Don’t dismiss the journey!” I told them. “It’s most important, perhaps even more important than the final piece you make.” These are my apprentices I talk to in the early days of their training. Someone has to create an alternative perspective than the one they were trained in school and university or college. It’s mainly about resetting their coordinates. You know, rethinking what life could be about living with new and alternative realities to the ones that so influenced their early life and formative years It’s a shameful thing that so many were robbed through their personal education path because of the shortsightedness of authorities influencing their education by educational providers. It’s happened over a four-decade season where the need for skilled work was bartered off to the lowest bidder in the name of progress, competition and free enterprise. Dumbed down from the days when boys made writing desks with drop down lids or a canoe, such like that to become a single joint made to computer drawing. It is definitely an era resulting as the bi-product of the Industrial Revolution the cogs of which constantly shift the need for long term or permanent skill and even employment for the different generations along the way. And most of us slept through adverts as we pursued the sales days and ever cheapening goods resulting from subsequent demoralising values in humanity.

Over the past few months I have made dozen or more pieces and a 120 square foot shed. I have replaced and made new doors and set up my home garage workshop too. Moving to my new home for the third time in as many years using a 4 foot by 8 foot car trailer was actually a lot of work and a lot of enjoyment for me. I like the mechanics of leverage and moving things twice my size and twice or three times my weight.

The pieces I made include the babies cot times two with both of them now in use. I made two garden benches, two console tables, two new chairs and three handy stools.

This week I have completed the latest piece which I am very proud of and that comprises two bread stows previously identified more under the name bread bins.

The most important thing in all of this is the behind the scenes stuff supporting my work. I’ve of course spent time sharpening my different saw types, chisels, planes, spokeshaves, card and cabinet scrapers a hundred times. I’ve drawn up every project with technical drawings for dimensions using a drawing and tee square, paper and pencils.

I am sure that that won’t change because I am so fast at doing it. Everything I’ve done I have done from scratch. It’s who I am and the way I do things. In the mix of course each project was filmed and this always doubles and even triples the amount of time I spend on developing my projects. I have never stopped learning which is the way of the teacher. When a teacher thinks he or she knows it all they close off the possibility of learning anew and more. I wish the politicians, educationalists, economists and administrators could all spend some time learning a craft, even for just a few days. They would likely see how ill equipped they are for equipping the countries the preside over to make policies they are really incapable of making yet they always seem to wield such self-assured power. Few of them really see what the real needs are yet by clever speeches and manipulation they somehow manage top secure years of tenure.

I just swept the floor on a weeks making and felt so grateful that I could indeed make. Despite countering the tendency of others to project their self confidences in realms they know little or anything of we are winning the battle to reestablish crafting artisanry through the work we do. In the land of giants that’s no small thing. Social media, for all its pitfalls, has allowed the little man like myself a massive platform to speak from.People are able to change their lives and even engineer themselves as true and real woodworkers. I am not really political so I just do what I do and share it online. I don’t just talk the talk because the walk has real value for others. Imagine multiple thousands of people every month traipsing down to their sheds and garages to pull out their planes and saws for a weekend or evening of real, hand tool woodworking. It’s definitely working folks!


  1. Frank McInroy on 6 September 2019 at 9:25 pm

    How true Paul , perhaps one day the next generation will get the opportunity to explore the benefits of making things . Our powers that be might begin to realise that our future depends our youth being able to express and explore their creative talents away from the digital world. To feel, touch, sense and become more in tune with the ability of the hands on approach

  2. Tom Angle on 6 September 2019 at 10:41 pm

    Did you think of offering a course to the local teachers and administrators? Maybe that would change their thinking and open a new world to them?

    • Paul Sellers on 7 September 2019 at 7:48 am

      The British schooling does not allow any level of local autonomy as everything including the teachers is taught to a national curriculum. That’s so that young people are stamped out cookie-cutter fashion I’m afraid.

  3. Steve on 7 September 2019 at 8:43 am

    Hello Paul,

    What is that little construction on the table by the fern ? It looks interesting.

  4. Jean Claude on 7 September 2019 at 12:24 pm

    It IS all about the journey. The first few guitars I made were about the guitar. I don’t know in exactly how many steps you can break down the process of making one, but it must be at least a hundred. Every one of them equally important. Mess one up and you end up with something that is very beautiful perhaps but unplayable. It is the pitfall of every beginner in any trade, I guess. Mastering and enjoying every little step of the process not only guarantees a better product, but you also get to enjoy it much more. The finished product then becomes the cherry on the cake. It’s all about the cake… and it is very hard to teach people to enjoy the small steps. “How long does it take to make a guitar?” is the question I am most frequently asked. As long as it takes…

  5. Joe on 8 September 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks Paul. The journey is important to me as well.

