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Sunday Woodworking Was a Resting Day

DSC_0001The next project Woodworking Masterclasses brings to its members is a taper-legged sofa-cum side table in oak. I generally develop drawings detailing the different features such as joints, decorative points, sizes, angles and so. With that done the prototype is almost done too, in that mentally I am or have figured out the conflicts and reconciled any difficulties I might encounter in a given design. Prototyping aids any creative development to quicken the build, minimize risk and prevent unnecessary mistakes. Drawings give the proportional representation we need to extract sizing and develop the cutting list for rough-cutting as a prelude to final dimensioning. We will make the one of these tables for video and online broadcast from some red oak I bought recently, but the pine prototype should be done tomorrow. Whereas those following this detailed course in table making need not make a prototype, it’s important to see the real value in developing one to aid in any new design.

DSC_0069Table making will recur from time to time over the next couple of years, as we progress training, and I designed this one with a couple of features using different cabinet making techniques used by cabinet makers through the centuries. DSC_0045Down the road we have an extending dining table to make as well as a nightstand table and drawer. To get to these and other table types we pave the way with this sofa table.

DSC_0087I walked the castle grounds to the workshop today and through the woods both there and back. John joined me mid afternoon and we talked as we worked. Penrhyn Castle looks lovely surrounded by golden daffodils and there were lots of visitors as a start to the new season. We invite them in to see our work and they are surprised to see us working with hand tools. The sounds and scents are pervasive. So much so it’s often the smell of wood that draws them. We talk back and forth as they recall episodes from their past recollections in school or passing the local joiner’s shop in younger days. It makes me see how fortunate I have been not to sit staring at flat screens all my life. It’s something of an odd thing to see how appreciative people are to see what we do and make. When they look in the door they usually stop before fully entering; as if they don’t want to disturb something special and yet they can’t resist the open space. I am so glad that they love to be there and listen and watch as we work. The work was light, fun, interesting and not hard at all. We preserve our craft in the lives of you who read this and watch our videos. The tools and techniques  too are preserved not by professionals but interested amateurs who work wood for the love of it. That’s the only reason for doing what we do.

DSC_0024The woodland walk home is about a mile door to door. The blackbirds and robins call back and forth, and the doves too. John and I talked all the way home. Tomorrow is a new day. band new untainted and open. I look forward to working tomorrow.


  1. Gary Blair on 31 March 2014 at 1:47 am

    How beautiful! I envy you as it is still cold and windy here in Wyoming. I always enjoy your blogs and am anxious to begin the new project in Masterclasses.

  2. Joe Bouza on 31 March 2014 at 2:47 am


    We have suffered an unusually hard winter here in New England and with today’s rain now slowly wearing away the snow drifts we patiently look forward to our own spring flowers still yet a month away.

    Your absence at the Saratoga NY woodworker’s show this weekend was mourned by all of us who appreciate and share the traditional hand wood working skills you teach. There was a plethora of machine tool oriented booths as per usual but thankfully a large area devoted solely to instrument makers which was appreciated by those of us who play music. The best part for me was seeing lots of young children being taught to make their own wooden toys in an area specifically set up for for them. There’s hope for the future.

    The big machine guys may think you are a Spanish knight tilting at windmills, by revitalizing traditional methods, but little do they know this movement is growing under their noses.

    Joe B.

  3. Doug Karleskint on 10 June 2016 at 3:18 am

    Paul you amaze me. Never before have I experianced a Maker who has mastered the art of woodworking and the art of word smithing. Your musings are as beautiful to read as your work is to behold. Brings to mind the old saying about the poet that didn’t..


    • Paul Sellers on 10 June 2016 at 8:27 am

      You’re too kind, Doug. I only write because i like words and the power they have for motivating people to redirect their lives and then also for changing things in a sort of subculture hidden and detached from political agendas. I like that that can’t be taxed, manipulated and controlled, that it is outside educational constricts, health and safety, human resources and company politics where people can just be real.

  4. Michael on 5 February 2019 at 2:59 pm

    I have been a carpenter/cabinetmaker most of my life. Found you about 18 months ago and quickly realized … I knew nothing about woodworking. I have recently retired and I’m living on the road in my 5th wheel camper. In the very back end, where a couch should be is a heavy, sturdy and utilitarian work bench. In the stereo/flatscreen cabinets to the right, as I’m standing at my bench, is my growing collection of hand tools and NO TV. The only power tool I use is a battery operated drill. A brace and bit works well in its “dead battery” absence.

    I’m obsessed, even driven to work with wood as often as possible. You’ve taught me how to make dovetail joints, I’m learning how to perfect the M&T. Next, perhaps a tapered, hidden housing dado.

    Right now, I’m in a mesquite and cacti thicket in southwest Texas, listening to the myriad species of birds, wondering what trouble my puppy is getting into out there, and mentally preparing to begin work on the tool tray for the back of my bench. There I will place the chisels you have helped teach me to sharpen; my pencil box, my marking tools, planes, etc: the tools of my new trade as a lifestyle woodworker… when I’m not fishing.

    Looking forward to working with you on the tool box/chest.

    Thank you, Sir Paul

    • Jim Thornton on 15 March 2019 at 4:25 am

      I really enjoyed your post Michael.


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