From Past Early Start to Working Wood Today – Making the Parts Fit

Our culture shifts rapidly from past pockets we looked to the future from to the present we look back from and still further along the line towards future hopes we aspire to. Sometimes, often, we must dismantle the past to rediscover what we really felt before we were dissuaded from a hope we had. At 14 I told my woodworking teacher I wanted to be a woodworker. He fixed his eye on mine and said, “I wouldn’t if I were you. You can do much better than that. Go further, make something of your life.” I listened and thought he knew well what I should be, but then I listened again and heard a still, small voice that wasn’t his and I made up my mind and my future began to unfold. Wood worked with my hands began in a past pocket of culture and emerged in successive phases like solid stones I stepped on through to today. One part began to form and then another began to fit to the shape. It was a little while before I saw the whole and discovered fulfilment from my work. Remember, hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. That’s the power of culture.
As you search your heart and ask the honest question about what you want to be, remember that it’s important to really know that you can change the course you are on and that it takes courage and determination to step into the zone. I realised many moons ago that self employment is not for the risk aversed, but the rewards of surviving against all odds are incomprehensibly wonderful.

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Today I unpacked the contents of the old woodworkers tool box and saw into the past of a man’s life. It doesn’t take imagination to understand him or his work. It was as simple as can be as far as his work was concerned. The chest has suffered trauma from time to time.


Unpacking dimensions of the tool chest is like dismantling the man. This one’s seen much use and abuse. It’s been dropped, overstuffed, abused since the owner left it but it’s held and I like it very much. The pins no longer seat the dovetails because they have shrunk, which makes me think it was made in humid conditions and perhaps kept in a coastal region or on board a boat as one of several belonging to a ship’s caprenter. I understand that the chest passed to a sailmaker and ended up with his tools in it when it was sold to Bill. DSC_0075 I love the size because even with tools loaded it will be liftable between two. It will hold half a dozen planes, 4 saws of different types and then the usual squares and chisels, small planes and much more. The tills work fine as does the rest of the chest and today i spent much time as i said unpacking the joinery and measuring the details for replication. The walls and the bottom are no more than 9/16″ thick pine, so it’s super light compared to harder, more dense-grained woods. I think you will enjoy this one. better two or three of these around the bench for me. Soon I’ll have two. DSC_0053


  1. We are all glad at the age of 14 you listened to the little voice rather than the teacher.
    There is in some professions a saying. if your not that talented at the job become a teacher in that field of work.
    Fortunately for us you are an excellent craftsman and also an outstanding teacher.
    I for one hope you continue to love what you do for many, many years you inspire lots of people with a simple and honest style.
    I know your tool chest will one day in future be past on with pride to another craftsman. The one I plan to make following your plans I’m sure will not but maybe my second or third attempt might. I certainly will enjoy the striving the sweat and the tears 🙂

  2. Thank You Paul. Working wood has brought me peace. Healing physical pain by using my hands and mind to lose myself in my projects. I long to be an Artisan .

  3. Paul I so enjoy your blogs they are really inspirational to me. I took my first shop class when I was 14 and a Freshman in HS, however after High School I went on to College, served a couple years in the Army got married have 2 wonderful children.

    I all ways had a passion for Woodworking and got caught up with the “Norm” craze but since being retired I have turned to 99% hand tools and plan on staying with them as long as I am physically able to. I have learned so much from you on your Blog and Woodworking Master Classes and thank you for what you do.


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