No More the Ordinary!

I’m never sure when it started, a point where you could no longer determine what something is by its name. A form of sensationalism was somehow loosed and we lost sincerity to titles declaring ‘not ordinary’ that hid what was, when all said and done, intrinsically quite the ordinary. All the handsaw makers followed suit latterly with model names like piranha, sabretooth and barracuda. Then they backed up claims with reference terms such as, “Using a handsaw impacts on all the muscles and joints in your arm. The ERGO™ handle is designed with users, tasks and environments in mind to make the job…” blah, blah, blah! The truth is that saw makers of the 18th century put far more effort into the development of ergonomic design of saw handles than any modern maker and all modern makers either copied what existed or dumbed down the designs to come up with the most basic one-size fits all design.

In reality of course nothing’s really changed except that the handles are pre moulded plastic and the teeth cannot be sharpened any more. I was in my local builders merchants waiting to pay and stood staring at the signage of the two nearest products facing me. Whereas these stab saws and jab saws convey a sense of brutalising aggression, it’s the marketer that suggests that this is what the buyer needs. Aggressive marketers think that that is indeed what the user wants, a kind of macho-man aggression to his work. The packaging has changed to use brighter hi-viz lines, letters and numbers with rip tares and wild hogs with tusks as the marketers way of connecting the would-be user to a sale of his products. Imagine, even a common degreasing agent remains the same as it was ten years ago is packed and wrapped with a punchy headline header, “Cleans like crazy!”, too, but why the wild ‘Mad Hog’ title replete with tusks? Reminds me of the Arkansas Razorback football team. What they don’t probably realise is that they would have sold as well without it. I guess they thought that they had that insider knowledge of what the trades people needed, right?

Of course tools don’t escape the passionate marketeer who actually knows zero about hand work and the tools we need and use. We don’t need daggers and mad names really, what we need is an honest outer with an honest inner. Many things are packaged this way and that includes the presentation of information. Truth and trust matter. It’s all to do with genuineness. So I walk into the wood storage part and flip a few boards and regain my sanity. There is something honest about it. The scents of pine and oak have an honesty to them. The sticky feeling of pine has a cleanness to it. Getting my wood this week was real. Taking it back to my garage workshop was real for me because even though my workshop was built to optimise our ability to film, nothing inside it is staged. Everything in there is where I want it and if it’s awkward to film then it is just that, awkward to film. Now that I have been in there for this length of time, I am at last finding everything in a single glance. I still have more yet to develop, but I will get to that as I grow. The shelving behind me is not twee, cute, pretentious. It’s versatile, open, easy to access and easy to see what I am reaching for. Everything is as I want and I like it.

I have made several projects from my workshop here now. Some largish and some small. I feel quite unrestricted. Truth is I don’t need more space and I genuinely make every project right here in the garage. Whereas I did think that adding in my bandsaw and the extractor might be too invasive, it’s not at all in any way. I hardly notice it actually. It’s the first time for a while that I have actually had access to one. We will be teaching how to use one in the near future and giving all of the considerations surrounding it in the garage. Will I be introducing more machines like planers and tablesaws, mortise machines, routers and such? No. That’s not the plane and not at all on the horizon because they are not really necessary. Though putting those in my space and most of yours may be a possible option, they are way too invasive and would change the whole dynamic of being a woodworker. Not in any way what we want.

MY work is becoming much more valid, valuable and I dare say appealing to a wider audience by simply being genuine and real and without hi-viz packaging and sensationalising overtones. You see it is more about the quiet voice standing out in the shouts and the real contrasting with the skin-deep superficial that counts. Our goal is to reach those searching for real woodworking. It always has been and it always will.

44 thoughts on “No More the Ordinary!”

  1. Thanks Paul.

    I’m looking forward to the bandsaw videos when they come up. I am also very interested in hearing more about the dust collection you use. I am certain dust collection is much more important than tool sellers and magazines want to tell us about. I noticed when you turned the knob for the medicine cabinet, you wore personal protection equipment more aligned with how I would do things.

