Craft––The art of work in action

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Making a cello expresses who we are, what we believe in, what we love and what we do. Craft is the culture of who we are. A boat builder expresses who he or she is through the craft they make that sails the water.
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My working tools live within a stride’s use. The locating of them has been an evolving one that works well for me.

For me, craft has and always will be the art of work in action, no matter the work type. Craft brings order to the whole of life. It’s highly addictive, self-perpetuating and sustainable and more than that it is a powerful way of expressing who we are as people, societies and nations. That’s why I like to work with everything raw and make it into something visually beautiful or functionally useful to enhance my own life and the lives of others. Beyond that we stimulate the neurons in the brain to work proactively in the same way that we might use physical exercise to develop ordinary muscle to make them bigger when we need them as in certain types of work that require specific muscle to come into play at different points in our work.

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Gil’s gathering of working tools give great accessibility to him in the daily use of hand tools.

The more you challenge your brain in hand working to guide and use hand tools the more you increase those neurons to connect us to the physical work through the body, which indeed results in smarter ways of working the tools and the materials we work with. Though the brain has no technical muscle so to speak, we do rely on it to perform similarly to that of muscles in the rest of the body by applying impulses to and through those neurons. Hand work demands these impulses perform their task and I think, not being a cognitive neuroscientist or neuropsychologist of any kind for that matter, goes far beyond anything else I could possibly do two-dimensionally. I think most people understand and respect this. The only people who might escape understanding this are politicians and economists, administrators and educationalists (which does not mean teachers) and then perhaps a percentage of academics too. This is why I have said that machine woodworking is a completely different sphere of woodworking and unrelated really to hand woodworking pretty much altogether for many that I see.

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Muscle-memory is one thing in developed skill, charging the neurons to equip the brain’s ability to control our decisions nanosecond by nanosecond is another development rarely ever mentioned.

In moving to Oxfordshire my working environment changed dramatically and so too the types of people I now have contact with and access to. People I meet now move in quite different spheres of woodworking and woodworking training and such that I have been perhaps more used to. Here I began meeting people from diverse backgrounds connecting with a wider world who had the same issues to think through that I find myself increasingly more concerned about. Is craft, and I mean the art of work and more hand work particularly, losing its meaning and thereby its value to society, or, perhaps should I ask has craft lost its meaning and therefor its value to the greater society as a whole? I am under no illusions but I do think that my values and concerns have become somewhat peripheral; so by this I mean perhaps it is less the location of where I lived than the subject matter. Some of you will be aware of my concerns that craft training has become greatly diminished and especially for young adults 13 and up. Reading back over that last sentence I realise it is far too passive. I am extremely worried that true craft training and craft working is so diminished it has all but gone. There, it is said. Regarded now more as something interesting-poor and not of value to future society as a means of productive working, the question remains. Is what made Britain great with a capital G now little more than perfunctory to future societies in that without testes a male is no longer fertile; so without the craft of tool making, good entrepreneurialism and such things once taken for granted we are rendered incapable. Has and will the new techno industry be the primary way forward as many scientists and engineers work ever faster toward dispensing with hand work to replace everything with robotics?

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Brain stimuli starts in the womb and goes on throughout the life of every person.

It is not that long ago that almost every school throughout the UK, regardless of whether it was private, grammar, comprehensive or secondary had dedicated workshops for general crafts instruction, woodworking, metalworking and much more. In the pre computer age we in class made a folding timetable with days and hours crisscrossing subjects to keep us on track in a given week as to which rooms we would be in. I liked the rooms with no desks and chairs.

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Who knows the best time to start teaching and training children to work with wood? Not anyone except a caring parent connected to his and her child.

