I am not a professional health care provider of any kind but I do care and health is provided for in so many ways beyond the ability of professional health care providers. I also strongly dislike the generic terms of health care professional and health care provider. All it does is separate by exclusivity when the best healing comes through inclusivity. By emphasising detachment this way we see how very detached administrator decision makers have become from reality. But of course those who truly care are not detached from caring thoroughly.

Many of us providing health care often do so from self recovery and more so than from looking for or receiving professional help. Recovery from smoking, drug abuse, drink related issues and then physical and mental health abuse, all serious and then perhaps less serious recovery from hurt and harm but nonetheless still unpleasant less serious physical conditions; those who have suffered often offer themselves to others to steer them through troubled waters. From my birthday wishes from a thousand and more I saw a very fine silver thread woven between the words, sentences and paragraphs. It’s a fragile thread but it stays strong enough for others to understand the complexities surrounding our humanity.

He was healed from the belief that he could not make this chair by making it.

As we become more and more aware of our needs for inclusivity, signs in awkward situations say more and more, ‘Not all disabilities are visible.’ Dare I go further and say most disabilities may never show and thereby never be seen. The more I read from so many of you is that woodworking is now the vehicle through which you found both inner and outer recovery. The workshop became the brain massage you needed and the workbench your physical exercise machine. Some recovered from several heart attacks and strokes and others gave up dealing drugs years ago. This then becomes sustainable rehabilitation and recovery and especially from the losses of functionality. These recoveries are not easily or readily or even often prescribed by institutional health care providers though that is changing these days. But now nudges come by a woman and a man standing onside gently steering, encouraging and providing encouragement as an alternative hope. This is what woodworking means to me and of course I hasten to say it need not be woodworking alone. Hand work is by its very nature therapeutic. In my view any and everyone should find some handwork to develop craft rhythm which is a rhythm only available in the making of things, the growing of things and the cooking and baking of things and we, anyone and everyone, can access it anytime, anywhere and by any amount we choose to avail ourselves of. It does not have to be hours on end it can be just minutes in a day and even just once a week. This recovery from our lostness displaces the dominance of a world’s insatiable consumption of something we call time. But it is not just time is it? It’s the consumption of peace, settledness, space, the places we live in and move in. Think car, traffic, London, Manchester. Think frenetic, fragmented, disconnected, wild, hectic, frantic but don’t remain there.

At the start of the first blog the word RECOVERY in all caps came to me. I didn’t wonder why because I have known for three and half decades now that wood, working it, woodlands and nature and then creation itself is there to aid whatever it is we need to recover from. We don’t all recover the total health we once had. Sometimes a stroke leaves us without full speech recovery or arm movement. It’s what happens inside though that counts. If you speak other languages then the word recovery means something quite different than say recovering a piece of furniture in the same way revive doesn’t only mean rag on 3 new coats of Danish oil to a piece of furniture that’s worn well. Root words matter. Where they came from and how we apply them to our lives today. If we lose the root meaning of words we easily lose our rootedness through the things creative that matter. Calling a machine a tool or a computer too, is not the same as a chisel held and controlled by a human hand and mind. When we allow that in our lives then we become ever more detached from the very things that give us sanity. Machines and computers have their limited place in our world today, but CNC machines and AI can never, never replace the making of things with our hands. Remember these great advances were not made for our wellbeing but for businesses to guarantee production levels and feed the excesses of our consumerism by consistent growth. This industry displaced the craft and handwork we see the need of and embrace. Most of us are industrious but not industrial woodworkers.

c. 1300, “to regain consciousness,” from Anglo-French rekeverer (13c.), Old French recovrer “come back, return; regain health; procure, get again” (11c.), from Medieval Latin recuperare “to recover” (source of Spanish recobrar, Italian ricoverare; see recuperation). Meaning “to regain health or strength” is from early 14c.; sense of “to get (anything) back” is first attested mid-14c. Related: Recoveredrecovering.

In many ways I’ve seen that people lose evermore consciousness of many things craft. Things that related to supporting the essentials of life are long gone so things like spinning fibres, weaving materials like wool and cotton to make yarns for fabrics, basket making and such. At a craft show in the Texas Hill country I watched a middle-aged man peel of the weavers for a white oak basket from a board of oak with an oversized spokeshave. He handed the weavers to his wife and as he peeled of the strips she wove them into a very large basket 18″ in diameter and 9″ tall. Every hour they made the same basket and sold them for $80. Throughout the day they sold every basket plus the ones they had made before the show. It wasn’t rushed but steady paced and something they had done for decades. Over the three days they took enough to RECOVER income lost before the show and went home able to pay all the bills and clothe their children. This was how it worked for both them and for me.

