Reading My Book

I started reading my book this week; just a couple of pages a day. I wrote in between 2014/16. It’s called Essential Woodworking Hand Tools. Reading it is like reading something someone else wrote. I daren’t say I’m enjoying it for fear of reprisals. Reading along the lines reminded me that the original manuscript was over 950 pages just on the hand tools we included and we had to cut it because, well, the book would have been far too big. I’m so glad I wrote this particular book because I filled it with the things I needed to be preserved in the future’s of woodworker’s lives and by that I mean the lives of the amateur woodworkers – those that pursue woodworking no matter the cost. Those I meet with through my blog and vlog, social media and even now on the streets or in the supermarkets where someone I never met says to me, “Hello Paul, you don’t know me but I’ve been following your teaching online for some time.

Reading the book made me realise how concretely different paper editions are than going online. what’s the difference.? I’m not sure if it is an age thing but online always puts me back on the conveyor belt I came off when I decided never to work for money again back around 1985. That doesn’t mean I did not need to earn my living by selling my work – earning my pay. More that the pursuit of money and the illusions that brings lost its stronghold on my life. I returned to my original intent from the mid sixties and that was to design and make designs come to life. Hand tools opened the doors for me to get off the conveyor belt so that I could work at human speed and become a part of what I call the undriven. You may not like it said, but experience has shown me that using machines will, does, ultimately drive you not you the machine. So the reasoning behind my working needed a paradigm shift. I’m so glad I saw that my future was with the hand tools I love so much.

Back to the reasoning. You pick up the book, thumb to the index, and suddenly you have 30 pages on the router plane alone. These pages are important because what’s written there on the router planer is mostly unwritten. Adding in the filming we do, my blog, woodworking masterclasses, common woodworking, YouTube and such all expand into visual imagery, annotation and so on to create a comprehensive tutorial – my dream coming into fruition. The blog fills in any gaps because it is instantly editable so I can update my output with any new ideas and findings. You might take it for granted to refine your tenons with the router plane. Did you know that no one did this before I introduced it in my videos? So often I receive questions about this or that and I think about how much work I put into the book and would love for everyone who loves woodworking to own a copy. Most of what I know is all in there.

Anyway, narcissistic or not, I am enjoying reading it over. I have another book I have written but am not sure what to do with it just yet. What I have never wanted to do was what magazines do and that is regurgitate the same articles every six months. I want everything to be new and current.


  1. I always pull out the book first thing before attempting any new task with hand tools; then on to the videos. Thanks

  2. I have said it before. What you do, written or otherwise, isn’t done by anybody else.

  3. I been wanting to purchase a copy for a quite a while now. When our house sells, I will be purchasing it. I am on my way to a debt free life and no better way to celebrate it than with your book.

  4. I have your Artisan book signed by yourself back in 2016, I also recieved your Esstential Woodworking and Hand Tools for christmas that year. I have enjoyed both very much and always look forward to picking one of them up even if it’s just for a quick reference.

  5. I have read your latest book cover to cover and am in the process of reading and completing most of the projects in the Artisan book. I look forward to reading your next book too! While videos are very useful and show details which can’t easily be captured in a book, I know I will always be able to refer to your books. Finding information in print is also often more effective. These books are also of very good quality with beautiful pictures ! Thanks for your hard work !

  6. My copy is always in arms reach in my living room. When I’ve got a few minutes to wait or half an hour to rest, I pick it up and have a nose at what takes my interest. I got the 3 DVD set at the same time which I have just watched again for the umpteenth time whilst away on holiday. Both items were money well spent and continue to teach and inspire me to learn and make. Whatever book you have in mind Paul, I encourage you to share it at your earliest convenience. Regards, Michael

  7. I got my copy at the book launching event you did in Oxford. It’s very well thumbed and it starting to look a little bit battered as I refer to it so often.

  8. It is in my workshop for reference not in my home on the shelf. Great book and I believe the best modern book on woodworking tools.

  9. I will either be buying this book, or the Working Wood 1 & 2 book.

    Unfortunately at the moment, I can only get one of the books. Which do you guys recommend for someone starting out in woodworking and learning joinery?

    1. Definitely Essential Woodworking Hand Tools as we have far exceeded the other with what we offer for free online these days.

      1. I am glad I read this because i had the same question. Wasn’t sure which book to get or the CDs or what so i have been putting it off. Will order when i get back from my trip. I am a physical book lover, even though my day hob is highly highly technical. Nothing beats the feel and smell of turning physical pages. Though I must admit I have watched several of your videos multiple times.

