The Future of Woodworking is (still) Under Attack

I probably shouldn’t write a blog when I’m close to feeling mad and frustrated but here goes. Over the past few days I encountered two spheres of, on the one hand industry, if we should treat education as a feeder phase into industry as politicians do, and the other a craft sphere.  Craft of course revolves around creative spheres of beautiful isolation and independence from industry, spheres unknown to politicians, spheres where a man and a woman can work insulated from mass production methodologies to enjoy the natural limitations of their bodies and their minds. Such spheres are places I have enjoyed throughout my working life and one that works and can continue working for today’s furniture making woodworker.

Not every woodworker goes to college and gains qualifications but most often their work equals the quality of those that do.
Not every woodworker goes to college and gains qualifications but most often their work equals the quality of those that do.

A design and technology (D&T UK) teacher came to see me yesterday and we spent a good and productive hour discussing the reality that soon the teaching of design and technology category we know as part of the British school curriculum and specifically the area of resistant materials, that’s glass and plastics, metals, wood and so on, will soon be removed from the curriculum as we know it and it will be supplanted by other technology categories without the doing and the making of things. In other words woodworking and metal working will be dumbed down yet again to become theorised. Such political agendas go unchallenged today here in the UK because politics so control education so that the teachers that make the difference are indeed completely disempowered to voice their views and make a difference. We don’t have to wait a decade or two any more as we have in times past to see that we exported our industries to other emerging economies because the reality of being an unmaking culture has already arrived. Our young people are abused by politicians and economists legally and the results will not be seen for two decades or more. It’s not the teachers that are at fault because all power has been removed from them even though politicians constantly tell us that they want to give power back as a local level of authority. My heart wept yesterday wondering what we could do that would make a difference.

My friend and fellow designer-maker Neil Scott exemplifies the very essence of free-spirited entrepreneurialism that has permeated the world of creativity.
My friend and fellow designer-maker Neil Scott exemplifies the very essence of free-spirited entrepreneurialism that has permeated the world of creativity.

I know that I have often said that state school may not be the best place to teach woodworking and that’s true in most cases, but school today is commonly the only place that children are exposed to wood and woodworking and it may be the place, as it was with me, that children get to sense a feeling that this could be for them. Perhaps the best place for woodworking is in independent woodworking schools offering hands on classes for young people who really want to be there. This suits my imagination.

PICT3199
My first woodworking project in 1963 set my goal to become a furniture maker. I gave this to my parents and it came back to me when they passed.

Unfortunately this theory might mean more a probability that children will never be exposed to the very thing they might discover they love, as it was for me 50 plus years ago.

P1190135
This man took design and technology and tied it in with a wooden bike made from birch saplings.

No doubt by now you will see my fear. When I first went to woodworking shows in the USA I went there to show people what hand tools could do. The amateur woodworkers walked into my booth and were glued to what I taught. They stayed for an hour and lost all interest in the routers and router bits they had come to see. They left my booth with greater understanding and went over to the Dewalt and Bosch booths and said, “Paul Sellers over there cuts a dovetail in two minutes. You should go and learn from him!” Of course this didn’t make me popular, but over the 20 years of promoting the versatility hand tool woodworking to more compliment machines we gained a credibility that has resulted in 1.2 million following what we do in any given month. Over the weekend and then yesterday I encountered many people who loved what we offered in our explanations and demonstrations.  Most, not all, were amateurs. These were the ones that wanted the exercise, upper body workout, the smell of real wood and the feeling that they were gaining mastery of craft work. The ones that resisted the most as per usual were those that might call themselves professionals in that they pursued the term professional rather than the craft and art of being qualified by their developed skill and ability. These were the ones that had been “in the industry” for a few years. Sadly they never developed the simplest skills of say how to sharpen a saw or in some cases even a chisel and some verbally admitted that they could’t sharpen any kind of edge tool satisfactorily. What was sad to me was their abject assertion that their methods were the best and no one could master enough hand skill to compare.P1180547

I am so thankful for the amateur woodworker through whom craftwork will be preserved and respected. I am grateful to parents who let their children use sharp chisels and spokeshaves (and supervise them). The politician and an economist can never understand anything more than what they can buy or sell. These left brainers will never understand the art of creativity and its related work yet we allow them to devastate the creative spheres so critical to nurturing the development of skilled work and of course our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our children!

