You’ve Inspired Common Woodworking

You’ve inspired delivery of this thing we call Common Woodworking. It starts simply and builds. It will continue to build as online tutorial woodworking and serve  as a reference surrounding beginning woodworking with hand tools. Whereas machines are an alternative to hand tools, the methods used are in no way comparable or even similar at all to the hand tool methods we teach and train for. Many people starting out are actually enthralled with the idea of working wood using their own hands and tools they feel they want to work with. No one should be confused with the common terms adopted by manufacturers of machines and then magazines too, woodworking and machining wood are two radically different spheres.

When I started Woodworking Masterclasses it soon became apparent that many exponents of woodworking advocated the use of machine-only methods. We wanted to present the alternative and so we came up with teaching masterclasses online. With that came the cry from new people asking how best to get started. There was a dearth of skilled teaching from teachers with the real skills of hand woodworking. We launched Common Woodworking to answer the pressing needs of a new generation reaching for hand tool methods of working wood and then too those transitioning from their machines to equip them with the original techniques used by masters in the  previous centuries.

We started with the basics because our audience told us what their struggles were. Because I had personally trained around 6,500 people in hands-on workshops, I realised that the questions online were the same questions people had when they came to classes. “I’m struggling with this or that; my plane doesn’t work like yours, Paul; the wood keeps splitting and the grain tears for me, what do I do?” These are the questions that come up yet we still felt that by giving fundamental information students new to the craft could develop the same skills I learned as a boy of 15 apprenticing with the masters.

If you need more insight into the fundamentals of real woodworking then you can view our guides and skill-building exercises by signing up for free for our projects. If you have friends you might want to join you in the adventure, please send them this link. You won’t be disappointed and remember, the preservation and conservation of skills rarely comes from the professional arena these days, it comes from parents, aunts and uncles, sisters, brothers who took the time to learn and become masters in the silence and quiet backwaters of their garden sheds and their garages with a laptop set up to learn from. Times have changed and the only way I see to meet the pressing needs I speak of is to work with an enthusiastic mentor. I hope I can continue to meet the needs of those following us for many years to come. Ultimately we will couple all of our individual sites to teach people how to build their own houseful of furniture along with a wide range of skills.

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  1. Paul. Many thanks for your videos, I have formed a local U3A woodworking group based around them. We have made the oak mallet and are now completing the frame saw.

    1. Since Helen and I met up with you in your Long Wittenham field of poppies in June 2017, and likewise with Richard I have established a “Common Wood Working“ group in Orange AUS. I am also expanding another not for profit group of fully mechanized wood workers into a separate listed heritage centre for wood craft (hand tools) that will also include other heritage crafts. It has been your presentations that I found in May 2012 that has provided all the inspiration for these ventures.
      My colleagues and I in particular thank you for that inspiration. Roger

  2. Thank you for the continued content you all produce and share with the world! We are really lucky to have such a resource and I have for a number of years enjoyed your teaching methods.
    I missed out on knowing my grandfather, but I have tonnes of his wood working tools. My father doesn’t know how to use them, but through this resource, I can learn, reuse and utilise them and have connection to the past.

    This is a priceless gift. Thank you.

    1. Dear Paul and Team

      There is a section in the common woodworker site on how you use a saw correctly, it is a short section but it was vital to me in how to saw straight. For me the key was to putting the non dominant hand on the bench and correct stance so I could see the cut as I used the saw. Once I did this I had it and then just kept practicising.

      From this video I was able to progress to making the small mitre box and the shooting board and then hopefully to the picture frames.

      The common woodworker site is great for a quick answer to what may seem like a basic question. I look forward to the common woodworker site developing in 2019. My feedback is that I like the intro to plow plane, hand plane, rebate plane etc, this introduction videos helps progression to more advanced projects. Please add more videos to starting with certain hand tools like router planes etc.

      As a person involved in project management, I realise the effort that is needed in launching the common woodworker site. So good job to the team and keep it going.

  3. Hi Paul thanks for that

    Can I please make a couple of constructive comments?
    ” common woodworking” is a very good idea…….it would, in my opinion, be really helpful if you were seen actually teaching a novice he/she could make mistakes that you could correct rather than us seeing you doing what you do so well.
    Again would it be possible to show a project on your masterclass, with another person…..say Phil. All good things come to an end, or put it this
    way ???? Sorry can’t put into delicate words……it could be a lead into extending your teaching, with new ideas etc. Thanks John

  4. I love watching Paul’s video and reading the blogs. I am getting back into woodworking in my 70’s and finding lots of the heavier hand working a chore, so I have my table saw and other machines to take up much of the labour. Leaves more time for thinking, finishing, fiddling and making sawdust and shavings. But the joy of a nice sharp hand plane on wood is wonderfully satisfying, the sound, the smell and the accuracy. Oh! the accuracy, as a once aircraft metal man working to 1/64″ and better I can be too fussy. But then retirement gives one all the time in the World, one hopes.

  5. The only critique I have is that you took me from never using a hand plane to I can’t do anything without using a hand plane. There is a great thrill from feeling first hand a planed surface that is smoother than one that was sanded. I now have quite a few planes, but my favorite is a “Stanley” No. 3 which is probably 70 years old which I use for smoothing. I only use my real 70 year old No. 3 Stanley with the shooting board I made following your Youtube video. Thank you!!!

    I have found it helpful to use a digital gage to check the depth of the plane blade and that it is uniform left, center and right.

  6. Does there ever come a time…like after a large Project completion…that you walk back into the shop, look around..and say..”Now what?” Sometimes, I feel like i had just been “laid off”….

    Usually use it for maintaining tools and such,,….but, it is still a downer. No lumber in the shop, no plans…..nothing to build….

    Went from a huge Entertainment/ Fireplace Surround project…to… empty shop.

    Been doing woodworking about as long as Mr. Sellers….never get over the let down after a project is done?

    1. I’m not sure if I have ever felt let down after a project but perhaps more let go. I do feel there is that bittersweet feeling that I am often sorry the project is completed because I tend to love the making as much or more than the completion and the delivery. Once when I was working on a large project with my friends and co makers I was very sad that the project ended because I enjoyed us all working for weeks on the project and then when it was delivered we never worked together again and indeed never will with all of them. Maybe see it as I do and that is the goods have been delivered and now I must make another, different one. I never waited for an order to come in I just got straight back in the saddle and invested the profits from the last one into a couple of speculative pieces I could please myself with to sell.

      1. Hi Paul just like to say a big thank you for your video’s on sharpening plane’s and chiseles and videos of wood working tools how to make them work for me thanks again Paul from Charlie

  7. hello Paul and the rest of the team

    I have very much enjoyed all the work you all put in your videos to help us gain a better understanding of different tips and tricks of woodworking. I thank you all for the effort you have put into teaching fellow woodworkers like myself. keep up the amazing work. 🙂

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