These were the rooms were filled with the smells of oil paints and turpentine, glues, fabrics, fibres, colours and textures that would influence my life forever. In metalwork I soldered copper rods one to another as a skeletal framework and then went up to the art classroom, mixed plaster of paris powder with water to make it into a workable paste. I cut inch wide strips of hessian burlap sacking and bandaging and pulled it through the mix of plaster before wrapping it around the wiry rods I had welded into legs arms and head and soon I had my sculpted body of a man running. It was after this that I discovered wood more fully. The scents and sounds, colours and textures are still indelibly linked by hardwire to my whole being and I can see every minute detail of the school woodworking workshop as clearly in my mind’s eye as if I were there right now. The difference between the woodwork shop and the regular classrooms where I learned my maths and English, religion and history and such is that in woodworking no one ever called “Sellers, stop staring out of the window.” I never did found a minute to stare outside in a woodworking class of two hours duration and never left for the bathroom toilets. Time flashed by and I was totally consumed by working. This environment inside was all I needed. Staring out of the window in my other academic classes I looked and listened for the skylark ascending and the hover of a kestrel too. The flower colours and the shapes of the trees over the graveyard had great value and meaning for me and filtered life into my mind and I grew a world I could live with.

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A brilliant engineer made this chair for his nephews and nieces when he was in his mid 40s. His neurones were fully charged and engaged.

When I think of being in school today I can’t help but feel a desperation rise up in me had I not encountered those risk-filled, hands-on metalworking and woodworking days with sharp-edged tools and cutters and hot coals and an anvil and saws and wood and steel and copper and dirty hands and the smells of quenched steel steaming up to greet my senses two afternoons a week, I wouldn’t have made it. Thank God for those two afternoons a week that brought total sanity to my life. Without the two crafts I was most involved in I wouldn’t have understood fractions and geometry, physics and things like these. Perhaps young adults are able to enter a dimension I missed by not understanding dimensional realities they better understand but somehow that has escaped me if that is so. All I know is is that when kids of all ages under 18 come into my workshop they come to life like i have not seen anywhere else. Of course they are bright and inventive, capably able to develop designs from a thought to a prototype. That has never been the question. The question is, are they as well equipped as I felt I was or will the robotics somehow, well, replace that for them? But then there is the pure enjoyment of making things from raw materials into something refined with two hands, two arms and a bunch of fingers. These are not mere digits for punching buttons to program robots. Might not we too then become more automaton in how we make what we make? I am not saying dispense with the technology at all or in any way. Just asking why we throw out the baby with the bath water again. Bring back woodworking and metalworking and intense crafting and art for everyone in schools everywhere. Oh the smells of oil paints and turpentine and woods and metals and leather and the squeezing of tubes intense with vibrant colour. It matters when they are young. We have only a narrow window of opportunity to reach young people to stimulate and develop dexterity and fine motor skills. Craft is still the art of work!

30 comments on “Craft––The art of work in action

  1. Hey paul.
    I am just a very basic beginner in woodworking but I’ve been feeling the same way. Everything is all mass produced and cheeky made. I’ve built a few things for my friends and family which are crude but will last their lifetime. I just finished a project for a friend and decided to try and go all hand tools if possible. I found your material and with just watching that learned so much stuff I can’t even begin to explain. You’ve kinda lit an excitement I didn’t know was there, to the dismay of my wife because of my hours in the shed/workshop. I’ve now purchased your book/DVD to go through to keep the learning going.
    I’m excited to see where this journey goes and to show my kids this joy of making things by hand.
    I think I’m starting to ramble…. too early…. not enough tea yet. 🙂
    Anyway… I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration

    • Hopefully your wife will join you in the workshop as my wife often did. We set food on the bench many times and had cups of tea and chats there throughout my workdays.

  2. I’m programming computers, but I also love working wood, metal or doing something with my hands. I like very much both worlds and robotics too. You and your team are great! I think you should find a way to put the hand craft in the context of the modern world. Looking back is good, but don’t look only back, look also forward. How to do that I don’t know exactly, maybe part of your young team could help you more.

