You’ve Been Apprenticing

When I started working more online it became an alternative to hands-on training, and that led to even a replacing it. I was sceptical, I had no idea demand would develop to such an extent and that made me excited because I had worried that my background teaching from the perspective of a craftsman would end when I could no longer teach.

And it wasn’t just woodworking that people wanted, they were looking for someone with a background living the experience as a way of life, hence my adopting the term ‘lifestyle woodworker’ as my strapline alongside an advanced status of ‘amateur woodworker’.

Many of you have been with me online since we first began videoing my efforts, that has now become a course for apprenticing those who would most likely never find an apprenticing strategy with a working artisan. Your feedback over the years made me realise that we’ve succeeded in reaching and training thousands of woodworkers worldwide who could never have come to even one of my former hands-on workshops. Cost, family and work commitments, geographic location and so on, all factor into the equation. I knew at one point that I would never achieve my objective if I didn’t change my strategy. Whereas I did not plan to abandon all hands-on workshops at all, instead of reaching maybe a few hundred woodworkers, the numbers leapt to hundreds of thousands. Those who genuinely want to learn the real ways of working wood with hand tools can follow a series of projects that lay the foundation to gaining total mastery as a woodworker in many different spheres of woodworking. That said, one day I will hold some classes again. Even if you’ve done little more than watch the videos we make and post, you are still soaking things in with me.

So every day I think about you. Though your journey will likely be very different than mine it’s the journey that’s the most important. Over the decades I have actively been dismantling and even demolishing the effects of industrialism in my craft. Whereas many machinists feel that they are indeed following my craft but following a different path using machines instead of hand tools, what they really rarely ever see is that the two realms have almost no connection at all. Yet I well know that for the majority it’s the desire for developing and mastering skill and gaining insight and knowledge from those who established the highest levels of skilled work. Jig-making is very different than woodworking with hand tools yet all machines rely solely on jigs and guides to guide the wood or cutterhead to. It’s the means by which machinists guarantee a repeatable outcome as the offer the wood into a rotary cut.

Our first video online project was of course the workbench I built in my garden.

In its very essence it’s machining. It’s also the degree with which you work with machines that makes the difference. Many if not most machinists use machines for every single cut they make. In my world almost if not every cut is made by my hands. Using my hands to push wood into a machine or pushing a machine along a guaranteed path is not so much my idea of woodworking even though I have spent years doing that too. When I use a machine I am machining my wood and not really woodworking per se. So my calling it machining is the extension of how men said it in my woodworking world up to the 1980s. Hence, you won’t generally hear me say woodworking by machine is power tool woodworking and you will never see me introduce a woodworking machine as anything but exactly that. Certainly not so much skilled work as such but a means to an end via a different journey.

Of course as the weeks, months and years have gone by since we began training online an increasing number of you have now struck the practical balance by adopting hand tool methods. You dimension your wood with machines, make clean crosscuts dead square, rip parallel, plane parallel but then clean up the wood ready for joinery without reaching always for the power sander or making those very ugly dovetails with a power router screaming its way through the slaloming jig. That was my goal from the start and that’s my success – leading others to become successful woodworkers. You have learned my methods of sharpening and then adopted and adapted your own. Paul’s way has never been “the high way.” as some have said. Paul’s way has simply been the equipping of anyone and everyone to discover the beauty of working with hand tools with your hands. I no longer worry about my craft dying because so many of you are now practicing the methods we advocate all woodworkers should own. You amateur woodworkers are the protectorate of hand tool woodworking. Hand tools are beginning to reign once again!

Which machines you buy or use is of course your choice. The bandsaw does me because it has always been a success story. The bandsaw resolves so many issues surrounding the reduction of larger sections of wood to the near sizing needed. Reverse engineering the effects of the Industrial Revolution in my life without accepting its amazing influence in the realms of industry has made me very happy. Going from a shop filled with machines to a shop with a few handfuls of hand tools has been so very freeing, believe me.

Approaching the making of furniture for my whole house is an amazing place to be. I keep all of my sketches even those designs I might abandon because I often retrieve the concept of them later. I so believe in this enterprise because of course I rely only hand tools alongside the bandsaw even though others might follow along but using machines where they can.

Anyway, the future for woodworking is ever-bright for all!

