I recently came across your website and blog which looks full of really useful information and advice on woodworking.
I just wondered if you have any recommendations for a beginner and what I should be focusing on at this stage? I was planning to try out some local courses where I can learn some basics about woodworking and furniture making. There are obviously many resources such as books and the internet which I can use as well.
The main issue I probably have is a lack of space. I live in a small bedsit in London so don’t know if I can realistically do much at home and buy items such as power tools. One furniture maker I asked suggested taking up marquetry but I haven’t looked in to this yet.
At this stage I’m just looking to get in to woodworking as hobby and build a bit of confidence, even if it’s just doing some really simple projects. Any advice would be appreciated.
Your question and quest will no doubt resonate with hundreds of others searching for training so I posted it here to answer it as well as in the comments section of my blog.
Many moons ago I began teaching woodworking to young children who came in the evenings with a parent. Over two decades I had the kids about three nights a week from 7-9pm. As a result of that I gained insights on training others in woodworking. Added into the equation that I also had full-time apprentices coming in for years and you get the picture moving into to teaching and training young adults. In my 40’s I began to train amateurs from my workshop because so many visitors stopped in to my open-house workshop. They too said that they wanted to learn from a bona fide craftsman. Eventually my passion for teaching and training and leaving a legacy ip people paralleled my love of furniture making and woodworking as a whole. Eventually I began writing books too, but even so, it was still too stymied for me because I knew that if I wanted my craft preserved it would never be in the so-called professional realms nor in the colleges and universities. It had to be in those that sought craftsmanship for the sake of their love and passion for it. I had to broaden my outreach and the only way I saw that I could do that was through the amateur woodworker who had the dynamism to pursue their craft against any and all obstacles. and not for money at all.
The good thing was that having trained literally thousands of woodworkers hands on in my classes meant I had not only the skills as a craftsman furniture maker, woodturner and woodworker, but the honed skills of a craft teacher too. Combining the two spheres from my personal growth as a crafting artisan and a trainer of children, parents and apprentices too meant I could also expose my work to a worldwide audience of like-minded enthusiasts if I could set up using the internet as a new to me platform. I began transferring my knowledge first to my first blog posts. The audience seemed to grow overnight. Joseph and I began videoing my work. We used YouTube as a sounding board and eventually we had well over 320, 000 subscribers. Combining that with the Paul Sellers blog outreach, Woodworking Masterclasses and now Common Woodworking meant a dream was coming true for me. This was the reality that the best way to preserve my craft was not only in a book and video but in teaching hundreds of thousands of amateurs what I had been given through the early years of my life. The best is that it has become a reality and people know it as much as I do.
From those early beginnings of one on one we now have my youtube channel, the Paul Sellers’ blog, Woodworking Masterclasses and Common Woodworking all of which channel my energies into the teaching of both new and seasoned woodworkers from every background regardless of anything.
You are of course right with regards to your personal situation. Personally, I know that you’ve already found the best place. If you use the search button on my blog you will find all you need for both very beginning material and then more complex things to enthuse and inspire you. Power equipment is not the way forward at all either and is a ‘no-way’ place to go in a small bedsit and anyway should be a last resort for any new woodworkers as it is not skill-based so much as industry based. Hand tools can be used in confined spaces and some people I know do do just that. Conscious of their neighbours comings and goings, they can get time in when cars disappear from neighbour’s driveways and return later. You need so few hand tools to get started too, that’s the big plus. You can also make a slightly smaller version of my workbench by following the making here. Above and beyond all of that, we have our very latest site designed specifically for you, the new woodworker, called Common Woodworking. It has lots of stuff about the tools we recommend, exercises to help you and then some beginner projects designed for hand tool woodworkers to develop the skills and confidence levels.
Best wishes for your future goals. Using my methods of hand working and following the courses, anyone can be a skilled artisan. Oh, I should mention the free subscription to our Woodworking Masterclasses too. Its certainly one of the most expansive hand tool sites on the web and it was specifically designed for people like you too.