34 comments on “The Future of Woodworking is (still) Under Attack

  1. Never mind, just go ahead and follow your path.
    Nobody is obliged to go on taking the highway way away from your soul.
    There is of course this stupid movement going on , meanwhile, that tries to trap life into flatness. Nothing realistic about this. I let go my job not even two month ago. Immediately I had somebody asking me to make him a statue. I would have had only 5 years cut off from my liberty into poor life being an employee. Now I’m back to freedom, as I lived it, the first 25 years of my youth.
    Here’s the rule : as long you’re creative, you’re outside from duality . This is the inner circle of the celtic cross we call Gwenved in Bretagne. The world we encounter when we let go from our creativity is called Abred – or duality. Gwenved is translated to as “the Bliss” in gaelic. Well, I’ve made my choice! Thanks to you , dear Paul, the knowledge I need goes increasingly each day. Drop your rightful anger man and go back to your bench(es). We need you and we are not to be fooled!

    kind regards and tons of smiles

  2. You know Paul and you’ve experienced it yourself many times over that people who don’t do hand tool working are the most threatened by it. That’s why they express an opinion that it’s outdated or can’t compete with what they produce. I would love to pitch them against you in a bunch of small project scenarios and see who came out faster. Machines are great but the speed of reaching for a hand tool to get the job done and then move on to the next task is unbeatable if you’re not mass producing. My skills are growing everyday thanks to you and your team. I cut my first haunched mortice and tenon the other day and it came out square straight off the bat. Can’t beat it.

  3. My heart cries with yours. You lament the loss that results when schools remove practical programs. It’s even broader than you describe. Here in the U.S., not only “shop” curriculum has gone by the wayside, but a lot of very basic practical education too.

    Imagine people missing very basic skills such as reading a ruler or knowing fractions.

    Read more about a U.S. actor who is lobbying for a return to some basics before we become incapable of the most essential crafts and trades.

    See: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2016/05/12/cheers-actor-tells-congress-u-s-faces-danger-of-our-infrastructure-collapsing/

    • This is very true. I am 30 years old and relatively new to woodworking as a hobby. I grew up around computers, went to school for it, and am a professional software developer. I do love that “new” world, but about a year or so ago woodworking started to appeal to me as a hobby to pursue, because I realized it would exercise parts of my brain and body in ways that the intangible creation of software does not.

      Anyways, while I feel that I was fortunate in the quality of the public schools I was able to attend, and that I was able to afford college and did get a very good education there for what I do as a professional now (again, quite happily)… the truth of the matter is that yes, for folks of my generation and younger, school simply did not prioritize instilling in us some of the absolute basics of working with our hands, or being makers.

      Your comment about reading a ruler or tape is both funny and sad to me because it’s true — to this day… I can fettle a plane, I’ve learned how to square and flatten a board by hand, I’ve learned how to chop a mortise with a mallet and chisel, and I can come up with creating solutions to simple problems when it comes to things like workholding, fixing a problem etc. But guess what? When I need to pick up a tape or rule, instead of the adage “measure twice, cut once,” for me, it’s more like, “measure three or four times, stare way too hard at the rule, measure another time or two, then get out the marking gauge or knife and get to it.”

      There is just no emphasis in schooling on basic skills for working with your hands — and I don’t even mean crafting things. When my dad was in school as a 6 year old boy, I’m sure he was quickly taught how to grab a tape and measure something, to where the visual cues on the size of the gradations were second nature, and math in factors of 8 was plainly comfortable (hah — in fact, I bet to this day my dad is more comfortable doing math in his head about 8ths, 16ths, and 32nds than he would be kicking around most full numbers :-)).

      All the real work that I had to do in school related to measuring, layout, preparation, etc. was very informative and helpful, but was removed from the daily world — physics and chemistry classes, where we were measuring in metric without exception, calculating moles, etc. When you tell someone Avogadro’s number is what matters, or that 9.8m/s^2, they are more comfortable using those “complicated” numbers than they are the basics of a ruler or tap graded to 16ths or 32nds.

