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Plywood Workbench Episodes 2 & 3 out now

Today times are changing. People have questioned my using plywood for a lifelong workbench but believe me, plywood is a well proven material. I have total confidence that a well made plywood workbench will stand the test of time. Would you believe me if I tell you that Plyscrapers are currently under design in Japan to reach 70 storeys and will be 90% wood. Canada currently claims the tallest plywood building with Norway’s plans to pass that at 18 storeys reaching 88 metres. Whereas concrete is about the most environmentally unfriendly material on the planet, it is fighting back by including elements hitherto unknown as an additive, mostly made from vegetation.

My workbench episodes go out staggered by one week so they are first seen on woodworkingmasterclasses.com and then a week later on YouTube. No matter, Plywood Workbench Episode 3 is out on Woodworking Masterclasses now and Episode 2 is out on YouTube today now too. Remember to please signup to Woodworking Masterclasses and hit the subscribe button on YouTube. Both are free content for everyone. Subscribing is important for me so we can continue to grow our audience on all fronts. It is very important to keep gainability and spread the word about our work.

52 Comments

  1. Bob Leistner on 8 March 2019 at 5:00 pm

    While I really hate to doubt Mr. Sellers, I can’t see how the edges can hold up over time to heavy use. I certainly don’t have the time to build it to try it for myself or I would.I like experiments: )



    • Paul Sellers on 8 March 2019 at 6:18 pm

      I don’t mind being doubted, I just don’t understands what the basis is for the doubt. Are you speaking from experience using say 20 grades of different plywoods over a few decades? Have you used the 13 ply birch plywood of equal thicknesses of ply throughout that I am speaking of and using in the videos or have you generally bought the inexpensive grades that still have a place but not for the workbench I am making? I think it would help to evaluate the basis of your doubts. I see no reason why an indoor piece of furniture with the right protective coating and the right degree of care in both use and manufacture should not last for a hundred years or more. So it mostly about the basis of your doubt that I ask the question.



      • David on 10 March 2019 at 10:05 pm

        Aside from being ugly, and aside from being vulgar, why use anything else? Why use hardwood at all?

        I’m really disappointed you’ve gone down this road.



        • Adam on 11 March 2019 at 11:32 am

          Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And “vulgar” is a bizzare word to use for a plywood workbench. It’s a workbench. Nothing needs to be sophisticated about it.

          Please enlighten us as to what “road” Mr Sellers has gone down?
          Perhaps try the word “alternative” or “option”.

          I think it’s great, while not for me, that this idea might bring more machine woodworkers to try hand tools. That’s the whole point of this project. Mr Sellers has clearly stated this.



          • David on 11 March 2019 at 2:15 pm

            When I signed up for Woodworking Masterclasses a few years ago I did not expect to see a projects using plywood and screws, projects which I can find innumerable examples of for free everywhere on the Internet.

            Paul has not only decided to start using plywood cut with a band saw, he also decided some time ago to put his tool collection out of sight of his subscribers because, as he wrote, he thought it “intimidated” those new to woodworking. Like his decision to use plywood and screws, I think he’s made a mistake here.

            Paul’s decision to build a plywood workbench means he won’t spend that time producing videos for his paying customers who will never build a plywood workbench and who would be embarrassed to be seen working on one. I started watching Paul’s videos some years ago when I came across his first workbench video, one made using hand tools and lumber.

            Why he decided to make another one using plywood and screws is mystifying and disappointing.



        • Bill on 11 March 2019 at 1:58 pm

          And who cares what you think?

          Paul has always catered to beginning woodworkers and those who want to get into woodworking but are unable to afford thousands on fancy tools and wood.

          I built his previous workbench design using construction grade 2x4s and I absolutely love it. Before I did I would have thought that at minimum a workbench should be solid maple. I’m glad I trusted Paul’s experience on what is truly necessary for a good workbench. I’m inclined to do the same now.