    • I will be glad to be in the ground when a robot offers to cut my dovetails. No matter how you slice it, a router cut dovetail looks just like a router cut dovetail.Presently it’s technology that helps me reach a worldwide audience and it’s technology that tells us of illegal deforestation we hitherto went undetected. I like that kind of advancement. I don’t look back except to preserve the best of the past to unite it to the present and the future and spend most of my time working to reach to future generations. I know that they know that so it is not a lamenting but simple truth and it is working.

    • I’m also a programmer, though I find myself looking out the window just as I did in the classrooms with only chairs and desks as Paul mentions. Also a lifelong wood-carver, and more recent blacksmith and leathercrafter… I would love to choose any of the latter and toss the programming aside for good. Perhaps more importantly, I’m convinced that those are in fact the future we have in store anyway.

      The future most people imagine — a techno-utopia of robotics and electronics — is not to be our future anyway. The energy to support such activity much longer simply doesn’t exist — or doesn’t exist in the forms that will make continued extraction economically viable. That which we’ve thus far been utilizing is reaching its limits, both in energy return on energy invested as well as the ability to our atmosphere to absorb the carbon.

      I just hope most people figure this out before our ill-informed ideas determine our future (or lack thereof) for us.

  3. You remind me of a comment, made by a friend some years ago:
    “A craftsman has brains in his fingers.”
    Very true, of course.

  4. You get it in the last part of the answer, it’s exactly what I wanted to tell you “preserve the best of the past to unite it to the present and the future” and you are doing it very good. Don’t blame technology, this is not the right direction. I love hand made a lot, and I love doing it myself, I never used an electric router I use simple hand tools, you don’t have to convince me.
    You use a lot tools made by machine, not wooden planes or frame saws, so it’s not about technology, all have their place. I think problem is mainstream life style and not robots, they are not our enemy, they are our friends.

    • I am not really sure what I am finally getting here, but I am glad I am. I use metal planes that were made by hand too, and I use many wooden planes and frame (bow) saws and have done so for fifty years now. What I use in my videos and write about is what people can get their hands on and be woodworking. What I teach is real woodworking not machining, two different spheres with hardly any relationship to one another at all generally. Hand tools take skill, machines barely any. I have worked equally with both machines and hand tools if not perhaps a little more in machining wood. I can strip them down, repair them and then rebuild them with no problem because that is simple and requires basic mechanical knowledge, but to carve a leaf and a flower without using a robot, now that demands everything in me, but when I do, and I do it without any hint of robotic equipment and a cnc router, now that’s something. Oh, and a robot will always be placed squarely where it should be behind people somewhere. I have always known that they have their place and have always been open to the need of them. They are part of the emerging culture and culture constantly changes by its very nature. People like me are often concerned, not fearful, that we soon become blinded in a mesmerising way by certain misuse and misrepresentation of the ability of technology to answer human and relational problems that’s all. I see woodworkers every day in other workshops around me who wear respirators for hours sometimes every day because of machines and the demand for speed. This grieves me. Should they buy a robot to do the work? Would this still represent their work? Most of my customers would never have bought from me because they were looking for my work and not some replicating equipment to do it for me. Of course we could argue this forever but to suggest a robot would be my friend is a little extreme. For me I will end here because it is and always has been more about finding balance, that’s all. I teach using metal hand planes because that’s what the people can get their hands on. If you dig a little into our archives you’ll find that we’ve taught wooden plane and frame saw making and then used them throughout a project.

  5. I don’t know if I can fully agree when you say “Hand tools take skill, machines barely any”. The truth is they both take skills to use and master, but in a different ways. Much like using a car or motorcycle to travel to a destination, both will get there, but it takes a different skill set to use either vehicle.

    I have used machines for most of my woodworking life and also know how to use hand tools, so are well aware of the advantage and disadvantage both can have. If a hundred or more of the same item is required “now” all sized within a fraction of a millimetre of each other, then a machine will win every time. Just hope you still have your hearing, lungs and fingers when you finish.

    For only one or two items, making it with hand tool has an advantage. Yes a machine can do that too, but with little if any advantage after making jigs & setup is counted.