      The silver lining in all this is, it’s never too late. I think I’m an example of this. And thanks to people like Paul, Chris Schwarz, and Shannon Rogers (just a few of my favorites — we all know there are many many other great folks out there preaching the good word of hand work), this is becoming a craft that you can jump into with comfort at age 16 or at age 60, I really believe that. You just have to have the interest in it, and admittedly the resources… it’s not expensive at all (unless you’re the type to want it to be), but you do need to have some level of financial stability if for nothing more than to know you can find the time to experiment and immerse yourself.

    • The day the school systems dropped Vocational Arts was indeed a sad one. These young minds are now on the computer and such things, that they have no idea what to do with a piece of wood or metal.

  4. This is so true. People need to wake up. It not only applies to the crafts but to the thinking that is being taught in the educational system. People are letting themselves and their children being trained to be controlled and not being able to think creatively or any other way

    More rants and frustrated raves are in order . keep up the great work, enough of these maybe people will wake up

    Thanks for teaching me a part of the craft I joined the union for

  5. When Britain was first made great it wasn’t done so by accountants and solicitors, it was done by builders and innovators.

    • no it was by engineers who were running the company’s they knew how things need to be made accounts just look at the price of it and we were made great by the inculoion of Scotland to Britain what made the country great was the steel works making the parts for Isambad Brunell and his contemporys

  6. Its hard work this working wood by hand. You surface plane your wood from 3/4 down to 1/2 and you’re breathing hard. Your brows are furrowed and muscles are tensed just trying to sharpen the tools. It’s hot in the shop and then it’s cold. Cutting those dovetails just takes too long and there is a game about to come on. There is no dust collector, just you and your broom. Just how long does this saw take to saw this panel…how many more strokes? There has to be a willingness to be an artisan. I’m afraid the solution to these attacks will be evasive so long as the willingness is corrupted.

  7. We took my 8-year old grandson, Liam, to Weird & Wonderful Wood at Haughley Park in Suffolk (UK) on Saturday. There were lots of craft things for the children (and adults if they wished) to have a go at. Without out exception by lunchtime they were all oversubscribed with very enthusiastic children (and adults). Some even extended their activities so more children could be included. Some needed adult “Super -Vision” as the sign said. They were all free. My grandson is not known for his patience but he queued for an hour or more without complaint to have a go at shaving the bark off a willow branch with a wooden spokeshave on a shaving horse. Now I have a number of spokeshaves and ways of holding wood at home which he could have used without queuing but I think it was “cool” to queue with other children. So, how do we now harness some of this enthusiasm and obvious need to have access to tactile activities before the education system (and their mates who are not interested and will no doubt tease them about being involved in such “uncool” activities) take them down more “professional” routes e.g. sitting in front of a computer for the rest of their lives. Perhaps the likes of Paul and his fellow craft workers can offer something like a “Craft Youth club” on a regular basis and at a reasonable cost. It would probably have to be a weekly event (as we do in sport) to ensure skills improve and the youngsters can see an outcome in a finished project. Oh, and we bought a wooden spokeshave from a dealer for £3.00 (and I failed to buy a brass backed tenon saw for £10.00 – am I kicking myself now!). Liam & I will be trying it out this Saturday when he visits. OK, so I couldn’t resist “testing” it to see if it is sharp. It needs a bit of work but will be fine for a while.

  8. Paul,
    I really think that there is or should be a place for woodworking in state, or all schools, kids should be able to find out about hand skills within a taught environment. Out of school there is too much else to do for anybody to want to go to a paid for class to find out if they actually like hand crafts, there are a lot of things that kids already know that they like…..
    And where are the people going to come from who will build the houses and furnish them for those non manual members of society ?
    There was a lot to be said for the educational patterns of our day, not all of it but some.. and at least we could put up a shelf, fix a chair or table or put up a coat hook when we left school. A lot of todays young people I come across are asking me to do small works that I would have been embarressed to admit I couldn’t do when I was their age. So yes there should be a place for hand skills at school, unless we’re trying to bring up a population as ignorant and useless as those in charge of our education system today.

  9. my computer tells my CNC machine what to carve – and then I just print it with my 3-D printer. Who needs hand tools? Hell, who needs hands?