        • Doug on 11 March 2019 at 5:39 pm

          Personally I don’t have a problem with this project. The process, attention to detail, problem solving and use of the various tools makes this project a really good one. There are a lot of good things to take away from this. The use of premium grade plywood is not a detriment to what Paul is relaying to us, on the contrary it is a very good demonstration of fine wood working. Have a good day David.



        • John G. on 12 March 2019 at 12:49 am

          The plywood bench has the same design considerations as any solid wood bench. This one functions the same as any other workbench. The most beautiful benches are the ones that have served well for years and decades, and the benches that have taken the dents and dings rather than passing them onto the work piece. It’s a workbench, not a dining table ,,,



        • David Patton on 13 March 2019 at 10:20 am

          Seems a very petulant, and snobbish, comment. What makes you think your disappointment is of any concern to Paul, or anyone else, for that matter?

          Perhaps you should seek inspiration elsewhere, and leave the rest of us to appreciate Mr. Sellers’ contributions.



        • Rob on 14 March 2019 at 11:01 am

          Are you mad, it’s a workbench. Not a piece of fine furniture. It will be used to build on and take abuse. That’s it’s purpose. It’s really that simple



          • David on 14 March 2019 at 2:23 pm

            Haven’t you heard? This bench is an actual “work of art,” as a couple of commentators assert down below.

            I’ve been a paying customer of Woodworking Masterclasses since 2014. I’ve made many of Paul’s projects and plan to make many more. I was attracted to his work for two reasons. First, to improve upon my hand-tool techniques, and second because I thought his philosophy (at that time) stressed craftsmanship over convenience, never taking the easy path over the proper path, and not making any compromises regarding excellence.

            My objection to this project, as stated above, is by using plywood cut into jig-saw pieces fitted together with screws, there are no mortises, no tenons, no joinery whatsoever. I suppose he’s doing this to attract an even wider audience of paying customers, and if that is is motivation who can object? It’s his business, after all. But even so, it isn’t what attracted me to his videos, or his philosophy.

            Some here are reacting as if criticism of Paul constitutes some kind of hate crime. What nonsense. I think he made a mistake here. I think he made a mistake hiding away his remarkable tool collection. If you think it’s wrong to express these views that’s your problem, not mine.



          • Paul Sellers on 14 March 2019 at 10:10 pm

            I don’t think it was really the criticism that people took umbrage over David, it was more the accusations that I had somehow neglected you by choosing to add a one project that used ply wood and a bandsaw. You see I listen. People said they couldn’t find the time to rip through three inch oak by hand. It made sense. Our surveys showed what people had to work with or in. We listened and worked out what they needed to progress. But even beyond my freedom to choose what I want to give away for free which you don’t just criticise but attack, you take on a self pitying mode about your being deprived of good content, which no one ever likes universally. I could add more but your”criticism” seems at best to give off a sense of feeling more sorry for yourself. Sharing concerns that way can of course be manipulation to get one’s own way. I am sorry I needed to respond to you this way because I do generally try to take on board constructive criticism.



          • david on 14 March 2019 at 10:44 pm

            Paul, I appreciate your response.

            I do not feel sorry for myself. I am your age exactly. I am retired comfortably and am thus able to spend hours each day in my shop. I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman for over 40 years. I have my health and the time to enjoy my grandchildren.

            I expressed disappointment with your decision to use plywood and screws to build a workbench not because of how it affected me personally, but because I think it signals a change in the philosophy that attracted me to become one of your most loyal customers some four plus years ago. I find it odd that some decide to take such umbrage at this criticism, but that won’t deter me from expressing my opinions on this matter.

            In any case, I’m going back into the shop now, where I am building your chair project, the most challenging of the dozen of more of your projects I’ve built. Those compound angles are very difficult, but as usual, following your techniques will get me over the finish line.



  2. Andy Bennett on 8 March 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Paul: I’m a self-confessed fan of your teaching.

    I have nothing against plywood. Nothing at all. I use it for lots of things. But I can get ideas on using plywood from any of thousands of sources. I can get good, reliable, clear instruction on using traditional methods and tools very few sources, and up until very recently the very best of those was you. Now that source seems to be drying up, and it makes me sad.

