Closing the Castle for Christmas

The new Joiner’s toolbox filming is done

My days are filled with different but interconnected events where I research and develop ideas, restore many things, design furniture pieces for training woodworkers around the world, write and blog, photograph and draw, work with film makers filming our work and with other men, friends that operate behind the scenes, who understand the delivery Joseph and I sought from the beginning.

The corner dovetails come together for the first corner

A good few years ago now I established many patterns for craft training and one of the most rewarding outcomes for me has become distance training people I might never have reached were it not for the support of the people I work and live with. I don’t know if apprenticeships will return with the same fulness mine gave me, but I press on in hope knowing that we can make a difference by reviving what we all but lost for new generations.

DSC_0010Some of the projects seem quite basic I suppose. But really they’re not, they’re important building blocks for developing skills, lost skills, hand skills, key skills. This toolbox in some ways doesn’t get simpler really, but it’s a key project for large and small scale dovetailing and especially so with dovetails the size chosen by the man who made the original 150 or more years ago.

I just received this letter from someone in Vermont, half way through pulling this blog together. It says what I can’t say about what we are doing and indeed I lose track of the Thank You messages that come through each day. Please don’t stop. I still enjoy knowing that so many of you are growing into skilled crafting artisans. I just looked through the gallery of projects and I am amazed at the progress.

Hi Paul:

Just wanted to wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas. Hope it is a relaxing one for you and your family and your crew. Also, best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

I’m thankful to the Good Lord that I found you on the internet a year or so ago. I’m 60 years old and a civil engineer by trade but had had a dream of going into woodworking after I graduated school so many years ago (going on almost 40 years ago now). I never followed that dream back then and it all but faded over the years. However after finding you and signing up for your Woodworking Masterclasses, much to my surprise I have found that the woodworking dream had followed me, patiently waiting.

You are a great teacher, and although I only hear and see you on the videos and read your thoughts and advice on your blogs, I feel and now see that I am able to do things with wood that were only in my dreams so many years ago. I also see that you have connected with so many others throughout the world (!!!) that have different but similar stories to mine. As said, you are a great teacher and I find that after I view your videos (sometimes need to watch one a couple or three times when I’m feeling a bit thick) I come away feeling and knowing that I can also do that (with practice).

Thanks for making the move to the internet courses. The sharing and spreading of your knowledge, expertise, and woodworking wisdom It is much appreciated along with your occasional bits of life in general wisdom.

I hope to cross paths with you someday.

Once again, have a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year!



Concluding the toolbox filming

The old and the new side by side

The filming for the toolbox is done now and we are looking into a new year with new eyes knowing that so many of you have learned so much. Big projects and small projects, real wood with real woodworking methods and without the influence of taking sponsorship of any kind and managed just fine. This for me shows lifestyle woodworking is growing in so many spheres and peoDSC_0271ple are discovering a way out through their leisure time. DSC_0106Some of you have asked for more modern pieces and some for more unpacking of old pieces to learn from. We have many new adventures for the coming year not the least of which is more advanced stuff, but we will be working in both realms as we start building a houseful of furniture pieces for you to build. We will be dividing the workshops into building and decorating pieces, even showing how to build built-ins and workshop cupboards. All very exciting.

DSC_0094DSC_0143With the new traditional joiner’s toolbox build starting this week on we acknowledge that marks the close of building the wonderful table project we unpacked to discover work of the unnamed craftsman from the 1800s. At first I was a little reticent to build a project like this but it left me with such respect for craftsmanship and the silent humility of the maker I am very glad that I did.

New or old?

I locked the Penrhyn Castle workshop and studio doors over the weekend, safe in the hands of castle staff for a few days break. At this time it’s pretty much shut down except for those wanting to walk off the Christmas dinner by walking somewhere safe. My favourite day is always Boxing Day when we recover sensibility and drift into preparations for a New Year ready to unfold.DSC_0006

11 thoughts on “Closing the Castle for Christmas”

  1. Thomas Tieffenbacher/aka DocSavage45

    Merry Christmas Paul!

    When I have time I’m still rehabbing my Dad’s #6. Making mistakes, working out Murphy’s Law, and moving up the steps of my personal ladder. Also trying to remember what you have taught! LOL!

    May you have a better New Year!

    1. Have a good rest too. I look forward to next year to see what unfolds. Last year was the best year yet all round!

  2. Thank you again for what you and your team do.
    Hope you have a merry Christmas. Looking forward to the new year and knew projects.

    P.S. Almost done with my bench, Thanks again.

  3. Paul, Joseph and Crew,

    Happy Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all! Thank you for continuing the great gift of sharing so much forgotten knowledge through the Master Classes and blog format.

    Paul do let us Yanks know when and if you return to visit the States in 2015. Having had the pleasure of living and working in England (and working in Wales) myself some years ago has made my being a member all the more enjoyable.


  4. Have a safe and lovely holiday and thanks for everything you do. I echo all of the other comments that I am glad I found you

  5. Paul, I stumbled across you a little more then a year ago and I have spent the entirety of this year following your teaching. Your methods have seeped into my everyday work (independent carpenter) and I continue to practice and learn. I am having a blast. Thank you and everyone else who contributes to your teaching efforts.
    Can’t wait for next year. Have a great holiday.

  6. Hi Paul and all the people behind the scenes.
    I wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year. Thank you Paul and especially thank you to all your friends and helpers in the background you make such big gifts to us the whole year through by teaching us. A whole year long christmas for us so to speak.

    Thank you for those lifetime lasting gifts 🙂

  7. HI Paul & Phil,

    I hope you and your families have a very happy and restful Christmas. Please accept my very best wishes for 2015. I am using some of the techniques you taught me in October on the Foundation course although I haven’t made time to start any projects yet. Thank you again for your advice and teachings.

  8. May you and your family have a blessed and merry Christmas. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us. Evan though I’m an old dog (76) I have learned many new tricks.

  9. Calvin Rasberry

    Paul, thanks for another year of invaluable lessons. Looking forward to more incredible classes and genuine “Ah-Ha” moments. I must confess though that while finding my self behind on a last minute Christmas project, I decided to “hurry up” by cranking up my table saw. Needless to say the in suing incident was quite scary and hardly worth the risk. After gathering my thoughts I reflected on the many times that you had commented on the “perceived” speed of power tools and their inherent danger. I then clamped my work into my bench vice, ripped the pieces with my hand saw and cleaned them up with a #4 1/2. In reality, all the power I really needed was in my hand tools. So, thanks for your wisdom, skills and insight. From the other side of the Atlantic!


  10. First a hearty “THANK YOU PAUL!” we all REALLY appreciate what you do and what we learn. I know you are having an impact around the globe because more an more I see you work referenced over here (in the states) in people’s blogs ( Steve Branham etc.

    One small question – you have mentioned using the Thor 712 for chisel work – but you have another soft-faced mallet in the header picture where you are assembling the tool box case – those (or similar ones are more readily available here in the states) is that a good substitute for the Thor? if not why not?

    Thanks again – learning from you every day!

Comments are closed.

Privacy Notice

You must enter certain information to submit the form on this page. We take the handling of personal information seriously and appreciate your trust in us. Our Privacy Policy sets out important information about us and how we use and protect your personal data and it also explains your legal rights in respect of it. Please click here to read it before you provide any information on this form.