38 Comments

  1. Tom on 28 August 2019 at 2:11 pm

    You caught me at a time where I was going to full machine mode.
    I was at the woodworking show at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts looking for a dovetail jig to use with a router.
    My son and I stopped to rest for a moment in front of your booth and we saw you make dovetails in just a few minutes. As you pointed out how many drawers are you going to make? The salesmen who sold the jig I was looking for were trying to set up the jig for several hours and as far as I know never made a dovetail.
    You also taught me how to finally sharpen chisels and plane irons in minutes (online) rather than hours (literally) and now I can sharpen anything.
    I am in the process of teaching both my sons the methods you teach with some variations but the principle is the same.
    I haven’t bought a power tool or jig for woodworking since, I realized I had enough already, it doesn’t mean I don’t use them when it’s faster.
    My point is you changed my perspective and therefore I could teach my sons.

  2. Adriano J. M. Rosa on 28 August 2019 at 2:46 pm

    I have long felt the need to work wood with my hands.
    I had a wooden planer that had belonged to my paternal grandfather but could not work with it.
    Someone gave me a # 3 Stanley planer, a # 4 Record with Stanley blades, and a # 1 spokeshave printed on the unmarked handles.
    From there I bought more planers, handsaw and a band saw.
    Although I don’t have a right hand for the cut yet, I’m much better off, so I bought the band saw just for the most precise jobs. There are jobs that are done faster using saws than the band saw.
    The quality of my work is improving and I am having fun doing work to offer to my family and friends.
    I’m learning from you, mr. Paul Sellers, through the videos.
    Thank you mr. Paul and team.

  3. Ken on 28 August 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I don’t wholly agree with Paul about machinery. He is surely right about the downsides of mass production however it’s worth remembering that it has made affordable to the ordinary person things that, were they produced by hand, would be affordable only to millionaires. That is no small thing.

    That said bringing industrial machinery into our own workshops is akin to using an articulated semi to pop down the road for some groceries: you suffer all the inconvenience without realising any of the benefits. We make our hobby, like our jobs, something to be endured rather than something to take pleasure in.

    Even power hand tools I feel are mis-sold – much like “automatic” zooms in cameras : heavier, noisier and clumsier in use than the manual thing they replaced. The makers of such gadgets exploit our ignorance rather than ease it. They encourage us to live in fear of our own inexperience rather than simply have a go and actually find out what we really can or cannot do.

    So I am grateful to Paul and his team for showing us a better way and for encouraging us to understand that few things are as difficult as some would have us believe. Powered screwdrivers do save time and forearm pain but all else is IME either no great hardship or actually easier to get by without.

  4. Mario Fusaro on 28 August 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I, too, had several machines for “woodworking” but I realized that I was a jig maker in really. I had hundreds of jigs that took up as much space as my machines. I then found this gentleman of close to my age using tools that my grandfather used. The more I watched him, the more sense he made. I learned the art of sharpening and caring for tools from him and slowly turned away from the machines. My scroll saw still sees occasional use and my radial arm saw that I kept for large scale sizing has been dormant for several years. I love the transition for myself but I am happy that I know how to use the machines as I have been able to help many others see the beauty of working with hand tools. I’ve even shown several people how to incorporate hand tools along with the jigs and machines. I owe all of this to Paul Sellers, teacher, master &long distance friend. Thank you, ever so much!

  5. JEAN CLAUDE PEETERS on 28 August 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Jigs… Jigs, jigs… As a guitar maker, I know a thing or two about them. They take up half of your time making them. Half of your budget too. You need to set up machines to make them and then reset the same machines to use them. Making an electric guitar isn’t any different from making a countertop. Pop on the template or jig, plunge in the router and you’re done. That is why I stopped making them a long time ago. One only has to visit one of the ‘specialized’ sites to discover that making a € 250 guitar takes € 750 on jigs and special devices, which are with no exception borrowed from other trades. A € 30 0.5 ton arbor press becomes a ‘fret press’ and hey presto, the price goes up to ‘only’ € 269. (which of course also goes for “Paul Sellers’ approved” planes and such … try to find a decent router plane now… thank you, Paul!) Of course, this is not Mr. Sellers’ fault. Luckily Lidl hasn’t picked up on the hype, selling their chisels €19.99 a piece.
    There is a huge difference between European/British makers and American as well. Where European makers focus on improving instrument by instrument, Americans set up shop to make as many as possible. (I generalize, I know…) Chris Martin (of Martin Guitars) once proudly announced that a good luthier can make one great guitar every month while they make over 10,000. Well, Mr. Martin, Ikea makes thousands of chairs a day. I have yet to find a decent one.
    A machine (CNC) operator is not a luthier. A hand-built guitar is custom made.
    A ‘custom shop’ guitar is assembled of machined parts. The only skill it takes is finding a matching bit for the neck screws.
    Watching Paul’s channel and the site has given me back the confidence that people are interested in and indeed NEED hand-built instruments, furniture and so on. My instruments are now made at a manageable pace: that of my own two hands and hand tools. Thinning tops and backs, dimensioning necks, … it’s great exercise. The only powered devices I now use while making guitars are my bending iron and an electric kettle, for tea.
    At the end of the day, it is the journey that counts. Mr. Sellers, dear Paul, you wouldn’t have reached me without your online tuition. I take pride in being your apprentice.

