Wraparound Support

“I just wanted to congratulate with your staff for the great quality videos that are surrounding your work. During the videos I noticed many improvements in descriptions, camera captures and the quality of images. That’s very important for people that view the projects from home.
Thanks.”

“Thanks Giorgio, I’m a fortunate woodworker. Personally, I think it reflects the dedication of the young people I work with. You don’t get to see them as I do, but not only are they lovely to be around, they craft their work with fineness in the same way I craft my pieces. I say you don’t see them as I do meaning face to face in the every day. I say ‘young‘ because they are all quite, quite young and aspiring in their own right.
You see they’re adaptable, concerned, caring. They flex, they make things happen that wouldn’t happen without them.
And then, just when I think that things can’t get any better, they reward me with something new and interesting and so vastly better. Personally, young people amaze me because they are mostly marvellous. They are bright, bright-eyed and they do amazing things to amaze me all the more when I see them every day.”

I wrote the above in reply to a blog comment from Giorgio recently. I meant every word of it of course, but I want to extend it to those who follow us that I never meet but I see if I look at our demographics or other comments made; you know, those quietly watching our work in the background. Those going into their workshops alone an evenings or weekend spent dedicated to a love they have for working with wood. I imagine them picking up their new-to-them tools from under the workbench they just built and haven’t had time yet to try it out, or the one they are building following our bench-build on woodworking masterclasses and YT.

You see there was a time in the pre-digital age when the ones I reached were the ones with time and disposable funds or income to spare. Nothing wrong with that. They’ve stayed with us, but I knew  I wasn’t reaching the next generations yet to come and that that had to be changed.

When we made the first 100,000.

I don’t scour the demographics at all really, but sometimes something pops up in this digital age that piques my interest. The age range of interested woodworkers has drastically changed over recent years. When I began teaching in the USA, say around 1995, the majority of students coming to my class were over 50 and then the majority of those were indeed over 60, from more professional backgrounds and predominantly male and middle class. I enjoyed what they brought to the classes and I learned a lot but I worried that young people just were not there in any kind of number. That has largely changed now and I am glad we persevered because we have managed to stay the tide primarily because of our online presence and outreach. Also, many of my hands-on classes are predominantly younger people under the age of 50 and often young people under 25 now. I think that that’s a remarkable shift but then I ask myself, ‘Why the shift?’ Personally, I believe it’s to do with accessibility? Yes, that is exactly what it is, accessibility!

Shifting to online continues to get better because of everyone I work with. Some say it will never truly replace hands-on but if we keep working to present what is difficult to present and close in on what you can’t even see at the bench then we just might achieve what previously might have evaded us. Currently what we have has become an ultra-close second and it’s getting all the better. For me, this means that in a given year we are training many many thousands of times more people than we could ever do with hands-on groups at my bench. YouTube, of course, has been our biggest audience and it’s here that we mostly pass on tool techniques and methods of work, which we have always wanted to be free content but content with the same woodworkingmasterclasses.com (WWMC) quality. Mostly what we post on YT is first presented on WWMC and then posted on YT for the wider audience. It’s amazing looking at the pictures from followers around the world who post their work on our gallery. What an impact this has made and is making. But then it is the silent work that takes place in our studio that amazes me all the more. Phil and Ellie, Mark, Carla, Joseph and now Izzy too—these are the ones that quietly discuss the issues you never hear about. They are the ones that free me up to do what I do best and they present me in a way that shows their sympathy for the work I do and the goals we all have. You see they care about the work they do and carefully craft the elements they are responsible for but then imagine this, there we are sitting and discussing a filming issue and Mark pipes in, “What about trying this or that?”  We all go with a corporate, “Wow! Yeah!” and take action. Just how do I share all of the input I get with all of these goal scorers?

So I can get on with my drawings and sketching, measuring and making knowing that everything I see taking place in the background is being well cared for. Who could ask for anything more?

8 comments on “Wraparound Support

  1. A big, big Thumbs Up from me. I recently sent a message with a question, via the website, with the vague hope that enough people might have asked it to spur a blog post response. It was a fairly forlorn hope. But I received a helpful, generous reply from Phil which induced a disproportionate degree of gratitude and – well – happiness.

