“It’s hard to admit this, but there was a time when I was afraid to start woodworking because I didn’t know how to sand,” says Vince Simpleton, inventor of the new VR-EZ Goggles. “I didn’t have a good teacher to help show me how.”
Even recalling the struggle of picking up a sheet of sandpaper, holding it against wood and wondering what to do next still gives Simpleton cold sweats, he says. And sometimes even nightmares.
“I felt like that next big step in the sanding process was about as clear as mud.”
An answer to those dark days before sanding came about five years ago when Simpleton, a freelance software designer, experienced his “breakthrough” moment.
“I was surfing the ‘Net one day and happened to run across a discussion thread on an online gamer site talking about virtual reality goggles — you know, ‘VR’ for short,” Simpleton recalls. “Those people play whole war-game and fantasy scenarios wearing headsets. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! Maybe some of woodworking’s big challenges could be made easier if a guy could just learn how to do woodworking by staring into a VR headset, too!”
So Simpleton applied software savvy to solve his sanding psychosis: his VR-EZ Goggles are hitting woodworking stores today, April 1.
“You’ll notice that VR-EZ looks a lot like a pair of shop goggles you might have worn in seventh grade shop class or high school chemistry lab!” Simpleton says.
In fact, VR-EZ Goggles pack 21st Century technology into an actual pair of seventh grade shop goggles. Simpleton says the throwback to “old-school” will make the bulbous, black goggles with a red antenna feel familiar and less threatening. At least that’s the hope.
“And when these Goggles are showing you how to sand, who cares about shop fashion?!” Simpleton says. “Or getting dates.”
If you’ve never peeked inside of a gamer’s VR headset, Simpleton assures there’s nothing to fear with VR-EZ.
“Just strap them on, flip a switch, and there you are in a virtual workshop! Set VR-EZ to ‘Sanding Mode,’ grab a board and piece of sandpaper, and the Goggles will walk you through the process of sanding while you follow along in real time,” Simpleton says.
While users new to VR-EZ might find the back-and-forth technique of sanding difficult at first, “before you know it, VR-EZ will have you sending up clouds of dust like the pros! You’ll wonder why hand sanding ever looked so complicated in the first place,” he assures.
Aside from Sanding Mode, VR-EZ also includes virtual reality lessons on other woodworking and shop-related techniques. Set them to “Gluing Mode” and you’ll learn the essential steps of opening a glue bottle, squeezing the sides and applying a bead. You can repeat the VR simulation as many times as necessary until the principles are clear and you’re ready to apply real glue to real wood.
There’s also “Line Mode,” where you’ll learn how to draw straight lines with a ruler. Options for mechanical pencil, No. 2 pencil or permanent marker can enhance the experience.
“Drawing straight lines will open new doors for your woodworking, believe me!” Simpleton says.
Then explore other modes as your confidence improves: “Plugging in Extension Cords,” “Turning Screws with a Screwdriver” and “Hammering Nails,” among many others.
“On that last one, I recommend following the tutorial without trying to hammer an actual nail at the same time. You really can’t see what you’re doing with the Goggles on, and if your accuracy is off, well… That lesson can leave a mark.”
Or, use VR-EZ to help you keep a cleaner shop.
“Start with ‘Sweeping Mode,’ and just see if my Goggles don’t improve your effectiveness with a shop broom! Floor debris doesn’t have to be confusing. There’s a sweeper in all of us, and VR-EZ can show you how easy it really is to use a push broom,” Simpleton says.
Virtual reality isn’t just for young people. If you’re ready to learn woodworking but sandpaper or other tasks are holding you back, these black goggles can show you the way. Simpleton is sure of it.
“I’ve finally found my peace with sanding,” Vince says. “Sometimes a Simpleton can make something pretty easy seem so hard. Thank goodness I developed VR-EZ to help me figure these things out so I could finally become a woodworker.”
Find VR-EZ Goggles wherever cheap shop goggles are sold.