  10. Yes it is frustrating to think about how our society as a whole is changing. Thanks to electronics in the school classrooms, most kids are not learning how to write by hand in cursive, for example.
    At some point our society will lose many parts of the essential past as we know it from past decades… Not long past decades put just a couple or so decades or so.
    Just 30 years ago think about how the world functioned then with out the ridiculous amount of electronics We got along fine back then. No need to assume our kids should not know how to function without electronics etc.. Not teaching them how to write by hand etc is disturbing to me and only lends to the issues about losing our arts and crafts and musical culture as well.

    • Oh I so agree with you. Using a pen to write something as basic as a note or letter is a dying skill replaced by electronic messaging that ‘corrects’ grammar and spelling yet creates a new language in texting which diminishes the beauty of the written word by replacing it with abbreviations and emojis! Why do we insist in replacing beauty with ugliness and pollution in every sphere of life? But it seems people are beginning to notice what we are losing in this new creation of industry born out of greed and selfishness and the ever important bottom line! Hooray for your 1.2 million following Mr Sellers…you make a difference.

  11. Mr. Sellers,

    Thank you for this piece. Our school district has basically removed woodworking from it’s offering in place of autocad classes. I have watched this demise over the past several years with dismay. This year, however, they hired a new young teacher who is once again teaching true woodworking and I’m even more thankful that my son is in his class. Even though my son helps me with projects at home, he is learning tremendous new skills and gets to use equipment that I don’t have in my basement workshop. Most importantly, the students are much more excited about “shop” class because they walk out with projects they made rather than computer files that mean nothing if they don’t have an expensive 3D printer….

    Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for your thought provoking blog post.

    James

    • I agree with you about entering the classroom with excitement and leaving with a product that almost 50 years later is not only still usable but is meaningful too.
      Paul posted a picture of a book shelf that he built in 1963, gave to his parents, and had it returned at their passing. In 1968, I built a pen holder in my 8th-grade shop class and gave it to my father for his desk at work, he passed in 1979.
      Going through my mom things after she passed this Christmas, I found that pen holder on the writing desk in her room. I was proud of my work when I have it to him and brought to tears when I saw that he had kept it, and my mom had used it, and by the look of it, daily.

      He taught me that if you can’t do it with a hand tool, you probably have no business doing it with a power tool, our shop class teacher had the same philosophy. I taught my son to use tools, and now am teaching my grandchildren how to use hand tools. I can only hope that they too will have the opportunity to expand their education. While my father was able to teach me about woodworking, the school experience also introduced me to drafting, metal work, and plastics as well.

      Someday the average person may be able to print the bookshelf parts, from a 3D printer and assemble them but they will miss out on the feel of real wood, the smell of sawing and working with real wood, the satisfaction, the pleasure, and the pride of transforming a “real wooden” log into that bookshelf.

      Thank you for your comments,

      Lee

  12. Bring back secondary modern schools! They offered a good combination of the core academic subjects as well as quite in depth teaching of practical subjects such as woodwork and metalwork. Anyone who took CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) woodwork as I did, was graded on the items they’d made throughout the 2 year course as well as on timed written and practical exams. The practical exam was a great test; students were handed some pieces of wood and a plan of an object to be made using a variety of specified joints, all to be completed within a time limit. A good test for a 15 year old I think.

  13. Aloha Paul ,
    Its on different here on this side of the world . To see the decline of practical education one only needs to look at the courses and quality of such when we were walking though the halls verses what is offered now . My high school back in 1969 had a fully stocked shops for many phases of industrial arts , ag . and horticultural skills .
    When my children went there was nothing of a real course left . This in a community based on agricultural ! I love the smell of ‘maple ‘ sawdust in the shop . How are these students to learn real satisfying skills without a shop to kick up dust in ?
    I have not stopped studying after these 45+ years and love to understand new ways to do ‘it’ better . We are using the internet right now but it doesn’t replace a shop teacher and woodshop class .
    Aloha from Oahu , Hawaii ,
    Mark Baker

  14. Paul, this feels like a call to action. You may not have intended it to be so, but it feels like it. Perhaps words are not strong enough but action and activity will be the saviours of the day? I wonder if a strategy borrowed from Jamie Oliver or Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall might not pay dividends. I’m thinking about mass mobilisation of schools, youth groups, the Scouts, Brownies, etc across the country to deliver woodworking locally together with your imagined school for the young. You’d become the hub directing the realisation of a vision. Perhaps some other variation may present itself? Action will speak louder than words here I think. Thoughts?