    You are using your very great teaching gifts for teaching things that many others could teach. And you seem to be neglecting your nearly-unique areas of expertise and plunging into things that you don’t know much, if any, better, than lots of others.

    Please, can you return to the tutorials on hand tools? The “poor man’s” series is incomplete! Lots for us yet to learn that only you can teach us.



    • Peter Akhurst on 8 March 2019 at 6:58 pm

      I for one have not seen a workbench made from plywood, that is not to say it has not been done before. I enjoy the psudo joinery created by the use of the cavities and you have of the ply. It is rather clever.

      I would counter if may to the idea that the training of use of hand tools is drying up, the tip of the menaphorical iceberg is only just being seen. Common woodworking is evident of that.

      Perhaps without trying to put words in the mouth of others is that Paul is trying to open up the world of hand tools to a wider audience (read people who mainly use machines), by showing how “modern” materials can be used for the workbench, and speedily to boot.

      I for one would not be rushing to use ply due to it being cheaper to make out of pine and a fair but from scraps, but find it interesting to see the alternative. I think I might fall into the group of those who would be wary of using birch plywood for a table, however with reasonable thought of how I have seen it used kitchen cupboards, puzzles, boats, furniture, to name but a few the doubt is eliminated as these sorts of items can put up with a great deal of abuse over many years. I made a longboard from one many years ago and it held up to harsh treatment.

      I am not sure Paul can keep up with our ferrocious appetite for his knowledge. Keep it coming Paul at al.



    • Paul Sellers on 8 March 2019 at 8:58 pm

      For someone who says he is “a self-confessed fan of my teaching” I think what you say seems narrow and harsh at best. I would not like to face you if you disliked me. I gave excellent reason for the plywood workbench build and make no apologies for introducing it with the reasons given in past blogs. Whereas you “can go to any of thousands of sources” on how to make with plywood I have yet to see my concept anywhere on the globe. So my idea is original and unique and therefore worth sharing with those who will benefit from owning a good workbench to start their hand tool adventures. I think everyone else got that. Secondly, my content is designed for everyone wanting to learn hand tool woodworking. It is accessible 24/7 with half of it (hundreds of videos) being absolutely free via WWMC and YouTube. It covers every realm of furniture making. My gifts as a teacher go out almost every day and adding in a few episodes for a plywood workbench in no way detracts to the degree that you accuse of. As far as “plunging into things you don’t much of.” I have no idea of what you are speaking. I have used a bandsaw most days for 54 years to date and I have used plywood throughout my working life to.



    • Zeppos on 9 March 2019 at 9:18 am

      I think Paul is continuing to find ways to spread his message and teachings to a wider group of people. I will also not make a plywood bench as I already made the original version, but we can’t be selfish and only ask him to focus on what specifically interests us, but instead support the mission he is on. Personally I try to look for learnings in all material, and recently I’ve learned more on the bandsaw (I just ordered one).
      Personally I’m ‘poor on time’ that I can spend on woodworking, so learning about the bandsaw was welcome.



    • Steve Sousa on 11 March 2019 at 12:46 pm

      You know, I’ve begun feeling this way also. Paul’s early videos of using and caring for hand tools grabbed me by my heart and led me down the road of using hand tools over expensive and single-use power tools. I loved the intimacy of Paul’s original set (It kinda looks like mine!). The theory behind the tools drew me to watch Paul’s videos over and over, trying to not only repeat his actions but also to understand how and why it is done that way. Some of the new projects seem to be something I could find on general woodworking publications.

      Paul, you are a natural teacher! You show the patience and developing skills needed to work wood by hand. I hope that you will return to your roots on your web page and include some of the old philosophy of tool use.

      Thanks for all your instruction. I’ve learned a lot.



