You want to start out in woodworking, or you’ve taken the first few steps. Whether that’s with hand tools or machines and you think you must have all things in place before you get started seriously. You know, 20 by 20 workshop, that perfect workbench everyone raves about, shelves and cupboards stuffed and stacked with the finest of all tools and equipment. That’s when life begins, and you will become your own lifestyle woodworker. Maybe retirement is just around the corner. Five years to go and that big retirement cheque, the bonus called time to do what you want, collecting tools and knowledge for when you can make the transition from one world to another. Trouble is with all of that waiting you might just be wasting the very best of time waiting for more of an illusion. Becoming a woodworker doesn’t at all depend on any of these things, you might just think it does. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said it best with, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Get started while you have youth on your side no matter your age. Enthusiasm, aspiration, inspiration, know nothing of age and ideal circumstances. Procrastination is not in our vocabulary. There is no time to waste.

Any place of transition is a difficult place to be. Just when you start to feel settled in, you find yourself discomfited. On the other side of the lenses, when a video goes out, and I watch it, I look pretty cool. By that I don’t really mean cool as great looking but that I am quite relaxed. What I am learning is not to stay in one place for too long otherwise I won’t be ready for a change.

In the late 1980s early 90s, I began soul-searching because of holding a class on beginning woodworking. I’ve talked about this before somewhere. It led to the successful passage where I opened up teaching workshops for thousands of students. In all of my doings though, when the greatest growth took place was in the testing of things; in the constraints and struggles even where I felt I had the very least control was where I personally grew the most. And there in my greatest growing spurts I would see others growing alongside me. That increase meant growing pains. You know, not the expanding of an empire but straining to see how what you were doing created life for others you cared about or something you cared about. In my different working environments, most of which a created to suit me my workshops have ranged from 6 feet by eight feet and on up in size. At one time I worked in my creative workspace of 40 foot by 80 foot. It was massive. Today I find myself yet again in a more cramped and confined environment. I find myself with fewer than ever tools than ever before to go with it. You might think Paul’s looking pretty cool today when you watch this or that video. Well, I do feel it’s what I should be doing. I also feel in some ways it’s self-inflicted too. But it’s also what I want. My actual workspace is 11 feet long and 9 feet deep. The ceiling is trussed and starts at 7’6″. Not a lot different than my home garage workspace where the garage is bigger but I’m constrained to the same footprint. The thing I have found is that most of my very best woodworking, my most creative work, the generation of my best ideas and designs, my blogs too, come when I am the most constrained; the most uncomfortable in many ways.

That’s why I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. When I had my 40 x 80 space I worked in an area of about 11 feet by 9 feet by 7’6″. It has evolved for me and I have discovered that it’s in the smaller places that I work the best. So all of you out there, at the tail end of the kitchen, in the box room upstairs, or sharing with the appliances, kids bikes, lawnmower and wheelbarrow in the garage or shed, remember this is where you will grow the most. Never ever think that you need to wait for the ideal workbench or the bigger space. You’ll waste time. Work wood wherever you can and whenever you can. We amateur woodworkers will work wood if someone ties our hands and feet together and some leaves a pocket knife and a lump of pine on the top shelf. Go work wood!

Over the coming blogs I want to share more from my struggling toward success rather than the ideals. It will help you to see more of my vision for the future of our joint efforts in woodworking. You will see a few shifts, twist and turns I have taken along the way and see why I made them and how I got to where I am now in shifting the status quo of woodworking to encompass woodworkers on every continent.



  1. Giorgio on 23 November 2017 at 7:45 pm

    I totally agree with you. Never loose a minute of our life thinking I’ll do it tomorrow, because life is now.

  2. Stephen on 24 November 2017 at 5:29 am

    Great post and I think an ideal primer for people who want to get started but don’t know where to start.

  3. Wayne Yankoff on 24 November 2017 at 11:59 am

    It is good that we find ourselves “having to have stuff”. I find that I have acquired lots of wood working stuff, but no inspiration. I wait.

  4. Michael on 24 November 2017 at 11:59 am

    My big thing me and my loving wife out build a house so my wood shop is on hold in a way but still making thing we I have down time from the house. Mane thing can say and one just do it and have fun

  5. Mike Bronosky on 24 November 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I remember hearing 20 some years ago, “so you have planed and ready to take that dream trip, now you are waiting for all the traffic lights to turn green”. That trip is never gon-a happen.
    Thanks for the encouragement, I know I and probably all, or at least most of us, need that. Now we just need to use it.

  6. Christoph H. on 24 November 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you very much Mr. Sellers for you inspiring words. So I’m going on to create my basement woodworking space of 7x11x8… Who needs more? I like my cosy nest that smells of finest wood shavings and peace and is filled with the essential and not-so tools 🙂

  7. Ken B on 24 November 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I had a great deal of talent in music as a child but my parents always discouraged the idea of pursuing it as I got older. When I was 19 I decided I was going to be a musician after all and left the university to do just that. I had many adventures over the next 10 years while I was a professional in a rock-n-roll road band. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped but I have never regretted my decision to chase that dream and I have always lived my life with that attitude.. I never wanted to wake up when older, look in the mirror and say “what if?”. Anyone reading this should take that to heart and just make a start. As the Chinese proverb says: “A journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step”.

  8. Mark on 24 November 2017 at 2:43 pm

    And here I am building a 19′ x 16′ block shed for me start woodworking (at 49 years young). Sometimes I look at it and think, “Yup. Good for pretty much anything.” Other times I look at it and think, “Yup. About 6′ x 6′ too big.” Well, if you’ve got the space you may as well use it.

    I guess working in a cramped space helps you focus more; there’s less distraction and you can’t really wander too far from your workbench. I think the mind subconsciously forces every part of you to ‘make the best of what you have’. In turn, you really appreciate what meagre space you do have, and as a result, you approach any woodworking project with a healthy dose of respect and care.

    Not to mention bigger workshops are harder to keep warm.

  9. Ray on 25 November 2017 at 5:02 pm

    57 years old. Struggled with block plane chattering until watching Paul’s video on tuning up your plane.

    Now shaving nice curls from guitar necks and bodies. Really fun videos. Much appreciated.

    Thanksgiving weekend and my daughter has to peel me away from building shelves for tool and guitar storage.

    • Paul Sellers on 26 November 2017 at 11:35 am

      Thanks for the positive words, Ray. And so glad it’s working for you to that level.

  10. Paweł Kaczmarek on 27 November 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Dear Mr Sellers! All these words are inspiring and great! Thank You for that and films. Regards Paul K.

  11. Joe French on 28 November 2017 at 4:43 am

    Probably the best blog of yours that I have read. Very inspiring.

  12. Charles Kyler on 28 November 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Truer words have not been spoken. I find an efficiency in being able to access all my tools with a simple stretch of the arm.

  13. Luigi on 1 December 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks Paul,
    this is very encouraging! I just finished a bookcase working in my linving room hiding piece of wood and tools everywhere, but I made it! And the most important things is the my wife liked the end result very much! 🙂

  14. Steve Eastwood on 30 January 2018 at 2:12 am

    Thank you Paul,your wise word have hit home, 2017 project build work bench, recycled wood got. Summer time daily cycle completed, followed by “Heart attack” @62 years. so as you say “don’t wait”. Recovery plan, more Paul Sellers guide line’s, starting small, sharpen tools, turn 4 scrap chair corner braces glued and shaped by hand into 2 tea coasters loved by wife for protector candle coasters. So don’t wait to work wood as you don’t know what’s around the corner.
    Many thanks Paul and team I’m still working wood?.

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