    • Joe on 28 August 2019 at 9:30 pm

      On of my favorite guitar making videos involves an elder gentleman working in rural Mexico making a acoustic guitar under the trees and with his chickens looking for worms. Much of the work was done with a machete. It was a splendid video.

  6. Steve on 28 August 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Hello Paul,

    I do hope you do some courses again in the future. I discovered your website shortly before you stopped doing them so wasn’t able to attend one but maybe in the future..

  7. Stephen Tyrrell on 29 August 2019 at 6:41 am

    For many years I have wanted to be a woodworker, but always equated it with a big investment in machine tools, which cost and space made impossible or impractical. Since finding your blog by accident I have slowly built my collection of hand tools (many second hand), at a fraction of the cost of the machines I would need , and I am learning real skills that I could not have learnt before. The first thing I ever made was a workbench, following your tutorials one by one. Great fun and so satisfying.

    Machines definitely have their place and I am impressed by those who use them well, but I think my weekends spent in the quiet of my garage workshop seem much more relaxing than the machine alternative.

  8. Samuel on 29 August 2019 at 10:47 am

    It takes effort to find the truth in any matter, not often is it put on a plate for us to just open our arms and think… This is what I have been looking for!
    Yeah. We all thank Paul Sellers – for his drive and his heart.
    Thanks

  9. Steve P on 29 August 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Its funny. I always felt like “Fine Woodworking” was out of reach for me, cutting dovetails by hand etc seemed more of an art form. And with no artistic ability, I found I was able to buy a table saw from Home Depot and start making stuff in “handyman” magazines. I always wanted to get to the finer stuff, but back then there was no internet, and not a lot of ways to learn nearby, and I don’t learn well from books. Once I finally had the strong desire and funds to look, is when I found these online videos and have been learning thanks to Common Woodworking and Woodworking Masterclasses. I am now ripping wood on the table saw, but cutting to length with handsaw and doing the joinery with hand tools. Hand cut dovetails using a dovetail marker that I MADE from Paul’s video. I guess one would call it hybrid. The thing I find interesting is when machining, you have to be dead on accurate with measurements, but when I am doing handwork, its interesting that I don’t need to measure so accurately because I am matching up the joints by hand to each other. Still getting used to that.

  10. Eugene Galasso on 29 August 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Hello Paul,
    I am a machinist, although I think you would call me an engineer. Here in the US a machinist (tool maker) is the person who makes the things the engineers design. Of course we do our own engineering in order to make fixtures, tools, and so on but our main focus is making things from designers drawings or more recently CAD files.
    I was lucky as I started early enough to have had extensive experience with “manual” machines prior to using CNC machines. The same arguments rage in my trade; is a CNC operator ever worthy of the title machinist or tool maker or are they just button pushers. The answer is not black and white.
    I can remember laying out jobs using blue dye, scribing lines and cutting to a line much as you do when laying out a part and cutting to the knife wall. Measuring parts, checking for square, and adjusting were all part of the game. I never stopped using those techniques especially when making tools and fixtures or one off’s.
    However actually making parts was generally done on CNC machines because of the precision. speed and ability to make multiples quickly.
    I stopped working in industry 10 years ago and taught machining at a college level until I just recently retired. I felt the “manual” skills were essential if one ever hoped to understand the underlying principals of automatic machines (CNC) and to the extent I could taught those skills to my students. A two year college program is not an apprenticeship so to make sure my students could find work most of their training tended towards what they would encounter looking for a job meaning CNC programming, machine setup, and so on.
    I have seen some of my younger colleagues who cut their teeth on CNC machines not be able to quickly whip up something by hand but who were every bit as skilled as I am programming and setting a CNC machine. Are they machinists or button pushers. It’s not black and white. I think it’s too bad but that’s the way of the world now.
    My own woodworking has been primarily finish carpentry, sash and door making, cabinet making and some furniture making. The vast majority of which was done on machines. I made some 20 odd windows a few years ago using a router table and cope and stick set.
    You are absolutely right machining wood is very different than hand tool working, it’s noisier, dirtier, more dangerous and until recently impossible to find information on. How would one trim a miter 1/64″ except with a chop saw? I had no idea of shooting boards, how to sharpen or use a hand plane or even a chisel until the internet and the hand tool revolution on line. I did hand cut dovetails several times successfully but most of my work was machine made.
    When I retired I wanted to do more quiet work, not so much screaming machines so I have been reading and viewing as much as I can on the internet and have joined your Masterclass.
    You and several of your internet colleagues are doing a fine job keeping those techniques alive thank you so much. I have to say now as an amateur I have the luxury of time and will continue to add hand techniques to my wood working but will probably never abandon machines completely. I wonder if someone could make a living as a restoration carpenter or furniture maker using exclusively hand tools and if so would their work be limited to the very wealthy who can afford to pay for that kind of work.