      • Robert Vogel on 12 March 2019 at 4:03 am

        Research a few of my favorite boat designers and builders. Sam Devlin, Jeff Spira and shipwright Lou Sauzedde. Sam Devlin believes in building the best possible quality of boat utilizing the best quality materials and with the stitch and glue process one can build a beauty. He prefers high grade marine plywood. Jeff Spira one the other hand has a website where anyone can pick from hundreds boat plans of various sizes and can build a boat with construction grade lumber and plywood with the ply on frame technique. These craft are rugged, touch and efficient. There are work boats which were built this way for decades by realistic people who work from the sea for a living and survive that way. And there are the old beauties of lapstrake design and carvel planked craft. Such that Louis Sauzedde would build or repair. He uses plastics and many other modern mediums to repair and build his crafts. Those are the old wooden boats not using plywood at all. They are built much differently. I love them and I also love the plywood boats. They are all good for different reasons. The good news for plywood is that from what I understand they are easier to maintain than the old solid wooden designs which can easily leak if beached on a sandy shore. They rely on the expansion of wood to stay sealed from leaking and need a lot of care to keep going. So the plywood has it’s advantages. If I ever made it to be a famous boat builder, I wouldn’t worry myself over what material I would choose other than for technical reasons or whatever I was in the mood to build with. I may even try aluminum or try to invent a new method using recycled materials. Is something wrong with that?



  3. Ken Dalgleish on 8 March 2019 at 7:16 pm

    The de havilland Mosquito was made largely of plywood and was probably the best and fastest twin engine plane of WWII. If it’s good enough to harness 2,400 HP of Merlin engines at 400mph then surely it’s good enough for a workbench.

    I think ply has been unfairly maligned by people mis-using construction grades and by traditionalists who insist that the edges, like Victorian ankles, should never be on view. But the better grades of birch ply are wonderful materials : immensely strong and stable and capable of being crafted into beautiful objects too. The edges can be made as smooth and hard as any solid timber and easily turned into striking design features in their own right.

    Hopefully Pauls’ bench will help power the current ply revival and lead to a more reliable supply of the better grades for those of us who like to make fine furniture from plywood. Embrace your inner Scandi.



  4. neil greene on 8 March 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Enjoy every project and while some will not find their way to my bench they’ll add to my knowledge of woodworking. Just like I may never carve a Chippendale leg for a table I find bits from very one of Paul’s videos that I can try out and add to my skill set. Keep up the great work!



  5. Bob Leistner on 8 March 2019 at 11:14 pm

    The weakest point in any grade of plywood is its edge and this project is exposing that weakness to the extreme. The pounding and abrasion to that edge is bound to cause failure far more quickly than a solid surface would. I notice that you haven’t been using the plywood model in your shop. With your constant use; after all you do far more woodworking than most of us, it will be a good test. Plywood is a wonderful material, I just question this application.



    • Paul Sellers on 9 March 2019 at 6:55 am

      There is really no problem with plywood for a workbench and especially using higher grades as I have and which I emphasised the need of. Assuming you have never worked at such a bench the theory causing concern that you present in no way reflects the actual reality. Plywood is a well proven product and I do work at this bench regularly also but in another workspace. This bench will hold up as well as any I have ever worked at so no point creating a straw man. Of course only time will tell and my confidence levels are very high for this. Imagine if they had never tried plywood for building early aircraft there might be no air flight today. Even if there was the issue you raise a concern of, I doubt the bench would last less than fifty years anyway.



  6. Sylvain on 9 March 2019 at 10:16 am

    – In my father’s basement was an old workbench coming from my great grand father who was an “ébéniste” end of XIX th begin of XX th century. The bench-top was made of a solid slab.
    I can tell the front edge was seriously beaten.
    It is difficult to avoid, especially when learning to saw in the vise 😉
    If I were doing this plywood workbench (I made a solid wood one) I would have zero concern about the bench-top face.
    Butcher blocs are made with end grain at the top. I have seen workshops paved with wood with the grain vertical because in fact it is more resistant to wear.
    Now if after some use, the front edge is seriously beaten, you could always make a rebate and glue a strip of solid wood in it (in older video, look at the two little wood pieces Paul encrusted in his grey demonstration workbench on each side of the vise).
    If you are really concerned, you could do it while making the workbench, just cut the front apron board about 3/4″ narrower to get the rebate without additional work.