  2. I hate to admit I’ve been sucked in by marketing. I put a thick Hock blade into my #3 Stanley only to make it unusable. I just recently found the old blade and put it back in and now it works beautifully! I bought a biscuit joiner and used it very little after trying to make it work for a couple of years. I just threw it out this year when I couldn’t even give it away. Each time I thought I was doing the right thing, I thought I had found a new and better way only to be disappointed.
    Festool is the latest gimmick but I’m not falling for that one (not to pick on them, I’m sure it’s a great tool).
    I’m just not interested in that type of woodworking, I am trying to build my skills and do what makes sense to me. I’m not trying to make a living working wood, I’m only striving to make heirloom pieces that will last a hundred years or more because of proven methods.
    Who makes mortise and tenon joints anymore or hand made dovetails in furniture? Only craftsmen do and that’s what I want to be. Sounds corny but that’s where I’m at.

    1. Not trying to pick a fight here or defend Festool. But isn’t this contradictory?

      “Festool is the latest gimmick but I’m not falling for that one (not to pick on them, I’m sure it’s a great tool).”

      If something is great, how can it be a gimmick?

      It is ok to choose a different brand or tool, but gimmick is not the right word to describe a great tool.

      1. I would argue that it is a gimmick. Lets take for example their Miter Saw. It costs roughly $1500. A miter saw consists of a motor that spins a blade. I can buy a Miter Saw from Chicago Electric for $110 that works just fine, or even buy an old craftsman for $50….Why buy the festool?

        These companies put bells and whistles on their tools and advertise them to us and claim they will make you a better woodworker if you only buy this doodad or hooha. and its all smoke and mirrors. the machine is still a motor and a blade that spins, they just need to convince you to spend $1500 on their machine. Sure its well made but so are a lot of other tools that aren’t $1500

        1. By your definition (mostly based on prices), all high-end furniture or cars are all gimmicks, because cheaper or IKEA brand pieces or KIA cars are available as alternatives.

          I think you picked the wrong example of a Festool machine to support your point. The $1500 mitre saw (Kapex), despite its limitations and motor concerns, is the dream machine for anyone who does fine woodworking. The reasons furniture makers go for the Kapex include the best dust collection among any mitre saws (I use the Kapex without wearing a dust mask, and there is no dust on my work cloth, can you say the same about other mitre saws?), its bevel (not mitre) setting is precise and adjust with one hand, its hold-down clamp is unmatched by any in its ease of use, and therefore we use it (vs the cumbersome designs in other mitre saws), etc. I don’t blame you, Ken, for your superficial observation, because you have not used a Kapex, or used its features long and deep enough. Many people complain about its price, but no one looks down on its functional superiority.

          In essence, you are also saying a $250 Japanese chisel is a gimmick because a $5 Aldi chisel can do the job.

          Gimmick is not the right word to describe something simply because it is expensive or because you can’t afford it. That is the message I was driving at.

          1. Unless you are a production run shop or very well established craftsman, it is a luxury tool. The orginal point being made though, is that nothing in the tool makes you a better craftsman. Just makes the tool more pleasant to use.

    2. Hock Blades are amazing. Not sure how you could make a plane unusable! I’ve just restored a Stanley 4.5 and put the Hock blade and breaker in and it’s working like a dream. No chatter and cutting unbelievably. There’s no benefit of stepping up to high end gear unless you are at a level to understand and appreciate it. You learn with the standard equipment first.

      I bought a Lie Neilson cross cut panel saw thinking it would cut beautifully. (I thought I would cut beautifully). The saw didn’t. Not because the saw is a gimmick or overpriced compared to a Stanley…it’s because my hand-sawing technique was not there to match the equipment. Now I can saw well I can appreciate and enjoy the saw.

      I think real skill lies in being able to do a job well with a cheap tool and an expensive one, with the ability to produce the same results. The main difference is with a good quality tool the job is easier, more enjoyable and consistent.

      That’s what I like with Paul, he shows you don’t need expensive gear, but I’m sure he’d enjoy using and sharpening a set of Blue Spruce chisels more than the set from LIDL, but they are not necessarily going to produce better results.