  15. I probably owe my life to woodworking courses in adult education, but adult ed would not have had the equipment and space had it not offered woodworking in the schools. Growing up, I was pushed into either “college” or “secretarial” track – only boys could study physics, geometry, or woodworking. I became a nurse, and a very good one, but also an extremely unhappy person. I put on a smile for my patients, but inside I just wanted my life to be ended because I felt I was forced to be someone other than myself, spending my short time on earth doing what did not feel “right” for me. Midlife, I took an adult education course at the local high school, in woodworking (to make kitchen cabinets). The first time I was introduced to wood, it was love at first sight. True, it was machines, but no matter – I was using tools and making something with wood and my own hands. I could not work fast enough to make a living at it, so I continued with nursing, but I knew at the end of the day, my workshop waited, and I could enter the chapel of woodworking for a few hours to restore my soul. It was using my hands that kept me from total despair, and made me a better and happier nurse and person. Now, the local high school has turned the woodworking program into computer labs, and no one learns hand skills in school any more. Children who are not good at basic school work are made to feel they are failures because they see no other alternatives. Even if a child never becomes a woodworker, learning through doing is a skill all students should be offered. Meanwhile, I heard on the radio yesterday that a local contractor “could use at least another 35 people immediately, but no one is trained to do this work.” How short sighted! There is room enough in this world for many types of people and all adults should learn some basic hand skills. My introduction was through machines, but it did not matter; today I use both with a little more emphasis on hand tools.

  16. Well said, Mr. Sellers.

    I am old enough to have had courses in middle school (no such thing now in this city) in woodworking, electrical work, drafting and metal work. I cherish the wood lamp that looks like a hand operated water pump, the handle that turns the light on and off, and the spout that does nothing but clearly looks like water might really come from it.

    I cherish also that whatever you throw at me in your master classes are things similar to what I learned as a 12-year-old and my confidence that I can do it now.

    I grieve for those societies, entire nations, that do not make things. Their economies depend almost entirely on intangibles — often single intangibles — and I am saddened by their rate of failure. I have fear that their failures will accelerate our failures and I see a dimmer future just over the next hill.

    We are at a global turning point, and those who should be leading are stumbling. Winston Churchill said (approximately) that sometimes a man will stumble over the truth, but he will pick himself up and continue on as if nothing important has happened.

  17. The more I involve myself with woodworking and the more I think about it, I realize that the skills I develop are a great help to the future of humanity. I work in the high-tech industry and have software running on everything from subway turnstiles to launch systems. Coupled with a love of science fiction I can’t help but ponder on humanity’s eventual colonization of the stars. And when we do land on those far-off planets who will be the most important person? The captain? The doctor? The mathematician? No, it will be the carpenter-cum-blacksmith; the man who can turn a chunk of wood and a piece of metal into a hand plane. The powered machines will break, the electrical/biochemical power will be interrupted, but muscle power will always be available and the man that can enable the use of muscles will be the most important.

    On the other hand, those skills will be equally important in a zombie apocalypse.

    The trick, however, is to convince people that, in the words of Robert Heinlein, that “specialization is for insects,” and that learning and becoming proficient in a wide variety of basic skills is not only useful in the immediate future but also in our brightest futures.

    Or the zombie apocalypse.

  18. Like you, Paul, and like many of the other readers who have chimed in, I feel saddened by the educational institutions’ diminution of importance ascribed to making. However, I don’t despair. There will come a time when the (admittedly sterile and oft-times seemingly soul-less) efficiencies of technology in manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production will pay dividends handsomely in the form of even further-increased leisure time; leisure time that can (and will, by some, even if not by most or even many) be spent pursuing the beautiful (hand) making-arts. There will always be people drawn to those arts, and they WILL live on. And so long as they do, it doesn’t matter if they are relegated to the status of esoteric, archaic hobby, rather than mainstream-livelihood-requisite. The important thing is that they live on, and it doesn’t take education of the masses in those arts to accomplish that, only the persistence of the inspired and inspiring few, and the attention of a few more impressionable and eager protegees.