    Sylvain



    • Robert on 9 March 2019 at 11:47 am

      I made a workbench with a plywood top about five years ago. The edge has worn a bit but not any more than the edge of a solid wood top



  7. Steve on 10 March 2019 at 9:12 am

    It’s a clever idea. Not so keen on the stripey appearance but then again you could paint it.



    • Paul Sellers on 10 March 2019 at 4:10 pm

      Now why on earth would anyone paint such a unique appearance? Oh, well!



  8. Paul Jenkinson on 10 March 2019 at 6:24 pm

    It’s an interesting squabble over the durability of plywood and will it stands up over time, in particular the edges. I’m a retired Carpenter. I’ve spent almost 45 years in the commercial building, specializing in concrete construction. My experience with plywood comes from using it in its most demanding application, cast in place concrete. There is no environment more hazardous to the life span of a sheet of plywood than multi story concrete high rise construction. I have personally used top quality plywood, HDO (High Density Overlay) sheets that have lasted in excess of 100 casting cycles on a regular basis in the construction of more than a dozen 35 story and more, buildings across the Western United States. So yes plywood’s up to the job, including the edges but don’t expect to find it at the local big box stores. Thanks Paul for expanding the material choices and thinking out of the box regarding your bench construction. Making plywood a viable option for you audience expands the availability of material choices at a reduced coat, eases construction and conserves resources. For those interested, a good start would be the APA, American Plywood Association. There you can find all the necessary information for the grade and species suitable for your projects. Expect to pay in excess of $100.00 for tier one sheets t
    similar to Baltic Birch used for the bench



  9. Jim Thornton on 11 March 2019 at 3:52 am

    I still fail to understand why some folks seem to be SO threatened by you using plywood to build a workbench! Quite sad actually.



  10. Jack Marashlian on 11 March 2019 at 11:22 am

    Hi Paul
    I never written to your videos previously, as I find your teaching is commendable, it is very disappointing that some people do not stop with there comments before becoming personal. I found the Plywood one of the greatest inventions, like you I see no reason why utelise materials and equipment available to us. I belong to a wood-turning club with 120 members and 15 Vicmarc laths, when I first joined every one commented that unless you use the very old fashion chisels is not turning…. my answer to them was do you use battery operated drill? if yes why? If materials available and equipment available use them you never know when your effort will be limited to your health and at 75 “my age” is hard to use the planner often, unless I have to, I go for joiner and thickness-er and I thoroughly enjoy it. Paul I wish I had your knowledge and ways of detailed teaching will be useful for my tutoring duties in the club. Please keep up with the fantastic work I hardly miss any of your videos..cheers Paul from OZ Jack Marashlian



  11. Philip Barton-Wright on 11 March 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Dear Paul

    I have just read through some of the comments on the Plywood Work bench, I must admit I don’t understand the negative ones, it’s a work bench for goodness sake. I first encountered you at Harrogate Woodworking show and liking what you said have followed your Blog and Videos every since, I wish I had seen your stuff earlier as the “traditional” bench I made in Hardwood is not as flexible or as useful as your design is, and being a Yorkshire man ( and not into waste) I am not going to junk it, but be assured if it fails or circumstances change I will make one of yours to replace it.
    Thank you very much for your efforts and willingness to share your extensive knowledge and skills please ignore the naysayers, look forward to the rest of the series, all the very best to you and the Team, Great work

    Philip



  12. paul bowes on 11 March 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Paul, a big thank you for your knowledge and guidance, which has vastly improved my woodworking skills but mostly my enjoyment. I was curious about the plywood workbench and decided I must watch it, as I have learn’t something from almost every video and blog you post.

