What Are You?
Perhaps I should say, “Who Are You?
Periodically I wrestle with the terms adopted to describe a certain category of woodworking and then other crafts generally too. Somehow it’s an effort to slot people into a more suited category, you know, to match their skill sets. On the one hand you have professional and master and at the other end of the spectrum you reach amateur and hobbyist. There’s no place in between the two extremes and yet there are different levels of abilities in all crafts and also various places of specialisation.
Whereas I have never really liked the word hobby or pastime I do understand why they are used. I often hear the term amateur photographer and the man or woman has spent 50 years transitioning from developing their own early black and white images from film, on through colour film and into photoshopping for the post millennial digital era we currently live in. The work they do, and I see wildlife photography from amateurs enough to know this, is stunning. It makes me ask myself is the word amateur photographer a higher level than mere professional after all, for most it has meant spending every earned penny on equipment to create with. Courses, training one on one and so on. As you will all know if you have been following me for any length of time, being an amateur woodworker begins as the explorers who took themselves off to climes unknown on a passage of discovering what they knew little about. I understand the US term, ‘I’m a Weekend Warrior‘ too.
In my early days living and working there amongst professionals and amateurs, I heard the term used by professionals disparagingly and then by the self deprecating amateurs on a more humorous positive note. On the one hand a little denigrating perhaps, a way of separating the two levels of expertise. Not now. Not any more. Though I might consider myself a master craftsman, I have met lecturers, graduates and other such people who finished a course or two of study and had been told that they were now the ‘experts in their field’. Yesterday I wondered if, when you think such things, you don’t really stop personal research and thereby personal growth because you might think you’ve already arrived. I don’t really know. What I do know is that for me I have yet to arrive there. I know of at least five graduate furniture makers, several woodworking teachers and a couple of lecturers too that were all qualified by degree courses. Most if not all of them ended up shoving stuff into and through machines and in some of those cases lamented the courses and the costs of them feeling more that they wasted money, time and effort because the brief period they spent pulling together some interesting pieces led only to them working for mass-manufacturing entities.
Then on the other hand, when my amateur friends walk out of the house into their garages and sheds as weekend warriors or whatever term they use, they disabuse themselves of any false assumptions by engaging in spheres others fear to tread. They have no illusions about themselves. They’ve converted the shed and the garage, bought in or collected wood, invested in tools, clamps, maybe a machine or two. This hour, 8am, could not come around quickly enough. It’s Saturday morning, the kids are still in bed, they can get an hour or two in before anyone notices they’re missing. Therapy is about to begin. Healing from their day jobs, in some cases exploitation. I do feel sad that the woodworkers I know, the ones I speak of above, have expressed how much they just dread the thought of putting on their dust masks and sliding stuff like MDF into a tablesaw and shaper for four hours before break. It’s not so unusual. It’s the Monday morning blues for them and they can’t wait until Friday comes. On the other hand my weekend warriors can’t wait for Saturday morning or Monday evening or even an hour at 5am to get out there making for an hour before the big commute. I don’t really know of too many makers that are making it, but I do know of men and women and teenagers getting out there that cannot wait to get started.
I started out as a rank amateur when I apprenticed. I could never wait till morning came to get started. I’m still a rank amateur. Just a working man. Yes, a craftsman. How do I know I’m qualified as an amateur? Because at 69 years of age it’s still the same. I can’t wait to get into the shop, pull out the wood and take down the tools to make!
What’s in a name… I think we should call ourselves ‘creators’ rather than just ‘makers’. The creative part is important because as a creator we do more than making something, we add on reflection, add on passion and emotion, add on something of ourselves. Sometimes knowingly, sometimes intuitively or both. Creating differentiates for me from the more dispassionate making. I make dinner, a great chef creates a dish. I strive to be a creator though when doing woodworking.
Don’t really call myself anything. Don’t really care what anyone calls me. I’m just grateful that I get so much joy and spiritual renewal in woodworking, and that there are friends to share the experience with, and great teachers like Paul to learn from.