  11. James T Horton on 30 August 2019 at 11:52 am

    Many thanks Mr. Sellers, for the journey I am on. Indeed, I am an apprentice and you are the master. I only wish I was many years younger. Look for me when you start teaching again.

  12. Rico on 2 September 2019 at 10:44 am

    I’m just about to embark on a project to sell all my power tools (apart from the drills and drivers currently). The only one I’m not sure about is the router. I think it has a lot of uses that I’d struggle to substitute with hand tools currently. Although, that’s probably to do with the fact that I don’t have a band saw! So I’ll sell all my tools and then have a band saw I think. I just made a nice oak internal window sill at the weekend with just hand tools and it was good fun. I struggle with the finishing without the sander though, but I could easily hand sand this particular one as it isn’t long. I found the plane, despite being sharp, struggled around a knot in the wood and I was chasing smoothness for quite a time. Maybe a scraper would have been better. Anyway, cheers for the blogs and the videos Paul, they are fantastic.

  13. Mark A on 2 September 2019 at 11:32 am

    Thanks to your videos and blog I have spent a small fortune on old ‘made in England’ tools recently. I bought a Record 52 1/2 vice, Footprint chisels, 3 Stanley planes, an Eclipse saw setter and lots more. I’m enjoying restoring and bringing back to life these old tools as much as I am enjoying using them.

  14. Gary Gibbons on 2 September 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Mr. Sellers thank you for getting my attention online just a few short years ago. I’m retired from a career of teaching entry level construction techniques necessary for labor and utility work out doors.

    I trained hundreds of homeless folks the very basics of things like how to hold and use a hammer, read and use a tape measure, level, circular and hand saws, and even shovels and picks. Every tool has a starting point and my goal was to impart that knowledge to anyone who would care to know, with the idea the very basics was a good starting point if someone wanted to turn their life around and find a new beginning.

    I’ve bought plenty of machinery for my home shop in the past few years with the hopes of elevating my own skill, but much to my chagrin, no such skill was forthcoming.
    I followed a couple of your videos related to sharpening tools, and at some point I realized, most humbly, how limited my knowledge and skill were regarding woodworking.

    I’ve not abandoned those machines, they reside in my shop and await my use whenever I choose, but with far less frequency.
    I was amazed at what could be (and is) done by hand! I went from jointer machine, to thickness planer, to table saw (reinvested to cabinet saw), to band saw, to shaper and router. I haven’t abandoned any of them, but will say that I missed the very skills necessary to properly address the principles of true woodworking, prior to actually owning machines. Had I been mentored in hand tool use, it is unlikely I would have ever bought them, at least to the degree I have.

    But the first video I watched on how to joint and flatten boards was from your archives – and I was more than a little amazed! Since then I’ve resolved more bows, cups, and twists by hand than through a machine (but I still use the machines as I’m not quite an expert just yet with hand tools), and can say the most basic skill of simply having a sharp plane and chisel set put me on a path far more satisfying than I ever imagined.

    I’ve been developing a level of competence (still a very long way to go), and recently have restored several hand planes back to practical use, including a couple of wooden planes.
    I have several projects slowly moving along in my shop as I work on gaining knowledge and building my skills. My machines sometimes seem a bit forlorn as I hand cut, mill, and join without the noise and dust of a fully mechanized process.