  3. Adriano J. M. Rosa

    I am with you.
    I am not a skilled woodworker but i’m trying.
    Long live the hand woodworkers.

  4. My wife say’s I don’t come in flashy packaging… :-).

    You noted in one of your videos that machine tools have their place. For example when you need to make 100’s of the same thing. The downside of course is that the result will feel like it’s one of 100’s of things because the makers efforts and feelings aren’t in the object.

    However – you have mentioned that it may make sense to use something like a band saw for milling stock. I’m looking forward to learning that. Question – Since at my stage everything is for practice, should I just mill wood until all faces are exactly what they need to be, or should I occasionally use the band saw to “get me in the area”?

    1. I think its personal preference. When I very first started around 3 years ago, I was atrocious with a plane, but I kept at it, watched every video I could get my hands on and practiced and practiced, and ignored my table saw and machines. Would not trade that sweat and tears today for anything. I slowly developed and can say after 3 years, I am passable. (by no means a pro), now I will on occasion plug in a machine for some donkey work when my wife wants something made in a hurry, but the value of the lessons from trial and error using the hand tools to mill my wood into toothpicks at times by hands was and still is invaluable.

  5. I recently moved and had a mate helping with some work around the house. There was an oldish saw which i recently sharpened in front of him when he asked “Do you have a saw?” I just looked sheepishly at him and then the saw. “No I mean a proper one.” he said. I continued my gaze and he reluctantly picked it up. “Oh wow..” he said, after cutting a 2×3.

    You see, if it doesnt have an orange handle, it’s not real. Why don’t we get that?

  6. Ronald Moravec

    It is all about making money, more money. I inherited a Diston saw that can not be sharpened. Nice concept of always sharp, but does not cut worth beans.

    You and I may be happy with hand tools and becoming one with the wood. Problem being construction people, the major tool buyers, need to work fast, get in, get out, get paid.

    A remodeling man redid the fireplace and book shelves next door. He was a master craftsman. Every joint is perfect. He insisted on doing the painting so his work will look good. Not many who work on a house with attention to detail of a furniture maker.

  7. I’ve always *cough* admired *cough* the truth in advertising: “designed with users in mind”. More precisely, focusing on the specific section of said user’s wallet that holds the credit cards.

  8. This happens when the people who invented a thing or whose job it is to make the thing are no longer in the picture. The people responsible for them only have to write out a PO and send it.

  9. George E Perentesis

    Are some of you people serious, their is no reason why hand tool work and machine work can not be done together. I have been working wood for many years, was taught by my father on machines, went to college and minored in wood working. I was taught that you cannot do total machine work without knowing how to work wood by hand, using all the tools shown to you by Paul Sellers. When doing production jobs, you know for a living, you need to do thing in a timely manner, table saws, routers and band saws help you accomplish that timely manner. I think Paul Sellers is a master craftsman, I just think that you can use both means to accomplish that end result, a well made piece. I really enjoy watching Paul work, he has taught me many things that I really did not understand, but now do because of his videos. Please do not become such snobs about machine work, Paul Sellers has been doing this work for many years, he is well versed and can accomplish thing in woodworking that many of us will never be able too. He has come up through the ranks from an early age, taught by masters and is now a master himself. I have been watching Paul for about two years, have thought about taking a class in England, will have to investigate that a bit further. Well just a thought about hand a machine woodworking.