Someone once described the meaning of an “Expert” to me as: “Someone who knows more and more, about less and less, until they know all about nothing,” When I hear some so called “Expert” speak on a “their” subject the quote often comes to mind.
I’ve worked with wood most of my life, mainly on the “conveyor belt” feeding timber though a machine and using MDF to make Items. So I’m considered by most I know as a skilled & knowledgeable tradesman. Some even call me an expert, a term I have never used or thought myself as. I have learnt more from watching your video’s in the last few years than I ever have while working.
When you stop learning, you stop living. I never what to be an Expert in my field, or anywhere else for that matter.
Working with hand tools is very therapeutic. There is something about creating something with your hands in a quiet way slows life down to a pace that I want it to be. I could spend a lot of time doing it. I know more than my wife would like me to spend (since I cannot talk and work).
“I have met lecturers, graduates and other such people who finished a course or two of study and had been told that they were now the ‘experts in their field’.”
With a wink to Monty Python: in a world where every man is “Superman!”, Bicycle Repair Man becomes the real hero….
More to the point of your post: I usually describe myself to others as ‘vrijetijdshoutbewerker’, a common and descriptive name for it over here, literally translated “leisure-time woodworker”. It’s a very common term and also happens to be more neutral than amateur or hobbyist. It doesn’t carry any negative connotations (at least none that I am aware of). It simply states that you work wood in your spare time. No more, no less. The term doesn’t imply any (lack of) ‘professionalism’.
I most agree with the term leisure-time woodworker. Thank you for the post.
I have always found descriptive words for how a person defines the way they make a living as deceptive. Seems to me they are nothing more than “medieval titles” so that a person can elevate themselves above others. Though society pretty much demand this, at the end of the day, the quality of product one produces is the most important aspect of what they contribute to society.
My grandfathers was a metal machinist by trade. After a full career and retirement, a local university asked if he would come on staff as an advisor. When could not rectify a difficult problem a student had taken to them, the student would be directed to my grandfather to solve it, be it in actual skills of machining or complicated mathematical equations. Although he did not have a college degree he was more knowledgeable and skilled than the more highly compensated professor.
I guess I’m at the point in my life, that I don’t care how a persons labels me as long as I am continually learning and trying to become better at whatever I am trying to do.
Just for the sake of spite to the elite class, I will however wear the title of amateur and weekend warrior as badges of high honor.
Hats off to the university and the professor who had the humility and wisdom to make it possible for your grandfather to help teach youngsters!
The appeal for many I think is simply a world of your own free of the relentless judgementalism of others. Debating terms is, merely to invite that world back in. But others ask I suppose and we’re obliged to offer an answer of some sort. To name what we do. Hobby, for reasons that make no sense, is sneered at. “Maker” sounds dangerously needy, a plea for the fleeting approval of the Hoxton set. Humour at least keeps the opinions of others at arms length. . “Wood butcher” perhaps. Or as actor and amateur woodworker Martin Clunes likes to say ” I take big bits of wood and turn them into smaller bits of wood”. “I make rubbish furniture” often works for me and has gotten some positive responses including ” I collect horrible over priced wine, “I write crappy novels no-one will ever publish”, and “I collect clothes that don’t fit me in the hope that one day I’ll wake up twenty years younger!” Shared mediocrity or ordinariness is a nice way of connecting with people. Conversely by searching for more positive branding we are rather playing into the hands of those who would rather judge than do. Once you start that game it will be played out on their terms not yours. Better to remember that whatever it is you do in your shed the only approval needed is your own. And that is surely the real joy and the essence of being an amateur. ” I enjoy being a crappy woodworker. What do you enjoy being crap at?
Mr Dalgleish, your perspective resonates with me at the highest levels! I work wood…I also shoot archery…I believe I find the greatest joy in them when participating solely. I have nothing to prove to anyone in that course and it suits me well. If others cast their eyes on my accomplishment, be it in the woody grain or a perfect bullseye, then, I’ve stopped enjoying the activities for the beauty they share with me and begin to look for others’ approval and it gauges my enjoyment. As you say, the joy is dealt, then, not on my terms but theirs. Great words and a great perspective. Thank you!