    Last word: the up-side to some of the recent technology that is changing our world at break-neck pace is, as you should well-know as an Internet denizen, that information (teaching of skills, as is most germane to the topic at hand) is available nearly everywhere, and mostly on-demand. It will be VERY hard for knowledge to “disappear”, as was possible as recently as decades ago. So take heart, all is not lost, it’s just different. Change is the one true constant, after all.

    Thanks for all you do, man.

  19. Paul, I share your concern. Two things have happened to me recently that give me a bit of hope:
    1. A young man who lives nearby stopped in my open garage shop to tell me he had changed his college choice. In the course of a long conversation, he said he had never learned any woodworking skills and would like to help in my shop before he departs for school. Of course I welcomed him.
    2. At a local school “Robot Expo”, I met an acquaintance who has founded a successful “makerspace” in our city. We discussed what woodworking facilities they had, and I offered to review the equipment and see if I could come up with some skill and safety learning sessions for the group. He was very open to the idea. I hope something will come of it.

    I’m a former student (one day intro) of Mr Sellers, and if I were King, I would name him a Knight of something. He is a kind and patient gentleman, a credit to his profession, whom I am very fortunate to have met.

  20. Here in California, the public school are not even teaching handwriting (keyboarding instead) let alone hand woodworking. However, my twin 10-year-old granddaughters go to Ojai Valley School. While this is a college prep, private school, hand working is and has been a core part of the curriculum from elementary grades through high school. The workshop is fantastic. Some kids may go into wood work as adults. However, all will have the wonderful experience of making things with their hands. My girls are very proud of the things they make with me and at school. The tradition will never die.

  21. The one thing that is certain about our lives is change. So it will be. But, humans will always have a fondness of the arts and a need to create. Woodworking fills this need for a lot of us. It always will. One only needs to view a good piece of crafted wood to realize it’s value. My opinion is to carry on and to continue our craft.

  22. Paul,
    Being involved in computer technology for the past 36+ years, I have recently fallen in love with wood working and to a huge extent, it’s because of your clear teaching of the use of hand tools. I too feel that over-consumption of technology is causing us to loose many of the skills that we once had.

    I actually woke up this morning wondering what would happen to this world of ours if our technical infrastructure imploded. What would the frustration level be of those whose total dependence is centered in that technology with no hand-on experience of building and creating?

    I, for one, accept the challenge of teaching my grand children to work with their hands, to make, to create, to build, and to do.

    Thank you Paul for your inspiration!

  23. This can be said for several other areas than woodworking too, I am afraid. I am now 38 years old (young?), and I grew up with woodworking at school. The obligatory cutting board with a few sweeps of the plane (the plane ridges left in the piece insulated the cookware better from the table – a feature! 😀 ), marked with a woodbranding kit… Treasured pieces of memory for our parents. I think my parents still have such a piece my now 52 year old sister made – maybe 42-44 years ago.
    Sadly, the current school curriculum does not mention anything about this subject.
    But there is hope!
    The maker movement has taken flight, and we see the ramifications throughout the society today. Youtube channels such as Mr. Sellers’, Matt Cremona, The wood whisperer and so on, inspires, teaches and shows more and more people that “I can do this too”. The incredible easy ways one can do things, as shown by Mr. Sellers, The english woodworker and many more, show us that wonderful things can be made with the most basic tools. No need to shell out half a cars worth of money for this and that tool (even though many power tools are great assets to have – I love my cheap jointer/thicknesser as I do not like to use handplanes for that kind of work, at least in bigger projects). The “poor man’s thingamabob” series is a great example!
    And as long as we who were fortunate enough to grow up when one could use a lathe in the school woodshop, teaches our children and introduce them to the joy of making – I think the future of woodworking and similar crafts are pretty safe.

    One of my recent juvels on Youtube is Darbin Orvar. A swedish girl doing woodworking as well as a lot of other useful stuff. She brings a new touch to this concept – both since she is a woman and since she also combines electronics and other areas into her projects. And she knows how to make a traditional joiners mallet too.
    The diversity that can be found on youtube and on the internet, means that woodworking will be even more accessible in the future. Look at Mr. Marius Hornberger. A young fellow that started a woodworking channel. He is well on his way to become an excellent craftsman – and there are many others.

