New Site for Vision

And a site it was just one year ago. Looking through a wired-off rectangle of waste land covered with old rubble from former construction work, I wondered to myself, “Could this ugly land be home to the work we want to progress quickly into the future?”

Progress comes at a price and one part of the price is the hope that you feel a sense of permanence and solidity in what you hope to achieve. Since my early days in leaving England in 1987, I have lived and moved with a sense of permanent temporariness in my status and then too, my workshops as well. Mostly things like a country and a state, land and workshops can somehow feel that they belong always to someone else. At my age, it’s good not to own too much because decluttering down to the essentials carries more worth and this alone becomes very freeing.

It’s a year ago this week that the work clearing the new site began.

There’s something about putting roots down that I seem always to have mostly avoided. I think it was in 2016 I began to wonder what it would be like if no one could tell you, you ever needed to move again. So you will forgive me, but my five-year plan for teaching and training woodworkers into the future is about to become our five year plan; a period where anyone of any age anywhere in the world can join us to build their future. For over 25 years, over and above my working as a full-time furniture maker and designer, I have trained 6,000 woodworkers hand tool woodworking through hands-on workshops. We now reach hundreds of thousands. It is a no-brainer to restructure our future because this is the way I hope to continue preserving my craft.

Our plans include the need for two permanent buildings and the key one is now slotted right into place. Here is the settledness we feel we can nurture and grow the work we do in. The workshop is and always will be the core centre to our work. Working from here makes everything real and of course, the filming, research, creation and development can take place anytime, come rain or shine. In the upcoming episodes of this blog, I will be sharing more of our long-term vision.

As I was concluding the skeletal frame for the laptop desk design (if you recall) for our woodworkingmasterclasses.com, IKON construction, the people developing the new buildings we and others will soon occupy, was standing the steel superstructure of our soon-to-be permanent home.

 

Block C continues on from Block B

As it’s in a science park, with the restrictions as to extraneous noise being more stringent, we anticipate that our video work will go on uninterrupted at last. Here we can expand into reasonable workspace and we will be able to breathe! Asking six people to go into silent mode as we film for an hour is not so easy an ask but everyone in the office was super compliant and we made it through the last 20 months. That said, in so tight a confinement and being in such close proximity to the camera work, a pin dropping can indeed seem like an ‘I-beam’ on steel construction site.

 

Though we are cramped, we have two more people joining the team in the next few weeks. Something had to give so we are really just a couple of weeks away from the big move. We’ll be filming the transitioning to keep you involved but I have been packing tools into plastic totes for three months every time I have an hour or two spare. I am actually done with my bit. Next, it will be the office and filming equipment!

One of the hard tasks was tackling my many years accumulating tools, books, artwork, drawings and such. It was very nice to archive them so that they can now be accessed by name and box numbers. This is only a small fraction of the number of boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

Since the new building started we have made many complex pieces with the intermingling of simpler pieces for our newer and younger members. I hope that the many participants can understand that the simple pieces are equally important. I have designed them and made and taught them for training and teaching members who are of course of every age. I do see feedback where some members take issue over the length of complex projects and then the same too when we bring in simpler ones too. The nature of the complaints varies of course, but we discuss all the projects as a team to provide quality content of value and we do our best to keep everyone on a learning curve, otherwise, we become exclusive and that will never happen. So part of our reason for moving is to accommodate a more immersive training with more work available for free via YouTube.

Expanding the tent pegs

Our conditions are cramped by any office standards and when you think that I work opposite this by only a few feet you begin to see that something had to give. We need space. To increase productivity so that I can achieve my goal in this lifetime we need at least the two more people we are about to take on.  I am drawing all the drawings, developing designs, prototyping, writing, presenting and much more and even though I love it, it has become evident that we need more help. We interviewed this past week for a researcher/educator to work alongside me and those making the content; help is indeed on its way. Our guys have never once complained by the way.

The opposite end of my filming from where I am standing to take this pic.

 

 

 

A practical solution

I suppose in some ways it would have been nice to have a timber-framed structure for the workshop and studio but practically this would not work for us because of the time constraints we are under. The inside does look like what it is, a steel building with insulated cladding to keep us quiet, warm and free from light pollution.

Inside this superstructure, we meet with our architect Maya and the construction crew leader to complete our plans for a new workshop studio this week and we are so looking forward to it. We have not missed a step as far as being in full production but we have had some pretty daunting opposition from time to time. Most weeks I visit the site to check on progress. It’s a quiet place in that it faces a nature preserve and footpath-cycle path that takes you 8 miles on into Oxford. Behind us is the leisure/sports complex and so we feel it will make a wonderful new home for us. We will be just 1 mile from the market town where I live.

14 comments on “New Site for Vision

  1. So happy to see you setteling in such a good place. That’s very inspiring to watch how you and your team progress and we progress with you as well!