Mans ego will forever destroy him.
In an interview with Fine Woodworking Mr. Krenov was asked how he wanted to be remebered. His reply? “Stubborn, old enthusiast.”
I like his answer. It suits me well I think.
I agree with Ken , it doesn’t matter what you call yourself . It’s that thought process that guides the hand to work the tool that in turn soothes the soul.
Whatever you make is yours , it’s your world so enjoy every minute.
After all man is a tool loving animal and has been since we came into being
Do I see someone “bulldogging” the plane?
Of course I wasn’t there so I could well be wrong.
I know a little about a lot and not a lot about a little so by the time I curl my toes up I will have had a chance to expand on that. Course, I don’t have much choice in the matter of my demise except to stave it off as long as I see fit . I can keep learning and developing skills in the areas I really enjoy however, irrespective of them making me a living . Enthusiast sits pretty nicely.
I am very happy to call myself an amateur. The word “amateur” is borrowed from the French, and means “lover of”. An amateur does something because they love to do it.
That’s me now. Thanks, Paul Sellers!
I can never call myself ‘expert’ in anything. I have had a pretty diverse ‘professional’ career and I spend a lot of time collecting hobbies. When I get asked for advise I try to explain that I know just enough to be dangerous.
I’ve dealt with labels my whole life. I was a professional photographer for 45 years. Now retired and no longer selling images does that now make me an amateur? I’ve known countless amateur photographers who produce better quality images than someone that calls themselves a professional. To me a professional simply means they sell, or try to sell, their images.
The same thing applies to woodworkers. I’ve been an avid woodworker for 50 years but by no means am I a professional. Does that mean my work isn’t as good as a professional? Now almost 70 I really don’t care what someone calls me, just call me when breakfast is ready!
‘Wisest is he that knows he does not know’ Socrates I think – its the only pretentious quote I’ve ever managed to remember – but it rings true here.
Ive got a subscription to Fine Woodworking but I find it so intimidating – some of the projects seem nigh on impossible without machinery. As a beginner, this can just be overwhelming. That’s why I love Paul’s sites. I feel a real sense of achievement with every little step I take.
I bought a Stanley 55 from the original owner in 1974 and have been hooked on hand tools ever since – although I never learned to use that 55. I have always used a percentage of power tools to help out, and that percentage has gone up and down over the years. I also have friends who are fellow part-timers, and some who are professionals making a living, that use virtually 100% power tools, and I am not about denigrate how they accomplish their end result. There is room here for everyone.
In every activity man engages there is a sweet spot. The zone as it were when the application of acquired skill brings for a joy and reaffirms why you acquired the skill in the first place. This sweet spot is sometimes the same and sometimes different for all of us. It could be the pleasure one gets as a freshly sharpened chisel cuts though wood, or the feeling of a fly line perfectly cast on a trout stream.
All of these touch stones are the essence of our lives. The give meaning and purpose and speak to what it means to be a human and not a drone in an industrialized society.
I’m an artist. I’ve played my saxophone and trombone growing up in front of thousands. Some gigs, I was paid. Others, not. Later in life, I became a photographer. I never did it full-time for pay, but I was paid for my works and for events (such as weddings) that supplemented my photography “habit.” Now, my artistry has transitioned in the past few years to wood work. Some want to pay me for my works while I simply enjoy the labor of love for myself. All in all, despite that awards I’ve won in any of these areas, I consider myself first and foremost an artist. It’s all art. Some art results in monetary compensation while others are simply enjoyed.
I write poetry and stories (20 years), create fine art (35 years and a BFA), play and write music (30 years and an AFA), create furniture (15 years), create musical instruments both acoustic and electric (2 years), fix anything broken (a long long time), and tinker (All the years).
I’ve never considered myself any more than a tinkerer and now I am a “professional” tinkerer. But, I’ve given myself a newish title because nomenclature is so damn important to the Dunning-Kruger fans out there – now I tell people that “I Create Beautiful Things, Fix Broken Things” – I am a Master Amateur Tinkerer – Not a maker, not a weekend warrior, not a tradesman, journeyman, virtuoso (even though I studied classical music and now play whatever I want), not an anything that would want to share a title with me.