    Just as in my career as mentor to those who would learn, I am now the student. And quite a humble one at that. But one is never too old to learn new skills.
    I look forward to (hopefully) 20 years of fine woodworking with traditional hand tools and techniques.

    Thank you for putting me on this path.

  15. Sandy O'Neal on 2 September 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Paul, I’ve been building things with wood all through my life. My Dad occasionally made an item from wood, not for the joy of wood working but for need of a peice of ruff plywood furniture. A book shelf or a gun cabinet perhaps. Then in high school I took wood shop. While the teacher was a good hearted man and loved children, he taught nothing in his classes other than some safety around machines.

    Life happens as you say, children, work, commitments kept me busy until recent years. I spent about 10 years buying machines and building the same stuff you can buy at the big box stores. Then I decided to make some real craftsman type things so I bought a nice router and a dovetail jig. I made a total of three peices using my treasured machine and jig, when I by chance, came across your web sight. Cutting joinery by hand with a very minimal amount of tools, less noise, and less dust to deal with. What a concept!

    The funny thing is, I made a lot of things with my machines for my house and occasionally gifts, but I was never really proud of these things. Thanks to your online training, I’ve made hundreds of thing by hand that I’ve given away as gifts. Most of the items I made with machines and very little skill have been replaced by the hand made items using the skills you’ve tought me all in online courses. My great grandchildren will enjoy items I made because of it.

    I won’t ever be a tradesman at woodworking or depend on it for an income, but the pleasure it brings me to make items for my family and friends is priceless.

    BTW, I’m working on the 4th Garden Bench. The first one I kept for myself and the rest I’ve given away to familly. I’m actually going to make some money off the 5th one as someone saw what I was building and asked me to customize one to use in the entrance foyer of his house. It’s not a large amount but it will pay for the material for the previous five benches. And I am sure his grandchildren will enjoy it in thier house one day.

  16. Conrad A. on 2 September 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Discovering Mr. Sellers and his teaching videos came at a most appropriate time for me in my life. With aging eyes and arthritis creeping into my hands, I was doing less and less machine woodworking, due to a developing lack of confidence in by ability to safely use my table saw, jointer and router. I was stressing out using my machinery, unable to see as clearly as I once could.

    Learning to do Woodworking with hand tools at “Human Speed” (as Paul calls it), put me at ease again and has made things enjoyable again… it’s damned difficult to get into trouble.

    A heartfelt thank you to Paul and his team.

  17. Allen Schell on 2 September 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I’ve really appreciated the improvements of the videos with the close in shots. To me they’re on par with being in your class !
    Thank you again!

  18. Jim Dake on 2 September 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Mr Paul
    Since 1974, I have been in the construction industry. Officially in 1975, becoming a trade carpenter here in USofA, retiring with twenty years, then owning Our own commercial contacting service for fifteen years.
    Upon (retiring) seven years ago, I realized that ‘carpentry’ is an on going learning event.
    Watching both you and that Aussie Bloke has given me a new and renewed sense of the craft. The maternal side of my family, Belew/Dackombe from Surrey area, were craftsmen, and I hope thru gleaning information from you, I can do justice to the lineage

    Thank You for what you do !

    Jim DAKE
    Kansas City KS. US of A

  19. Gary Docken on 2 September 2019 at 2:50 pm

    I found I don’t like using machines anymore, with 2 exceptions. First off, they are too noisy and then the dust they blow everywhere. Add to that I don’t get the self satisfaction of woodworking I do using hand tools.

    My only machine tools are a Dewalt planner and a drill press. I use the drill press about twice a year but when I do, it’s nice to have. My Planner I use a lot, a whole lot. But that’s because where I live I can’t go buy dimensioned wood like you can in the states. Without the planner I would be spending 99% of the project time just trying to get wood flat and of thickness. With the planner I still use hand tools to finish the project.

    I find kind of calming doing wood work now. Tremendous pride in my finished work. Even if I have a flaw, which I still get too often. That flaw says this was done by hand.

