Let Working Wood be Real Woodworking

Working wood by hand is not old fashioned and it doesn’t have to be mere traditional at all.

Some times I regret seeing woodworkers dressed up in woodland clothes with baggy breeches and calico shirts tied loosely with leather thongs to create this rugged woodland-worker look in reenactment phase at renaissance fairs and such. It obviously conjures up a very false impression that hand tool woodworking is an old fashioned way of working wood and that the nostalgic is more important than the true value in the reality that the tools really work exceptionally well. Why do we have to “step back in time” to somehow recapture when it was never really lost? Woodworking has been preserved in the lives of woodworkers for generation after generation. Some people are discovering the real worth while others are presenting it as if on the weekend stage at outdoor woodworking shows. Let’s get real. Working with real wood and real woodworking tools is true power-tool woodworking at its best and that without battery driven or electric power. They really work, work well and are highly effective in delivering the goods. We don’t have to pretend.

I have worked wood, made my living from it and sold every piece of work I ever made every day for 48 year. Thousands of pieces from wooden spoons and spatulas to bird houses, walking canes and slingshots to credenzas for the White House Permanent Collection. Someone mentioned to me recently that you cannot make a living from making furniture and that that should be dismissed from your psyche. That’s not true at all. Each business I started was a hard but after three years hard work they started to support me and my family and with each passing decade I have seen them flourish as I passed them on to others. The businesses I began continue successfully today and others have taken them over so that I could develop my new strategy in other fields. These business now support many, many families working in cottage industries today. At least two dozen families to my last knowledge. Imagine that. Today this increases with each progressive step and all without mass-making mechanisms. Working Wood with Paul Sellers was never just mere concept but a belief that reality woodworking is possible in today’s culture and that the way forward for some is in small home businesses. It’s a responsibility I am committed to to help others work real wood in tangible ways and to take the first steps to reality, risk and an exciting unpredictable but self-sustaining future .

3 Comments

  1. Michael Redmond on 1 June 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Beautifully put, working with wood will always be with us.
    Regards
    Michael.



  2. John Arnold on 5 January 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Well I thank you for a good insight but I do have to say a large amount of the skills have been let go. Not totally but I am talking about the percentages of machine workmanship compared to manual tooled workmanship. This is a great loss in our industry. IDE say about 90 % of wood products in America is made from electrical powered machinery. Dove tail jigs for saws, even electrical powered wood carvers and don’t forget the Drimmel tool.
    Yes their is yet a bit of old fashioned woodworking still going, it doesn’t compare in nothing to the main stream manufacturing in America not including the flood of foreign wood products from China,India, Mexico and other countries.

    Keep up the good work and I believe in your focus. I just have a second thought about the out look of old fashioned wood working skills.

    Thank for your understanding and work – John Arnold, of WV.



  3. John Arnold on 5 January 2014 at 5:11 pm

    OH MY GOD ! I just watched a few of your videos and I love them ! I truly love what your doing.
    So when is your school starting in America? Well if not, you should at least have a summer or spring seminar or corse of 2 weeks in America giving a certificate. Well it’s a nice request any way.

    One again thank you for keeping real carpentry alive & growing.

    – John Arnold
    Thomas, West Virginia U.S.A.