, manufacturing plant, and one is built overseas within its subsidiary General International line. In addition to modifying the tools to change conventional work surface and tabletop heights, two other big issues to resolve were safety and improved legroom. Power switches are relocated to make them operable from a seated position, and bases or columns were redesigned to accommodate a 22″ to 24″ seat height.
Currently, the Access line is priced the same as their conventional model counterparts. Your local General dealership may even be able to help you get your new lathe or band saw unloaded and into the shop. “That’s part of the reason why we choose to work with dealers,” Norman said. “They are able to provide that bit of extra service that might make all the difference in this situation.”