    As a time served indentured craftsman myself I too understand the role of the master, who through the ages pass down knowledge to those willing to learn. Unfortunately it seems that some people think hand tool woodworking is an elitist pastime and everything else is inferior.

    I note with some sadness this attitude coming through in the comments for the plywood bench.

    I remember a time when my dad and everyone else had hand tools there was nothing else, I remember my dad using a finger gauge, using his huge panel saw and so forth: this was the norm.

    I see in many ways your teachings are helping people re-connect with the past while taking advantage of the present. Keep up the great work you have my and many others appreciation.



  13. Robert W Mielke on 11 March 2019 at 1:43 pm

    When I built my last work bench I did a lot of research trying to determine the style f bench I truly need. I don’t have a lot of money or space so I decided to build a non- traditional version on casters that allows me to move the bench where and when I need it. Simpson strong-tie uses steel corner brackets to make a sturdy inexpensive bench that can be modified to meet the users needs. I am happy with the outcome and only needed to spend $100.



  14. Phill on 11 March 2019 at 2:09 pm

    this thread demonstrates that a good portion of Paul’s apostles are elitists – or maybe “purists” to use a nicer word. To the extent that they have buoyed Paul’s woodworking boat, I salute them. To the extent that they missed those times when Paul muttered ” and get on with life..” over some minor controversy, I suggest they view this endeavor as more than just tools and materials. I suspect that Paul will go his own way as he always has.



  15. David on 11 March 2019 at 2:42 pm

    A couple of months ago I had just (!) completed my very first workbench, using Paul’s first series as a guide. Whew, what a lot of work that was, but I learned an immense amount. Only a few weeks later a massive forest fire swept through and burnt everything up to a crisp — the only thing I’ve found that survived is a few cast iron skillets.

    It has taken me a few months to even contemplate trying to start up a workshop again, but one day it will happen. When it does, the next one will be plywood — I really like this design, and I had contemplated doing something like this until I found Paul’s website and his encouraging series. Thanks to all your incredible contributions, Paul!



  16. Glen Smith on 11 March 2019 at 3:04 pm

    How many 4’X8′ sheets of 13 ply birch is needed to finish the work bench?



    • Joystick on 12 March 2019 at 10:36 am

      The technical drawing/cutting list that can be downloaded shows that you need 3 sheets of 8×4 ft 18/19mm Baltic Ply (13 plies).
      There are off-cuts of reasonable size to use on other projects e.g. the sharpening diamond plate holder.



      • Glen Smith on 12 March 2019 at 1:22 pm

        Thank you joystick



    • Bartosz Knapik on 12 March 2019 at 10:39 am

      2 and a half. You can find the drawing on the “Plywood Workbench” intro page on WWMC.



      • Glen Smith on 12 March 2019 at 1:23 pm

        Thank you Bartosz



  17. Ed T on 11 March 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I didn’t see anything in the solid-wood chauvinists complaints that provided any deep insight into why using plywood isn’t an appropriate choice for a Paul Sellers project. Everything there was just a personal issue. Why waste everyone’s time?

    Keep up the good work Paul.



  18. Ian Newsham on 11 March 2019 at 4:17 pm

    It is disappointing that some people fail to see the point of this project. There is much “method” in what some perceive as Paul’s “madness”.
    Paul is trying to give the widest possible audience access to handtool woodworking, and the majority of his potential converts are time-poor, machine woodworkers, who would be intimidated by the prospect of hand-planing the parts of a traditional bench let alone hand-making a mortice and tenon joint. However, these people can quickly produce a functional workbench, using plywood laminations to produce the mortice and tenons, utilising their existing machines that they are comfortable with. Once they have a workbench, then they can start practicing their handtool skills, with Paul’s guidance, and gain the confidence to progress to a point where it becomes their preferred way of working because they find it more rewarding.