    Then there is the satisfaction and enjoyment level to factor into the work. This is very much something only the individual woodworker can decide. I find satisfaction in making something either by hand or machine, or even by using both. I feel it’s the fact that people are making things for themselves in wood that is the important point here.

    • We can agree to disagree I think. Speaking from my own experience most machines can be learned and mastered in a few hours and no more than a week for all of them. They seem to always require jigs of some kind and people seem to spend much time making jigs. Pushing a plank through a tablesaw or into a shaper has no complication and so too a planer and jointer. What it does need is a lot of common sense and experience surrounding safety on all levels but this is all knowledge-based and not skill-based in my view. Anyone can push, pull and shove wood. I have used machines and hand tools in equal measure six days a week for 50 years now so I base what I say on this. Machines are great donkeys and cut and refine wood perfectly, but when using them my thoughts must always be on personal safety, the safety of others, the cleanliness of the workplace and the safety of my materials. This require little skill if any. So , as I said in the beginning, we can agree to disagree without hurting anyone.

      • I’m not looking for an advantage. I’m looking to disappear into the work. That’s why I read you and that’s what you’ve given me — a 52 year old novice who makes things without power other than my own. I’m grateful.

        Jon

  6. Maybe a bit off-topic, but I wanted to thank you for the wonderful book and dvds. Your masterful work in writing and developing that package does not go unnoticed nor unappreciated! I received my order from Rokesmith today – a mere six or so days after the order! Just a not of thanks and appreciation from a mere weekend wood shop bodger.

  7. Hello Paul, Since My last post on your Blog, I’ve had three surgeries ,Had a new shop built had to move in to it, Still in progress.lol
    But I have had the opposite problem, I’m doing everything I can to get divorced from my machines.
    Ever since I saw you make a spoon I have been sold lock stock and barrel. My greatest concern is I have too many odds stacked against me. Time being the # 1 issue. Not like time in the day but time in the time it takes to learn the craft. And learning the Muscle memory as you so eloquently speak of , lol. Im 55 now and I started about two years ago watching and copying everything that you have been teaching on the Masterclass site.
    I just had surgery on my right hand, Dupuytren’s Disease, So you know my ancestors had to came from that part of the world. Dupuytren’s has been traced back to the Welsh. And I’ve had it in both hands now.
    We didn’t have shop in my school where I grew up. For If we had My life would have been completely different” no doubt”.
    It wasn’t until I was sitting in the hospital for two years in a body cast that a sweet nurse started bringing me woodworking Magazines to read,( Belonged to her late husband.) Before that I really didn’t know anything about woodworking. Sure I knew it existed but I Personally had never been exposed to it. I thought that it was all done by Machines until somehow I lucked up and found your site.
    So everything I have learned about hand tools has come from you. I cant think of a way to say thank you enough without it almost sounding weird. lol
    And Maybe its because I’m now more aware of the craft that I see and meet people out and about who are involved in woodworking at some degree or maybe Its largely because of you. Im not sure. But I do know that you are having a large impact on the people around here with your teachings. Why Just yesterday a Man told me that he had seen you on TV or on a computer teaching something about woodworking, He wasn’t sure because he is a metal worker and not a woodworker . I was watching a video of yours and he recognized you.

    I think that maybe the biggest problem today is that the average hard working people like myself are having to work too hard and too many jobs just to stay a float.
    Where on earth are they going to find the time to even start a hobby or learn a new craft.
    And As far as an education is concerned, Is a student counselor in middle school going to suggest to a young student that they need to learn how to build stuff from wood using hand tools or are they going to say go to Medical school and be a Doctor or such?
    I think , cause I certainly don’t know but if this craft is going to survive then it will only come from people like yourself who unselfishly help others and are willing to help all of us and not just some of us. I think thats Its greed that’s destroying this craft and others like it. Technology is making people mentally lazy and globalization Is robbing the majority from having the opportunity. So If we the people want to see it change for the better then We the people need to stand up and do something about it. I know that some will differ on the technology making people mentally lazy part but if there’s any doubt just go ask a stranger a question. About anything, and see what kind of answer you get.
    Paul, Your making a huge impact in this craft’s success . We just need about 20 million little Pauls doing the same thing.

