What a Week!

My, my! I could hardly believe it. Finally settled buying the house for building the house-full-of-furniture venture; the next stage in our online teaching and training. On Friday I took the house keys from the previous owners and I couldn’t think of anything else but a dream is finally coming to pass!

Walking around the house with Joseph made me realise that we’re taking the next steps in our dream to start from the ground up and so will you join us as we walk through the coming months and years to design and build the future for woodworkers on every continent and by the many thousands upon thousands? We did this as much for you as we did ourselves – it’s a big adventure that just keeps gathering its own momentum.

This house is all brick and so is the garage and that means all of the inside walls too – super solid! It was an unusual feeling for me because I at last felt like I was somehow coming home even though I have been back in the UK for ten years. Now I feel at last that I can really build on the foundations we’ve been preparing over the years to enhance the lives of those who love the idea of enjoying building their own furniture by actually becoming skilled woodworkers and furniture makers in their own right. I too can settle on building the designs I have always dreamed of designing and building and it’s not just furniture either. I am including all manner of other woodworking in this project too.

I’ve mentioned the house full of furniture before today but now with the house landed in front of me I better tell you that it happened just when I thought we were about to lose the whole purchase at the last minute. Now, as I walked from one room to another, I feel only potential. Designs are popping into my head as I cross thresholds and I feel we are about to launch the very biggest thing I’ve ever been involved in to date.

The most important step for me is that you join me. There is the future of woodworking that I have always been protective of and a lifestyle that embraces the spirit of being able to do things for ourselves that eschews the style of mass making but inspires skill. About three decades ago the world of so called power-tools had all but taken over woodworking and far from always being good. The world at that point was really being taken over by machine methods and that often meant dumbing down designs to suit the machine. Hand tools for woodworking had all but disappeared at that point and for good reason in that my generation was passing away.

When I arrived in the USA in 1986 I did not find anyone working with hand tools and no one seemed to be trained to that end. It was as if my craft didn’t really exist and nor did it seem anywhere to be found. Of course there were hand tool traditionalists around, but they were few and far between. Fact was people at first looked at me as if I had grown two heads when I stood in front of audiences at power tool shows, the only shows around then, with a workbench, a small hand-tool tool box and a few hand tools. I’d cut my famous two-minute dovetail in under two minutes and then inlay a picture frame, form the eyeballed mitres yet do all without measuring a thing, rebates, moulding, corner splines and all. Today that’s all changed and it is because of all the hard work we’ve done via the internet and my blogging. Yup, we’re bragging just a bit, but I’m more bragging on you not me because you believed in it, followed our work and learned. You are the ones that made the most major shift.

We still have a long way to go because, yes, there is a lot to do, but we can do it – together! Soon I’ll be in the house with my sketch pad jotting down room sizes and shapes, window positions and so on.

I’ll be putting down my original thoughts, changes and then too I plan to video my steps in developing each of the pieces. I’ll be cutting up cardboard boxes to gauge sizes for impact, blocking out positive space to contrast against the negative. So at this point I will just say, “Watch this space.”

42 Comments

  1. Phill on 1 April 2019 at 12:47 pm

    designing and creating for a space is what it’s all about. Looking forward to the journey – step by step. Hope you will include costs too — so as to bring some realism to the project.P



  2. Gav on 1 April 2019 at 1:09 pm

    It will be of great interest how you approach the ‘improvements’ which have been made to the house over time. Is there a drive to refit in the context of the age of the house or more to fit out with a range of work which you feel to be an improvement from a variety of reasons? I ask because the house I am in in Australia was built in 1936 and what was done by way of original fittings and subsequent refits in cabinetwork etc varied greatly and swayed with the usage of new materials (usually not as durable as solid wood) and manner of use as was the trend of the time. Funnily enough when asked to install a built in cupboard for a nearby house of similar age the framing and shelves were almost identical to how it would have been when first constructed. The shelves were often tongue and groove flooring of the same species and size as the floor with much of the framing cut from the same if of a short length, handy offcuts I imagine. The door framed and fitted with plywood panels as of the time. They still haven’t painted the door with enamel as was common practice of the time as far as I know as they are so enamoured with the timber in its raw state it has been left unfinished. The lure of a natural solid product is still strong obviously;)



    • Paul Sellers on 1 April 2019 at 4:00 pm

      There are no improvements to the house in my mind, just replacements with less tasteful or less costly elements. Of course some things have just worn out or were in bad taste so these things make improvement easier. Both external and internal walls are all brick, making the whole house solid on the one hand but much more difficult to work with the infrastructure. I will likely be taking down one internal wall I don’t want there but it is a supporting wall so that means engineered support steel pre-constructed to conform to building regulations.



