A Full Month Past But What Memories!

In the last month I taught workshops in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel, filmed a new multipart series that fully updates my most current version on building my home woodworking workbench, taught a nine-day workshop here in the UK (just completed) and indeed kept up with the day to day of keeping all of the other plates spinning steadily. Of course not all of my months are like that, you know, so full-on, just close to. For me the most important thing is always having a sense of keeping things managed and under control. Thankfully I still enjoy good physical and mental health, the support of friends and colleagues, of course family and also the ever-growing audience of fellow woodworkers around the globe. Who wouldn’t feel constantly buoyed up.

There are other bonuses in my life that I never just want to let slip by. In Israel I listened to the many questions people had in and after my lectures and teaching sessions. You might be surprised to hear that they were hardly at all different to those of friends in say Japan or Australia.

Being face to face with people, I understand all the more that there is a great need for the direction we have taken in reaching out to woodworkers in the way we do no matter the countries they live in or come from. In this past ten days I have spent one on one with a marvellous group from different parts of the world who indeed flew in to join in the workshops. It’s a major investment for them to participate and I gave it my best shot.

My camera is always permanently positioned for use by my right hand, nestled there amongst my hand tools ready for the right shot. Whereas I keep many shots private, I do like to capture those moments when success is just about to be born. You know, when that first stokes with the plane jumps and skuds and the last stroke smooths away the wrinkles.

I wish time permitted me to travel the world over and teach thousands instead of two handfuls, so I am especially thankful for my all too brief encounters face to face, but then how would I reach the added thousands around the globe without my marvellous crew if film makers and managers that so make it all happen. They are amazing!

Today, as the class came to a close, I helped Hannah as she began assembling the components for her first workbench,the same pattern as the one we just filmed.

She started it on the same day the class started and got to work on it on average about 5 hours a day because she was helping me with the class in different ways. I think she may have 40 hours in it and is about 4 hours away from completion.

This evening, just as we closed, the bench was standing rigidly on all fours and there was a very distinct smile of satisfaction on Hannah’s face. Imagine! I do know exactly how she felt because I very much enjoy vivid memories of making my first workbench five decades ago.

19 thoughts on “A Full Month Past But What Memories!”

  1. I enjoyed making my workbench as well! If it weren’t for space and material limitations, I’d build another.

  2. This is what I much prefer to see, real people woodworking with simple, basic tools — not full of those fancy, boutique toys. One or two are fine, but every single of them being 5 or 10 times of what average woodworker can afford?

  3. Looking forward to the new series building a workbench. I’ll delay my build of your original bench in case the new version offers advantages over the old version. If I end up with a good bench after 40 odd hours invested then I’d be over the moon. Well done Hannah.

  4. Tassos Aristidou

    Also looking forward to the new series of the workbench!!!

    Workbench looks good even with these few pics Hannah!! Good job!

  5. This post made my day! I’m happy to hear about your success in Israel and doubly so to hear about the updated workbench video’s coming up. I’m about to start my build as well and I can’t wait to smile like Hannah when my own nears completion!

  6. “I listened to the many questions people had in and after my lectures and teaching sessions. You might be surprised to hear that they were hardly at all different to those of friends in say Japan or Australia.”
    That is what surprises me every now and then, too: Often the personal or cultural background might be different – but what when you meet and talk to people you’ll notice that their fears, frustrations and fun are nearly of the same kind.
    That’s what is an important input I got off you, Paul: Being kindly – in its best and widest meaning.

  7. I was wondering if you could comment on Time. I see Hannah working her perfection into her bench and the time it is taking her. Whenever I build things it seems as if I am so slow it’s shameful. It would seem to me if I were in Hannah’s position it would take me double the time . Not including the hand tool vs power tool debate (because with me it makes no difference, I’m slow with both) what are your thoughts, Paul, on the speed a man works? Should he feel that he needs to get his work done as expeditiously as possible? Or should he just get it done proper?

    1. I feel exactly the same way: mostly loosing a tremendous amount of time on correcting not square cuts, thinking where to drill, etc. I even look at my electric tools with temptation…

      Good luck: I should have started younger perhaps!

      1. That’s true for me also. The main reason for me asking Paul this question stems from my background in home repair/renovation here in the states. It has always bothered me when men would shoot a piece of molding into oblivion. Or beat the dickens out of a truss because they didn’t take the time to insure it didn’t move before nailing. Things like that seem…stupid for me. However, the boss wouldn’t have it any other way. I understand that people don’t want to wait forever for their house to be built or repaired etc. On the other hand, if it was understood at the beginning that things will be done correct and it will take a day longer than the other contractors, the product would be better. I couldn’t help but wonder how time use or management is viewed in fine furniture building such as Paul and Hannah are demostrating here.

        1. I coined the phrase it’s not what you make but how you make it that determines the outcome years ago because of my working with young people who seemed to miss the reality that the work can be both productive and enjoyable. I also know that most mistakes can be avoided if you do not put pressure on your staff but have expectations that are realistic and not over burdensome. Hannah is a hard worker and high self-demand like myself. You never want to put more pressure on those who are high self-demand because it is totally unnecessary. You do want to apply pressure to lazy people because you want them to become dependable crafting artisans and not lazy. It’s important for them to grow into people you can rely on and they must grow very quickly or thy will sap your strength. Mostly it’s to do with economy of motion and keeping things balanced you see.

          1. And a psalm of a phrase it is. I thank you for the response and the compass. My grandfather was a seabee during WW 2 due to his construction experience prewar. He and my uncle, his son, forced down my throat what little I know now. If I could go back, I’d be a sponge. I once witnessed him tear out a whole wall because it had gotten a smidge out of plumb. The owner was furious with him due to the delay. His foreman joined the owner with the tongue wagging. They said it would never be noticed but he told them flat that he noticed it was there and was unacceptable. He didn’t build the wall another part of his crew did. At the time, he was repairing and securing a fireplace chimney….which was on the out of plumb wall. That quality of work is what I strive for daily.

    2. It’s not an either or. Realistically you must build skilful work through rote repetition but our culture isn’t like that these days with gaming and digital unreality. Of course most people will never build ten or fifty of anything in relative succession as `i did when training so it is unrealistic to expect to build skills as fast as I had to. I asked Hannah to keep track of time on some things but not to race through the work, so that she had a realistic record of her time in cutting out housings. This knowledge becomes part of her ability to estimate. Estimate cost and time.

  8. For Paul:

    Bravo for the transmission of knowledge ! Can not wait for he Workbench série. Will it be with the subscription?

    Thank you

  9. Thomas Tieffenbacher

    Paul, It’s good that you are traveling to places in different parts of the globe to spread humanity through working individually and together and teaching people to feel competent and content within themselves.

    Thanks and enjoy the ride. LOL!

  10. Hi Paul,
    Thanks again for the nine day course – it was great to get your guidance and feedback for such a considerable time particularly with a great bunch of like-minded people. Also looking forward to the workbench series, Hannah’s was looking great.
    Thanks again,

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