    I am finishing up a hanging curio stand for me wife. There was a last minute change to increase shortage space requiring me to mill 3/4″ stock to 1/2″ stock by hand. This requires a fair bit of effort by hand tools and I really don’t mind it. Forever when I look at the piece I will recall having to do that work. It will make me smile.

    I have similar memories of the 18 months and 250 hours of effort it took me to build a night stand for me daughter’s bedroom. The journey matters.

  6. Dave Alvarez on 9 September 2019 at 11:07 am

    A couple of years after leaving high school, in the U.S., I was so inspired by the woodworking I had learned in wood shop, and casting around for a direction for my life, I intended to find a way to become a high school wood shop teacher, only to discover that wood shop had been abolished in the public schools to make way for computer programing and other computer related stuff. This was in the early 80’s, and as the subsequent decades have shown, you words “the need for skilled work was bartered off to the lowest bidder in the name of progress, competition and free enterprise” have only proved themselves more and more true. Keep up the good work, Paul and team. You are truly doing something good and necessary.

  7. Chris Bruce on 9 September 2019 at 11:31 am

    It is so interesting this should come up. I was just out in the shed thinking about writing a comment about all the little things that used to annoy me that held up my progress (sharpening, checking for flatness, having to re clamp etc) but now at 65 are wonderful excuses to stop and smell the shavings. I find myself deciding the plane is just not as sharp as I’d like not because it’s not cutting, I just like the feel when its really sharp. All excuses to give the arms a rest and think about the man who’s name is nail pointed into the back of my cracked wooden scrub plane.

  8. Discoveror on 9 September 2019 at 12:16 pm

    “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey!”

  9. varontron on 9 September 2019 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Paul, With my recent divorce, 2 daughters now in college, and my youngest in my home only half the time, I have finally begun long-overdue, large and small-scale renovations on my 1100sf cape here in New England, USA. I’ve made a commitment to myself to “go low and slow:” to use as few power tools as possible (low power and cost and a slow pace,) and reuse as much reclaimed and recycled material as possible. This has led me to ditch the router for chisels and hand planes to make moulding and cut wiring runs, and pass up the recip and circular saws and air-nailers in favor of hand, pull, and hack saws, and actual hammers (ikr?) for demo, framing, etc. It’s also led me to your videos and blog which give me great delight, encouragement, confidence, and even a sense of relief. I am in total agreement with your sentiments about craftsmanship. Thanks.

  10. Robert W Mielke on 9 September 2019 at 2:38 pm

    People who don’t know me that well find it hard to believe I am thoroughly engrossed in hand tool woodworking. They don’t get it when I tell them I spent an afternoon, outside, making shavings as I dimension wood by hand. The first thing they tell me is they could do it faster with power tools. When asked what they’ve made lately they come up short. I then suggest they go out and make some shavings.

  11. Travis Horton on 9 September 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Wow. I sure hope you take a break now and then. I really enjoyed your vblogs where you rode your bike. Those encouraged me to fix up my old bike.

  12. Renea on 9 September 2019 at 4:41 pm

    So grateful for the growing acceptance of home education here in the USA. It is slow but growing. My kids are grown now, but I have been given the privilege to teach hand woodworking at a homeschooling academy. I only have room for 6 students each semester, and I continue to learn and stay ahead of them. They are thrilled to use these tools. I have learned so much from you. Thank you!