  20. Reggie on 2 September 2019 at 3:07 pm

    “Paul’s Way…” Paul, I’ve been following your blogs and videos since or around 2013. I didn’t attempt to build something until I had watched your 1st Paul Sellers Workbench and other training skills countless of times. I cannot even describe what your blogs or what you and your team have done for me(I could only imagine what you have done for others around the world). I had purchased my 1st router five years ago and it’s been used once to build a wine barrel table. The noise, mess and the small size of my property prevented me from continuing its use whereas hand tools are relatively silent and I’m able to have great thoughts whilst working with my hands. Your theory and personal comments helped me reflect on my journeys and has helped me understand the relationship between everything in our environments. As an Aircraft Technician for a profession I’m following your Craft because I believe that your concepts, work ethic, and patience are helping me not only at work but at home. I cannot use 90% of my woodworking tools on aircraft and cannot use 100% of my jigs on aircraft. But I can use a workbench which helps me work on transferring parts in an open space safely instead of working in the cabin or back of a truck. My repairs at home from window shades to gardening has improved exponentially because I have incorporated your work to my home. I can even attribute splitting firewood to smaller bits because of watching you build a Stool out of logs. What I admire are the small connections because they are the keys that keep me thinking out of the box and also prevents me from running to the “Big Box Stores” every time I’m stuck on a project. Thank you Paul, Izzy and everyone on your team because they make your work shine. Hopefully one day you can sit back and relax and make a cameo on your family’s and apprenticeships work.

  21. Loxmyth on 2 September 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you again for sharing your experience and expertise, Master.

    (Now I just need to make more time to actually put it into practice.)

  22. Ken Rubenstein on 2 September 2019 at 3:19 pm

    I have a sensitivity to seeing many young people struggling through school and feeling lost regarding a meaningful direction in their lives. Someone very special to me introduced the “theory of educational Sloyd” to me. It brought the importance of hand – eye coordination in education at a young age to develop pride, self-esteem, patience and work ethic to children. All of this is thru woodworking. Experiencing this phenomena and concerned about the direction that society is taking, I think Sloyd could be at least one approach to helping a lot of people. I am curious if you are familiar with Sloyd and if so, what are your thoughts. I would like to get involved in helping promote it and would like to know if you have any suggestions for me or anyone else that is interested.

  23. Paul Frederick on 2 September 2019 at 3:33 pm

    You’d better be careful Paul. You’re starting to sound like Ted Kaczynski and his Manifesto. Which starts, “The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race.” The next thing you know you’ll be living in a shabby cabin in the woods! You are building that shed, aren’t you?

  24. Jeremy on 2 September 2019 at 3:47 pm

    I started woodworking in 2015 after spending my whole life never having anything to do with it. I started on YouTube with a guy named Jay Bates making a workbench out of construction lumber. He said his design was based on Paul Sellers and left a link to Paul’s original garden workbench videos.

    I’m still a huge fan of Jay and the other power tool woodworkers online. Paul’s videos were different though. Almost meditative. This man was building an entire workbench with a plane a saw and a chisel. The simplicity was amazing. No loud noises, no dust collection, and much less dangerous (chisels can give you a bad cut, tablesaws much worse).

    I still own a whole shop of power tools but I’m still working toward the goal of everything I need for woodworking I can fit in a tool chest and take with me anywhere. Like Paul if I can only keep one power tool it would be my bandsaw.

    At the end of my rambling, I just want to say thank you. Please continue this work as it’s something that I feel brings value to my life. Through woodworking I am able to build things for my friends and family that will be around long after I’m gone.

    Your teaching is like a fire, with many of us lighting our sticks off of you to start our own fires. Eventually maybe a few end up teaching others and the craft lives on forever.

  25. John Lamb on 2 September 2019 at 7:13 pm

    It’s a great relief to be able to work wood without all that noise and dust. Quite liberating in fact – all the more so as I live in fairly high density housing and I’m sure it’s a great relief to the neighbours

  26. Tayler Whitehead on 2 September 2019 at 8:52 pm

    i am now retired, but still make things for friends and the house. i am what i describe as a hybrid wood worker. i use machines to quickly rough dimension lumber ready for preparing by hand. whilst i trained in a traditional wood shop where all work was done by machine with a little bit of hand tool finessing i hated mass production. i set up shop in my garage (one and a half cars worth) and concentrated on making one off pieces on commission. my customers and many were regular clients, wanted an individual piece that could not be found in the shops, they wanted quality timber, and traditional joinery, and they wanted something they could hand down to their children with pride. one thing i discovered very quickly is that with a hand tool i could generally have the task i wanted achieved in less time than it would take me to set up a machine. and as you say the peace and quiet of the shop was not disturbed by the screaming of power tools.