    1. Extrapolating what’s woodworking and what’s machining is all the more difficult. As an apprentice a machine was not ever called a tool, it was a machine. Western countries, mostly starting with the USA gradually began introducing the term ‘power tool’ instead of machine to soften the impact and invasiveness of what are indeed dangerous pieces of equipment used by industry as machine-only methods. My experience, having lived in the USA for 23 years of my life, is that the majority of woodworkers gradually became more machine-only workers even in small domestic shops used by hobbyists. Skill levels were obviously reduced over five decades but we are now seeing that change markedly, mostly because they are discovering what they were looking for when they started out. For the longest time a tool was just what got the job done and with an attitude like, ‘Who has time to stop and smell roses anyway? or, Who wanted to? it was no surprise woodworkers were carried along with the crowd. Look back through the TV shows where presenters showed speed and ease to every single cut and never made a mis-cut or if they did it took seconds to replace it.
      The reality is that most machine work requires human attendance to redirect and correct something going wrong, but not particularly skilled workmanship. The machine usually takes over as the person feeds the wood along a direct linear path into the machine’s cutter-head until the power feed takes over to deliver the wood on a continuing line to the outfeed table. Humans usually become that powerfeed in home circumstances whereas in industry safety protocols rely heavily on powerfeeds for obvious safety reasons and to improve efficiency. It’s the same for router made dovetails and so on. Another common prejudice I witnessed constantly is the assumption that everyone everywhere has bags of money and space to acquire and house power equipment such as planers and jointers, tablesaws with sliding tables, radial arm saws, mortisers, bandsaws, chopsaws and so on. Whoah! That is massive footprint of industrial processing yet the woodworkers only wanted to make a coffee table or a baby crib. What went wrong???
      Our research polling hundreds of woodworkers showed clearly that most woodworkers had only a small portion of a garage, a shed or a spare room to do their woodworking in, often sharing the space with household stuff, about a bench space really, so I think the audience is serious, George. It is what it is. Also, try to remember that my audience is not the professional woodworker working the majority of their work using machine-only methods along with a hammer and drill driver, and I include the so-called power-tools in its entire range here, not just freestanding machines. My audience is made up of individuals working as amateurs to much higher standards of self-demand regularly involving highly skilled work. They will never be as you say: “doing production jobs, you know for a living, you need to do thing in a timely manner, table saws, routers and band saws help you accomplish that timely manner.” It is all too easy to judge these situations a little askew and declare them as being snobs because they don’t put in machines when the reality of it is that they could never install even a single machine because of several reasons including cost, safety concerns, noise, air pollution, space constraints and much more.
      Finally, just for balance, more and more woodworkers, having developed their skill levels, are indeed using less and less power equipment because they like the process of working their bodies and working the wood. There is great power in hand tool woodworking and dare I say much greater power than in power-tool woodworking in many cases.

      1. Researching material on a 1961 Delta Rockwell lathe I am refurbishing, I stumbled upon the following publication…

        An excerpt from “The Modern Motor-Driven Woodworking Shop” published in 1930 by Delta Manufacturing Co.
        “There is a great thrill awaiting those who have never experienced the joy and pride of having made things from wood. The ring of the whirling circular saw or the hum of the jointer is music to the ears of any real man or boy, and the sense of achievement which comes from seeing the object of one’s labor takes form, amply repays one for the effort that must be put forth….
        Years ago, work of this kind had to be made with hand tools. This was not only tedious, and required a great amount of skill, but also took up a great amount time. Now that motor-driven machines are available to anyone, it is comparatively easy to make things, and a few hours of spare time will produce results that would have taken weeks had they been made with hand tools. You may not be skilled enough to square up a 6 inch board with a hand saw, but with a good power-driven circular saw, this operation is almost as easy as sharpening a pencil”.
        -Ruthless marketing.
        For those interested in reading further:
        And a boatload of other information on old machines.

        Thank you, Paul for all of your efforts in demonstrating what is truly possible for anyone!

      2. George E Perentesis

        My contention is that their is a place for both. I too have become less and less dependent on the power equipment, after watching your videos I have incorporated your methods in much more of my work. Yet there are some pieces I will not get rid of or stop using. I am now retired and seem to have much more time to do more hand work and to lessen the electric bill. My space is a two car garage. To me you better know what your doing when using a machine or your going to hurt yourself badly. To say that pushing a board through a machine ” not particularly skilled workmanship” is not correct, you better be somewhat skilled. I realize that most of our audience will probably not do much production work or have a specific deadline to get things done, but I just can not see why both machine work and hand tool work is not looked on as the same means to and end result, a well made piece. What really bothered me was a comment I read on your blog by someone writing in, that he would not use power equipment. I’ll tell you what, there is nothing like a good band saw to help get the job done.

