Tools for a Person with Difficulty Using Hand

by Krista.
(Texas USA)

sun-imageHi! My name is Krista, and, like so many others, I have some physical issues.

I have a problem on my left side which makes using my left hand difficult, though I am grateful that I can use it some.

Fourteen years ago, I fell off a treadmill – probably due to the aura of a seizure – and got a disorder called Reflex Sympathic Dystrophy.

At first, it was unbearable. It gives intense pain, and while I was having a procedure for it, the RSD spread to the other side of my body.

The thing is that I am blessed beyond blessed. I have a part-time job teaching with my husband after school.

I have time, and even though the pain and meds can make me foggy, I’m still tremendously grateful.

I love jewelry and always have, and I make some.

But I have difficulty after I have strung my beads to make a necklace or bracelet because I can’t (yet) hold the wire/string taut enough to get the clasp installed close enough to the beads.

Do you have any ideas for me?

Thank you very much for sharing your story, and I love the pieces of art you create.

All the best to you,
Krista

Comments:

Would one of these clamp tools help?
by: Rena

Hi Krista,

Have you tried what’s called a “helping hand” tool or “extra hand” clamp?

It looks like this:

helping-hand-tool-250x250

A helping hand tool is often used in crafting and soldering, to hold things just like a hand would, when an artist needs “just one more hand” to accomplish something.

In your case, it may be able to stand in for your left hand for various jewelry-making tasks.

It has a heavy base to keep it from moving, and usually has one or two clamps or clips plus a magnifying glass.

If you Google “helping hand tool” you should find a variety of places that sell them – I’ve seen them priced under $10.

If this isn’t the kind of tool you think would work for you, please be sure to say so – and we will think of other possible solutions for you! :o)

By the way, I love your positive attitude, Krista – you are an inspiration!

right hand dominant
by: Char

There is a type of beading called Japanese beading that you pin the stringing thread to your shirt and the other end is push pinned into your desk. The right hand does all the work and the pinned thread is held taut by your posture. I can email the instructions to you to see if it is something you want to try.

More tools for one-handed beading
by: Rena

That sounds like a great technique, Char! Thank you for mentioning it.

I’ve also come up with a couple of other tool suggestions, Krista:

How about hemostats:

hemostats-192x300

Although hemostats look like scissors, they’re actually a gripping tool that works really well for holding small, fine things.

The locking tabs just below the fingerholes (at the top of the photo) let you adjust the grip to as gentle or as firm as you need.

You can get these very cheaply – anywhere from $1 to $5 on up.

Another idea for a one-handed beading tool is a clamp-it hobby vise.

It has suction cups on the bottom to stick to your table, and an adjustable clamp bar that can help you hold all kinds of things.

The one I saw cost about $30 (not including shipping).

been there, done that!
by: Kirsten

i lost the use of my RIGHT arm after a car accident. i found that for the pain and muscle spasms a TEMS unit was the only “medical help” that worked. Physical therapy did me more good than anything, that and being stubborn.

i find that plastic covered cable (i use beadalon 49 strand extra flexible quite a lot) is easier for me to handle. i always put the clasp on one end of a “simple necklace” first, because it keeps the beads from slipping off! then i simply wrap the beads around my hand once (to keep it from being too tight and stiff) and leaving a slightly longer “tail” than usual, clamp the other end, then trim.

when using silk i use a big darning needle to slide the knot down, or a tool called a tri cord knotter, but a big darning needle does the job.

dont forget using tool dip to make your tool handles easier to manage!

PS i have seizures too,although that wasn’t involved with my car accident.

I have a stroke
by: Anonymous

Thank you!!

help for beading with one hand.
by: Terri Jacoby

I am so sorry for not getting back to you sooner. One of the things I do is lay my design on the board, and kinda push the beads onto the wire. It takes time, but works. Also I can’t tell you how many times I have dropped my piece which left the beads fall of the string. (arghhh.). I do now use a clamp. like the one shown, and also the “thingy” with the magnifying glass, which I got at radio shack. They are really used for soldering(sp) but the devise is very useful when adding beads to a chain.
Or if you have children, get them to help you string simple things. It also gives them a sense of self worth. Good luck in your endevours and “Happy Beading.”
Terri Jacoby

Great tips
by: Rena

Thanks for your great tips, Terri!