  13. David Bartley on 9 September 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Just I quick word to plug in here and offer something back for what I have already received, as I have been watching Paul Sellers videos for a few months now and want to express my appreciation and gratitude for the actual instruction in techniques from someone whose qualification to teach them no one could question. For some periods of my work life I had some involvement with handymanning and carpentry, but what skills and knowledge I had were picked up haphazardly, so, as one would expect, there were gaps. That kind of work was precedent to and interspersed with my oft-interrupted university education in literature, philosophy, written communication and secondary education, which reached useful qualification only when I was near fifty. I then taught for twenty-two years in Alt Ed and since being retired have been primarily involved with reading and writing, still my essential responsibilities. Handymanning and house repairs (and landscape photography) provide periods of essential recreation and movement, as they did when I was teaching, exercise because they get me way from the desk, and recreation because they are highly involving and nonverbal–great resources in those ways; I just have to guard against them becoming distractions. Your instruction on fettling planes recently got me out to the garage to inventory me hand tools for woodworking. I had used the 60 1/2 and 9 1/2 block planes recently but had forgotten about the No. 71 router, the No 78 rabbet, the ECE jack, the No. 40 scrub, the old Union No. 5, and the ancient pre-flat side No. 8 corrugated Bedrock jointer I was offered in lieu of cash payment for a little job I did 45 years ago adjusting a door. I didn’t want it, but a brief check of the breeze told me the answer was Yeah, OK; I’ve never used it. I’d remembered the Cordovan period Stanley no. 5 I proudly bought new at Norman’s hardware in San Francisco about 1975; I’d never liked it, and when I examined the bedding of the frog and iron I began to feel I understood why. I also have a little-used set of wood-handled beveled bench chisels, a tenon saw, a dovetail saw, some classic Disston handsaws, including a 5-point rip, I had sense enough to buy when I ran across them, a nice old full-size Stanley miter box and back saw, two bench vises, 9″ Columbia and a 7″ Reed, about a dozen Klemmsia and Nobex wooden cam clamps, a similar number of Stabil and Bessey parallel clamps and a few F style, bar and pipe clamps. Some of these things were acquired during my teaching years, so one can see that for some time I have had in the back of my mind the coming of the present moment. For supporting and holding work, I have a fairly solid maple art/project bench/table I was given recently and a couple of workmates. So, I am properly primed for the workbench project, but my first woodworking tasks will be learning to use my new diamond sharpening plates and fettling some planes and chisels. Thank you for the sense I have that as I go ahead I have good instruction and the chance to actually know that what I’m doing follows a correct and fruitful path to accomplishment in these areas.

  14. Greg Tobias on 9 September 2019 at 9:55 pm

    I finished my first formal class in woodworking at Lie Nielsen in Warren, Maine. My instructor was Phil Lowe from The Furniture Institute of Massachuttes. A simple project of a dovetail drawer. It was the first time I put “chisel to wood” to actually create something, and a wonderful experience. My wife noticed my increased enthusiasm after the first day. Truly a journey in joinery, if will forgive the pun.
    I am clearing a space in the cellar that will soon house your workbench with some on my designs added and eventually a workshop.
    I have studied your books and some of other authors, and gain more inspitation with every page. Thus is truly a worthwhile effort thanks to you.

  15. michael barnes on 11 September 2019 at 10:24 pm

    I love that table! it is elegant in its simplicity.. I would like to make that a tad longer to make a sofa table, and maybe match it with a coffee table!
    Have not been out in my shop for one year now due to blood clots in my lungs. However I am mending and looking forward to when I can return to making shavings.

  16. gregor ritchie on 12 September 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Good Luck Michael from a fellow wood worker.

  17. gregor ritchie on 12 September 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Hello Paul,

    A nice table! As the drawer head matches the grain of the rail are the parts x-cut, ripped and re-glued ? I can’t imagine the drawer head was cut out of the single board without re-gluing. Please comment.

    ,..regards from an aspiring old guy wishing more sand in the hour glass of life.
    pps, off to watch a vlog of yours’ with coffee in hand.



    • Paul Sellers on 12 September 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Yes, it is a method I use to guarantee a perfectly aligned and colour-matched drawer front but this was done with hand tools only.

  18. Bryan Moir on 19 September 2019 at 8:26 pm

    I subscribe to Mr. Seller’s website not only because of what he teaches, but because of the philosophy he promotes regarding woodworking and life itself. There is an inherent value in building useful items; in developing a skill. This has had a profound impact on how I view the world where increasingly virtual wealth creation is valued above invention, ingenuity and creation.
    When I was a boy I had the good fortune to have a Mr. Hadley as my shop teacher. For 3 years -grades 7 through 9 – he taught me a number of valuable lessons. I learned that what the mind can envision, the hands can create. I learned that details matter. I also learned that there is value in the creation of tangible goods that serve a purpose.
    I know all too well about “slick verbal” administrators, politicians, teachers and economists. I am one of those economists who received some of their training in London. There is no question we have lost touch with craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is not only a valuable step in economic development, but in societal development. With so many of our leaders, professionals and young people chasing virtual wealth we have lost a valuable perspective when it comes to policy decisions, but also when it comes to our own children and grandchildren.
    Craftsmanship and doing things well with our hands is what makes and maintains our humanity.

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