      • Gav on 1 April 2019 at 4:07 pm

        I think less tasteful and less costly more than covers the shortfalls!



      • John2v on 1 April 2019 at 7:49 pm

        Right up my street…….oh how I would love to get stuck in..but I’m supposed to be retired!! At 73



      • Sylvain Gregoire on 3 April 2019 at 5:36 pm

        Mr.Sellers , is this a house that is only for the “show” or you’ll be living in it also ?



  3. John2v on 1 April 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Paul what a simply fantastic idea…..now you can show the ” non believers ” as they think of flat pack wardrobes …..etc etc….of how simple it is….how enjoyable and far cheaper to construct ones own fitted or stand alone unit.
    I’d have that fireplace out and front upvc door replaced with real tree wood
    Mirrored wardrobes can be fine but not first thing in the morning.
    You have so many projects ….spindled stair balustrade…new kitchen….the list is endless…….
    Well done you and team…..looking forward to your ‘project’



  4. Matt Newman on 1 April 2019 at 1:38 pm

    I’m really excited about the house full of furniture, ever since I discovered your videos I’ve been searching the Woodworking Masterclass library for projects to replace the low quality mass produced furniture around my house.



  5. Ken Dalgleish on 1 April 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Very much looking forward to this. Particularly hoping that you tackle some built ins. Written sources seem to lump this in with trim carpentry but I think it rather warrants better treatment than that. Most of us have small homes as well as small workshops and so built ins are a great way of making the most of space. They are also an area where commercial operations have dumbed down the product to something that might be functional (if you’re lucky) but rarely has any lasting appeal. Rather like your mirrored cupboards built-ins have become a missed opportunity to add something permanent and seriously desirable to a house. The Americans knew how to do it a hundred or more years ago. I’d like to think that we could aspire to reaching those heights again by doing it ourselves.



  6. John Howard on 1 April 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Paul,
    I’m so pleased for you and am so glad that this project has finally come to fruition for you.
    I discovered you on youtube some years ago and have been browsing your output ever since. It has bought back so many memories of my time at a 1960’s Technical High School and being my dad’s apprentice whilst he worked on completely renovating their house in the 60’s. (All with hand tools…)
    What is lovely is that my Son-In-Law talk about woodworking and his plans and he was desperate to tell me all about this guy call Paul Sellers he had found on youtube.
    I had great pleasure in telling him I already knew.
    We will both be looking forward to all the work to come.



  7. Greg on 1 April 2019 at 3:46 pm

    Looking forward to this very much! Even though I’m still early in my furniture building skills, I feel uncomfortable with the design process. I can’t wait to start learning and watching you make decisions regarding this home. Wonderful idea – this locked in my WWMC sub for the next few years at least 🙂 Thank you!



  8. Juan on 1 April 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Congratulations Paul



  9. Jason on 1 April 2019 at 5:20 pm

    Paul, I recently signed up for your Woodworking Masterclass and I have been very happy so far. But this is a fantastic project! I’m so excited to see this announcement. Who hasn’t dreamt of making a house full of furniture? I’ll be eagerly waiting for your updates.



  10. Steve D on 1 April 2019 at 5:39 pm

    British humo[u]r goes right over my head. Not even a smirk this year.



    • Peter (nemo) on 1 April 2019 at 6:16 pm

      I was expecting a post of, say, adding a LASER to a #4 plane to help in guiding the plane in the right direction. Or one on his 18th-century saw, or #71 handrouter.

      Or perhaps an announcement of the purchase of a pantorouter….



    • Peter on 2 April 2019 at 11:43 am

      Drat. I finally managed to install TikTok on my Nokia 3310 (it took some effort) in order to view those new, exciting woodworking videos, but all I get is a blank screen. Probably needs more memory.

      “Yo, what’s up!” and electric guitars…. If I hadn’t been aware of the date, that Youtube video would have caused cardiac arrythmia.



  11. Darrel Carson on 1 April 2019 at 6:10 pm

    This could not come at a better time. It is my plan to build a 1 bedroom cabin in the woods. It will also have a sleeping loft. The plan is to also build all the furniture myself. I’m looking forward to this series.



