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My Foundation Course

Jack’s been with me now for about four months. He’s coming in two half days so about 8 hours a week. That’s how everyone starts at first. He has just completed my foundational course which anyone can follow for free online should they be beginners and want to visit my sites. My dream that those who would or could never attend for my former one on one classes could learn with me and their fellow enthusiasts has become a reality.

Working with Jack is my way of answering the quest individuals have to pursue something they know nothing of but feel enough to want to invest a few hours in to get their feet wet.. This toe-dipping works and doesn’t work. Prior to this work I had apprenticed many a one with me in my workshop where I too made furniture to sell. This was tradition from a past age was the one I went through. It worked then but is less likely to be the pattern into the future because most makers doing such a thing for a living are not making it and cannot afford to take on extra paid staff, even on a low-paying apprentice wage.

My alternative means that for the past ten years apprentices have never made anything for me to profit from. They have never worked on the same piece I am working on and I have never had them make something that I could sell to cover my lost time in training them.

But Jack’s course work does equip him and has equipped many new to enter the realms of woodworking. Some of my former apprentices are making income from their craft and others use the same skills to either work for others with or have adapted them to similar crafts requiring hand work of like kind. There is more money to be had from trim carpentry than fine furniture these days, and who really wants to wear ear defenders and a dust mask all day? In the few week’s that Jack has been with me he’s made the chisel tray, the wall shelf, the tool tote and the dovetailed candle box. We have spent time squaring boards foursquare, sawing angles for dovetailing practice and then sizing wood from the rough to size with hand planes and saws. I think he’s now ready for the wall clock in oak so I will mill his wood this week. I think we are at phase two of his training. With a few hardwood pieces, a tool chest or two and a workbench yet to build his schedule is set through to mid next year.

I take people working with me directly and indirectly online in my courses all the way through to projects just like this one that Hannah completed recently. You work at your own pace but most full-time college courses come nowhere near to achieving this even with three-year full-time courses costing upwards of £30,000.
Half of what we give is free and the three years subscribing to my online training and teaching work will still only cost you $15 a month.

I know many of you are raw beginners looking to get started and together with Izzy we have tried to bridge the gap to get new people started on the right foot with commonwoodworking.com to give the rudimentary steps. Not attending one-on-one course with me seems not to have caused a problem for so many because not only are we covering the needs of newbies but woodworkingmasterclasses takes everyone on to some all the more advanced projects too. Oh, and don’t forget YouTube. It’ll take you a while, perhaps three or four years if you do it properly, but at the end of it you will have everything I have ever given my apprentices, and that’s very important because I am sure you will especially want to join us on our new venture as we build a full house of furniture pieces from the bottom floor up.

17 Comments

  1. Tony DeRosa, Jr. on 5 October 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Paul Seller’s you are a blessing. I will be grateful for all the knowledge and wisdom you have shared with us, freely. Thanks!

  2. Stephen Brough on 5 October 2019 at 3:33 pm

    This is awesome! I was hoping to make it over there for one of your classes you previously offered, but I think it’s time I start exploring the Common Woodworking site and start down the beginners path! Thank you for sharing your craft Paul!

  3. Bob Easton on 5 October 2019 at 3:52 pm

    “…to cover my lost time in training them.”

    Yes, I get it; time lost from other making activities. Yet, I think that time spent training an eager new woodworker is more valuable than many other activities you might pursue.

    Jack, and all of the rest of us are lucky to have found you.

  4. Steve Treat on 5 October 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Paul – I’ve learned a great deal from you and enjoy the time spent watching your videos and reading your posts. You are a wonderful, caring person.

    Thank You!

  5. Deanbecker on 5 October 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I have been with you four or five years and have been continually improving. I have just finished my dining table and feel i have made true advances. I do love going back to the first projects and see how much better the present pieces are compared to the previous ones.

  6. Joe on 5 October 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks Paul. I am at the 4 year mark as having you as my virtual instructor. I am still very much a beginner with much to learn but I am happy with the outcome of what I have been making. Enough that my next project will be my biggest yet – a shaker style chimney cupboard. After that, I plan to make a wall to wall entertainment center. All because of what you have been teaching. Thank you.

    • Paul Sellers on 5 October 2019 at 6:55 pm

      Every time I see your name pop up I always feel gratitude for your participation and support.

  7. Louise hall on 5 October 2019 at 7:59 pm

    My husband got me your dvd course and I am loving every minute of it. I intend to make my family’s Christmas presents this year and I’m excited to use all the tools I have got.
    I have to say, you really have a great way with words and your love of woodworking really shows through in your course. It’s really lit a fire in my belly to get into it and so far I am living every second. I’ve started off refurbishing old tools and have found some amazing old tools at car boot sales.
    I’m so happy to have found this joy I get when learning and trying out woodwork. And thank you for sharing your knowledge to all who have the same love for it as you do.
    Thank you Paul.