    But I share Mr. Sellers’ concern – not exposing our children to subjects such as woodworking is a huge mistake by our school system (or perhaps by the politicians to be more precise). Becoming a carpenter, plumber, electrician and so on? Forgeddaboutit! You need a Bachelor or a Masters degree, you know! Oh, well. How many computer engineers does it take to build a house? See where I’m going with this?

    Mr. Sellers, what I think we need more of is excatly what you do. Free educational videos that show us tools and techniques coupled to a simple project that anybody can do. The workbench is a perfect example!
    I would LOVE being an apprentice under you, but that is not possible. But I can learn from you, and in the near future I might just start my own channel on Youtube – where I will teach and show the knife wall that helped me make PERFECT joints on the rocking cradle I am making for my baby girl scheduled to arrive in two months time. Thanks to you, Mr. Sellers, I was able to make a complicated project pretty easily. All the sides are angled five degrees, and all joints are perfect. Thanks to Mr. Sellers knife wall and the wood whisperer’s “relative dimensioning” techniques (the techniques might not origin from them, but to me they are the ones that taught them to me).

    And I will introduce my daughter to woodworking when the time comes! You have my word!

    The western world is currently in a consumerism state. But I foresee a change in the future – where woodworking, farming and the “basic stuff” will be more popular. The subjects will never be the same again. But they will endure, evolve and spread. Maybe as a hobby, maybe as a career. Personally, I cannot wait to see where we will be in ten years. Dovetails with inlaid LED lightning perhaps? 😀

    Thank you, Mr. Sellers, for your passion and for your work in our beloved field. And thank you for teaching me about the knife wall! I could not have gotten such good results on my daughter’s rocking cradle had it not been for you!

    Best regards from Norway,
    Vidar Fagerjord.

  24. I’m in the US, and graduated from high school about 20 years ago. There was a woodworking class available, but we were not required to take that or anything like it. The only time I ever made anything was at the end of the year in physics, only because the teacher needed something to keep us occupied in the month between taking the AP test and the end of the term.

    I’m so glad I’ve discovered the joy of making things, but so sad that it didn’t happen sooner. I have ADD – diagnosed as an adult – and while I managed to get through college and even graduate school, it was painful. Making things, with my hands, is so much better suited to how my brain functions. I love tech and I enjoy coding, but woodworking is healing – even when I get splinters.

    Thank you for this post, and for all of the information and guidance you have shared on your blog, youtube, etc. Have hope – I see so many in my generation that have discovered the joy of crafting and creation, and that are dedicated to being thoughtful consumers. Our challenge now is to have that reflected in our education systems. Our schools try to put children in boxes, instead they should be teaching them to make boxes!

  25. Dear Mr. Sellers,
    I note your sadness about the loss of young woodworkers in this age of technology. I agree with all you say about the options that are being taken away from students. However, I also see the flip side. I believe that there are lots more middle aged people, like me, who have found woodworking. And I am thankful for those geeky kids concerned with only the newest technology and who went on to create communication platforms like YouTube and whatever else is involved in allowing me to comment here. If we do what we love and share, share, share, it will all be good.

    I am always inspired by your generosity and I hope to do my bit to share about what I love.

    With my best wishes from Toronto, Canada
    Emei Ma

  26. I wanted to share this quote “When Britain was first made great it wasn’t done so by accountants and solicitors, it was done by builders and innovators.”

    I agree, with the technology age people tend to withdraw from going back to the earth, there’s a disconnect already, but it’s up to us to be able to show these next generation the importance of woodworking and why we should not take it for granted.

    Currently I am actually building my own floating deck so I am excited to show the kids and eventually encourage them to help. Woodworking is here to stay I am very optimistic about this.

  27. Ii. feel for you I== I USE SOME TYPE OF HAND TOOLS EVERY DAY . MY UNCLE COULD MAKE CABINET DOORS WITH A LITTLE HATCHET. I ADMIRED HIM . I HOPE SOME DAY I COULD BE LIKE HIM.i

  28. Hi Paul
    The photo of your book case stopped me in my tracks. I made an identical one in Grammar School about three years before you. It was awarded the prize for the best piece of the year.
    I still failed my GCE in woodwork but that didn’t stop my enjoyment and I am still making.
    Woodworking is so much more than being a career.

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