Scroll Saw Therapy


Scroll Saw Therapy


Richard Frano uses scroll sawing as a way to relieve stress while improving his dexterity and flexibility.

Richard Frano uses woodworking to battle multiple sclerosis

For the past 45 years, Richard Frano, a disabled veteran from Southington, Conn., has been waging a private war against the ravages of multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is an incurable autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. One of the unlikely weapons in Richard’s arsenal to fight the disease is a scroll saw.

“MS is an insidious disease that steals from your body a little more each day,” said Richard. “Having had the disease for so long, I consider myself fortunate not to be worse off than I am.”

Now wheelchair-bound, Richard estimates he has lost the use of nearly half of his body functions due to the progression of the disease. Dealing with the effects of MS on a daily basis causes him a great deal of tension, stress, and anxiety. Richard, who is 70 years old, finds that working in his woodshop is a way of relieving stress and escaping from his problems.

“The creative aspect of woodworking helps improve the dexterity and flexibility of both my mind and my limbs. It’s one of the most enjoyable outlets I have. I can escape into places that are absent of the effects of this disease,” Richard explained.

Richard credits his craft with improving his self-esteem. “When the disease started taking more and more away from me physically, I began to lose my self-worth,” Richard confessed. “But when I heard people talk about my work in glowing terms, it made me realize that woodworking has added value back into my life by allowing me to do something worthwhile that people can appreciate.”

Richard became interested in woodworking about ten years ago when his wife, Jolanta, asked him to build some cedar flower boxes for their deck. “Because I had little else to do, I decided to give it a try. I found that I really enjoyed it. It was very satisfying,” Richard said.

Realizing that he could make better flower boxes if he had the right power tools, Richard purchased a table saw, drill press, chop saw, band saw, sanding belt, and basic scroll saw. He literally set up shop. “I never did make new flower boxes, though, because I got distracted by the scroll saw and ended up making a table clock instead,” the scroller said with a chuckle.

Since then, Richard has created more than 125 clocks, decorative wall hangings, and jewelry boxes to give as gifts or donations for auctions and fundraisers to help others battling MS. His donations have helped to raise thousands of dollars, with some pieces bringing more than $1,500.

Despite his fund-raising success, Richard’s focus is on the work itself. “The most rewarding and enjoyable part of woodworking for me is the creation process. The ability to take a raw piece of wood and make something of beauty is truly gratifying,” the woodworker said.

Richard’s customized workshop consists of two rooms: one containing the table saw and other high-powered equipment, and the other for his professional scroll saw, drill press, workbench, and hand tools.

“The rooms are laid out so I have an open center for turning and maneuvering my wheelchair,” Richard explained. “The scroll saw, which is mounted on its own legs, had to be modified by cutting the legs so the saw is at sitting level instead of standing level. All of the other tools and benches are at wheelchair level as well.”

Richard works every day on some aspect of his projects. “I’m always either planing the wood, cutting the patterns, sanding, gluing, or staining and finishing the pieces,” he said.

“When I wake up each morning, I tell myself that I will make this day the best it can be for me and those I come into contact with. Then, I make it a point to experience the best in everyone and in all I set out to do,” Richard said. “I am very gratified to know I can accomplish such intricate work even with the compromised abilities MS has caused. I look forward to accomplishing even more in the future because I’m going to keep on working until I can’t work anymore.”

Richard’s personal mantra—and his advice to others who suffer from a debilitating disease—comes from the acronym PITEOS. “It stands for ‘Persistence Is The Essence Of Success,’” Richard explained. “That’s my advice. Be positive and persistent in whatever you try to do and you will succeed!”

Richard can be reached at 791 Berry Patch Way, Southington, Conn. 06489, or via e-mail at

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