    • Sylvain on 12 March 2019 at 9:51 am

      Exactly.
      Making big tenon and mortises, 4-squaring legs, laminating a bench-top with boards which are not perfectly straight and then flattening it, laminating the aprons and doing the recesses was intimidating. I have been hesitating years before doing it. Then I convinced myself that it was a tool and not a fine piece of furniture. Using the 2012 videos and blog posts, I finally made a workbench with recycled wood.
      As a tool, it is excellent but it is a bit rough looking (except the top). When I saw Hannah’s workbench, I thought that it was much better looking than mine. But there are explanations: she could use a workbench during six month to hone her skills under the direction of the Master before making her own workbench. When I finally started building mine, I was also a bit impatient, and of course I was not at all mastering sharpening and planing { I am improving since}, and… she might be better gifted than me.

      Unfortunately, we can not all enjoy an apprenticeship before doing our workbench, that’s why it is important to help people make a workbench with a bare minimum of skills.
      It is so much easier, after, with a stable workbench, to hone our skills.

      People doing the plywood workbench will nevertheless need to get a hand at planing (mostly setting up and sharpening).
      Not that it really matter, but the plywood workbench will automatically look better than mine: the aprons are de-facto flat and smooth.
      Sylvain



  19. Jim Thornton on 11 March 2019 at 4:38 pm

    I can’t help but think this same sort of discussion must have gone on back in the 1800’s when the “new fangled” cast iron planes first came out!



  20. nemo on 11 March 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Reading some of the comments and criticisms comes as a bit of a surprise to me, if not shock. First of all, I’ve always liked the look of the laminations of plywood and found it a shame when people tried to hide it. A matter of taste, for which there’s no accounting, so no real discussion is possible in that regard. Secondly, the plywood workbench is a free project, just like many other of mr. Sellers. No one is obliged to construct it. Take it or leave it – no hard feelings, I’m sure. Thirdly, it’s an extra option to choose from, increasing the possible choices for (aspiring) woodworkers to select the project that best matches their needs, materials and tools available. How this extra choice of a project can detract to the oeuvre of mr. Sellers, as some suggest, I can not fathom.

    In the mean time I can’t help but wonder if much of the resentment that people have expressed is simply because they associate ‘plywood’ with ‘building store plywood’. Having worked with Finnish birch plywood of the highest grade, approved and stamped by Lloyd’s register for aviation use, to repair gliders, I can say that the only thing these materials have in common is the name: plywood.

    Speaking for myself, I prefer the look of plywood and if money were no objection, I’d build the plywood workbench. But those grades of plywood give me sticker shock. Also I prefer to develop the more traditional skills, for which the regular workbench project is better. Combined with the cheaper material, that settles the choice for me. But then, I was never the target audience (and neither, I suspect, were many of the criticasters) for the plywood bench project: as has been stated many times before, it was/is intended for machine woodworkers to ease the transition or switch to hand woodworking. And though I may never build the workbench, I am eagerly watching the videos of it, because the techniques used may come in handy for other projects. Another option, or ‘tool’, in my toolbox, so to speak. “If all you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

    Finally, mr. Sellers has been rowing against the stream for much of his woodworking life: when everyone was machine-woodworking, he was advocating hand-woodworking. I’m sure he has developed a thick skin over the decades so the criticisms probably won’t be taken too personally. Still, to criticize someone for making a project freely available as an extra choice, I find in bad taste.



    • Paul Sellers on 11 March 2019 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks nemo and yes, I have been going against the tide most of my working life but that’s the difference between just being stubborn and being determined. I am no longer isolated and alone as it was in the beginning. Whereas genuine criticism is genuinely welcomed because it can lead to improvement, whining I cannot stand and whining to manipulate me and others working with me or in support for the work we do by accusation, innuendo is of no consequence because we know self pity is behind it.



  21. David Dunnison on 11 March 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Fascinating.

    This must be one of the greatest amounts of feedback in a short time yet.

    And, like others, I am very confused with the criticism.

    Personally, I love the look of high grade birch plywood. Both face and edge.

    However, I shied away from it even for those uses where I think it is unrivalled.

    Paul’s applications have opened a whole new world to me.