    Paul and team: You’ve all created a marvellous thing with this site and your content. It’s exemplary and I hope you all feel very proud.

  2. I also had a great experience with a small issue I sent a message in about where i did my usual, i hope was humorous, twist of the issue. The response from Mark was prompt, resolved the problem right away, and even got a humorous response back. It really shows the quality and character of the team and shows to me that they care.
    It was appreciated and an experience I’ll remember. Great customer service. Hang on to this staff Paul. They seem like a gem. 🙂

  3. The information you give us every week has never been accessible except to a very few people. I was raised in a family that made wood projects but you had to figure it all out for yourself, I was using power tools (without much in the way for safety devices) at around age ten or so. When I took Woodworking in school our instructors never taught us the basics in hand tools because they didn’t have the skills themselves. Until I learned from you how to sharpen a chisel or plane iron it would take me all day to perform the task and then I would be afraid to use it because of all the time it took to get an edge and I didn’t want to dull the tool again. I never knew you could even sharpen a saw but that didn’t really mater because you just used the table saw anyway. My son and I make projects together now and I teach him what I have learned from you. Keep up the great work, your making a huge impact perhaps in ways you haven’t thought of. Like fathers teaching their sons.

  4. Paul,

    Have you considered making a video series in which you teach a member of your support staff?
    I think it would be interesting and useful for several reasons.

    1. Younger viewers would gain a better connection in watching a younger student learn woodworking skills.

    2. Some younger viewers might be interested in woodworking but think, “I am too young, or too busy, etc” to actually try. Seeing a new woodworker struggle, but be successful in projects, could encourage the young viewer to give it a try.

    3. Your young apprentice will undoubtedly have troubles and questions that you may take for granted.

    4. It would give your support staff an opportunity to experience what they may just see through a camera lens.

    • Well, we do encourage them to work at woodworking and they do when they can. Beyond that I don’t think people realise just how much work we do to make what we do. For every hour of filming already means many times more hours editing and creating the videos. Each day is always a full time full-on day for every one of us so it’s not likely that our videographers can spend time on the other side of the lens and keep up with their workload. Beyond that I have always spent a day a week involved in teaching and training my apprentices. I give them a year or two or whatever it takes. They don’t pay and they don’t make anything for me but they do follow a structured plan. I have done that for two decades. They don’t come to me to be filmed but to become skilled artisans so, whereas the idea is a good one, I can’t expect any more of what they already give to me.

  5. I am an beekeeper doing missions work in Haiti through my non-profit organiztion. I’m at the point in my program to build a modest wood shop for the local beekeepers in the area so that they can build the larger parts of bee hives themselves. Since there is no electricity, running water, paved roads, cars and such in the area, I would like the shop to be equipped with nothing but hand tools. For now, the woodworking activities would be limited to rabbit cuts in 1″ dimension boards (American system) or corners, crosscuts and rip cuts in the same 1″ boards (actual thickness is 3/4″), 1×6 and 1×12 boards, 18 and 20″ long. American Langstroth hive bodies are what we need to build. Some 1/8″ pilot holes need to drilled for nailing.

    Could you make a list of recommended tools that would be needed for 2 workers at a time to use? There is nothing there at present, so shop equipment such as workbenches, vices, clamps, etc would be nice. Things would most likely be purchased in the USA and carried or shipped there. I want quality tools, not the junk Asian things that may be cheaper. In this part of Haiti, there is no hardware store, supply house or such for 100 miles.

    This is a 2018 project. Also, could you point me to any of your videos that I can use to help train a team of experienced machine-tool competent woodworkers so that they may train the Haitians in the proper use of the tools? Thank you for your help.

    • I’ll give ot some thought. Not many, and there are charities to help set up tools like Tools for sustained life who specialise in procuring and distributing tools to help relieve poverty and equip nationals for planned sustainable cultures. https://www.tfsr.org/ Also, you might reconsider your thinking and seriously think about top bar beehives to which you can also add supers. They are easy and fast to build and are less effort for the bees to build their comb on. Just a thought.

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