Persistence pays off for blind piano rebuilder

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by Katherine Cook, KGW Staff

KING5.com

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 8:08 PM

VANCOUVER -- As a piano rebuilder, John Furniss enjoys the rewards of a job well done.

"When I work on a piano and the customer tells me how beautiful it sounds, that's gold to me," said Furniss, 32.

It's not an easy job, Furniss explained.

"It takes a steady hand and patience," Furniss said.

And the kind of vision that not everyone has, though Furniss himself, can't see with his eyes.

"I'm totally blind," he said. "But if you put your mind to something, you can do what you want to do."

When Furniss was sixteen, he tried to take his own life. He lived, but lost his sight.

"Back then, it seemed like (life) was just too much to handle," reflected Furniss. "When I look back on it, it really wasn't."

Over the years, Furniss rebuilt his life, kind of like he rebuilds pianos.

"(The pianos) come in all ragged and dirty and broken up and they leave sounding and playing and looking beautiful."

The tools Furniss uses are unique. His mentor, Rick Patten, built them especially for blind technicians.

"I wouldn't be where I am without Rick," said Furniss.

The pair met through The School of Piano Technology for the Blind.

"Blind technicians were told they couldn't do this, they couldn't prepare hammers, they had to hire someone else to do that," said Patten. "John's proven them wrong with these new tools."

"That's definitely one of my mottos," said Furniss, "Don't say ‘can't’ because you probably can."

When Patten retires, Furniss hopes to take over the business. He's trying to raise $15,000 to buy Patten's shop and custom tools. He's not anxious about the money, just hopeful, knowing as he's learned, that things will just work themselves out.

"I can definitely feel it and see it right in my mind," said Furniss. "I see it just as clear as can be."

To learn more about Furniss' business or to make a donation here.

 

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