  12. FRANZ ZIMMERMANN on 1 April 2019 at 7:28 pm

    hi, dear friend Paul .I´m so happy with your lucky great house aquisition success and I think you are the one, and even the most only one, who deserved it. But what makes you uncomparable, is your phantastic happiness end joy in sharing this most precious diamond not only with with your beloved family, but even with your huge”woodworking family”:
    It will make you the best friend together with the best, and most loved, precise woodworking teacher-may i state: possibly in the world, now and/or in the future.
    Full of admiration and congratulation
    Yoürs truly
    FRANZ
    Sorry, but English is not my native language as an Austrian



  13. Peter Akhurst on 1 April 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Paul,

    This for me is very exciting to see, as my family and I are on the verge of buying a house in the same style and age of yours, only a little more shabby and in almost original condition (nothing don’t to the house in the past 80 to 90 years). I would be happy to share some photos of the inside and fixtures and fittings if that would be on interest.

    I am eager to see what your plans are for the place. I may adopt some of your ideas. We are imagining a modern interpretation of a 1930s home, with an echo to arts and crafts. Whether we will end up like that is another matter.

    Best regards

    Peter



  14. Leland Purvis on 1 April 2019 at 7:35 pm

    “I am including all manner of other woodworking in this project too.”

    “…a lifestyle that embraces the spirit of being able to do things for ourselves that eschews the style of mass making but inspires skill.”

    This is very exciting news. Would love a series on putting in a linen closet, a built-in bookcase, a Newel Post(!) and bannister. Kitchen cabinets, an ironing-board fold-down. The possibilities are near endless.

    Years ago I think you posted in passing about having redone all the sash windows in a cottage. (Maybe it was your first home on returning to the UK?) I would love as a part of everything you might do with this house, include a bit about sash windows and door work. You have so much knowledge along these lines, and there seems no other resource for this old, traditional joiner’s work, and it would be a shame if you didn’t find a way to pass it on.



    • Tom on 1 April 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Totally agree about the window making!



    • Mike on 2 April 2019 at 5:58 pm

      I too would love a series on making and/or restoring old sash windows.



      • Paul Sellers on 3 April 2019 at 8:34 am

        I doubt that I will do anything on sliding sash windows. Remarkably, there is really nothing to them and I mean that literally. The best way to learn about them is to take one apart. That’s simple too. Remove the stops both sides. That means disconnecting the sash knot (ropes) and tying them off. That will suspend the weights inside the three sided box. You can get to the weights if the rope is snapped via what’s called a sash pocket. One screw a v=few inches up from inside the frame release a section of wood so you can see inside the box. Yo should now see how simple these windows are.



        • John2v on 3 April 2019 at 10:34 pm

          You don’t mention “the mouse” Paul.
          I’ve repaired many a sash cord using waxed cord…..yes they are simple and all made with the old wooden moulders.
          Takes a bit of experience to know how to pass a knife thru paint before removing staff and parting bead ( and hope they were not rotten)
          As you know the mouse ….scrap of folded lead weight on a pull string passed
          over top pulley into box to enable cord to be attachéd to balance weight.
          All a bit hairy on a 6′ x 3′ window 4 floors up!!…..of course all work on a dust sheet.
          Oh I do miss those days



          • Paul Sellers on 4 April 2019 at 7:59 am

            Me too. I do remember the folded lead on string in Bill’s tool bass and him saying, “If you lean out of the window backwards I’ll hold your ankles, but of you slip don’t grab me otherwise we’ll both be gonners”. That was in a mill in Buxton where the drop was several floors straight down onto the river rocks spiking through the surface. Course he was joking but we actually did that.



          • John2v on 4 April 2019 at 2:00 pm

            Ha ha. I can beat that Paul. I painted with my mate a block of 4 floored flats, ladder was not long enough to reach top fan light so I had the bright idea of my mate hanging over the edge of a flat roof to reach down & finish painting…..of course he was quite safe cos I hung on to his skinny ankles!!!! I had a rope around my waist tied to a plastic soil pipe. We would do these acrobatic acts when the housing association office was close ……called it “job and knock” i.e. Get it done quick and leave early. “Silly boy”



        • Tom Davies on 9 April 2019 at 5:09 pm

          I have made my own sash boxes in the past, where cills and stiles had gone rotten, but was able to keep the sashes, which I stripped, took apart, then re-glued. I can see how they are made, but the scribed mortise and tenon joints look quite hard to me.



