We did it! We finished another month-long with great success

DSC_0179The class concluded at around 8pm last night. Here are half of the ‘graduates’ from New Legacy’s Month-Long offering. We call it an intensive because at times it does get intense and especially so in the last few hours. We kept going until we were done and then wrapped and packed and padded the newly made cargo into sedans, trucks and vans. That always seems to take more time than making the actual projects. While that was going on I took a well-earned break and sat writing up my journal as the pressure of a month’s intense work started to drain away and finally stopped.

DSC_0151Emotional imprinting is always important to me. They give me the energy to bring things to a quality conclusion that would otherwise be flawed or impossible. I have just prepared materials and taught workshops for seven, seven-day weeks working every day in the classes for about ten hours a day with 15-30 minutes for a break for myself each lunchtime.DSC_0158 The standard we achieved and the levels of what we teach are unsurpassed. The contentedness is unparalleled and the sense of accomplishment so immense it defies comment. Beyond all of this I have kept up with my blog and stayed off of the conveyor belt while helping a dozen more to dot he same. Most days were machine free for them; ten minutes on a drill press once in four weeks. A drill/driver (screwgun) for about the same. No self-protection in terms of face armor and body protection and take a close look at their work. Therein is the difference for machinists and woodworkers.

The upcoming passage for me will not change as I plan new routes into uncharted spheres to get people off the conveyor belt. Helping people never get on or get off of the industrial way is primary for me. DSC_0183There is a way out for all of us to shed so much of baggage we drag around thinking we must use the so-called progressive and advanced methods of machining when in reality we can do and feel so much more and enjoy the process if we can dismantle the mentality that  hand work is to complex, too hard and too tedious. This lady, Cynthia, never used a hand tool before three weeks ago and this is what she did without machines. Because I have lived my life as woodworker full-time for 50 years this coming February, I can say that what I have discovered makes woodworking a dream come true. It empowers women and children  to work alongside men in full power and efficiency and puts the machine in its rightful place as subservient to those who forge ahead to become the master woodworker.

DSC_0189DSC_0038These past five weeks I have seen new woodworkers emerge from either never having worked wood before, or, indeed from being machinists. Every one of them attests that they engaged in what they did differently than they ever did before. Their confidence levels and working knowledge placed them way ahead of machinists who only guide and shove and pull the wood into or out of the cutting head. I heard a prime editor-in-chief of the most major magazine once say that the methods may be different between machine and hand tool woodworkers but the end results are the same. That’s because that editor like most of them knew or knows very little about woodworking. What that editor missed would take me too long to explain and my time would be wasted.

As I wandered between the benches before I left I knew people I had not known before. I saw their tongues popping out the corner of their mouths as they cut their dovetails, saw them turn a bit red as the pin fell away instead of the dovetail (A mistake they will never make again.) I saw a couple of bandaids a day finally empty the Johnson and Johnson 50-piece box but nothing more than a nick throughout the whole month. That’s an average of 5 a pice in four weeks or more.

DSC_0193Closing the door is, as one of them said before he left, a little sweet and sour. But for me it’s more sweet because I know for them it marks the day of new beginnings. Showing them how to incorporate machines into their work as the secondary element rather than the dominant primary made sense after they had worked with hand tools for a couple of weeks. DSC_0187Having mastered sharpening planes and chisels and scrapers, knowing how well they really worked, they were very accepting in the true order of the woodshop. In their mastering skill and technique across the range of hand tool work, they could now see just how important establishing traditional hand work can still play in the lives of future  crafting artisans.

I fly over to the UK for developing the new work we have planned working with woodworkingmasterclasses.com early next week. It’s going to be good to see the team again. I have missed everyone.

4 Comments

  1. Andy Cleland on 4 August 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Inspiring as always Paul…thank you for all your hard work.



  2. Patrick Anderson on 4 August 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I’m pleased for (and envious of) those who were able to devote that amount of time and effort into learning the craft.

    Self employment has it’s positives (I’m always with my family) and negatives (no work = no pay) but the positives outweigh the negatives. If the stars align for me at some point, I would love to do the same.



  3. Eric Swenson on 5 August 2013 at 6:50 pm

    I was hoping you might blog a little more about finishing. All aspects would be helpful for me. I have had good results with shellac and wax. Most other things I try are kind of a crap shoot. I am particularly interested in milk paint at this point because I tried it on the shelves I made at the nine day in May. I was pretty disappointed. I experimented with shellac for a sealer, but it really altered the color. Then I tried clear acrylic, which seemed good. But I still ended up with a pretty blotchy appearance. In places where I got just some streaking is not bad and looks natural. Other areas just highlight a messy job. Thanks.



    • Paul Sellers on 6 August 2013 at 5:48 am

      It’s a reality that many people find wood finishing a difficult area. I think that I know why. By the time people have completed a course like mine they feel confident with hand tools for the first time because for nine days that have done nothing but pick up tools all the day long and use them for periods they never did before. With guidance, sharpness and through lectures and demonstrations at the bench this produces results that lead to quality work. Finishing on the other hand is not something we teach because, in reality, finishing is a distinct and separate craft, but now it’s been lumped in with woodworking as though its an extension of the same craft. When I was a young apprentice, painters and finishers had their own paint and finish shop. Woodworking and finishing are not difficult crafts, but they do take time to develop experience and skill that only comes through rote practice and with a dozen finishes that now substitute for what we once had, the whole has become confusing. Books and articles talk about application, films might even show it, but feeling the pull on the bristles, knowing the right kind of bristles, looking for and more importantly allowing for flow-out only comes by experiencing what I talk of. Add into that mix spraying finishes and using catylized lacquers, high volume low pressure (HVLP) spray rigs and much, much more you can see why most woodworking schools generally avoid finishing because they cannot offer the experience it needs to gain the experience. That said, perhaps we can do something. I will look at it and see.
      I think that this is why