P1020445The drawers at the end of my bench, the ones directly adjacent to my vise, are really tills. P1020444 Tills are narrow drawers for we woodworkers. They are handier than drawers for some things and we like them because they can be lifted to the bench top, looked into, kept there or put back. My chisels, some are my more special chisels, are kept there. P1020706In another till I keep my vintage wooden spokeshaves. About ten or so of them. These are quite special too, you know.  History kept as the better of all the ages. P1020705They’re better in my view than any ever made in the last hundred years. How can that be? Why? Well, once you use one you understand, once you master one I mean. Sharp, refined, light, effective. No one has improved on them. People talk to me of this maker or that, or a new one here and another there, but they don’t really know. The nice thing is that eBay seems to have three or four for sale each day cycling through.

P1010662The middle till drawer is where I keep my stash of old fourfold rulers safe and a few more besides together with more of my old chisels. P1020704I also keep my collection of old made-in-Sheffield, Sheffield-steel scissors here too. You know, the ones people can’t be bothered sharpening because the Chinese ones come in plastic packs of three for £3 and when they go dull you just toss them and buy more. P1010657The old ones sell for 50 pence a pair here and with a saw file you can sharpen them in under a minute usually. There’s a video here to show you how too. I did that one with John last year. What I like about them is how fine they feel and lovely in the hand. My mother was a seamstress and used the same pair of scissors throughout her life making wedding dresses. About 50 years.

P1020271In the long well on the farside of my benchtop I keep all of my tape measures in a small dovetails box. The tapes start in the box and get pulled out as I work around the shop. I take one to the bandsaw and leave it there forgetfully so I pull out another and leave it one of my carts nearby. Then I leave one inside a drawer I am making and before i know it I’ve lost them all. I clean up and pick up and at the end of the day they are all back safely in their box. All except one that is. This one I find in my pocket when I get home.


Next to the end of the well is a box of beeswax filler sticks which I use to fill flaws, gaps and nail heads as needed. Beside this tray is a tray of boxwood-handled bevelled-edge chisels. 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4”, 3/8”, 7/16”, 1/2”, 5/8”, 3/4”, 7/8” and 1 1/4”. A second chisel tray holds more chisels, two by Aldi, some Wards and an I Sorby. These last two are 1 1/4” bevelled-edge chisels that are hard steel that retain their edge better than any I know of. Not so common as my old Boxwood handled Marples. I keep a cup of pencils ready and sharp. Ticonderoga #2s. The keeps them handy and I have a couple of steel rules and pens and other bits to work with. P1020439At the far end of the trough are my gauges. Mixed ones but usually they are either combination gauges or marking gauges. About centre to the length of the bench I have a row of oval handled screwdrivers with boxwood handles. These and the gauges poke through holes in the bottom of the well.


  1. T. Hunt on 24 January 2015 at 10:17 pm

    I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the scissors. I have an older pair of Wiss shears (Steelforged No. 28) that I’ve had since before forever. Every now and then I touch them up and they just keep working. When they cut thru paper it’s almost like a sigh. We have some of the others you referred to and when those get dull or my wife complains, I just touch them up the same and everyone’s happy again.
    Enjoying your newsletter and the videos on the internet as I rediscover woodworking.


  2. Mark on 24 January 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the bench storage ideas, I noticed a conker in your beeswax stick tray..is this something you use in conjunction with your filling sticks. Also , why tape measure do you favour?



    • John on 31 January 2015 at 6:03 pm

      Conkers keep spiders away….so my grandaughter tells me

      • Paul Sellers on 31 January 2015 at 6:36 pm

        I doubt that that’s true, but I have never seen a single spider in my workshop in five years, four of them were without conkers though.

  3. forbeskm on 25 January 2015 at 1:12 am

    I just picked up a wooden spoke shave, sharpened it up. How does one go about mastering one of these, any tips? Quite the difference from my record 151.

  4. Walter Nutter on 25 January 2015 at 2:54 am

    I have always wondered, why so many marking gauges?

    • Paul Sellers on 25 January 2015 at 3:56 am

      I’m afraid it’s a first world problem of excesses. When I see them lying in the bottom of a bucket of rusted wrenches at a garage sale or carboot sale I feel obligated to rescue and restore in anticipation of need elsewhere. It’s nice when a student with no means comes through and I can pass them along from time to time.

  5. W. Muse on 25 January 2015 at 4:04 am

    I laughed so hard about the tape measures getting lost around the shop… only because I do the same thing; but I only have one tape and I’m always turning in circles looking for it.

    Also; thank you for more insight into who you are, Paul. The “Hub” as you say, is not just the physical center, but part of your core. The workbench, tools, notebooks, and shavings – there is no way to describe Paul Sellers without including these things. Seeing it all in detail is like looking at an x-ray.

  6. waltnutt on 26 January 2015 at 2:16 am

    I am sorry if you already told us this, but I was wondering what kind of combination square you use? I just bought a Starret 12 inch off Amazon, and thought it was quite expensive on one hand, but considering it is probably foundational to better quality, I hope it was worth it.

    • Paul Sellers on 26 January 2015 at 4:38 am

      You really need the best and I never found a Starrett that wasn’t square yet. That is my first recommended square right there. There is something about opening that Starrett box for the first time and seeing the square wrapped and lying there just like a brand new baby calf on a Texas Sunday morning in Spring with a Texas Hill Country backdrop of Texas Bluebonnets stretching out to greet the sunrise.
      My old square is a Rabone Chesterman that’s still square in this its fiftieth year of service.

      • Walter Nutter on 3 February 2015 at 6:04 pm

        I just had to say the Starrett came in. Every time I use it I think of this description and have to smile.

  7. DJ King on 26 January 2015 at 1:43 pm

    More of a suggestion than a question really, I’d love to see you do a short video on your methods for using beeswax in the various ways you do. Thanks.

  8. Alex on 28 January 2015 at 2:22 am

    Thank you for continually sharing your experience, energy, and perspective, Mr. Sellers. I’m mid-build on my very own Poor Man’s Workbench (glued up the second bench top section today!) and am looking forward to years spent hovering around my new “hub”.

  9. Steve Massie on 28 January 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Paul thank you for more clarification of your bench, I had no idea the end drawers were actually tills, makes a lot of sense.

    I have a question though since I built your bench and now seeing your refinements which I want to incorporate some of these into mine. How did you attach the extra well ? I can see where that is handy even with the tool well I built into the the bench.


  10. Jeff Polaski on 17 September 2015 at 1:44 am

    My grandmother was the seamstress (in the tailor shop where I spent the other half of my youth) and used a fine pair of shears for probably the same length of time. When opportunity arose, a greedy sibling ran to take what she wanted and in ignorance throw away what she didn’t want or know how to use. I knew the drawer where the lifetime shears were kept and rescued them just in time (from undoubted ignorance on her part.)

    These shears were a set; the other pair in the set were pinking shears. Your video on sharpening shears was welcome (thank you, sir.) But, when I look at those fine, heavy pinking shears I am thinking, “…it’s a good thing to have saw files at hand.”

    What do you think, Paul? The same approach, but a saw-like modification for the pinking shears sharpening, for yet another lifetime of use?

    (For those wondering what pinking shears are, I refer you to Google. As for me, my grandmother had taught me how to make a few extra dollars in the US Army whenever someone was promoted. Here’s to those lifetime women who raised us!)