I use hand tools (and am switching over slowly to only hand tools because I’m a stupid luddite, so called) – I use machinery (not CNC – I draw the line before that, more power to you if you use one!), My favorite tool is a 5in1 screwdriver I wear on my belt and the leathermen I also don always. Look forward to work everyday and so I work every day. My shop is my solace and I never regret a day spent there.
Thank you, Paul, for the excellent content.
Having started a love of all things wood 40 years ago courtesy of my school woodwork teacher who gave time, encouragement and knowledge and asked little in return things have come full circle and I feel the same is happening again. I’m forever grateful that you find time whilst still learning to impart your wealth of skill, expertise and knowledge.
My woodwork teacher was Mr Pook, he was a master craftsman and I learned a lot from him. Now 60 years later I am still using some of the skills he taught.
Good afternoon Paul
In answer to your question I would declare it to be a hobbyist. It has been many a year since I made anything out of wood.
Recently I created a dolly trolley for my partner and myself to use. Not a bad attempt.
Then along came Paul Sellers master woodworker and I really began to feel the need for my own work bench I suddenly had your words of encouragement resounding in my head.
You can do this here is the plan with all that you require to complete the task at hand.
Well my work bench is coming to the end of completion and yes it is made from wood with one beefy 9inch wood workers vise. I just want o thank you for your videos step by step guide. I must admit it wasn’t all plain sailing with some hiccups on the journey. But this is my bench from which I hope to improve my status from a hobbyist to amature wood worker.
I built myself a biggish shed about a year ago and and installed electrics, an old bench and some old tools. Since then I have been building cupboards and shelves for my new workshop. And also bought some nice new and second hand tools. I have not actually made anything for outside of the shop. But that is not the point, it is my hobby, pottering around in my ‘man-cave’. Making sawdust, cutting bits out of my fingers and reading about woodworking and watching other people do stuff on YouTube. I am at play, not at work, it is my time and I’ll do what I want with it. If anyone asks I say I am a hobby woodworker, if they ask what I make I say all sorts but mainly sawdust and shavings.
If today’s standards are applied , then plastic bags rule. Forget about the old Papago basket makers, and the thousands of years of cultural alightment provided through the care for and collection of materials, the vast knowledge of coiling, twining, plaiting – the designs and patterns which all have stories and special significance, and often cement cultural values and identity. The fact that you could recognize your grandmother in the weave of a basket you use today, almost like a picture of her – art and utilitarian value both achieve the very heights of thier existance in this way. But it’s too slow – we must mass produce with machines in order to be profitable – right? In fact, we automate to the point that we cancel ourselves out – no individual expression remains. The same 10 stores across 10 shores – with exactly uniform products in all of them. What a soulless world were making for ourselves. Makes me wonder if there’s anyone behind the wheel at all, because our current heading is disastrous. So if I could be the professional plastic injection machine operator, or an amateur basket weaver, well, you know which I would choose. But does the mold of today allow that – no. We as people are valued as a labor resource in our modern “progressed” way of life. At one time we were the holders of our culture, our craft, our knowledge, and our wisdom. What could be invested into us was was the value, not merely what could be extracted.
I consider myself a learner/student. By no means an expert. So “amateur” fits me well. The area of hand tool woodworking has interested me for quite a while but i just never moved in that direction. I have build quite a lot of items with power tools and my only hand tool, so to speak, was a chisel.
The bug has recently bit and i bought some ebay/etsy hand planes. A block, smoother and a jack. Learning to sharpen has been a challenge but i have steadily improved. Cleaned up the planes and they do their job.
Next step is a bench in the portion of the garage allotted to me. Wife;s car and the other odds and ends own the rest of the garage real estate. I will follow Paul’s bench video and take a swing at that ball. Need to get a couple of saws.
Just starting at 67. Figure I have a number of good learning years left.
Being a professional at any activity purely means that one does it for financial reward, and has nothing at all to do with a person’s skill levels.