        1. It’s all in the opinion, George. Skill is a developed ability that almost always takes time to build and master, otherwise why would we call it a skill. I look back to my youth, 15 to 16 years old, when the men showed me how to use the very large and powerful industrial machines and in a few minutes per machine I was using them all day, every day, week on week. I cannot say it was at all the same experience for laying out and planing, sawing and chopping mortises, dovetailing, inlaying without a power router and epoxy resins poured into recesses to call them inlays. There is indeed a great difference between machine work and skilled work, of that there is no doubt in my mind. Any fit and healthy person of mature age can use machines in minutes with only a short informative lesson. The main cause for concern here is in the heightened levels of danger which people respond to differently depending on life experiences and so on.It can of course take time to develop a little confidence, overcome fear and such. Machine work is about 98% safety consideration and there simplicity of lining things up to push the wood forward. There is very little skill needed to do that. Handwork is about 98% developed skill and 2% safety issues. Ultimately, once the skills are indeed developed, it takes little conscious struggle because you learn to place the and propel the tools intuitively. So we have two opinions here. I accept yours is your opinion and agree to disagree with it because you see it your way and I cannot persuade you differently. Because someone says that machine work is skilled work doesn’t make it skilled. I think I have put sufficient thought into the differences between these two spheres of radically different ways of working wood over the years and I certainly do not say what I say just to antagonise anyone. To me it is just the reality that one substitutes for the need for skill and the other totally relies on it. This was what was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and the programming of operators to dumb down the operations and use the operators to ensure things went well with minimal losses to the bosses. A harsh reality but people were indeed assets in the dehumanising of people. Oh, and bandsaws are very useful for taking on the donkey work of dimensioning larger stock to smaller components, but here again, once they are set up, and you understand a few basic principles of how the wheels relate to the alignment of the blade, blade installation, tensioning and so on, its quite simple to operate and of course, as you say, effortless.
          I do concede then that we see things differently because there is nothing mechanical about hand work and everything is mechanical about locked off machine work with rigid systems of alignment that guarantee no wavering in the cut.

          1. Well Paul I guess we disagree, Put that’s OK. Everyone has their opinion. I don’t really think that minimizing machine work is right. I feel that one can use both means to the end result. Machine work can never complete 100% of any project that I have ever worked. I use machines 40% in my shop and 60% is hand work. I’ve never cut dove tails other then by hand, but simply cutting stock down, yes. I understand clearly what you are saying, but then you also need to understand, that machines will always be a part of woodworking, if not only to make one part of the process a little less tedious, and possible a little less time consuming. I speaking only of a small shop. This does not take away a persons skill level whatsoever, it makes that person more versatile. Really, when you honestly think about it, aren’t we all after the same thing, regardless of how it’s done, a well made piece? Thank you for your comments and also thank you for the lessons learned through your videos. I have enjoyed you for two years now and plan to keep watching. Looking forward to the band saw series.(LOL)

          2. I find it a little hard to understand what and why you’re saying what you say. I have worked with machines and hand tools six days a week with two weeks off a year for over 53 years. I’ve worked out what both camps do and it’s dead simple. They are not one and the same at all. After over 127,000 hours of woodworking with both hand and machine methods I conclude that one is generally highly skilled and the other is not. And it is not a means to a same end result of equal output either. One method denies the enjoyment of doing skilled work and the other demands it and is rewarded by it. Opinions only matter if they are indeed based on fact. I’m not telling anyone not to use machines nor am I a purist about hand tool methods. I simply tell it the way it is. Most machine work is dialling in margins and shoving wood along a straight fence to register it as a guide into a blade or a cutterhead of some type; not much skill needed at all.

  10. I’m confused.
    Is it a Rapsaw or a Jabsaw. I don’t do either so I can safely pass this over.

  11. When you said you were introducing a machine, I imagined it was going to be the lathe. After you’re done with the bandsaw series, which I’m looking forward to, I’d love to see a series on the lathe.