I so appreciate your sharing your experiences with one-handed jewelry making. I know you have inspired and encouraged many other folks who don’t have full use of two hands. You are a gem! :o)

beading with one hand
by: Terri Jacoby

I am so sorry I didn’t see your comment. Thank You Rena for helping out.
I use a good beadboard to lay out my design,and put something against the beginning of where I want to start stringing, like a spool. Than I just take my wire and try to get them in the holes, in which sometimes I have to chase them around. (the little suckers can really get away from you. if your not careful.) But that”s what I do. Very time consuming but worth it in the end.

Beading with one hand.
by: Terri Jacoby

Dear Krista, Do you have enough of a grip to hold pliers together? Use your needlenose pliers to grip the wire, making it easier to get the clasp on. I use my pliers for almost everything I do. They come in very handy. and if need be, wrap rubber bands around the bottom of the pliers making them easier to grip. Hope this helps a little. God Bless and happy beading.

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  • Robin says:

    I also have multiple health issues including an intent tremor that can cause major problems. After reading this, I did a little research and found a company that makes custom third hand devices. They are exltek.com
    On there product page you will see various models from one – for clip devices. They can even make the with swappable attachments. I haven’t bought from them yet, but plan to.

  • Margo Clark says:

    Hello from TX.!
    My right hand and arm were weakened by a herniated disc in 1988. My left hand became my “Good hand” because it had more strength. A few years later, I broke a bone in my wrist on the left hand, but the doctor missed it. It is a “Non-union” fracture that will never heal. In addition, I have nerve damage in my left arm, resulting in loss of hand strength, pain and numb ring finger and pinkie. No one will risk operating because I already have RSD. I have not made jewelry in a while because of cataracts, but one eye had surgery, restoring my vision and my other eye will be done next week. With that problem out of the way, I am excited about making jewelry again and sorely need the income.

    My main issues with the left hand involve twisting and turning motions, which cause a good deal of pain and cramping, along with the weakness of both hands. I wear a good brace on the left hand and wrist.

    I have always been of a mind to find a way or make a way to accomplish what I set out to do. Like many who commented, I am determined to continue to make jewelry, my passion as well as my pain management program for the RSD in my foot. I believe the only way to fail is to quit trying to find a solution.

    Out of the several suggestions here, can you suggest which tool would have a good, heavy base and the firmest hold for small items to secure findings, affix small design elements and clasps to finish off my jewelry?

  • I’m so glad this discussion has turned up such great ideas and sources! Thanks to all for sharing your helpful tips and ideas here. 🙂

    Margo,

    Kudos to you for not letting physical issues keep you from doing what you love. Please keep us posted on your progress and what you’re creating!

    About which tool to get – here’s what I think is the best way to get the one that will best fit your needs:

    Call the companies that sell them, describe your needs and what you want to be able to do, and ask for their recommendations. Here’s where you can do that:

    Exltek Clip Sticks:
    http://www.exltek.com/Contact_Us/

    Clamp-It Hobby Vise:
    http://www.dynamic-living.com/page/customer-service/

    Helping Hand Tool:
    I’m not sure there’s a specific company for this one, but there are several different styles of this gadget on amazon.com – you can go to Amazon and read all the customer reviews (both good and bad) on the various versions of this tool, to help you decide whether this kind of gadget would fit your needs.

    Wishing you all the best! 🙂

  • Eugenia says:

    Krista,

    Hi, I also have a severe form of CRPS/RSD as a result of cutting my hand while chopping ice. I found that a $3-$4 magnifier on a base like 3rd hand that came from hobby lobby and a pair of hemostats that came from my nursing career of yesteryear are very helpful with many tasks. My base wasn’t quite heavy enough so i glued it down to a scrap of wood and C-clamp on table when needed.

    Best Wishes.