  8. Hi Paul,
    I fully agree with Peter. The key is to keep the interest and enthusiasm going and alive. Hand crafts are now considered niche and will always be there.
    I am also a hobbyist using mostly hand tools, but find machines are also an asset in many applications.
    I am thankful to have learned from your post and hope you would continue promoting this handcraft.

  9. That chair back is beautiful. If someone would transfer that design and modify it to a headboard for bed, that would be one nice headboard. I thought it was a headboard until I read the caption

  10. It’s funny Paul, I often drift between the two worlds of machine and hand tool woodworking. As a novice I frequently get frustrated with myself when trying not to use machines. I inevitably drift back to the jointer and router. I always
    feel something like guilt. Like I’m really not making what I’m “making”. But I thought you’d like to know every time I go thru this, your videos or something your write puts me back on course and rejuvenates my enthusiasm for hand tool woodworking. Thanks for that.

    • Some people have no choice knowing only the world of the machinist, but no matter, many discover hand tool creativity in real woodworking and never look back once the cross over.I just spent a week without hearing any machine and watching 50 woodworkers immersed in total enjoyment.

  11. The World is getting smaller and the specialists more special.

    The Danish government made new guidelines for all schools which includes 4hours of crafts each week. The system is still being established, but the need has been spottet.

    Theres also free extracurricular craft education in most major cities and the schools advocate the use of that privilidge. In some cities we also have “activity centers” for the elderly, i have used those to meet woodworkers of times past. I got some tips from an old picture carver, i learned to turn wood from a man who makes Jade Balls from wood, and i learned to bind books from a very capable woman.

    My son of 5 wants nothing more than to become a smith so he can make his father the best hand forged axes in the world. Im building him a bench this winter so he can start learning to work wood. Hes already got his own knife and lives to cut sticks into spears and swords.

    My son of 2 hasnt let go of his plastic bosch power drill since i showed it to him a year ago.

    Both of them will be guided in and encouraged to persue a life of crafts. They will be taught to recognize the marks of machines and master craftsmen.

    Another source of knowledge is mideavil markets, a growing activity where almost everyone has a craft to teach.

    But ultimately its about taste. We cannot do much but teach our kids to differentiate between beauty and cheapness.

    And some of us, namely you, has even more influence. Thousands of people are watching you, learning your ways and values, and they, like me, will keep your ways alive long after you are gone from this world.

    Sincerely
    Anders and Asger(5)

  12. I see Paul and his cohorts as preserving the state-of-the-art living knowledge of woodcraft. Being true handicraft, it is the art of expressing beauty and lifelong functionality by directing one’s energy directly into the medium. Inasmuch as the work conveys the very latest information about working wood using the faculties of the mind and body, it is modern by definition.

    Consider the analogy of a musician who plays an acoustic instrument versus one who produces music with the aid of software. The former learns the art of the playing the instrument. Both the instrument and the art of playing it have evolved over many years, perhaps hundreds of years. The instrumentalist studies with teachers of today who are skilled and rooted in a lineage of living knowledge while being aware of the latest extended techniques on the instrument. The skill and knowledge are passed from one generation to the next, perhaps with some new contribution added to extend the lineage even further. The musician makes music in the present, for an audience hearing music in the present. If that is the case, is his work not modern? Is it not relevant? Is it stuck in the past?