  27. Kathleen Basiewicz on 2 September 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Master Sellers, I have been following you for almost 2 yrs now, and I have to say I never thought that I would be so interested in woodworking. I have been a retired machinist for over 10 yr, and the itch to work with my hands struck again. I have limited funds, but I have managed to make myself a workshop out of an old lawn building. Filled it with items that I never thought I could. I am currently restoring 2 rabbit planes. I love getting out into the shop almost everyday and have fun being useful again. Making things is keeping my mind sharp. I just need to fine tune my skills and all will be good. Thank you for being so kind to allow us to watch and learn from one of the best.

  28. Don Hummer on 2 September 2019 at 9:44 pm

    As a lifelong carpenter i’ve been through many stages. The first stage, I’m lost I know nothing; stage 2, I’m learning and starting to get comfortable; stage 3, I’ve arrived, I’m a carpenter! stage 4, I’m a damn good carpenter; stage 5, after all my years, all my houses, remodels and repairs, it’s humbling to realize how little I really know and when you stop learning or trying to learn and think you know it all you don’t really know anything.
    I learn so much from Paul’s videos, he and Louie Souzeddes “Tips from a Shipwright”. Knowledge is a very basic key to success, not the only key though.

  29. Steve Castner on 3 September 2019 at 2:43 am

    Paul, you are a teacher par excellence. Your videos, especially the master classes are genius. I’m a retired lawyer, a bit older than you. My forebearers were carvers from Brienz, Switzerland. It’s good to be back into wood. Teaching is an art. Keep it up. Thank you.

  30. Terrence OBrien on 3 September 2019 at 4:44 am

    I have a small laptop I sit in the tool well of the Sellers bench I made. Then I just work through the projects. If I have to rewind and try something a half dozen times, OK. I try to mimic Paul’s actions, and do exactly what he does, just like he does it. The videos are great for capturing the details.

    It works. If I do it his way instead of my way, it’s like having a master right there on the bench. And I suspect it’s working for lots of other people.

  31. Shane Patrick White on 3 September 2019 at 3:12 pm

    I think I just opened Pandora’s box the other day by discovering your work and websites.

    I’m just starting down the path.
    Having grown up watching The Woodwright’s shop with Roy Underhill here in the states I’ve always had a fascination with woodworking. I was lucky enough to fell trees and work at a small sawmill when I was younger, too. Even though I ended up as an artist and writer I still have projects that I want to tackle for the sheer joy of it.

    I built a bed frame with saw and chisels a few years back and a deck this summer. Hoping to start on a workbench soon and I’m happy that I don’t need a lot of machines to do it now, either.

    Thanks for so much invaluable information.

    =shane=

  32. Michael on 3 September 2019 at 4:25 pm

    I have operated in both the loud and quiet worlds of woodwork.

    I inherited some machines from my Dad and a a great uncle before him. A nice simple heavy drill press, a small jointer, an old, not very safe table saw, and a quite nice 15 inch older Makita planer. I bought a 14 inch band saw, an ubiquitous Rockwell. A chop saw.You I have bunch of hand power tools, circular saws, orbital and belted sanders, a biscuit morticer. There is metal working equipment – I want to make furniture that is mixed media, metals, wood, fabric, paper, and so on. My skill set was framing and trim carpentry for short stints, and a lot of utilitarian rough stuff, for garages and sheds – plywood and 2x4s. Dry wall screws and almost no glue.

    I was concentrating on learning to weld, then I discovered YouTube and was drawn in completey to hand tool woodworking. Many people have helped me there, but to be sure, it was you Paul, and Richard Maguire who captured my attention. I really don’t enjoy working with the machines, and realize I never did. I thought that was the only way. Lord knows if I had kept that up I would have next needed an elaborate dust control system that would devour many hundreds, and many hours. Etc., etc., etc.

    I would like to mill logs, but that is hard. With a chainsaw and a scrub plane I can get 5 foot by 6 inch pieces through my band saw. I want to get away from the chainsaw, but the 4 foot frame saw I made … I need a giant vice to hold the logs still. Still holding out hope for that some day, but for now it is more conventional methods. I have been resorting to the planer some. It wastes a lot of cellulose, but for gnarly lumber it helps me get on to the joinery a bit quicker. I had a project using eastern red cedar which is curly and brittle, I just had to move it along, and the planer kept me on schedule, but I was disappointed to do that. As many know, a band saw it pretty awesome for a hybrid workflow. The drill press is just handy as heck for tool making, but I do have a well used brace … and a dowel plate I made on the drill press.

    All that said, it is altogether the hand work that entrances me. Thank you so much for leading me away from circular saw dados before any more time elapsed. Thanks for the romantic blogs, and superior videos.