I started work at fifteen years old as an apprentice carpenter & joiner in 1962 and am now in my seventies, and during the intervening years I have worked along side every grade of woodworker.
One of my friends worked for Mousy Thompson at Kilburn in North Yorkshire near where I lived and the calibre of his work had to be seen to be believed.
I myself worked mainly on building and civii engineering projects where joiners were often refered to derogatarely as wood butchers, and believe me some of them deserved the name.
However the Main point of this, is that being a professional at any activity does not make you a first class craftsman. For that you need passion and a love of your chosen activity. And this I find most so called amateurs have in abundance.
I believe this is a subject for which the english language has the answer if people would just take the time to think about what they mean before trying to communicate it.
A professional gets paid for its efforts; an amateur does not.
A master is recognized by peers or the marketplace for accomplishment and the quality of work; an apprentice is recognized as learning the trade with much to be considered accomplished.
A good friend, after selling his cabinet making business in favor of another career, continued cabinet making as a hobby for the love of it even though he didn’t have the time to do more.
Whether “professional” or “Amateur” depends upon if you are engaging in the activity to earn a livelihood or not. Professional or amateur you then need to determine your level of expertise, skill, or competency. As a woodworker, I’m at once a novice, an expert, or any skill level in between depending on the skill I’m trying to apply in the project at hand. Bottom line, I’m always learning and trying to build my skill levels whether woodworking, playing a musical instrument, cooking, or sailing. I, for one, watch presenters to learn new techniques which I can then practice to improve my skills.
Professional: Participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs.
Amateur: One who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession.
Levels of Expertise (Copied from an article by Nat Eliason, The Step-by-Step Guide to go from Novice to Expert in Any Skill; https://www.nateliason.com/blog/become-expert-dreyfus)
Novice: Just getting started in the skill and have little familiarity with it. Novices need clear instructions on how to do something in order to do it. They don’t have an intuitive understanding of the skill, so they need someone else’s recipes to follow in order to complete any task within the skill.
Advanced Beginner: The novice becomes an advanced beginner when they can start to troubleshoot their problems and work on their own. The defining characteristic of the Advanced Beginner is recognizing “aspects” of a situation. You can see what’s different about one situation and move through the layers of abstraction and use that information to apply different recipes and guidelines to solve the problem. A novice won’t understand “shift up when the engine sounds like it’s racing,” but an advanced beginner will.
Competent: As you progress through the Advanced Beginner stage, you add more and more recipes and maxims to your experience with the skill that helps you perform better and better. Eventually, you hit the point where it’s completely overwhelming and you must develop rules about what recipes to apply when. The development of these rules is the key characteristic of the Competent. You have a better sense of what is relevant and what isn’t, and you can draw on a wide collection of recipes based on those situational rules.
Proficient: As you react emotionally to your decisions at the level of Competence, your positive and negative responses to decisions will reinforce the correct ones and discourage the incorrect ones and you will develop an increasingly intuitive sense of what recipes and maxims to apply to the situation. The defining characteristic of the Proficient is an intuitive sense of what the goal should be given the situation. While the Competent must create or find rules for what to do in a situation, the Proficient has an intuitive sense of what the goal should be, but not necessarily exactly how to do it.
Expert: The Expert operates entirely by intuition. He or she knows what their goal should be, what to do about it, and what should happen as a result. They’re emotionally involved and invested in the whole process, and since they’re running on intuition, they might have a hard time explaining why they do things to non-experts.
I have been an avid woodworker for about 35 years and I don’t consider myself an expert or professional, I’m certainly not an amateur, so I’m somewhere in between. I was a mechanical engineer for nearly 30 years and made a gazillion drawings during that time, but I rarely make much more then a quick sketch for my woodworking projects. I have created several pieces of furniture for my daughters by scribbling dimensions on a pad of paper and then charging forward. I have been surprised a few times and had to modify my designs slightly, but I have enjoyed the challenges.
I am like all of you…I’m not sure what label I should apply to myself. I very much enjoy Paul’s videos and blog posts, and I appreciate his skills and his willingness to share them with us.