  15. Allan Andersen on 1 April 2019 at 11:27 pm

    I can’t sit still I’m so excited. There are so many possibilities for learning here! This is an incredible investment you have made in our future, THANK YOU!!



  16. Daniel on 2 April 2019 at 1:01 am

    As you and probably many of us here know, stair building is an art. A specialization. What are the odds you’ll build a traditional staircase in the house to show us how it’s done? Proper bannister, newel post, turned spindles, raised panels… .the works? My parents have one in their home, all of cherry. It’s about 120 years old and absolutely stunning. Always was curious about how those masters did it. I also notice, that fire place would be a great place to show an example of a mantlepiece. Maybe with a mirror, some spindles and shelves built in? (Imagining my parent’s home again) I look forward to this project Paul. Thanks for taking it on.
    Daniel



  17. Jonathan Ard on 2 April 2019 at 2:29 am

    April fool’s?



    • Paul Sellers on 2 April 2019 at 8:21 am

      Nope! It’s for real! We finally added the last piece of the puzzle. We have the alumni, we’ve got people buying good tool sets, we’ve got them sharpening saws and edge tools, and knowledge, we’ve launched our commonwoodworking.com site to train and steer those new to hand tools and we’ve got people building their first workbenches. The missing piece in the puzzle was having a house to design for and this is the one we were looking for. We signed the contracts last week and bought it. Zing!!!



  18. mr chris on 2 April 2019 at 1:35 pm

    hi Paul
    what a fantastic project
    thank you



  19. Gianluca on 2 April 2019 at 4:12 pm

    This is a fantastic news, your dream will become reality!

    I give you a little suggestion, or more then a suggestion a challenge. I know you will design all the furnitures following your taste, but it would be nice to see how you work on more classic and more modern projects. This thing could means



  20. Alastair on 4 April 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Sounds really exciting. Twenty odd years ago I moved into a Victorian sandstone built house. Learned a great deal about restoring original features through necessity. The house had been heavily modernised (vandalised in my view) in the 60s and 70s! What joy to replace architraves, strip inches of paint and wallpaper and bring back some of the character to the house.
    Good luck.



  21. Simon Bacsich on 4 April 2019 at 6:37 pm

    It really will be fascinating. I like the earlier poster’s idea of building a staircase the traditional way. Ditto for the built-in furniture.

    I’d particularly like to see the Paul Seller’s take on library style book cases running down a whole length of wall. And what about making kitchen ‘cabinets’ with hand-tools and not a biscuit jointer in sight?



  22. Adam on 6 April 2019 at 6:03 am

    Sincere congratulations to you, Paul.

    Obviously we’re all very excited ourselves as the other comments show – so much to look forward to.

    But this was your dream, and now it’s come true. This must be so exciting for you, Joseph and your team. Bloody awesome!

    Regards Adam



  23. Anthony on 7 April 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Exciting. Will definitely follow this one.



  24. George Stalling on 8 April 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Congratulations! Good for you. Well done Paul! Realizing a dream is one of life’s greatest gifts. Sharing that dream with others is the greatest gift of all.



  25. Gordon Dayton on 8 April 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Paul,

    What a wonderful idea, and one that will hopefully keep you (and all of us) busy for decades to come. There is no foreseeable end point for this program of yours – and that is comforting.

    But, there is something eerie about the house. Perhaps it is because I have spent so little time in the UK that it is difficult for me to discern between British architectural elements, but I somehow expect to see Richard Griffiths kneeling with a screw gun at the letterbox to stopper up the owl mail from Hogwarts. (By the way, that scene might be a good advert for improving carpentry skills. )

    Is this similarity merely an accident or is your project house actually located in Little Whinging, Surry? If so, might we look forward to joining you on a trip to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland to steal some furniture ideas for the new house? Just a thought…



  26. richard misdom on 8 April 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Congratulations Paul. I really like the picture of you presenting at a woodworking show from 1986 back here stateside.



  27. Renea on 11 April 2019 at 4:01 am

    Fabulous!



  28. Peter H Smith on 11 April 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I want to thank you Paul. I have a small workshop in the basement, and until I started reading your blog and watching your videos, it was just a place for me to noodle around and store stuff. After spending time with you and your courses, I finally got motivated, and I have turned this space into a real workshop, with a proper leg vice, a sharpening station and a place for everything (including a dust collector). Of course it is a perpetual work in progress, but I can now actually create in the space, rather than wonder if I will ever be able to!
    Congrats on the new home, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses