I think that real woodworking is to work wood by hand and not machine. I say this because the energy I use and the thought processes I use for hand work are so very radically different than those I use for machines. I am no novice in either camp. I have used them both in equal measure for 47 years. Both have their place, but woodworking with machines was not  a progressive advancement that bettered what existed but simply a way of mass making and or lightening the burden of otherwise extremely heavy work. Engaging our senses to work the wood and the response we make to those senses is to enter a world no machine-use only woodworker can enter. A machine only woodworker cannot transfer the sensing of hand-tool use to machine woodworking because one, he doesn’t have the skills and two, they are not interchangeable; both are diametrically in opposition.

 

 

This comment, no matter how true, can be highly conflicting but I in no way want to do that. I simply want to help those who rely on one camp only to investigate the other and find the balance between the two. I have set certain limits in my own walk and use machines for somewhere around 5% of my working time. This may vary and may well depend on time constraints. I would rather spend a little more hand time on my work than fill the workshop with noise and dust.But more than that, I want the engagement with my raw wood that I find only possible with hand tools. In this I discover identity, fibre, substance and beauty. Exploring the sub tissues with a 1/2″ chisel or planing the surfaces brings change stroke by stroke. With a mortise machine or a planer, I see none of this. I feed the hole at one end and the wood comes out at the other.

 

Smell from friction between the plane sole and the surface of the wood is different than breathing dust. Until you’ve riven a two-foot diameter oak log with a sledge and three or four wedges you will never know the smell of it or know how the fibres and cells cling to one another along the riven gap. These are things we workers of wood remember as we draw the mortise and tenon together in the final throws of our work. Who can know such things in this day. Who will restore such things to dwell upon as we do.

  • Paul Sellers on Someone Wrote MeThank you. I don't think that anyone should give up their machines because I or anyone else gives the impression that they should. I doubt that I have ever said to anyone don't use…
  • Kurt on A Gem of a RemnantAnd here I thought I was the only one who found this to be true.
  • Adam on Someone Wrote MeReally interesting discussion here. Could be just semantics, but I think machine woodworking is more of an ability. Something that pretty much all humans have - to be able to feed…
  • Stuart Woodcock on Someone Wrote MeHaving just started my first large project, a 3.5m x 0.85m outdoor table. I have watched a lot of Paul's videos to gain knowledge and inspiration. I can tell you from a novice pers…
  • Stephen Tyrrell on The Draw of Skilled HandsIt goes back much further than that. It was written in the 1920's and has been recorded many many times. Still being recorded by modern swing bands today. A great song and a great…
  • Stephen Tyrrell on Someone Wrote MeIt may be true that your efforts will not influence the mass producers Paul, but you have encouraged, tutored and trained thousands of "lifestyle" woodworkers in a craft that they…
  • Michael McGinnis on Someone Wrote MeThe book "The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World", by Simon Winchester, describes very well how we ended up the way we are today; without the skilled…