  12. Besides the sales hype, jazzy packaging and even TV advertising (especially nearer Christmas) of the latest “inovative power tool” or DIY gadget it seems to me that both modern hand tools and power tools are not particularly well made. Even mid range or high end products judging by the retail price point don’t last for too long. Perhaps longer than the cheaper tools but nowhere as long as the hype and price would suggest. Inferior materials, poor design, poor assembly/quality control it’s almost as if the manufacturers are building in a limited life-span. That might be good for business but for long term reputation and customer satisfaction it can’t be good, to say nothing of the environmental issues when recycling (excelerated?) end of life products.
    As regard the promised review, instruction and tips on bandsaw use….yes please! It’s been promised a couple times in the past but I guess higher priority subjects and projects got in the way. I really will be watching out for this.
    I picked up my second hand bandsaw over two years ago and spent nearly 6 months on and off just getting it renovated with new bearings and parts as time permitted. I have used it only a few times but have been sufficiently pleased with the results to decide that the effort, time and expense in its procurement and renovation was well worth it. I’m now saving up for for an extractor along the lines of the one in your photograph. Boy does this machine produce a lot of sawdust, and it all just clogs up the insides! How much of the finer stuff could potentially go into my lungs I wonder? Definitely need a vacuum/extractor but a dust mask will have to do in the short term.

    1. You do! I am very happy with my extractor as far as power and pull goes. On the meter we use it barely records atmospheric finings from the machine at full belt and is well below any and all legal requirements.

  13. When I talk to professional woodworkers about how I try to learn to work with handtools only for the pleasure of doing it, they always say the same: you cannot do that if you want to optimize the time you work, and machines do perfect cuts in a very short time. The usual argument is resumed in a spanish expression that I don’t know if has an equivalent in english, but it says in a literal translation “if you want to do that way, you will be eaten by the flies”. And I think that it is probably true. Time is money and money is time.

    But they always (always) say that the woodworker profession, in the sense of men who have the skills and the technics to do a craft work, is almost lost. Lost without remedy. A good craftsman I know, who is retired of professional woodworking now and makes spanish guitars -really good guitars, I must say- as a hobby, congratulated me after seeing an old saw I had restored. It was an old handsaw which I had sharpened for a crosscut, after restore the blade and reshape the handle. The sharpening in particular was, in his words, professional. He said to me that many professional woodworkers shouldn’t know where and how to begin in sharpening a saw, a work that I had been being only an begginer amateur. Another one said to me in his workshop that he had three employees working for him, and no one of them knew how to sharpen a chisel by hand.

    By the way: the saw and chisels were sharpened and restored using the same techniques and methods I’ve learned from Paul’s book and videos.

    I always wonder if most people interested in woodworking can have at home so many machines as appear in some youtube videos. Can you have a power jointer and thicknesser, a table saw, a band saw, a router table, a press drill and a power stationary sander in a normal-size garage, where a normal-size car “sleeps” and where part of the home stuff are present? Sometimes is difficult to find a place for a medium-size bench, a tool cabinet and a pair of saw horses, besides a place where to storage some of wood. Are those big machnines affordable to most people?

  14. Funny, had the same thought a few days ago (actuallly, have it quite regularly), as I saw a hard-point saw that was made to look like an alligator’s head, along with nostril/hanging hole (a plastic-handled Irwin saw). Everyone knows an alligator-shaped saw saws better, after all. And you can’t argue that such marketeering is ineffective – money talks. If it didn’t work, the manufacturer would resort to different imagery and ‘unique selling points’. It clearly shows what people truly value in a tool – not usefulness, durability, resharpenability, shape of teeth, etc.

    And every time I walk in a DIY store past the rack of screwdrivers I can’t help but inwardly chuckle as I wonder, “how ergonomic can a screwdriver get?”

    About two years ago I had a conversation with a teacher of a technical school, aged about 55, I think. I pointed to one of the welding helmets (of a cheap no-name-brand I recognized and I knew were extremely low cost, but auto-dimming) in his shop and asked whether he liked them or not. I meant whether he liked the auto-dimming function but he thought I was referring to the print on it, of a distasteful skull. He told me he liked the print, as it appealed to the students and they were much more inclined to actually put on such a helmet. He said he had difficulty getting the pupils (boys aged 13-14) to wear one otherwise. Said he was going to order a few more with skulls and eagles-with-american-flags print.

