I’m Taking a Sabbatical – kind of

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I have been traveling the different states in the USA for several months now, teaching and training. I taught two courses last month in the UK New Legacy School at the Penrhyn Castle workshops and that was the fulfillment of our ongoing vision to expand the horizons of woodworking everywhere.This coming week we hold the same two workshops at the Maplewood Center for Common Craft here in Upstate New York. Beyond that there is always much more going on too.

From Local to Global

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My two-day introduction to woodworking is much more than the name itself really implies and though I know that for many this course is set to change their lives, to describe it as a life-changing course may seem a little over the top. In reality, this and the upcoming 9-day workshop has actually changed the lives of literally thousands of woodworkers worldwide, so why should I be reluctant to call it anything less.

The Month-long Workshop 

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In just a few more weeks we will be holding the last month-long workshop we will be holding in the USA. On this course we take a handful of enthusiastic woodworkers with only minimal experience in hand tool woodworking to transform the way they think about and work with wood. It’s hard for some to imagine, but they will build three complex projects from three different wood types. They start first by building a coffee table like this one using solid North American Oak. The table is quite a challenge in that we incorporate the use of dovetails and mortise and tenon joints to create a truly heirloom-quality piece.

The class is limited to 15 people and at the time of posting this we have 10 spaces available.

A Cabinet Makers Tool Chest

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The second classic is a tool cabinet maker’s tool chest from Pine or mahogany. In previous years we have made this piece from woods like Eastern White Pine European Redwood and whereas the attendees have a choice between the two woods, we thought some might like the hardwood version and may change its function to be used somewhere else in the home. This is also the piece we will be featuring in the next upcoming series in a couple of weeks time. To find out about our online broadcast go here woodworkingmasterclasses.com  and follow the prompt to subscribe, which is free and costs nothing for many featured films that pass on techniques such as how-to-makes and in skills issues.

A Craftsman-style Rocking Chair

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The third piece is something of an iconic Arts and Crafts piece that replicates an inspired design I developed from the Craftsman-style furniture era. This is again a piece I see as critical to anyone who wants to master the skills of chairmaking and enter the realms even professional woodworkers find intimidating. This rocking chair is very much a scaleable piece from which the makers can adapt and alter for other chair types such as office and dining chairs.

upcoming schedule is fairly radical. As you know I work hard to pass on my woodworking skills as a generational gift to counter past and current trends that have so undermined the future of young craftsmen and women in the USA and Europe. My sabbatical does not translate into a year off but more a year different. My decisions do affect you and so so I want to appraise you all of the changes we envision so that you can make plans accordingly.

One (maybe two) More Nine-day Foundational Courses this Year – Book Early

There are still spaces available in the June 22-30 Foundation Course in Upstate NY.

If the demand is there, we may be able to offer one more nine-day workshop this year. There is always a tendency to wait to book until the last minute, if we do the class it will be in October but in order to make the progress we need to make we must have a cut-off date after the month-long class. Contact us as soon as possible to let us know if this October class will be in demand.

Apprenticing 8 Woodworkers From Around the World

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Later this year we will be taking 8 young people under the age of 30 and over 18 years to spend three solid months making about 50 pieces of furniture between us. This series of pieces will go on exhibit in the UK as exemplary works of art created by studying artisans. The goal as always is to enter core realms of real woodworking and furniture making and so we have decided a minimalist path works best for establishing true skill only possible with hand methods of work. We will use one machine only during the three months and a range of different hand tools to convert our stock too useable rough-sawn sizes. We have chosen the Laguna 16” bandsaw from Laguna USA for one of the machines and are considering three UK or European types for a second bandsaw.

Beyond Our Local Reach

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We also have other strategies planned for training in other world regions including Africa and India. The vision we have takes much time for planning and this is the reason for some necessary shifts to our short and long term ambitions. Does this mean that we are not continuing our work in the US? Not in the least. We started almost 25 years ago and we still have work to do, but by current necessity classes will be restricted for a season. That said, it does seem that after the July/April Month-long I will not be teaching in the USA for at least 12 months. Our visionary work to progress woodworking on every continent now continues expanding through the different series we film for woodworkingmasterclasses.com. Woodworkingmasterclasses.com has become an essential arm to our efforts in the real woodworking campaign and has enabled us to reach audiences on a much expanded level. Your involvement enables us to make further progress by that support you give and so as we train you in the traditions of hand work, we are able to take what we develop for you and take it to needier continents too.

Because of all this, I plan to teach only this one upcoming month-long workshop as described above, which will be on a first-come first-served basis.

10 thoughts on “I’m Taking a Sabbatical – kind of”

  1. Robin Hale-Cooper

    Will there be any plans to train other instructors to teach Pauls methods in the USA. Either at the Maplewood Center for Common Craft, or perhaps at the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina?

    1. Paul Sellers

      Yes, Maplewood is already offering some more workshops on Benchmaking, Guitar making, Timber framing, Restoring hand planes and Woodworking for parents. I am working up a blog on this and will post shortly.
      My sabbatical means I will be returning to Maplewood but that there are things we must now set in place to ensure the real woodworking campaign continues into future woodworking.

  2. Indranil Banerjie

    Dear Mr Sellers,
    I was very excited to read that you are thinking of bringing your amazing training classes to India as well. That would indeed be terrific; a lot of woodworking here was originally learnt from British craftsmen. I would be willing to help you in any way possible to expedite your visit here.

  3. Having discovered and watched most of your videos online, it occurred to me that studying with you in person would be the best of all worlds. I was very sad to read that you will not be teaching in the US for at least a year.
    I would very much like to take your nine-day course. Studying with you in Wales would be ideal, but it will probably not be possible.
    What is the best way to stay informed about your plans for future teaching in the United States? If there is a waiting list of those of us who would like to sign up for a course here, please add my name to it.
    Thanks you for sharing your love and understanding of woodworking.
    Ron Kanter

    1. My blog keeps people up to date of important changes like this. Funny really, my sabbatical seemed a long time when I decided it last August. Now it feels as though it’s almost over.

  4. What about Canada? Have you ever tried organizing a workshop in the Toronto area, perhaps with the help LeeValleyTools?

  5. Will you be doing any classes in NY or NJ USA? My husband and I will be married 25 years this year and I am thinking he would love taking a class by you.

    1. I don’t have plans for that at this time, Cassie. Not much to say on it at this point. Still love the USA but my time is limited all the more these days.

  6. Tracy Sanders

    What I have seen of your videos and read in your articles in a short time has influenced me to start my own woodworking business in the next couple of years. I live in Iowa, incidentally, in the heart of the Midwest in the United States. I see a need for youth and beginning woodworkers and I want to fill it. So, this is just a brief note to say thank you. I look forward to future online visits.

    I am not affiliated by the way, but have you heard of Handworks 2015, May 15-16 in Amana, Iowa? According to the online literature, it is “… a weekend of immersion in all things handwork …” Roy Underhill of “The Woodwright’s Shop”, on public television in the United States, is the special presenter. The event is well represented by many hand tool woodworkers and companies considered prominent here. I look forward to attending both days.

    I also hope that if and when you return to the United States that I can attend one of your workshops. Thank you, again.

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