One 2-Day Class Before a Season of New Builds

Discovering Woodworking

It’s a favourite of mine and it so helps those who have little or no knowledge of what real hand tools should look like at the bench. My experience with woodworkers in general is that they never used a truly sharp tool and neither do they understand sharpness and how to achieve it. In one hour they will. of all the things I teach I think that sharpness is the single most important skill to learn and master. It all starts here.


Don’t Despise New Beginnings

When we began this Discovering Woodworking the hardest thing was to get woodworkers to realise they might just be nearer to raw beginners than their asserted intermediate level woodworkers. Some years back some US magazine editors were discussing the fact that most woodworkers never considered themselves beginners even if they had only been woodworking at weekends for a few weeks. Getting them to believe this was an impossibility and so they went with the status quo and ranked all beginners as intermediates and rarely ever used the term beginners in their articles. Hence the false assumption that a machine only woodworker considers him or herself to be at the same level in hand work as they might be with machines. Tomorrow we establish the exact patterns I learned 50 years ago and the reason is that it is so fundamental to become a skilled woodworker.

New-builds for 2014/15

I promised myself a season of building new pieces and of course we have a lot of training for others to learn from. Following this last class of the season I have a some months set aside to design and  make some fine furniture pieces. New, inspirational designs for a home that will encourage others to make their own furniture. I am looking forward to this time. In my first piece I felt it’s time for a new dining suite for my home, which is a small cottage and I have been planning this for some time. So, in the offing is an oak extendable dining table with six dining chairs to match. Psyching myself up for this is as much a part of the building process as the building itself. I walk myself through the stages weeks before and enjoy drawing up the joints and shapes and sizing different parts. I pull out my tape measure in a restaurant when I see or feel something comfortable and so ensure I feel good in the design as it grows.




  1. I grew up watching Norm on Saturday mornings with my dad. We saw what he was doing with his machines and thought if we had those machines we could do the same thing. Pretty soon we had a table-saw, a jointer, a planer and drill press.

    We made a few things, some book shelves, small boxes, Adirondack chairs, etc. We even joked that the jewelry boxes we made for our better halves were worth about $4000USD (the amount we had invested in machines at that point). Of course we would have never considered ourselves “beginners”, “beginners” don’t have a 5HP Delta Unisaw with 52″ Beisemeyer fence or 12″ jointers.

    I was pretty steamed when my dad’s third wife sold the machines after his passing. I love creating and building things and I wanted to continue that. Money was tight so I started buying and restoring old woodworking machines, older versions of the same machines that we watched Norm use.

    After Norm went off the air, I turned to the web to get my “woodworking fix”. There were good resources and not so good resources. Tim Yoder, Tommy MacDonald, Doug Stowe and Tom Fidgen changed my thinking and raised my standards. Ultimately I came across the “Accidental Woodworker” blog and that led me to you, your book, and the The Woodworking Masterclasses.

    As you’ve said, you don’t know what a truly sharp tool is until you’ve had a chance to use one. Likewise, you don’t really know what craftsman ship is and what it takes until you’ve seen a true craftsman work.

    Looking back now, the fact that we were able to make anything that resembled a jewelry box or a bookshelf is pure luck. We had no training other than what we saw Norm doing. We didn’t understand wood and how it behaves, how it expands and contracts with seasonal changes in humidity, how the grain affects the tools. Not that MDF has any resemblance to real wood.

    My 12 year old daughter now watches the Masterclasses videos with me. When she asks me to show her the smoothing plane, I’m happy to let her try it herself. She wants to build the tool chest. I told her we need to start at the beginning, after all, we are just beginners.

    Thanks Paul

    1. Your story sounds so much like mine but except my Father passed before Norm was on the air. I watched every episode bought the power tools made several projects along with home repairs etc. That all changed in 2007 when I really became interested in Hand tools and am very glad I discovered them.

      Now today other than the occasional Bandsaw or Drill, or Drill Press usage I haven’t used any power tools. I have some health issue’s and flying saw dust, noise etc doesn’t help.

      Then the sharpening comes into play, that is probably as Paul mentioned the most important thing to learn. Dull tools you are looking for trouble if they will even perform. I have learned to sharpen the way does and really enjoy it, I haven’t used my LV jig since.

      And Masterclasses what can I say, I so look forward to every Wednesday and have not been disappointed in the least. Truthfully I wished I would known about Paul way back when. I can’t wait until Paul’s new book hits the streets.


  2. Hi Paul,
    and additionally I would like to know if you can give us an impression of future projects in WM?


  3. As a recently retired carpenter with some experience I consider myself a novice woodworker which I now have time to learn. I would like to defend Norm Abram a fellow carpenter and not a cabinet maker. His simply approach practically guarantees reasonable results, a big boost for a novice. A spark has been struck that Paul and others have fanned to flame. Many thanks Paul for sharing as Norm did I am indebted to to you both and others.
    Bill H.

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