But unlike the rest of you, I’m pretty sure that I don’t really belong here…I use hand tools far less than power tools. I use them for convenience, not out of a deep and abiding love of the old ways. I know those ways were grand, and I know they still exist, and yes, I would love to learn them and use them…but I have a very limited resource: time. At 75, it drains away at a frightening speed, and I cannot replenish my supply, and I have so much more to do, to finish. Like Frost’s lonely winter traveler, I have miles to go before I sleep.
So I don’t rely predominantly on hand tools. I work at my off-grid property to build things and fix things, and the list of tasks never gets shorter. I bought the place ten years ago as a wild-land refuge, a hunter’s paradise, a place to rest and restore myself. What I did not know was that, if you own 80 acres, the work never stops. And the work has become its own reward, so I don’t begrudge it.
I’ve built a nice workshop, and a 24×40 barn (for which I milled almost all my own lumber from trees on my property — couldn’t do the trusses due to regulatory folderol). The designs for my shop and barn were drawn not out of books, but out of my own head, for simplicity and strength — the tops of all nail girts are beveled 45°, gives me French cleats EVERYWHERE. I’ve designed and built dozens of wood projects — counters, cabinets and drawers for my wife’s kitchen, tool cabinets in the shop and barn, a shooting bench, bluebird nesting boxes, etc, etc. At the age of 65, I found out something totally new about myself — I love to design and build things.
But the tools I use most are the table saw, the compound sliding miter saw, the chainsaw, a propane internal-combustion driven nail gun. Instead of mortice-and-tenon joints, I use pocket-holes — strong and fast.
But I’m learning to once again appreciate the wonderful precision and speed of using well sharpened chisels, planes, augers, and hand saws. I’ve bought a half dozen old saws — a Diston, a Bishop, two Warranted Superiors (don’t know who made them, but the handles and steel are high quality), and two no-names. I’ve cleaned and sharpened the two without brands — they are faster and a lot easier to use than a circular saw when cutting 4-by lumber. Working with a “scary sharp” chisel has become a delight. My old Stanley Bailey #4 now is fast and precise, leaves a glass-smooth finish. But I still rely on the power tools.
So what label? My dad was a machinist, worked to build tools that produced high-speed steel tools for other companies — high precision, demanding work. He worked his way up to foreman. Decades later, the company would call him back to solve problems. I asked him what his skill-level had been. He told me he was an apprentice. I was amazed, I though an apprentice was an untaught beginner. He told me to look up the etymology, the derivation. I did:
c. 1300-1350, from Old French aprentiz “someone learning”
He said that modern translations indicate that an apprentice is unskilled and/or inexperienced, but the word stems from aprendre “to learn; to teach” (Modern French apprendre). He said that his greatest wish was to never stop learning. I asked to whom he considered himself to be apprenticed. He smiled. “God”. Rest in peace, Dad
I would be proud to be known as an apprentice for life.
I’m sure everyone posting on this blog understands the basic technical difference between an “amateur” and “professional” anything, right? Normally a professional gets paid a salary (it’s the way they make their living wages) for performing in whatever he/she is doing, whether it’s woodworking, furniture making, or whatever; whereas an amateur normally performs his/her skill just for the sheer joy of doing it. It doesn’t mean the amateur cannot be paid for the results of their skill, but they don’t do it for a living. At least that is the way I have always been taught the difference is between an amateur and a professional. Then there is the question: Is the amateur more or less of an expert (or authority) in a particular art form than professional? I think that just because an individual is a professional doesn’t necessarily mean they are more of an expert than an amateur. What if he/she doesn’t really like whatever profession they are in, but dreads each passing moment or day performing the tasks associated with their profession? I bet we can all think of a great example of this: Teachers. Some teachers are just awesome, while others can’t stand teaching but they can’t find a way to make a living otherwise. Yet an amateur who loves woodworking so much might really enjoy sharing that enthusiasm with others and loves teaching the types of skills that go into great craftsmanship. Yes, it can seem difficult to place any importance into either term except to simply define what the two terms really mean.