  8. nemo on 5 October 2019 at 9:12 pm

    My entire life I’ve been auto-didact, apart from the two topics in which I have formal degrees (economics and mech. engineering). However, the subjects I’m really interested in, what I know and can do I have taught myself, mostly. Electronics, for example. In the past with the help of the local library (usually three visits per week to the village library as a child), until I was 18 and went to study in a large city (this was in 1992). One of the first things I did there was become a member of the public library there (a 5 storey building, filled with books on every topic imaginable – a veritable paradise it was for me, with multiple shelves filled with books on my topic of interest alone. Compared to the 4 or 5 books they had in my local library and which I knew back-to-front by then, it was a plethora of books, thinking I’d never be able to read them all. Well, 5 years further on, and I found myself having studied all those books….

    Nowadays we have the internet. A lot of it is misinformation, the proverbial chaff. But there’s also a lot of very good information around, the wheat. Your website/Youtube channel is solidly in the last category. I feel again like the little village boy who started studying in a large city and subscribing to the library there. So much information, so overwhelming and all so very interesting!

    And though I not always agree with you entirely (e.g. emphasis on diamond stones; hardly a beginner’s tool, from a cost perspective, in my opinion), most of what I know w.r.t. woodworking and woodworking tools comes from your Youtube channel and this blog. The information, knowledge, experience and background stories you provide are immensely valuable to people like me, who are self-taught and self-teaching. Or rather, self-learning, with a long-distance teacher such as yourself to guide them.

    I doubt you value accolades such as knighthood, but in my opinion, you deserve one for what you’re doing for the community.

    (BTW, the hole in the handle of that saw in the second picture looks awfully large. I’ve noticed it myself in a few of the saws I own. Jack’s hands are much larger than mine, yet even he doesn’t seem to be able to ‘fill’ the hole. I wonder what the thinking of the saw manufacturers behind such large holes is)

  9. Mike on 5 October 2019 at 9:35 pm

    “I doubt you value accolades such as knighthood, but in my opinion, you deserve one for what you’re doing for the community.”

    If ever anyone deserved one for education, it’s Paul.

  10. Dennis Droege on 5 October 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Mr. Sellers, it’s going to take you a while to get into Heaven–because of the long receiving line at the pearly gates.

  11. Richard Harnedy on 6 October 2019 at 9:18 am

    Dear Paul the common woodwork site us a blessing for me. I am at the dovetail section and i am trying to have all projects completed on site by xmas. Most nights i am in the shed for 1,2 hours practicing. I hope to get on to the masterclass in the new year. For me sharpening has been my focus for several months and now i am trying to perfect the basic woodwork skills. I find your blogs always strike a note with me an encourage me to get out in the shed like this one did. I wish you luck and keep up the sense of humour paul.

  12. Edgar on 7 October 2019 at 1:14 pm

    I first discovered Paul on YouTube when I dug out the old Stanley planes that have been lying around after I found them in an old tool chest we had and found a sense of joy at how easy it was to understand the tool because of how Paul makes it make sense. I have since made a couple small boxes which I learned by watching Paul. I hope to one day make furniture for the cabin I am preparing to build using traditional methods rather than the quick and easy screw together or nail together method I already know. Thank you Paul (and team) for helping keep this knowledge alive for people to discover and enjoy.

  13. Robert Hobbs on 7 October 2019 at 3:26 pm

    As has been said over and over thank you by hundreds of thousands all over the world to Paul and Team for all you do.
    You teach and thru the teaching is the inspiration and just plain happiness that comes over one.
    Hannah’s piece is absolutely beautiful. Is the build in video format?
    Thanks again from Boulder Colotado

  14. Paul Sprouse on 7 October 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Where is the Foundation Course ?

  15. Terrence OBrien on 8 October 2019 at 2:18 am

    No apprentice in days gone by could sit the master in the tool well and replay the same few minutes over and over again until each joint fit like it should.

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  • Michael Geiger on As Boring Things Go…I'm very glad to hear you speak of Jack's sense of humour. Many people falsely believe that those with autism lack humour or imagination.
  • David on As Boring Things Go…Paul... Your ranting about the rich is tiresome. You should stick to woodworking instruction.
  • Paul Sellers on As Boring Things Go…No. You can drill holes around an inch in diameter using a sharp Forstner bit just fine.
  • Paul Sellers on As Boring Things Go…Such a nice and gentle response, Ed. Thank you. And what you said is exactly what I meant.
  • Steve on As Boring Things Go…There's a twist to the normal drill here..
  • Paul Sellers on As Boring Things Go…It will work with spade bits, brad point bits and Forstner bits. With the auger bits, because a depth of entry is governed by the incline of the screw at the point of the bit, the…
  • Paul Rowell on As Boring Things Go…I think the gearing/torque would prevent you from being able to turn the handle on all but the smaller diameter augers.
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