  33. Leonard McAbee on 3 September 2019 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Your choice of the word “machinist” is quite apropos. There are quite a number of woodworkers that want to use power tools only because they want the repeatable results and to achieve those results quickly. And there are a few that do mostly hand tool work. In my opinion a balanced woodworker uses both methods. Sometimes it is difficult to get people to understand the real meaning of communicating with the wood by hand. They do not understand the satisfaction that comes from hearing a well-tuned hand planed skim across the wood. And we also have the touching and feeling aspects as progress is made. I do enjoy reading your articles, watching your videos, and reading the books you have written. You do a fantastic job with all and I sincerely hope to be able to keep up with you far into the future!
    Leonard

    • Paul Sellers on 4 September 2019 at 8:44 am

      I think though that people might really miss the whole point. Working wood by hand is a process of developed skill and to achieve a good standard takes the practice most machinists are loathe to develop and for the majority never do. They want the result not the skill. It takes zero skill and aptitude to crosscut with a chopsaw – it does take developing safe practices. Even something simple like crosscutting a 2×4 with a handsaw takes much more skilled working and that’s because the saw cut is not the beginning and end but the opening step. That cut must be further developed to a finished level using a plane. Whereas a balanced approach is important, it’s very important to realise that extra so-called power equipment is not just buying in the machines alone. Now they must be permanently housed in a space large enough ti house them. This is not even an option for majority of woodworkers I know and for several very good reasons. It is definitely a privileged thing to assume that everyone has the wherewithal to have a triple-car garage, a dedicated woodworking workshop, wide open spaces, money to buy £5,-£10,000 worth of machines, dust extraction and then noise reduction too, access to said machines at stunningly lower prices than the rest of the world and I could go on. Having lived and worked in the USA I have become conscious of comments saying why not just use this tablesaw or that 18″ power planer and so on and on. I would say that the majority of my audience would not be able to invest so heavily in their hobby and actually, nor would they want to. By investment I mean space, time, money and much more.

  34. Brian on 4 September 2019 at 3:52 am

    While many would like to learn from you directly, Prof. S, the world is a large place. I believe that you have made the right decision to go online and teach apprentices who can teach the rest of us,
    as we enter (I hope) the age of:
    ‘The Rise of the Hand Tools’

  35. Chip Sadust on 5 September 2019 at 10:42 pm

    I like a combination of had tools and power tools. I have all the requisite power tools you can think of, probably, and a mass of lovely hand tools I also cherish. Each function to its own purpose.

    I grew up on a farm, and have been a professional aircraft mechanic, so I have worked old Ford and John Deere tractors, Boeing 747s and a multitude of helicopters, among other things. Hand tools and power tools are a requisite mix in the real world.

    Looking down your nose at someone because they have power tools they like to use is a bit snobbish. We all have different styles, different reasons for our hobby and different living situations. In the final analysis, we are all woodworkers.

    • Paul Sellers on 6 September 2019 at 8:22 am

      Sounds like you’re a Jack of All trades there Chip. I’m not at all sure why you would say anyone is “looking down their nose.” Perhaps I might suggest your own shortfall in recognising that. Machining wood has its place and purpose and we all rely on them whether we own them or have our wood milled by them when we buy the wood. Neither are we talking “lovely” hand tools as you put it and dare I suggest the current trend tending towards snobbism but more simply the art and craft of simple woodworking hand tools. Machining as you will know then, owning such a plethora of every “requisite” power ‘machine’ (which of course is not as you say “requisite” at all and even beyond the majority of most woodworkers looking on it on a more worldwide scale) is indeed a fairly skilless and low demand occupation by comparison and that is indeed what they were designed for – to dumb down the need for skilled workers. So making any distinction between the substitute for skill and skilled work and the lower demands of machining wood is important to those who in general at least have devoted great amounts of time over a number of years to developing the real skill of “real” woodworking. I simply continue to point out that machining wood is quite low demand in terms of skill development as you can learn all you need in a few minutes or hours and so is not really woodworking in the same way hand working wood is and therefore I choose to encourage others to recognise that there is indeed a huge chasm of a difference between the two distinctly separate worlds that is all. It’s important to put the machining of wood where it clearly needs to be placed. It’s neither lesser nor greater in terms of importance and really I have no issues with anyone choosing the use of machines because I indeed use them from time to time for what they do best, accurate donkey work.

Leave a Comment