It may just be a prototype bathroom cabinet to others, to me it is therapy by design!

Therapy comes to us in many ways. I walk the river path every morning. Ducks and waterfowl of every type are just inside the reeds and roach 10″ plus long nose upstream awaiting some morsel to twist and strike on. Some times I crouch down just to listen for ten minutes and a dog discloses my suspicious presence to its owner. I raise my binoculars and they smile knowing all’s safe. Though these things preface my day, alongside my morning coffee with a close friend too, it’s my work that most frees me.

The prototype wall cupboard.

When I make a cabinet like I do I enter a place few others I know of really go these days. It’s pretty much a machine-free zone though not always and not always altogether either. I would never refer to myself as a machinist woodworker because that’s what I am not. I left those days far behind long ago in search of  high-demand and taxing work for my body, my brain and then, more importantly to me, my mind. This last week I needed help with my mind. Life had been very busy preparing for the Open House weekend and combined with the day to day demands of our effort that can come at a price as you all will know. Paul’s not exempt from the excesses of preparing for events and many things he alone has to do. The support i got was most welcome and without it we would not have made it. So when I say I needed help it was help after the event and it was help no therapist or doctor could give to me. As I took the first saw strokes into the wood I could viscerally feel tensions in my neck dissolving. By the time I’d ripped down through three two foot lengths my whole body had loosened and when I picked up my plane to swipe of shavings I found myself yet again out in the stratosphere soaring for an hour.

It’s when I start making joints with my chisels and saws that I seem able most to leave all things behind. Just a fifteen minutes dissolves a days stress and a whole dissolves a month into nothing of any consequence. Therapy is of course what it is but that so limits what has taken place because, as I have said before, even the bizarrely wild and complex things surrounding us all the more, things I might never hope or indeed want to understand, seem to make a certain amount of sense. I recover my sanity with hands behind a hand plane and through a hand saw. I pull and push, draw back to strike, swerve to pare cut and soon a joint part unites with its other part and a peace settles on me that is to all intents and purposes impossible to describe. The exhaustions of life where strength seems always to dissipate in a single breath is not just stayed but ousted completely from my body, my mind, my brain and my emotion.

so then I painted my bathroom cabinet with a white water-based base/undercoat followed by two coats of flat matt chalkish paint, which I like for the ability to get it smoothly sanded. Now it’s ready for top-coating with a satin waterborne finish I have yet to decide on. The mirror I cut down to size from a pre-framed door hanging mirror from a big box store. All that’s left is to turn the door knob and add a catch and I am done. It’s a two day project for me. I’d sell it for £400 knowing that the joinery guarantees longevity and that there is nothing anyone can buy in most places that will compare to what I made. Certainly not the therapy side of it. Forget biscuits, dominoes and dowels, nuts, bolts nails and screws. It is robustly solid and well made and I enjoyed the designing and the making of it. It’s easily scaleable and it has a few little nuances to intrigue those that want a simple project with challenges that nudge your accuracy levels.

As a hanging project I added a few concealed mortise and tenons so that it hangs reliant on the joints and not just glue. I still kept it simple though. The cabinet has a back held into grooves though this is purely to keep the inside of the cabinet with same clean lines as the outside.

The door I put together using my system for frame and panel joinery using M&T joints and that means a guaranteed perfect outcome every time. When I slid the tenons into the holes they were each one perfect. Not boastin’ just sayin’. Anyway, I think you will find therapy in the making, as usual.


  1. Roger Phebey on 3 July 2018 at 11:11 am

    Hi Paul
    I understand how that bench work brings calm to your life, have you ever tried wood turning it has that effect for many of us?

    • Paul Sellers on 3 July 2018 at 4:37 pm

      As a furniture maker woodturning was an essential part of my furniture making craft and I earned a large proportion of my living from what ~I turned alongside my furniture making for 25 of my 53 years woodworking. I never once found wood turning to be even close to being therapeutic even though it was fascinating from time to time.

  2. John 2v on 3 July 2018 at 5:58 pm

    If this is our next project, looks similar to the clock and that’s where I first joined masterclass. I’m happy to say that due to Paul’s tuition I feel able to make it without watching every week.

    Not too keen on the stuck on quadrant……

    • Paul Sellers on 3 July 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Sorry John but assumptions can and do creep in. It’s not at all a “stuck on quadrant” so thank goodness I didn’t use one anywhere; it wasn’t even a laminated board. Not at all sure why you though or suggested this. Dig anywhere deep enough and you can always find fault though, even if it’s not really there. On my prototyping, for speed, because that’swhat it is, I might let some things go, not always though. This project has no joint as per the clock series. Always look for the small nuances that make for differences in my work and my teaching. Oh, and this is the prototype so there would be nothing wrong with making scraps work to test out with and save costs. Even on the real thing there would be nothing wrong with improvisation. And then, really,, the blog carried a different message altogether and I still carry the benefits of it inside me.

      • John on 3 July 2018 at 10:28 pm

        Sorry Paul I “should go to Specsavers” when reading, as I do all your blogs, I saw what I thought was a quadrant, my apologise.
        And yes always something to learn from your superb teachings…..thanks John

  3. Robert on 9 July 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I liked the article.This is exactly why I’ve wanted to get into hand-tool woodworking — for mental and physical therapy. Hopefully soon I’ll complete my beginner tool set and begin.

    I’ve been wanting to build a bathroom cabinet. I’m unsure how to deal with the extra moisture of that environment. Will this project be coming to video eventually?

  4. Geoffrey Black on 9 July 2018 at 4:33 pm


    I have been moving toward hand wood working for some time. It has been a serendipitous experience finding our videos. I too, enjoy the therapy of wood working. Chopping successful mortises is a joy that brings calm to my mind and heart. I used hand planes for the first time making a cradle for my grand-daughter. Thank you, Thank you.
    I am finishing a work bench now and my next project is your frame saw project. Frabjous day!

    With gratitude,

    Geoffrey Black

  5. James on 16 July 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Paul, I had not heard of “dominos” mentioned in your blog, so I did a search. I ran across the following, which I found quite interesting:

    “Fine Woodworking published the results of joint strength tests in their January 2009 issue (#203). They tested eighteen joints: half laps, bridle, mortise and tenon, floating tenon, miter, splined miters, dowel max, bead lock, domino, biscuits etc. They attached a rail to a stile with various joints and tested them in a lab under controlled conditions for lever strength. The range of the results ran from 1660 pounds of breaking strength for the half lap joints to a meager 200 pounds for the stub tenon. Traditional mortise and tenon rated near the top with a breaking strength of 1444 pounds followed very closely by floating tenon at 1396 pounds The bad news is that the domino placed #14 out of 18 at a lowly 597 pounds, just above biscuits at 545 pounds.”

    To say nothing about the base price of $700 USD(one cutter) and additional $200 for a kit with four cutters. “What fools these mortals be”, Wm. Shakespeare

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