  • Mary says:

    Sorry to see so many in the same boat as me, yet glad for your determination! Thank you for all the helpful tips.
    I was born missing my left hand & forearm, with just a few inches of arm below the elbow. I have become house-bound since arthritis & herniated discs required near total cervical & spinal fusion. I just make beaded things for myself or gifts, mostly to fill my days.
    I have learned peyote, would love to figure out other weaves but, have trouble with keeping the correct tension. I have managed jump rings, wire wrapping simple bails & a few beaded beads. I have made 2 beaded bezels, not sure exactly how I did it!
    I try to find men’s tools with longer handles than the beading tools. I grip them between my left upper arm & my body, pushing against the edge of the work table, it takes practice, but works well for me. Another thing that helps is to cut a piece of a velour velux blanket for your work surface, I tried felt but, the needle/wire catches in the fibers & flings the bead. The plush velour blanket keeps beads from rolling about.
    I also use butter tub lids or yogurt lids to hold seed beads, they flex to make pouring beads back into the baggie easier.
    For wire necklaces i use the spring device, you pinch it onto the wire & it keeps the beads from falling off.
    Now to address Krista’s dilemma:
    My knots can be ugly, (I tend to go overboard because I don’t want my hard work to fall apart), I dot them with craft glue & then I cover them with a crimp cover, they are “C”-shaped & look like a metal bead when nipped over the knot or crimp. They are tricky, I wrap the finished necklace around my arm, leaning against the work table & get the crimp in place before gently squeezing with the pliers.
    **Now crimp covers can be added in after the piece is finished off if the beads are too loose! They just look like silver, gold or copper beads, add them in anywhere on the piece to fill the gaps. Problem solved!
    One last tip:
    Someone I welcomed into my home stole about $50.00 worth of beads & 4 netsukes, I think I paid $12.00 each for at a bead show, from my craft room. I recommend locking up your treasures. Just because we are disabled, there will be awful people who see us as easy victims.

  • Susan says:

    I’m recovering from trigger finger surgery & that’s going well. I’ve now had surgery on 5 fingers & the surgeon and OT have told me not to grasp anything. It’s the tiny things that are difficult. One item the OT gave me was a tube w/a hole going through the center where you can insert the end of a knife, fork, spoon etc…It’s easier to hold something wide and soft than small and hard. I haven’t tried using the tube for my tools though I expect it would work. A concern is how do you string the beads when they are so tiny. Again, it’s grasping something very small. To date, I’ve taken my beads off the string and have them in small containers that are easy to open. Needles require a good grip w/2 fingers & I don’t know what can be done to make a needle easier to use. I’m glad to see others sharing tips and ideas so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many thanks!

  • Jupiter says:

    I am glad to hear so many tips. I have a student who needs one-handed projects and I am intrigued by the Japanese beading technique mentioned by Char. I haven’t been able to turn it up in a general internet search. Would you be willing for forward that to me? Many thanks.

  • Joy Woelfer says:

    re: trigger finger surgery, I was having these surgeries a lot and found that it was secondary to having a low thyroid function (despite taking thyroid meds). I found a Dr. who would increase my thyroid medicine to a higher level, and thus I don’t have need for the surgeries now. It is very difficult to find a Dr. who will increase the thyroid to a higher level. You can write me personally and we can talk about it.

  • Jill says:

    Great ideas here, and loads of determination — thx! I found a good tutorial for Japanese bead knotting here:
    firemountaingems.com/resources/tutorials/6918 I’m going to give it a shot!

  • Judi Murphy says:

    Your ideas are wonderful and I plan to use them. For over 20 years I’ve had recurrent tenosynovitis (form of carpal tunnel) in my right thumb joint. Burns as if on fire after overuse of that thumb to grip, hold or cut. Scissors use or hand-stitching or too much handwriting swell up the tendon and sheath. Naproxen, Aleve, and ice help, as does a Velcro hand brace ($14 at Walmart).
    I’ve beaded for eight years, stopping for weeks or months at a time for the inflammation to go away.

    Forget handwriting more than a few lines. Learning to type–with the ergonomic Dvorak key layout saved my communicative life. Years of medical transcription on an electric typewriter caused permanent recurrence of inflammation. That’s my tip for others with carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Thank you all for your suggestions. I need the one-hand style right now. The extra hand clamp I’ve just not tried to use, but will now. Also the Japanese idea sounds helpful.

  • Lyone says:

    American Science and Surplus has 3-4 different versions of the helping hand tool: various clips and magnifiers, etc. All for about $10. Plus they also carry a micro vise, tweezers, dental tools, etc.
    Here is a link to the page with the helping hands tools:

    https://www.sciplus.com/s/c_21/sf_22

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