Woodworking With Wood and Steel and People

DSC_0012The week was a busy week and we achieved so much. Without wanting to drag this out, I finally finished the Shaker bookcase so I can now start painting it, which I love. I know, why put paint on wood? Well, there are several reasons I like painted finishes not the least of which is I can blend it to the living room or office where this bookcase might sit or my customers seem to like the tradition of painted Shaker pieces too. The point is it would look nice whether painted or finished with a clear finish like shellac or some kind of varnish. In general I don’t really like stained pine, but sometimes even that can be necessary. In this case I have picked my paint and will start Monday all being well.


John has been making his clock and used oak, which always looks nice. In a few days he will be starting a tool chest and has nine days to complete it. In between then and now he is making a second clock with a glazed door, so that he covers door making and fitting cabinet doors, hinging and so on. It will be larger, about twice the size of the one he just made.

DSC_0013Yesterday and the day before we got a break in the weather and manage to film outdoors at last. have been unable to do this for a few weeks because of the high winds and rain we get at this time of winter. We finished off the steel hardening in the barbecue pit for a short video that completes the plane making videos we just did on woodworkingmasterclasses and this will be up as a free video on making your own plane irons for curve soled planes (or straight for that matter). The filming went well and we completed the annealing in my kitchen Aga cooker. Using O1 steel, the process was quick and simple and all three irons came out “good ‘n’ hard”. We concluded filming the clean up and sharpening methodology at the Castle workshop and I showed how to sharpen curved cutting irons too. We tested it out on a seat and it was a dream to use. WIll let you know when it’s up this coming week. Meanwhile:

DSC_0017Hardening Steel Blades

The coals were glowing brightly as we huddled round the fire

The hissing pine and spitting spruce burned bright

Then suddenly a puff of wind disturbed the sparking embers

And I declared the charcoal is alight!

We scurried back and forth with purpose, cameras standing steady

The barbecue pit brought things to a boil

I held my steel within the pan until I thought it ready

And plunged the glowing blade in peanut oil

It took about two hours to set up cameras for the scene

And when we filmed, two minutes quickly passed

The hardened steel will last a lifetime working in my plane

So it’s more than worth the effort – made to last!

Next week we have a lot happening as we prep for the next project, which I believe is the frame saw for hack saws and joinery. These are quick and simple tools and so you may want to make two at the same time as I will be. That way you will install a hacksaw blade in one which will give you a decent sized hacksaw that you will not need to change the blade in for a couple of years and a joinery saw for cutting different types of joints and other work such as cross-cutting limbs and making wooden spoons as I do. It’s a great project to work on and with with young woodworkers as some of the work we might use the bandsaw for can be done effectively with this.

DSC_0037We will also be prepping for the first nine-day Foundational Course of the year and we are so looking forward to this too. This is a wonderful course because new woodworkers fulfil their dream of getting started with hand tools. Boxes, bookshelves and tables are their reward that’s true, but these are the byproduct, what they really take home is skill, knowledge and ability to work with their hands. I lost count at around 4,500 who have been trained through this course over the past 25 or so years. Every month we take time out form making to teach a class of some kind. I have done that since 1988 when I taught my very first class in the USA. DSC_0021That seems a long time ago now. Sometimes we take in an individual in the shop too, just for a few days or so, if it works with our schedule. Next week Matt comes in and perhaps one other. We’ll see what happens!

7 thoughts on “Woodworking With Wood and Steel and People”

  1. Paul are you going to have classes in the US again? And if so do you think you might visit the great northwest?

    1. Yes. This is just a sabbatical year remember. I’d like to see more of Europe too. Teaching there in the coming years. Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, you know. These are just a hop and skip from the UK. We are looking at this too. I do miss the USA though. Lots still to do there too. I have never been to the “Great NorthWest” yet and people have asked me to go there.

      1. Paul, what is the status of the physical school you built in upstate New York? I am in NYC so it is in my backyard. Are you still going to operate that facility or take your classes on the road? I am a subscriber to the master class program.

        1. The school is owned by a small group of fellow woodworkers under the name Maplewood Center for Common Craft. They have short courses in different woodworking areas including timber-framing, guitar making, plane restoration and use, building the Paul Sellers’ workbench and more. Here is a link to their website. I recommend all of their classes and the dedication of their teachers will leave nothing lacking.

          1. well they are great but they just aren’t you. Pardon me but I am biased here because I am a fan.

  2. “… this will be up as a free video on making your own plane irons for curve soled planes”

    Just another fantastic and generous offer from you. Thank you.


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