Ooooh! They Do Make Me So Mad!

I have heard these things below all my life for fifty years now and I HAVE MADE MY LiVING from working with my hands. Naysayers. Don’t give them any more room than you have to to be kindly to them. No, I didn’t own two cars, but that’s because my wife didn’t drive and I only needed one car. Neither did I take holidays every year but that was because we always lived on holiday even though we always worked hard. So here is why I wrote:

Ooooh! They do make me so mad!

They walk by and say, “You can’t make a living from hand work.”P1460728

They say, “Move with the times.”
They say, “You’ll never make money that way––hand tools.”
“Too slow!”, they say. “Move with the times.” “Start selling smart phones. Sell yourself to the highest bidder, then you’ll make money and be successful. Then you’ll really be someone.”
“Go get a real job! Stop wasting time!” They blast.P1460750

And then I turn to my friends; the plane and the saw and chisels, such faithful friends, and I listen to them. And there, in the quiet, I here a gentle voice say to me, “I will never leave you nor will I forsake you.” And I find food on my table and shoes on my feet, a warm place to rest my head and I know life’s about more than mere money.
Bless you all and have a great weekend.P1460729

Go to my friends at Objects for Use here:
They don’t say such things.

36 thoughts on “Ooooh! They Do Make Me So Mad!”

  1. No need to let them get you mad.
    One of the key things I found out over the years is that if you enjoy the work you do and the rewards meet your needs, then that’s all that matters.
    And there is money to be made from handtools for those who enjoy using them. I was pleased to see a young man at the recent countryfile live show at Blenheim cutting tenons with a tenon saw on the end of wooden wheel spokes then shaping them with a drawknife then spokeshave. Chatting with him he told me he was two years into his apprenticeship as a wheelwright. In the workshop they did use machines, but had to learn to use hand tool methods too. There can’t be many such apprenticeships available to youngsters these day and I asked him if he’d had to fight of lots of competition to get it. Apparently not. His peers weren’t interested, but he tried out for a couple of weeks and loved it. His master (I guess that’s what they used to be called) told me that they had enough orders on their books to give them work for the next two and half years! It’s not furniture making I know, but I’m betting that lad will eventually be able to make anything he likes in wood.

    1. . , arnold espenberg

      that saying , my friends the saws, planes and chiels . what an inspirational thought. choked me up. I love working with my hands I putter around my wood working bench every chance I get. and get great satuifaction from it

    1. Don,
      Patience and Tenacity are the mark of the Craftsman.
      La paciencia y la tezon son la marca de la Craftsman.

      There is an old saying in England by Thomas Huxley (a scientist)
      Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.

  2. Mark Wisecarver

    I still lumber with a double-bit axe and riv with a Froe, cleave with a single bevel broad axe, and from what I see time with raw wood, time in the forests, isn’t making me rich but I am healthy and very rich in the real sense in that I do not ever live a stressed out day.

    1. Haha! Mark — Is that your real surname or a chosen ‘Handle’.

      if it is, it’s a true example of what they call Nominative Determinism.

      I actually know of a Cardiologist by the name of Dr Hart!

  3. I think there may be just a touch of envy by those who make those comments.Why should they care HOW you do your’s your work, not theirs.I have a sneaking suspicion that they to would like to work as you but lack the confidence. Keep inspiring the rest of us who think as you.

  4. B. Daniel Burleigh

    Right On, Prof. Sellers!

    In 500 years, you and your work will still be studied and remembered, long after any legacy of the Drones of Wall Street has been Thankfully erased! How many ancient Greek and Roman political hacks and money grubbers are studied or even remembered today? But their craftsmen, artists, writers, philosophers and other creative contributors are still studied and appreciated! And a surprising amount of their work still survives and is highly valued. Donald Trump and the Koch Brothers will soon be footnotes that no one cares about. They are not worth your time and anger. But your work and methods, and particularly your teaching, will still be remembered, studied, and appreciated. You have brought much joy and happiness to many people, and your cultural legacy will far outlive our times. Respectfully,

    1. Really, do we need to bring American politics into a congenial, civilized woodworking blog? Most of us come here to share our knowledge and experience and to enjoy a few minutes of respite. Lets please keep our political differences out of Paul’s lovely blog and join together to simply enjoy the craft and help it grow!

