New Project Day

I love the day we launch a new project on Woodworking Masterclasses. For me it’s magic. I worked hard for weeks. Sketched and drew out my ideas, shared them with those who would film me, built the prototype and worked through the self-doubts and the challenges and also faced off the naysayers beyond. From early sketches on scraps of paper through to the final drawings, my work always brings me through me to a point where I walk away from the project one evening with it lying on my workbench in the diminishing daylight.

Please sign up and join Woodworking Masterclasses if you are indeed struggling to find the right solution for your woodworking growth. Hundreds of others have attested to their growth spurt through a combination of resources we provide and the videos answer today’s pressing need for quality apprenticing flexing via a more modern platform that otherwise may not exist.

I think sometimes my audience might miss the point of my work just a little. I design the projects and provide training and teaching for all to grow together. Those who started out not being woodworkers became more than competent as they followed my plans. It’s the fully orbed preservation and conservation of craft skill without becoming some nostalgic quest to return to the past or become some kind of living history museum. My quest is not to keep redundant crafts alive as a sort of historic archiving for skills no longer needed, but the living work in progressing a lifestyle alternative that can be integrated with modern life and lifestyle. I have always wanted a viable entity that meets today’s pressing needs where you can go out to a small workshop area and make some of their needs around the home. I am not particularly interested in reenactment per se, though I do see its value for teaching history and such, I prefer a well-done theatre performance over just keeping a craft alive for the sake of it. In my view a swan quill pen will be a thing of beauty because of the sawn feathering, it will never return to replace the ubiquitous biro. But it’s interesting to see how they were made and performed and were indeed replaced by metal nibbed alternatives like the one I write with.

Why have I said all of that?

Well,Woodworking Masterclasses, our teaching and training courses, have been the culmination of decades of work one on one, apprenticeships and then online in the recent years. We changed from those earlier days using what we gleaned from one on one to challenge woodworkers online. It was never our goal to have people sign up for the rest of their lives but to follow and learn over a shorter season of perhaps two or three years working the odd evening and weekends. By distilling down what I learned in my early apprenticeship and an added 50 years full-time woodworking and furniture making since, we’ve been able to create a uniquely different learning experience. We show that hand tool woodworking is actually far more powerful than people might at first think, more powerful than the so-called power-tool methods people turn to in their early days. Developing true mastery after a very short period is very encouraging and by that I’m talking mastery in sharpening and setting up their hand tools, mastery in making joints that are airtight and gapless. It just takes a little pluckiness to take those opening steps to sharpen a saw or a cabinet scraper. The outcome is wellbeing and fulfilment, something many people overlook when they first begin. I am amazed at what has taken place over the past few years.

Our goal is a new maturity in woodworking

People come and go from our Woodworking Masterclasses and we are actually fine with that. Why? On the one had that can indeed seem negative, but, for the main part, it is because after that initial growth spurt, a little steady reinforcement through projects, most of our attendees have grown exponentially and can indeed stand on their own two feet. They’ve not only watched the videos, but they’ve also gone out into their creative spaces and put into practice what they’ve learned. They’re building pieces and redefining their saw teeth. They’re experimenting and researching by doing. This is the growth I envisioned. They are now following traditional patterns that stood the test of time as proven technologies and harnessed what they experienced to make what at one time was lost to them. This, my friends, was our goal.

15 comments on “New Project Day

  1. Paul, this is my favorite blog so far. Yes, I have gone back and read every one of your other posts (some of us are craving this kind of information). This post hits the heart of what I am trying to achieve in my own life.
    Though I would prefer an actual apprenticeship, at my age and present responsibilities, it is not even a remote option. BUT, I can and have gained knowledge and skill with the Woodworking Master Classes. I am the guy you describe in the post, who with some trepidation, learned how to sharpen a chisel, then a saw, and now can adequately sharpen a cabinet scraper and re-tooth a saw. My joints still need improvement which will come with practice and time.
    I don’t know how else you could teach and enlighten some many with any other mechanism. We are truly blessed this day and age with the technology that can make this happen.
    The only thing that is missing for me is having someone looking over my shoulder to make the necessary corrections or suggestions as I am working. It would make the learning curve much shorter.
    I do appreciate your efforts in all of this.
    Tad

    • I can hear myself saying very gently and quietly, never invasively, ‘Whoah, Hannah. Did you hear that?’ or, ‘How do you feel about that?’ or again, ‘Hannah, I just want to show you something I might forget if I don’t do it now.’ You are right, these are the little promptings, but we do what we can.

  2. That is an accurate description of my journey with WWMC. I became a paying member about 3 years ago. Your teaching provided me with a strong foundation of techniques and the confidence to take on any project. I made your rocking chair less than 2 years into my membership. I recently made a companion footstool using similar design elements but without any formal plans.

    I used to dread glue ups. Now I just put on some relaxing music and get to it. I “see” all your glue up videos in my head as I’m spreading the glue quickly but without haste or anxiety. A hammer tap or a clamp always rescues a stubborn joint. I absolutely LOVE watching the little drops of glue squeeze out as I tighten the clamps. Just tight enough to close the joint. Love it!

    I suppose I COULD cancel my subscription but I’m not ready to do that yet. Thanks for teaching me real woodworking.

    • Thanks, Dusty. And thanks for staying with us. I never like to lose someone. I still visit with my old mentoring craftsman every time I go back to my home town of Stockport; me in my late 60s and he in his mid 80s. he can still teach me a thing or two but now it is reversed some as I teach him a thing or two too.