    Then consider the music producer, perhaps bringing up some young talent with the aid of software, sequencers and auto-tune. Much of the music we hear on the radio today is made this way. Many of the “instruments” you hear are not physical instruments at all; they are software algorithms designed to synthesize new sounds or model existing instruments. Or existing recordings are looped and used as a backing track. A program of sorts is laid out and executed by the computer. Lack of skill on behalf of the performer, whether rhythmic, tonal or otherwise, can be corrected in the track via edits and auto-tune. In my view, this is music production at its most modern. Its purpose, many times, is to compensate for a lack of skill on behalf of the performer. Or it is used to create a performance that would be technically impossible otherwise. Much like the skill shifts from the craftsman to the CNC programmer, the skill shifts from the performer to the producer. In some cases, it shifts control from the creating individual to the corporate entity.

    Regardless of our personal preference, both ways are relevant and modern. To say one set of skills is superior to another is tantamount to measuring human intelligence on a one-dimensional scale. In the end, these various skills are put to some purpose: to love and express beauty, to make money quickly, to achieve a desired degree of repeatability in productive output, or perhaps to explore the frontier of what is possible. Thankfully, the world is made up of all kinds, and while machine production is favored in the present-day atmosphere of consumption, novelty and immediate gratification, there are the holdouts who stay the course and keep the knowledge and skills alive in our hearts, minds and hands.

    Craftsmen like Paul are not only keeping the living tradition alive, relevant and up-to-date, they are giving the rest of us the courage and philosophical perspective to stay the course in all aspects of our work. That our work may be overshadowed by present trends takes nothing away from its intrinsic and lasting value.

  13. First let me say thank you for sharing your time thoughts and knowledge with us through the use of technology. With that said I agree I see way to many kids today with their heads down looking at cell phones and tablets insted of looking out the windows, this saddens me. I like you was one for the arts here in the USA we called they industrial arts wood / metal shop etc, they have all but gone the way of computer labs and robotic labs. Some schools still teach then but fewer and fewer each year. I am what most would call a jack of all master of none. I have work manual labor mucking stalls at a Fram to sitting behind a computer designing rec centers and city parks to houses. After I became disabled did I find my true passion which has always been in the back ground but, with me chasing that almighty dollar have missed and maybe missed out on. Which is woodworking with hand tools and making my own tools to do it with. Yes stanley planes are in my every small collection of tools mostly because they belonged to my father. Please keep teaching the old ways they are still very much needed in the day of high speed Internet video games and smartphones. With out people like you most kids would never even know about woodworking.

  14. As far as I can tell the name William Morris has not come up on this blog. Morris was a late-19th century textile and furniture maker. Woodworkers might recognize him as the designer of the Morris chair. Well, he was also a prolific writer too–much like Mr. Sellers. Indeed, it often seems to me that Mr. Sellers channels the spirit of William Morris in his work and writings. For those of you who cannot get enough of Paul Seller’s writing I recommend Morris, especially two works: 1) the essay called “The Lesser Arts” and 2) his novel _News from Nowhere_. Here is a small excerpt from the former:
    “[We must assist on this most weighty piece of manners: that] we may adorn life . . . with the pleasure of cheerfully buying goods at their due price; with the pleasure of selling goods that we could be proud of both for fair price and fair workmanship; with the pleasure of working soundly and without haste at making goods that we could be proud of–much the greatest pleasure of the three is the last, such a pleasure as, I think, the world has none like it.”

  15. Fantastic write up. You got me to thinking. I worked for a hospice for several years and never ran across one person with Alzheimer’s who worked with their hands. I suppose that there are, but I didn’t run into that person.

    • My great grandmother was a farming housewife and did heavy manual labor her whole life. She dropped my grandmother on the kitchen table and an hour after giving birth went back out into the fields throwing hay bales. She had Alzheimers in her late years.

  16. Thank you Paul, you took me back to that place in time with very fond memories. I also had two afternoons a week for metalwork and woodworking classes growing up in northern England in the 60’s. These classes were the highlights of my week and looking back now, I didn’t realize just how much they meant to me.
    I wish I could have had the foresight to pursue some king of career in woodworking, but back then it didn’t seem to be an option.
    Thank you for rekindling a passion.