  2. Paul and The Crew,

    The first word that popped into my head was “WOW”! I am so excited by this endeavor you have undertaken. What a crowning accomplishment to all your previous success, and what a true Legacy you will leave for human kind.

    When I moved in 1986 from Idaho to California, I was excited as my “work life” of an electronics technician was in the infancy. As the years rolled by, my experiences gained and widened, my wisdom grew, I realized that I was not truly happy because I never planted my roots in California. Inside I still have a yearning to return to my home state and plant my roots.

    Having found unplugged woodworking, and gun smithing, I find the inner peace that you speak of in your blogs and videos. I find too much clutter and noise in my day to day experiences, I feel the stress that it creates. When I go to the shop and make, tinker, sharpen, or tune up tools or gun parts, I find the time passing by without pressure or stress. This is when I feel so at peace and fulfilled. I hope to return to the land of my roots, lay them down, and enjoy all the remainder of my days. I hope at that time I will make a difference in others lives in a far different way than I do now.

    Thank you Paul so much for your wisdom, philosophy, energy, and desire to make a positive impact on all you can.

    Kindest regards,
    Chris Goodrich

  3. I understand the itchy feet thing completely. Not sure what caused it in me. The feeling that this does not feel like home thing gnaws on me something terrible sometimes. If you do not mind me asking, what made you decide that this is “the place” you wanted to settle in?

    If this is too personal a question I understand.

  4. It looks like a good location for solar heat and power, too…Make lasting things as independent craftsman in a shop powered by lasting, self-supplied resources! Best wishes as you complete the construction.

  5. Having just watched your workbench build series on YouTube for the 2nd time in as many months, it might just be possible to say that you have my attention.

    I too will be moving into my new workspace soon at home and even though it’s not quite on the same scale, my excitement is palpable. To have a whole room to make mess and noise freely, the joy.

    Anyway, I am wholly enthralled by the work that you are doing and you’re inspiring me and many others to do more and put the techniques and skills I’m learning from you on YouTube to practical use.

    I’m thoroughly excited to see this new evolution for your content and your business and hope everything goes as smoothly as these things can, given the scale of the operation.

    Long may it all continue.

    Regards,
    Darren

  6. I couldn’t imagine not having a permanent place to call Home.
    I’ve been collecting and fixing up woodworking tools for 40 years or more in the same location. I know where to get the different types of wood I want from local sawmills who specialize in certain species I use. I like the stability of staying in one place to live even though I do travel.
    I do have a lot of clutter though, I think I’ll go and buy some plastic bins (Like you have done) today to start sorting out and storing my planes and tools. I suppose moving like you have has thinned the heard a bit, every time you move you must reavaluate what you use and what you want to bring to your next location.
    Good luck with the move!

  7. Seeing your new home in progress makes me smile and swell in pride for you, Paul. Since my life changing experience with you in Wales I have wanted to return. I know having your very own studio so close to your home is a dream come true. So happy for you and yours!
    All best,
    Steve (FirstFiddle).

  8. Congratulations Paul, Joseph and the whole team where did those five years go , I’m so happy you have your own creative space , I do hope you have an open day maybe once a year or so, i still want my book signing, I got a reminder on Facebook about woodworking masterclasses and thought it was a mistake on the year but it was correct well they do say time flies when you’re having fun .
    Once again congratulations and well done on changing the way people think of traditional hand tools and giving so many of us hobby woodworker the confidence to have
    a go

    • Hello Paul and your team.
      Following Helen’s and my meeting with you in June this year we have done it again! Not only have you enthused us with woodworking but also we have taken to its promotion along your lines.
      Four of our friends, an vet, a lorry driver, a scientist and an airline ground staffer put together a 20ft x10ft marque display of our wood workings, tools and a bin of saw dust spread on the ground for good effect for the second year running at the Australian National Field Day here in Orange NSW.
      Turned, carved, jointed articles and essential tools we had made, restored and used alongside my copy of your “Essential woodworking Hand Tools” and other relevant publications were displayed.
      We have had three long 12 hour days talking to individuals, groups, families and children who came from a radius of about 600km Melbourne, Sydney, Bourke and in between. The hundreds we spoke to departed with the short list of essential hand tools and of course acknowledgment to Paul Sellers and your web site.
      We invited the nearby residents to assemble with us in a local historic coach house which is the home of The Orange Woodworkers Association to show them what we can offer them.
      We finished the Field Day full of enthusiasm etc. as if we had just won an event at the Henley Royal Regatta in a wooden boat with wooden oars, a feeling similar no doubt to that which you must experience after your presentations to those wishing to know more about lifestyle woodworking.
      Thanks again Paul
      Roger Karrasch

  9. Nice to see a woodworker doing well! I thought it might have been in the park you had a video on before moving into the building you shared with other woodworkers.
    Congratulations on finding your way and dragging others along with you. :<D

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