    • I recently cancelled my wwmc subscription but will sign up again soon. I cancelled only because I wanted to make things on my own from stretches to protypes to final product. I was beginning to feel like a loborer because what I was making was not my own plans. This may sound strange but it was truly how I felt. But,I have more to learn.

  3. A bit of a nonsequiteur, but my garage is full of dust (from the time I used a power router indoors- never again btw, going to build the poor man’s router next) yet my cat loves to go out there at night, despite the 100+ temperature in Fahrenheit. When she returns, I call her Dusty Roads, and dust off the sawdust from her fur with my foot.

  4. Hi Paul,
    Will we be getting to see your videos on the workbench drawer anytime soon?

    Wanting to add the saw holders to the side of the workbench, but hesitate to do so until the drawer placement has been determined. Also, could very much use the storage that the drawer supplies!

    Regards,
    Bill Antonacchio

    • Hello Bill, The series goes out 5 weeks tomorrow on woodworkingmasterclasses.com and the series will be free. It will go out a week later on YouTube. I suggest waiting as I think it will be well worth seeing first.

  5. What an amazing time we live in!
    Communication of Knowledge is expanding exponentially for the human race due to the internet and computers. At our fingertips are answers to any questions one might want to ask, video instructions on how to do things are so abundant that we can watch instructions for hours on end. Indeed we have an over abundance of information and we need to filter out and choose wisely what is watched because a person doesn’t have enough of a lifespan to be able to watch it all let alone put the information to use.
    I have not made many of Paul’s projects but I have learned to hand sharpen tools in minutes and touch up my tools in seconds where it used to take me hours.
    I have learned to make dovetails by hand where previously I was going to buy an expensive dovetail jig and power router. Just recently I made a dozen drawers for my wife’s kitchen all with handmade dovetails. I have improved the quality of my work and elevated my skills in immeasurable ways.
    My point is that we are “kindred spirits” united by an interest to create and learn how to produce beautiful items that will last longer than ourselves. All you have to do is show an interest, then be motivated enough to try it for yourself by actually doing the task. I don’t plan to cancel my subscription to these courses any time soon even though I don’t watch all the videos like I used to. I always seem to find inspiration and new ideas on how to do things that I thought I knew already. Besides I hope my continued support will help in a small way to keep this knowledge flowing.

    • I agree about the “kindred spirits” comment. I see so many people of similar mindset connected here and WWMC. I think its a wonderful and supportive community and one of the best corners of the internet.

      While we can’t have a mentor looking over our shoulder, there is an advantage to this format… We can go back and re-experience the same lesson with new eyes. We need never worry about forgetting what we learned as it is kept for us in posterity in a way that real life instruction is not.

  6. Yes, isn’t it just a fantastic world we live in? Trees can grow big all by themselves and provide us with the most fantastic material you can think of, wood. Light and easy to shape into almost whatever we want with relatively simple and cheap tools. Tools that do not need being connected to any source of power. We can think of computers and internet whatever we want, but they give us – a whole generation or more – the possibility of learning the skills and techniques that enable us to construct almost everything out of wood. Very satisfying. I very much appreciate what mr. Sellers do and have done to expand the community of woodworkers, it’s such a big thing. Ideally we will get to a point, where woodworkers encourage and inspire one another. Of course we learn a lot from our “great master” but like the most – if not all – apprentices we will after 3-4 years reach a point where we have picked up the most of what is worth to know and perhaps feel a desire to leave Master’s workshop and pass out in the world. Only to find that also the interaction with other woodworkers will give us inspirations, knowledges, techniques and ideas that we perhaps didn’t get from our master. And in the meantime new apprentices enter Master’s workshop.

    I want to thank you, Paul, I wasn’t totally hopeless with a handtool about two years ago, when i coincidently stumbled into your virtual workshop on Youtube. But what really has made a difference for me is that now I know the importance of sharp tools – and I know how to sharpen them myself. Specifically that ability makes woodworking so much easier, quicker funnier. And now I can perform with a degree of precision that I never thought or even dreamt of would be possible for me. It’s so satisfying, thank you again Paul.

    You also tought me how to benefit from the knifewall technique and many other little things that have elevated my level of skills significantly. I did not copy your projects but certainly your techniques – and they are useful all the way around. But my very little space in our shed and a few old handtools I fell over has made it necessary for me to build a tool cabinet. Smaller than the one you did in your video and with one or two little differences. Because now I can. And get it just the way that I wish. I’m so happy with that. Thanks to Paul and welcome to new woodworkers.

  7. There comes a day…when a Project is completed, and delivered. Then I look around the shop…not enough lumber on hand to start something else….no real project in the works

    May clean and rehab some tools? May take a week’s break from building something?

    What does one do in the space between the end of one project, and the start of the next one?

    • Can’t say I have that problem. Once I was writing out a list of things I needed to do around the house. My wife got hold of it and in under two minutes the list quadrupled in length.

      My advice, If you’re married, do something for the spouse as a way of showing appreciation. If that doesn’t work for you, there’s almost always jig-building and organizing, and designing for the next project.

    • That’s the time I use to give the workshop a more comprehensive cleanup, go through all the tools and check them out and then use the scrap timber to practice joints or techniques that I may not have tried out or used much previously. Then there’s the designs to work out and draw up and I generally make a half or quarter sized mock up of my projects too so I can go through a build without wasting wood.
      The scraps from this end up in the BBQ.

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