      2. No question that the ‘Hand Tools’ book is the better of the two… but I still find a lot of value in my copy of the ‘1&2’ book. As Paul says there’s nothing that isn’t covered here for free but I find it easier to navigate and presented in a clear logical order (and I’m no Luddite when it comes to searching & using websites) so I still refer back to it frequently. Just a personal view of course but worth having if you can locate a copy 🙂

  10. Both your “Working Wood” and “Essential” books and accompanying DVD’s are extremely good. I tend to pick up the books more than play the DVD’s. My copy of Essential Hand Tools has numerous pages marked with post-it’s for quick reference and like others have said here, the books are getting quite dog-eared. I have recommended these books to quite a few wanna-be woodworkers including teachers/lecturers at Letterfrack Furniture School. I don’t know if they’ve taken up my recommendation but I wasn’t prepared to loan my copies out!
    Very well written, concise and really well explained “how to” as regards sourcing, renovating and maintaining the recommended hand tools. I feel it’s got to be the definitive reference.
    I look forward to your decision to (hopefully) publish your latest manuscript.

  11. Hi Paul,

    I love all that you offer and am still looking forward to buying your books. It just hasn’t happened yet. There is a joy in working wood to create something. I don’t agree with you that “using machines will, does, ultimately drive you not you the machine”. I think that is true when you work in a production shop where you are repetitiously doing the same thing over and over again. If I only stood behind a table saw cutting wood down all day to make flooring and only did that for example, then yes I agree. Eventually you are left with a less than satisfying feeling of the machine driving you

    But I did not find it to be true when I first learned woodworking in my brother’s shop nor do I find it true now. I find it rewarding when my mind conceives a project and then I use the tools available to me, whether power or hand tools, to problem solve and figure out how am I going to get from a board to a finished product. At the end, like you feel about your book, I look at my finished product with pleasure and satisfaction that my mind and hand created it. I don’t find I feel differently about it when I’ve made it with hand tools or power tools. There are certain pleasures from working with hand tools that I might not get with power tools. But that feeling of pleasure from moving from mind to board to creation is the same for me.

    And no, it’s not narcissistic for you to enjoy reading your book. I’m glad you are able to take pleasure it what you created. We were created by God to be like that just as He took pleasure in what He had created. Thank you again for all you do. It’s opened up new worlds to me, having initially learned in a machine woodworking shop where we did not use hand tools hardly at all. It’s been a joy learning these new skills.

    With respect, Scott M.

  12. Paul, can you give us a hint/teaser about what your new book might offer? I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Projects, technique, historical perhaps? Your Essential Woodworking Handtools is invaluable.

  13. Paul,
    Like many others on here, I consider myself to be one of your students and you to be my mentor, though I have not yet had the opportunity to meet you face to face. I would like to thank you for taking the time and expending the effort to document your craft and your approach to woodworking. I admire your teaching and your work. You are making it possible for this 60-something old man to finally learn “proper” handtool woodworking. I have both of your books, and look forward to what wisdom you have for”us” in any future writings, Blogs, Vlogs website tutorials or instructional videos. Thank you again for your efforts to the continuation of hand tool woodworking.

  14. Paul, I am a retired French now. Finally I can spend my days pleasantly learning. Woodworking, another language. Thanks to you I combine both. I have your book and little by little I progress as much in English as in manual tools. What a pleasure watching your videos come to see you understand because you articulate well, speak slowly. And above all you explain by doing the gestures.

    Thank you Paul, an Englishman who makes people love the language, the tools, the knowledge to a Frenchman.

    1. Maxou, Your comment was so lovely. Thank you for your encouraging words.


  15. Hi Paul,
    I find your book very inspirational and really philosophical. Please, keep up doing what you are doing. Thank you for your work and for passing your knowledge.
    We need you.

  16. Hello Paul,
    I like Scott Mark Lord, in my woodworking days ,worked on wood machines, and in the beginning I enjoyed it, but in the eighties I was made redundant a few times and ended up in a bum job on a dimension saw cutting mdf and chipboard. I was made redundant again, vowed I would never do machining again, took a job at a school as a assistant caretaker,they found I was good with my hands and made me maintenance man, working on doors,shelves,making cabinets using hand tools only.
    The money was poor but I loved the job, I felt I was feeling the wood through my
    hand tools a feeling I never got with a machine,I felt closer to the wood , and there was no mask, goggles or ear defenders conversation wise it was like talking to a real person rather than ‘Alexa’!.