    I recall when OSB (oriented strand board) and parallalam were first developed and introduced. I even knew the folks behind their development. To me these were cool as construction grade options. Then I saw folks making furniture and even art out of them. Holy cow!

    Sometimes it takes an artist to show us the sculpture that is hiding in the rock right in front of you. Art from a rock? It’s just a rock.

    Paul has now given us art from birch plywood.



  22. Nathan Jones on 12 March 2019 at 9:42 am

    It is a piece of art, rightly said by David and as Picasso one expressed to a critic, “art is never chaste”.



  23. John on 16 March 2019 at 1:57 am

    Hello Paul, first time comment here. . . Great project content, keep on trucking.



  24. Gordon Dayton on 18 March 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Paul,
    You sure poked a bees nest with this project. I congratulate you on your courage to work outside the (non-plywood) box. The comments on this project are so long I have not read them all so I apologise if you addressed this already.

    I have no criticism to offer, but I was wondering which bench of the same design and dimensions would be heavier: i.e. would all that glue add weight to the project? Also, how about stiffness? Which material wins that race? Then again, how about response to environmental changes, I have a sense that plywood is more stable relative to humidity changes. Esthetics aside, which is a better bench to work on? Who else but you could answer these questions (from experience)?



  25. David on 19 March 2019 at 2:56 am

    One other thing here Paul. I’ve been a paying customer of yours since 2014. Despite the fact that you are stubborn, opinionated, and don’t like criticism, I keep paying you money because you are simply the finest hand-tool woodworking teacher alive today. I just finished the final glue-up of your dining-room chair. and getting there was a terrific challenge. It wasn’t challenging at all getting most of it together because I have confidence in my mortise and tenon joints. But once I had to fashion those upper and lower side rails, well, it took plenty of tries to get there. But get there I did.

    I don’t like the fact that you decided to use plywood in a project. I don’t like the fact that you hid away most of your tools. But I do like the fact that you taught me how to make a chair that has compound angle mortise and tenon joints. I can watch 1000 guys build stuff out of plywood using screws and machines. I can only watch one guy make a chair out of seasoned hardwood using hand tools.



    • Brad on 29 April 2019 at 1:31 pm

      I’ve seen your comments on a couple of Paul’s blog posts now, and they sound pretty self-centred. As I understand it, Paul’s intention is to preserve the skills of working wood by hand. The idea behind the plywood workbench is to enable machine woodworkers to build a traditional durable workbench quickly so they can use it to build projects by hand and learn the craft. Remember that he’s catering to absolute beginners like me as well as more advanced woodworkers like you.

      You said that the plywood projects mean that Paul “won’t spend that time producing videos for his paying customers” who would be “embarrassed” to use plywood (and you stressed many times that you have been paying Paul money since 2014). Firstly, it seems to me that there’s no logical reason to object to plywood—Paul has explained its properties very clearly and rationally. Secondly, the fact that you have been a paying customer doesn’t give you the right to dictate how Paul spends his time. Not everything is about money. I think you’re wrong in supposing that “he’s doing this to attract an even wider audience of paying customers”; the message that comes across in his blogs time and time again is the love of working wood to create things, and the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing that it brings. Surely you understand that if you’ve been learning from him for the past five years? Yes, he wants to reach a larger audience, but this is not an elaborate sales funnel. I certainly haven’t felt pressured to pay for content: a) there’s more content on YouTube and his blog than I have time to watch or read, and b) Paul recommended in one of his blogs that readers sign up for the free CWW subscription because there are plenty of tutorials there, and that we only pay for the projects that you would like to make. That’s not exactly the hard sell of a used car salesman. That said, even if I decide not to pay for anything on CWW, I will definitely make a donation. The man’s earned my respect, taught me a heck of a lot already, and is spreading a message about quality and craftsmanship that is desperately needed in our throw-away society.

      So lay off the guy, will you? Support him in trying to help more people reach your level of proficiency in woodwork rather than criticising him. Design your own projects using the skills you’ve learned. Maybe even try to teach someone else.



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