We are the keepers of our own destinies. Some say the shoreline is here, some say there, but when you are blessed with an ocean as vast and wide in creativity then you do your best to nurture and protect it, for only the ones who do it with love in their hearts shall fulfill the eternal calling of creation.
I have always considered a “Professional” as someone who derives much of their income from what they (presumably) enjoy doing. Conversely, I consider an “Amateur” as one who spends much of their income on what non-work activity they enjoy. I am an amateur.
I am now in a position where, for the first time in several decades, I have an adequate workshop and woodworking tools. I am carefully going beyond prior “handyman” and “home repair/improvement” tasks. I am trying to rebuild skills I had learned in school more than 50 years ago, and learn new skills. Since I am retired I can do this any time I feel like it, subject to the desires of she whose opinion must be considered. Being careful, learning from others, and being especially careful at keeping all of my digits, limbs and other body parts. Most importantly, enjoying what I do. Sometimes when asked – and I’m feeling a bit snarky – I will tell those who ask that I turn large pieces of wood into piles of wood shavings and sawdust!
In my experience, I learned and have used the term “Weekend Warrior” as referring to members of the armed forces active reserve components. Earlier, I spent nine years as that type of Weekend Warrior, three with the US Marine Corps and six with the US Air Force. However I also understand and accept its use in other areas of life.
I think often people send the wrong messages about their weekend hobbies and the things they love doing. So few people enjoy their daily job work and can’t wait to retire, but then so few anticipate a retirement free from anything buy worry and debt I’m afraid. Every time I stand before an audience I ask how many enjoy their work and would have chosen the jobs they do or did and 80% say or said no.
I started out working on my wooden boat – learning, from zero, as I went.
I moved on to general woodworking where I continue to learn. I am finding that learning at this stage involves *eliminating* as well as acquiring information. Eliminating both a plethora of unneeded tools and techniques. Honing down my tools and techniques for quiet, simple yet effective work.
One of the first things I eliminated was power tools. I require quiet int he shop and not the whining shouting of power tools. Though I confess I still have a hand held circular saw for roughing out wood to size. My shop is very small 10×12 feet – so I have limited room. Therefore wrangling a 4×8 sheet of plywood is a difficult task. Hence the circular saw (and a couple of sawhorses).
I read a lot of woodworking blogs but the Paul Seller’s blog/web page resonated with me instantly. Here was simplicity combined with effectiveness.
I love the tutorials, videos, ideas and most especially the attitudes expressed by Paul.
I am very thankful for this web page and the time you take to produce it.
I’m not sure but I would say I’m a rank amature, I started with all power tools, made some very nice items but wound up with a damp basement and quit. The last year or 2 I’ve come back but with an interest in using hand tools, probably some power tools from time to time for donkey work. I also enjoy bass fishing and make some of my own baits so I’ll be bouncing back and forth, being retired, I’m 73, I hopefully will have the time for both. One of the things I want to do is learn carving, and I will Lord willing.
I love this read! Such true and humble words. Mr Sellers, you are an inspiration and I look forward to when I am 69 and still excited to get In the shop (lord willing).
A true professional, expert, master, whatever you want to call it, never stops learning. This is you. And I’m so thankful for the time you spend sharing your journey with us.
Paul, “Who Am I???” This is one question I have learned not to answer. In my younger years I answered that question and didn’t go far but now I tell that same question to my grandchildren and tell them not to answer that question but only to ask it. With all the craziness going on in our world “Who Am I” changes by the second. A Great person by the name of Armand DiMele had asked that same question and said to “Never Answer It…” life has been so much simpler since… Paul, you and your team are “MOTIVATORS!!!”
I am a professional knuckle rasper, finger sawyer, sawdust factory, and phalanges donker (donk as in, to thunk the dull end of a screwdriver or rasp or handle almost directly into the end of the nearest bone in my hand, THUD…. OW) who moonlights as a burgeoning saw wright lately.
Saw this on BBC news this morning and thought of this blog.
Craft workers ‘need their own titles’ – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47710512
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