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People Don’t Always Understand!

I live about four hundred yards from work. I cycle five miles to get there each day. That’s the distance of the circuitous route I take through the countryside, woodlands and fields, cycle paths and mud tracks to get there. I cycle again at lunchtime and often too in the evening but then that’s if I choose not to walk three or four miles before I close off my day. As it is with woodworking, there’s the easy way and there’s the harder way. One is zero demand and one one is high demand. I choose hand tools 95% of the time.

To cross cut my wood I make a knifewall to four sides and a second knifewall 2mm parallel to it so no splintering takes place. Usually, when I have gauged it to dead size by eye, there is really little need for further truing by planing, but I do it anyway, even if it’s the end of a hidden tenon that will never be seen again for two hundred years (perhaps). Why? Well, i keep saying it and ~i’ll say it again. No one said it to me before. I strung these words together because they’re what I feel deep inside. ‘It’s not what you make that matters but how you make it. That alone determines the outcome!’ People, woodworkers at the business end, for the main part anyway, don’t get it in the same way people don’t get the bike ride. Usually it’s because at the business end they’ve never mastered hand tools, don’t understand them, been taught mentally that it’s not the progressive way and that, well, you can’t make a living that way. Baldersdash!. But I don’t try to change the way they think, I just get on with the I-do-it-my-way way and enjoy life to the very fullest by pulling others off the conveyor belt or indeed stop them before the rot begins.

As I biked to work this morning the sun was glinting off the heads of oats in the fieldO I passed. Swallows were diving and swifts soared sky-high as two seagulls mobbed a buzzard at one point and a red-tailed kite further along. It’s nest, egg and fledgling time and the raptors think nothing of diving on a youngster. The red campions too are buzzed by solitary bees laden on their back legs already with sacks of pollen and I stopped to film them all so my journey took three times as long.

The lake area always seems much of a buzz with life too and not just with with wild life. The truckers, heavy laden with gravel, I see every morning wave, followed by a return ‘thumbs-up in answer to mine. It’s a new day and the mercies are always new every morning. Yesterday we had a good rain soak, which our world here in the the UK seems always to be condemning of as a bad day but any farmer knows beats anything anyone else could be wishing for.

Choosing the harder path means that you meet juggernauts along the way. It is not always greeted by all as a welcome way, so for me, the bike ride, the hand work, the things I engineer and CHOOSE for myself are a way of life, a lifestyle, and many now follow similar self-engineered paths. It’s not at all easy for all, life, some things are impossible, but engineer what you can, bit by bit, and changes will come to you. Not all at once, more evolving with your decisions and around you. Such happenings are always amazing!

11 Comments

  1. Richard Gorman on 6 June 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Disk brakes! Glad to find another bike rider, it sure helps me get ready for the day, but your scenery sure exceeds mine. Keep it up. Those giant buses are a horror story.

  2. Bernard Duckworth on 6 June 2019 at 12:23 pm

    What a fantastic way of looking at things, as the saying goes “It’s not where you start or finish, it’s the journey that counts” thank you for sharing

  3. Phill on 6 June 2019 at 1:21 pm

    an inveterate fellow walker knows that you can take the same path every day and never see the same thing twice. Something else the riders don’t understand. – It’s about the pace at which we live our lives. Not just a walking pace, but the pace of our hearts and minds. My neighbors think I walk for exercise — they don’t understand either. Bet you do.

  4. Robert J Amsbury on 6 June 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Some people pay to go to a special building to get exercise – they’re the strange ones!

  5. Steve on 6 June 2019 at 4:07 pm

    The big thing now where I live are the “electric assist” bikes. You still have to pedal, but the electric motor assists you uphills. They are trying to ban them offroad as motorized vehicles. But some people still use on the trails. I guess these can be considered the bandsaw of the biking world. I am fine with them personally as long as they don’t make noise and disrupt the silence of the outdoors.

  6. Joe on 6 June 2019 at 7:10 pm

    I think you are spot on with ‘It’s not what you make that matters but how you make it. That alone determines the outcome!’

    There are many things I’ve done that others will never know. But I know I did it and it makes me feel very good even if required a bit extra work. It’s not just woodworking mind you. It’s a whole outlook covering many activities.

  7. Salko Safic on 7 June 2019 at 6:46 am

    What astonishes me most about you is your ability to write 500-1000 a day. Not everyone is blessed with such a skill, the only person I know of is Christopher Schwarz.

  8. Bruce McGregor on 10 June 2019 at 4:20 pm

    My neighbour was telling me recently that there is a new facility opening soon in my town. He said it would be set up with only cnc machines where a worker would feed wood in one end and fine furniture would come out the other. He said, “that blows my mind, so exciting!” I said, “how can it be called ‘fine’?”

  9. Mike on 10 June 2019 at 5:29 pm

    I’m currently in the process of remodeling my master bath and needed to cut some 2x4s. Options; circular saw, chop saw, table saw, band saw, or hand saw. looking at everything I would need to move around in my small working space to get to one of the power tools was more daunting than walking over to my Paul Sellers version 2×4 work bench, making a knife wall (marked one side only since its rough carpentry), and making the cut. After several months of practicing making hand sawn cuts the Paul Sellers way, I easily cut square ends in less than amount of time it would have take to pull out one of my power tools, quite empowering (pun intended) actually. If I had to quickly frame an entire room or more I probably would have opted for the power tool. But for the few small cuts I made, a handsaw was far more efficient. A couple of years ago I would have defaulted to the power tool because my hand tool skills lacked in being able to cut a square end, not any more.

  10. Wim de Jong on 11 June 2019 at 8:42 am

    For sure its the journey that counts, it is nice to have a nicely finished piece of wood.
    But don’t forget all those beautiful wood shavings you create, i treasure the look and the feel of them.
    Glorious, glorious shavings all over the place,….feels good!

  11. MS Lewis on 24 June 2019 at 5:23 pm

    I begin each morning with a five to seven mile trail excursion. Some days I run. Some days I walk. Both activities enhance my mental and physical health. This morning I misjudged the speed of an approaching rain storm. I was soaked by the time I reached home. Prior to the rain, I encountered a young whitetail buck, its antlers still in velvet. It was wonderful–all of it including the soaking. To this point my only regret regarding the day is that the continuing rain is making it impractical to work in my outdoor carport “workshop.” On the other hand disappointment is tempered by the opportunity to catch up on blog posts that have been accumulating in my inbox.

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