    I inwardly shrugged. Different people have different requirements of a welding helmet, I suppose.

  15. Richard Harnedy

    Hi Paul can you give some details on your bandsaw (make model ,motor hp etc ) and will the future videos using the bandsaw to make cutlists? I would be very interested in this as a beginner definetly some time saving videos needed. Also if there is a good budget bandsaw option that you recommend to get started on some of the basic project cutlists, a video similiar to the spears and jackson handsaw comparsion but instead for bandsaws. This would be extremely helpful.

    I like the way you are only introducing one machine not multiple machine, first this is important for cost and more important I cannot teach young children to use a table saw, mitre saw etc. This approach would definelty marginalise woodworking for me so i am happy you are not going down this road.

    1. I will be expanding on bandsaws over the coming weeks and months and that includes bandsaw blades too. I will not be getting into the names of makers of actual bandsaws though as this would not be my usual course. Rest assured though, you will know what to look for in a decent bandsaw so please hang in there.

  16. Colin Edmondson

    I’m interested in the points raised about use of space. My garage needs to do a lot of things besides being my workshop. As I get towards the final stages of my bench build I’m thinking about whether some of my design tweaks need to reflect how the bench is going to be positioned – certainly back to a wall, most likely in a corner and unsure whether the end where the vise goes might need to take account of available space either side as well as my left-handedness.
    Doubtful about whether I might ever squeeze a bandsaw in even if I wanted to…but I’d be very interested to know what the priorities should be for using a small space ergonomically.

    1. I know my garage seems a good size because it is dedicated to my woodworking-no lawnmowers, kid’s prams, wheelbarrows and such. Those are for sheds. I have never garaged a car either, so no issues there. That said, I have had as little as 8 feet by 5 feet with a 5 foot bench along the long wall. No moving it around at all. I have also lived in places where the bench had to be stored and I wait for a nice day so I could work outside. You might have considered hinging the bench top along the bottom edge of the back apron to collapse it down and with some rugged hinges. That way the wall becomes your back legs and two added legs at the front as props will work.

  17. Good article Paul! Marketeers clearly still don’t take women into consideration. The macho approach just doesn’t work for me and would likely put me off. In fact it’s still almost impossible to find clothes to fit us women woodworkers. My local store looked aghast when I asked for a size 4 boot !! The answer was “ we don’t make them for young lads “ !!! Still it’s their loss a they have little idea of what working with wood is really about .. the smell, the feel .. the touch .. and so on and the fact I still use tools passed down from my late father.

  18. The reason your videos struck a cord with me is that you show me I can do a job with a $40 tool and not need the bigger $400 machine. I don’t do wood working for a living though. Being an Arkansas resident I agree that the logo does look like the University of Arkansas logo.

  19. Because you are so right on the money Paul I got a great belly laugh from descriptives of these poor quality saws they are making now LOL> So I am with you 100% It really rings true that they “don’t make ’em like they used to” Thank you again for making my day.

  20. I’ve been at a crossroad. When i got back into this I thought about all of the “machines” that I would love to have and felt were necessary to be a competent woodworker – my list included:
    Band saw
    Drill press
    a better table saw
    more on this list but you get the idea
    I have to chuckle because now my list of tools and some skills I want to learn:
    1. Build a good workbench Paul your workbench is the model for the bench I’m going to build – IMHO I think that lack of a good solid workbench may be the main reason people struggle with hand tools – How can you plane, saw or use a chisel if you don’t have a good way to hold and support your work? I’m struggling a bit because of this.
    2. Develop my skill at perspective drawing so that I can transfer the ideas in my head on to paper and then build. I’m setting aside time each week to do this.
    3. buy more hand saws – I have a few but do not have a good tenon, dovetail or carcass saw – why? because I’ve been thinking about cutting from a power machine perspective and that is changing…
    4. Learn how to sharpen saws – which means I have to buy saws that can be sharpened
    5. I have two handplanes – I need two more to fill in what i feel is necessary to have a basic hand plane set. I have a feeling that I will be exploring some of the more unique handplanes after that.
    6. I’ve been having some luck with honing my chisel and plane blade sharpening skills – that is another journey that will take a while to learn.
    Woodworking is becoming my passion as a hobby and I think I have made my choice. I’m no longer at a crossroad. I get a great deal of pleasure out of working with hand tools and every little gain I make in skill reminds (and excites) me that I will be improving these skills and learning for the rest of my life
    Lastly, professionally I am a safety manager. Everytime I turn on my table saw I think about losing a finger from that one careless moment.
    I may cut my finger on a sharp saw or chisel blade, but I would have to work pretty hard to cut it off.

  21. The great writer, David Pye, in his book on the aesthetics of woodworking distinguished between the workmanship of risk and the workmanship of certainty. David made beautiful things himself. I was reminded of his books when I saw Paul cut dovetails at the Great Northern Show two years ago. This the workmanship of risk; he didn’t even use a guide for the angled cuts. The result was exquisite. It was passed round and had a quality that machines just don’t produce. You may prefer one or the other. I prefer Paul’s way. I’ve reverted to hand work and am so enlivened in the process. My machines lie idle and they will go when I can find a buyer. With the exception of the band saw. Makepeace classified the machine router as hand work; I think probably not. But the band saw is hand work and my reasoning is this: when other craftsmen visit they do not get the same results with the bandsaw. There is a whole tactile and kinaesthetic aspect to the bandsaw. The maker still has to have a feel for wood ands for the band saw.

    It is very useful for re-sawing and for working small. It has to be set up properly and this has to be checked regularly. Cutting good 2.5mm veneers is a joy…. and much else. It’s safer than most woodworking machines and very flexible. I’ve just refurbished mine and it will stay. I get a similar pleasure to that which I get from hand saws, chisels, and routers. I just wish I’d bought a Preston or Tyzak router before Paul made so many realize what wonderful tools they are. And the Stanley or Record tools are very good too.
    So I’m really looking forward to Paul on bandsaws. It will add to the brilliant guidance he has given us on hand tool wood working.

    A postscript, nearly twenty years ago I met the head of a major woodworking machine manufacturer. I indicated that I intended to buy a bandsaw. “Waste of money,” he said. “If you want to make firewood get an axe.” He demonstrated how poor a tool the bandsaw is by cutting some wood on a brand new one they had for sale. It was terrible but then the wheels were out of alignment, the guides not set and he cut a piece of 2×1 with 12 inches of blade exposed. I marvelled at how someone could be so handsomely paid for being so absolutely useless….

  22. I won a power drill and thought I’d get back into woodworking. I hadn’t done much since high school. I’m 47 now.
    Well I started out buying a very powerful electric router, then built a table for it. I used the router for that. Then I used the router to build a storage box for my sister. It was fun playing with the machine, but very time consuming and not that enjoyable.

    Then I came across Paul Sellers.

    Now I’ve built a jewellery box, hand cut dovetails, mitres, dados and rebates. No electricity used.

    And now I’ve made a sharpening station modelled on Paul’s. But I bought a router plane to do it. What a wonderful experience, making the knife walls with the knife and chisel, hand routing out the recesses for the stones.

    As I’m still using a honing guide I placed a few stops on the base to quickly measure my angles. I strop by hand though, and am starting to sharpen/hone by hand now too. I’m getting there and it’s definitely worth it.

    However, instead of gluing and screwing on the stops on, of course I had to cut out five 2″ x 1″ little recesses, 1/16″ deep, using knife walls and my hand router plane. Loved every single minute of it and even developed my technique and improved my skill with it just cutting those recesses.

    Anyone want to buy an electric router and custom built table? “As-new”…lol

  23. I think marketers target the lowest common denominator which, in terms of DIY, is the macho ‘alpha male’ image. Women are just as likely to be woodwork enthusiasts but it is still seen by advertising companies as a male preserve. This is why tools are marketed as ‘weapons’.

  24. I would love you to expand on your drawing video. Ditto on the lathe. You mentioned a story board but didn’t expand. Would love a deeper dive.

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