Keep a Woodworking Journal

So what, if you can’t draw. Even a stick man or five lines for a hand become an aid to memory. Much of my work in the shop begins with a few lines, some notes and a look over the wood in hand.

My journal gives me the opportunity to record my thoughts and feelings as I prepare to make a piece. Please consider this. It has nothing to do with your art skills but order. Art actually derives its root from order and the artificer of work who learned as a result of learning and practice.

I draw to record of course, but holding a lifelong record of work is rare in our present day and has diminished more rapidly in the last five years than in the previous five decades. All of my work for the books I write start in my journal and so too the lists of the tools I use or the materials I try to keep track of. That way, when a piece sells, I have my notes and thoughts available.

Here is the tool chest I am making, with the details of the drawers drawn full size. My measurements and cutting lists prepared and thought through beforehand minimise mistakes and prove viability before the work begins. On the pages I begin to see proportion and shape, size of sections and features like joints. Points that I find important to the design.

My enjoyment in design becomes a second build as the shavings fall from the wood and the bench and the joints are formed.



Reality comes first in the drawing and then in the wood. the hands bring shape with the pen and pencil and then with the chisels and the saw and plane, the auger and the file in hand.



  1. Carlos J. de la Incera on 12 June 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Paul

    My name is Carlos and live in the USA. Thank you very much for sharing with us all your knowledge and expertise. I am planning to build a work bench based on your drawings…
    I came to USA in 1996. When I grow up in Cuba my father introduce me to carpentry the way you do and I actually learned further with your ideas and the use of tools in the last weeks when I started seen your videos in youtube. Example how to sharpen chisels, which mine are very dull. Back on those days, I only had chisels and hammers to work and get pass by for my needs…now, when I found your videos it was very refreshing to see that there is still people like you that like to work with your hands. In USA mostly everybody try to do everything with machines. When I start my project I will keep a journal of my work and try to share it too…this is a great idea …I do not know if you may know but you can convert your journals to electronic format PDF and share even more your designs with people like me…pardon me…of course the ones you feel you want to share…and you can paste your links in you tube or your blogs

    Thank you very much for your hard work

  2. Francesco Gallarotti on 1 September 2015 at 6:48 am

    Hi Paul,
    I have to confess that I love your journals. Everything you do has the level or precision that I dream of, but your journals are the essence of your work really.
    From a more mundane point of view, I actually like also the type of journals you use. They look sturdy, with flat pages, and thick paper. Can you share the maker of these journals or are they custom made?
    // Francesco