Journalling for Woodworkers

P1210661 P1210658 I look through my journals of ten years ago and enjoy reading what I was doing on the equivalent day compared to today. PICT8761 Ten years ago I was teaching and making. Believe it or not I was teaching two classes at once and I was making a cello with Joseph all at the same time. One class was making my rocking chair and that being highly intensive I had but two in that class. On the other side of the workshop I  had a full class (16) on my then six-day foundational workshop where the students of all ages were making a dovetailed box, a wallshelf and an end table. Because of the work I was used to I could indeed work with the students and intersperse drawing and making into the scheme of things. P1210650 Drawing and writing encapsulates much of the essence of what I felt at the time and immediately I open a page in my journal I am translated right back to the very moment or moments of creativity I was engulfed in. Nothing, no other media, including film, can do this for me. The funny thing is that I may well have forgotten that I ever did this or that, so, for me, journalling is something I will always recommend. P1210373

Looking through the journal I saw that in the evenings I was teaching classes to children and their parents too. This was very much what I did. Teaching adults in the day time, making, working with together with Joseph who was 16 on his cello and then kids too. If you see there I was in the workshop from 8am until 10pm with a 45 min break at lunch and then 1 hour for supper with my family. I taught hundreds of children this way over a 20 year period and then taught the teachers to replace me too. The work now extends far beyond me of course and that has always been the intention of my work.


This week of course I was in Israel teaching and encouraging woodworkers there to engage with their children and family to catch the vision we have for family woodworking and then establishing local societies of woodworkers on a worldwide basis. This is not as it was in the past where it was just woodworking for men. For me it has never been that way but with the machine only fraternity it did make serious issues to discriminate against children and then others too. The long and short of my trip was that we made a serious impact to encourage people there to seriously consider the vision we have for woodworking and they got it! Of course I see more and more of this happening across the board as the result of our work towards reestablishing the craft of woodworking. P1210659 My learning how to teach children as in my own children helped me to teach children and their parents and then of course adults. This is a marvellous thing that took me out of the realms of my comfort zone, my Britishness, my Englishness, my gender specificity and any ethnicity as much as it was in my power to do so. This is the power of woodworking and indeed craft working and nothing can stop it. P1210653 The Industrial Revolution is a revolving revolution that was indeed flawed and so too the subsequent revolution. Talking with my friend and mentor a few weeks ago we discussed the Industrial revolution as factory fodder and it is no different today in the new revolutions that everyone loves temporarily until their eyes are opened to ask the question of themselves, “What on earth have I just spent my 30 years doing that has any more worth than putting food on the table and paying off my debts?” P1210643

Well, our revolution removes the revolutionary cuts and opens up the wood with deep deep spheres of creativity again. The people develop skills in quietness and in most cases are more skilled than almost all professionals. I love this happening around the world. It’s amazing in this one thing. Hand skills are being preserved in the doing of woodworking. Reverse Rckng chr14 adjst


  1. Hi Paul,

    I’m going to be step grandpa in a month. Now my new stepson is only two years old. He apparently is crazy about tools. Of course I thought about making him a shaving horse or a small workbench and give him a spoke shave. What do you think – is it too early?

    1. A little. I started mine at 3 years and that seemed plenty early enough. Too early and they can get discouraged. Nothing wrong with letting them take the corners of a square stick though.

    2. I have been going through this as well with my daughter who is 4. What I have found is she has an attention span of about 10 minutes. One thing I noticed is that if I put one of the long cutoffs in a vice, she is quite happy to sit there with a file or rasp and work on it. I don’t have to worry as she can’t really cut herself. Then sometimes I will give her a rubber mallet to bang on it. After about 10 minutes she is satisfied. Then she wanders off to the plastic 5 gallon bucket of cutoffs I keep and then plays with them like they are blocks.

  2. That was beautiful. Hopefully the ripples of the idea spread 🙂

    Great drawings too.

  3. I am intrigued by your writings on journaling. I have kept journals for years but tend to do so in a rather disorganized way. Do you keep a single journal with for both daily entries and on-going projects, or do you keep multiple books? And is there a particular ritual or time of day when you journal, or do you just write whenever you are inspired to do so? I enjoy hearing about the habits of highly creative people.

    Thank you for the inspiration and reminder that this work really does matter – whether or not a paycheck is involved.

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