  17. I’ve heard it said so many times over the decades, “Life was so much better 50 years ago”. Or a hundred, you pick the time you like.

    Well Paul, you have achieved that in your work. You have picked a way of working that was in practice a hundred years ago or more. When life was simpler and we took time to enjoy life.

    That is what I am finding building projects from your teachings. And somehow, all my stress melts away. The book is comparable to the computer in the same way.

    And when I finish a project, I stand back and look at it with pride and I feel good. It means something to me.

  18. Studying your book gives an insight in the real skills needed for woodworking in a very mindful way. Thank you very much. I am enjoying since the moment I got from my wife. Good present! 🙂

  19. Paul, thanks for the tickler. I have been following you on line for some time now, but I somehow missed that you have a book out. Now, where is my Christmas list…

    1. I bask in the treasure your team has bequeathed to the world with your teachings. Books, videos, and blog not to mention exquisite furniture. You have crafted a community of sisters and brothers of wood and steel. We enrich overselves watching and breathing in the craft. What educates best is the many points of entry: readers may benefit most from absorbing words of instruction. Watchers; the videos. Doers advance their skill by doing. Fools like me will gain confidence by failing forward…haha. i am the wrecker of wood and can predict with 100% accuracy when wood will splinter. Like Titanic my failing is a mathematical certainty…and yet. What would you do if you knew you would succeed is a popular bumper slogan. I say what would you do if you knew you would fail! That is the acid test and whenever i build i remind myself it doesnt matter if the project comes out looking like an open autopsy…if i learned something i am fighting the good fight. Little by little the process yields tiny skill boosts. That and raw desire keep me trying to build the workbench.

  20. Essential Woodworking Hand Tools
    Essential Woodworking Hand Tools
    by Paul Sellers | Jan 1, 1830
    Hi Paul,
    I didn’t know you’ve been around this long!! 🙂 Amazon US has a copy of your book “Essential Woodworking Hand Tools” the 1830 edition for sale!

  21. This post is a really good idea because I have bunches of woodworking books and watch woodworkers online, and never considered buying your book. Looking at the pages you show in the post’s accompanying photographs show me how useful your book will be to me since it shows techniques I have seen you demonstrate on youtube. Certainly watching techniques online or a dvd are essential for my learning, but being able to refer to a well written, beautifully illustrated, organized, always at hand book is (in my book) essential. So thank you for this post, and I look forward to sitting down with a tea and reading your (about to be bought) book from cover to cover.

  22. It’s a great book, one of the best I have bought in a long time. A book that I consult frequently. Although Paul’s videos are good, it’s excellent to have this book to consult where I can turn back a page or two, to clarify my thoughts before moving on.

  23. I have a handful of various “paper editions” that live permanently (except for being relocated for the occasional dinner guest) on my dinning room table. Of the books that have achieved this honorable position two are yours; Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, and Working Wood 1 & 2. These books are there because I depend on them. So maybe it is an age thing, but it may also be a mindset of folks that love hand tool woodworking.

    Could it also have something to do with someone who lives in the dinning room and dines in the living room? I think not, that is merely a way of keeping the two media types separated by a somewhat solid wall.


  24. I looked but did not see a link to buy the book. I’m surprised it’s not available (new) from Amazon at the moment. I found it at Highland and Lee Valley.
    I would have assumed there would be a buy-it-now link on this page somewhere.

  25. Thank you all for the lnspiration.johnny Burgess,Hobbs,85 years of age (Bricklayer).

  26. Failed to mention state and country.johnny Burgess,Hobbs,NM.,U.S.A. Thanks again.

    1. I found it (and bought it yesterday) at Lee Valley. I also tracked it down on Amazon USA and Canada.

  27. Could I purchase my own copy of Pauls book and if so what is the cost and what do I have to do.

  28. I do enjoy your book on hand tools, but I am waiting for your book of stories about you and George, you are a blessing

  29. Thanks Paul for writing this wonderful book I bought and read it when it first came out. At the time I had very little hands on woodworking. About 6 weeks ago I started rereading it. I figured enough time had passed since I first read it and I have more hands on experience. I am seeing new things in the book that didn’t resonate the first time that do now. As with any good book. Rereading can always provide some new insights. I look forward to your next book.

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