  5. Andy in Germany

    This post has motivated me to get back to my workbench…

    I wonder if you will get this more than a beginner like me would. Beginners can be dismissed, laughed at for our naivety and safely ignored, with the person making the comment adding a mental note to be sure to say ‘I told you so’ when we give up. But you are out there proving them wrong, and for some people, that’s what scares some of the critics. You make them face the possibility that they failed: didn’t have the courage to follow where they could have gone, but followed the way of this world, worked in a dull job they don’t like and never tried to do something else. So they try to shut down any discussion with tried and tested second-hand arguments.

  6. Paul, I have dealt with naysayers all my life as well. It used to upset me and worry me. Different field of expertise. Was I making a mistake? Was I over estimating what I could do? I pressed on and times were hard at first but I have exceeded all I could have hoped for.

    The other thing I once read that stuck with me was in a Bill Bryson book (I’m sure you’ve hear of him S he’s quite a good and funny writer). In one of his books, Bryson pointed out that if Americans lived to a 1950s standard (not a bad lifestyle), you could get by with 50 percent less money. Most folks spend themselves to the point that they can’t afford to careers they would love for fear they can make enough to live a lifestyle they have envisioned. The sad thing is that more stuff doesn’t make you happy. Doing what you love and spending time with family does. Recently I spent an evening playing the card game Uno with my daughter and wife eating hotdogs and nothing could have Madrid happier.

  7. “Move with the times”… It could be a good advice if it were not that “moving with the times” means, too many times, having fear of being what you really want to be, or having fear of doing what you really want to do. Forgetting your own ideas and feelings to get the approval of people that you don’t even know.
    Though I know your work since a very little time, I’m sure that you do an IMPORTANT job. There are things that look like important, and things that are really important. Your work is important. Sorry for being so melodramatic, but doing things like that is more important each day. This i’m going to say is, of course, from a very personal point of view, but I think that our future like intelligent people depends on doing things like these that you do. Manual woodworking, working with hands… thinking with the the head. I’ts a way of fighting against this “modern” way of thinking thad lead us to be far less intelligent than our smartphones are.
    Thank you very much, MR. Sellers. Not “Paul” this time. As you said in a recent post: “Don’t give up”.

  8. By the way: I’m “rescueing” my english in these posts, so I expect not to write a thing when I want to say another one. My last english class ended 30 years ago, so my english is a little rusted. It would be easier for me if this blog was in spanish or italian. Please forgive my kicks to english languagge.

    1. To J.Tellez. No need to excuse your English. You have expressed yourself as clear or clearer than I would and English (Kiwi) is the only language I know.

  9. Paul,
    Thankfully you did not listen to the naysayers. I enjoyed the classes that you taught in Texas. I know that you will not change and produce quality products. I am just sorry that I am on the wrong side of the pond to enjoy more classes.

  10. Hi Paul
    “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing/saying” ?
    It all comes down to how you messure succes. You are not into woodworking for the money, but for a more profound reason, wich I think has to do with the real values in life. I could use a lot of fine words to describe that, but you have allready done that and you are yourself a living exsample of the real values in life. We all do understand this in here.
    Please continue your great work and try not to be distracted by people who prefer to live their lifes on the surface.

    Sincerely Steffen

    1. It wasn’t at all for me that I was concerned but for those who write me and tell me that that is what people say to them. In most cases it is the professional woodworkers that say it to them, and also now the college teachers that teach them too. For myself I am not worried. I have done what they said and say can’t be done for over 50 years, raised a largish family on a single income wage and am still surviving. Those that say you can’t mean they couldn’t or can’t. They don’t know what you can.

      1. Hi Paul,
        Thanks again for an insightful post.

        It’s a sad state of affairs to say we’ve progressed so far that most families for one reason or another can’t live without both partners working, or in some cases think they can’t because they need the latest and greatest of everything.

        This is not to say our partners shouldn’t work if they wish to do so. My wife is currently studying veterinary nursing. Being unable to find work as a teacher here, she decided to do this so that once qualified it means she might actually be paid for something she already does voluntarily every day of her life and will continue to do so as long as she can as she loves to do so.

        In my own case my wife and I have don’t have children, but we run a small animal rescue, as we don’t get any goverment charity funding like the organised rescues do, this means everything currently comes out of my wage, which means in the nine years we’ve been together we’ve had one weekend away as a holiday.

        Still we managed to find our home, be happy apart from the late night vet trips that result in a loss despite our and the vets hard work, and we hope to continue plodding along as we are.

        Is where I am now where I thought I’d be in my twenties even my early thirties which end this September, would I change anything to be able to take a holiday or two in a year or the latest gadget, despite those who say I’m mad/sad to live the life I do? Not on your life in either case.

        My dad is a semi retired carpenter who thought me enough to have the skills to build the outdoor shelters for our charges and to provide these to others who share our passion for animals (my dad also does this in his area for free).

        Finding your work Paul, has given me the pleasure of starting on another journey with wood and given me another way of dealing with the stresses of my day job, that due to distance I unfortunately cannot take with my dad. For this you and your team have my eternal gratitude.

        To all of us here doing what me do in our sheds, garages, basements, gardens or where ever you can, fe*k the naysayers and keep sawing.

  11. So true. We dont need to know why they have the urge to tell other people, what they can and what can’t.

  12. Proverbs addresses it as, ‘A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.’
    You can’t really help them so you must ignore them.

  13. I admire that you learned this lesson and lived it so early in life. I am a physician that spent the first 50 years of my life in a whirlwind of work and child rearing and trying to keep up a lavish lifestyle. I recently downsized my house, cut back on work, sold several cars and simplified everything. I am much happier now and I actually have time to resume my old passion of woodworking. I am trying to teach these values to my children and i think they get it. In America you are judged so much by financial success it is difficult to stand up to others opinion.

  14. It is a rare individual who can make a viable livelihood by being a craftsman or artist. I could be wrong but I suspect that it even rarer today that someone with your talents with hand tools to be so fortunate. Why critics want to so freely share their jaded judgments is beyond me. However, Paul, just keep doing what you do and you prove them wrong every day.

    My late father frequently told me that, “The World is divided into two camps — the Workers and the Critics. Always support the one and avoid the other.” That guidance has always served me well.

  15. Paul, I appreciate your expert expert and thoughtful coaching approach to woodworking education. A gentleman you are. Thank you Paul.

  16. Armerington Kharshiing

    About 30 years ago I planted tree seedlings in my 1 acre plot. I selected only a few species like Pinus kesiya, Acacia aulicauliformis, Gmelina arborea, a few local oaks. I benefited immensely by utilizing the timber for construction purposes. The rest I converted them into small sized scant-lings , stored them and now are my source of raw materials for my personal wood shop . I have a great passion for woodworking despite the fact that in India we do not have easy access to fine hand tools except a few tools made by such renown Stanley and Black&Decker. I wished to add a good rip-saw to my tool chest. I am saving my money and try to purchase on-line. A secret- Working with hands is the best remedy for many of our health problems.


    I envey your wood working skills and insite. Tell them to put there brains into gear before opening there mouths (in a gentel way)

  18. Isn’t it amazing how loud ignorance can be?
    You do a great job and have a wonderful skill not understood by narrow minded, single minded ignorants.

    Keep going, don’t listen to them.
    Change the channel!

  19. This makes me smile. I watch a youtube video recently of a guy making a wooden smoothing plane – quite a nice looking thing. After about 5 minute sof the video I relaised he had not done anything at all with hand tools – all machines. His shop had thousands of pounds worth of machines, yet he was making a wooden hand tool!!

    Anyway, as the video proceeded I was appalled to see him use CAD programme to print out a profile template to cut round with his bandsaw – it all just got worse. I don’t want to belittle his work, as, after all he was at least creating something regardless of his method, but one of the comments on the video just said “Nice Factory!”, which sort of said it all.

    The thing is, I get why this happens. There is less knowledge passed down from generation to generation through apprenticeships, so many of us lack simple guidance. For example, years ago, it occurred to me that if I cut along my pencil lines with a stanley knife and chiselled out a little v-shaped trench against this cut, I could drop my saw in it, and cut more accurately, but I never told anyone because it was obviously cheating, and proper craftsmen could cut straight in the dark with a banana. Then I watch your videos and see that my cheating is what you call a knife wall, and I’ve been doing it right all along!

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