    • We do live with three generations that never experienced what we experienced. Most likely they never will nor will they want to. So too teachers who talk about craft work like woodworking and metal working but who are barely ahead of the students they teach. Had someone plonked me in a chair with a computer and such and bolt on components to build with I would have had the same reaction I had to maths and English language. The teachers I had were former metalworkers and woodworkers who earned their living from it and so too, thankfully and rarely, my art teacher who was truly inventive and creative as an artist who inspired me and pulled me into his world, jerking me from a great shipwreck into a lifeboat. He knew I was drowning and gave me a lifeline to hold onto and then came the artificial respiration to revive me from near drowning in waters I could never relate to. Through him my hands took graphite sticks and charcoal on half imperial sheets of buff paper and pictures emerged that I so wish that I had kept for reference, but the skills I developed because of his basic encouragement I have grown and developed to use every day. People criticise my writing ability but, you know what, it makes no difference. I still write more than most in a day and I do it because I love it!

      • Hi Paul,

        I personally find your writing informative and completely enjoyable.

        I have said previously in another post that this is a blog not a novel and such is a more fluid way of writing. Also it’s easy to be a critic from the comfort and safety of a keyboard.

        My dad is a semi retired carpenter around the same age as yourself and seen the changes in site work and the conditions brought around by the introduction of subbies in the late 70’s early 80’s resulting in wages and pensions disappearing into thin air and aprentices left stranded without being able to receive thier certs.
        All of which resulted in him telling me that it was not a good idea to follow in his footsteps as a full time job, but while I followed his advice I loved working with him and his mates on a job.

        I have learned a lot from my dad who not only was a great site carpenter, was also well known around our area for making quality furniture, often just above cost for new couples etc. I’m also learning loads from you and really appreciate your work as many others, who cares about the odd typo.

        While my dad is amazed at what I can do with a computer in my day job, as I struggle to correctly sharpen my chisels, I’m amazed at how my dad can do this and so much more nearly in his sleep.
        The other man I admire is my best mates dad who is a blacksmith in his eighties. He can hardly read or write to what would be considered and acceptable modern standard, but he built his own bike when he was twelve and his own crane in his fourties both because he needed one and couldn’t afford to buy one, and without the help of the Internet which we rely on like an arm or a leg.

        Again thanks for all your great work here and on your other channels.

  17. I am deep into hand carving, mostly for furniture. As such, I work with a variety of woods -as long as they yield to the hand held gouge. I always thought lung problems were an issue for those working with machines – alas, they are not. I only make chips, not sawdust, or not sawdust I can see anyway, and I am finding I need to wear a mask, or I will have problems talking by the end of the day. Perhaps I am developing an allergy but I don’t intend to stop carving; it is almost an addiction with me. I decided to wear a mask, much as I hate them, to preserve my lungs. I just wanted to point out that even with all hand tools, you may need to be careful. Pay attention if are clearing your throat often, as that is what clued me in.

    • Perhaps it is just an unfortunate structure of your sentence where you seem to say machine carving is not a problem for machine carvers. I think you are saying it is but that it is not isolated to machine only methods. Yes, it is exacerbated many fold when using power-carvers and abrasives of different types and hand carvers are not altogether excluded. It sickens me to see a man I know donned with a respirator to use a power-carver for 6-8 at a time. I am not convinced that the work is all that much quicker and it can look sterile and dull rather than crisp and concise. Anyway, that said, I discovered in my own life that it was not dust from carving that caused my throat clearing but an allergy to dairy, such as milk and cheese, causing mucus build up in my throat. When I cut dairy the issue cleared up completely. I am however mildly allergic to two woods, probably because of prolonged exposure via machining when I was younger. When I reduced machining by 95% that too is when it became a mild allergy. So no dairy, no mucus, o mucus, free passage and full health. I had a breath test a few years ago after working wood for 40 years and my lungs were still well above average for my age. I put that down to minimising the use of all woodworking machines. I saw too many men from my past with respiratory problems.
      I do want to thank you for your input here though. All advice is gratefully received.

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