To regain consciousness” is to recognise that we have been steadily losing something in the so-called name of progress. No one doubts there has been progress, but some progress has cost us more than we have ever gained. Accomplished making was once intrinsic to almost everyone living. We took the raw to grow and make from. The intrinsicicity of working manually to our human condition cannot be denied in light of evidence surrounding how well we feel in the day to day. Partnering industrialism is the ever increasing tragedy that adult and children’s health often relies on tranquillisers and antidepressants, solutions to eating disorders and so much more. The loss of cohesion between people in work spheres, non-existent conditions a century and more ago, are now pandemic and especially so in the western world. As humans we once fought to keep our independence but instead we now accept a substitute that is not a substitute at all but more an apology in the sense of an apologetic. Since the so-called Industrial Revolution we have incurred ever deepening scars to our sensibilities and wellbeing yet we were quite blind to it’s creeping impact. The Industrial Revolution was built on a toxic mix of empire building and those building the empires for self gratification and aggrandisement. Demoralisation damaged so much of the world and yet is yet still today most hail the technologies as the Saviour though it is still the greatest direct cause of the greed that resulted in the deforestation of our ever shrinking world. From fossil fuel consumption to two great wars and warring throughout the world things have changed a lot but they haven’t changed at all. At my workbench, making, things change the most. It’s a small sphere that’s managed by common sense and reality. Here I heal.

33 Comments

  1. Tom Bittner on 10 January 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Yesterday my dental hygienist upon learning I am a woodworker asked me if I had one of those machines where you pushed the button and your project would come out. I said “that’s not really woodworking, I use mostly hand tools”.
    You could see the puzzlement and lack of comprehension.
    A very intelligent person but never exposed to any type of manual labor.
    Driving 10 miles to the local gym and walking on a treadmill is what is considered exercise. They are missing out on the parts of life that are meaningful and enjoyable.

    • Randori on 13 January 2020 at 4:01 pm

      I can appreciate the spirit of the comment around the Dental Hygienist, CNC machines, and driving to a gym. The “spirit” of the comment makes sense but the tone was something I could not shake off. First the Hygienist has a mistaken impression of CNC work. There is no machine where you “just push a button” and your “project pops out.” Second, the assertion that any use of a CNC (and presumably other power assisted tools) doesn’t constitute “real wood work” just feels snobbish to me. Some people begin with hand tools…..great.
      Others might begin with the assist of power tools then find the process of “making” to be enjoyable and work their way backward into more and more hand work. Others still may choose to make with the assistance of modern tools and derive deep satisfaction from the items they can produce.

      Given that hygienists characterization is incorrect, the reality is a great deal goes into CNC machining & routing and rarely if ever does a completed work just “pop out”. A great deal goes into initial setup and then fit, finish, & assembly often represent significant portions of the remaining work. The notion that if one does not perform every step with a hand tool it’s not “real woodwork” is no different than if one asserted it’s not “real woodwork” unless you forged your hand tools yourself. It’s just a silly and artificial “purist” standard imposed where none is needed. There a a million pathways up the same mountain and we should be supportive of all who chose to be “makers” in some way no matter what tools they employ.

      Same goes for driving to a gym. One can certainly claim its not “real running” or “real exercise” unless one is running on wooded trails or lifting hand cut logs overhead…..but of course people’s circumstances vary tremendously…..and so I say good on ya to anyone who gets off their duff to raise their BPM above 100. Too few do. We should laud all who try regardless of method.

      Are there virtues to be found in hand planing, hand mortising, or running under the sun rather than electric lights? Of course. Let it be enough to laud those benefits rather than succumbing to the temptation to feel superior and look down our noses to tell the guy on the treadmill (who can probably run circles around us) that he’s not a “real runner” or the guy who, filled with pride, just installed his first set of self made cabinets that his pride is unwarranted because he’s not “real” in some ridiculous way……

      • Paul Sellers on 13 January 2020 at 8:29 pm

        What a sad spirit and tone you offer in anger here. Quite sad really.

        • Ed on 14 January 2020 at 1:24 pm

          I don’t hear anger in Randori’s post, but feel pain instead, the pain of separation. The separation is from the “us vs. them” he appears to feel from the praise of hand work vs. the apparent denigration of machine work. I think Randori’s pain is sad but is understandable because sometimes our words of praise for handwork can feel like condemnation of other approaches. That’s not to say that condemnation was meant, but it can come come across that way. I’ve felt it in some comments about higher education, for example, but I just remind myself that they are not always intended and, instead, the benefits of an alternative are being pointed out. We need to be open to the idea that, even though there are negatives to being harnessed to a machine as an operator as a job (been there, done that), there are avenues to self growth, personal expression, and connection to others with machine work. One of the most gifted artisans I’ve ever known, Charles Neil, could do hand work, but chose to work with machines. I believe he achieved the ideals Paul describes. He was anything but just an operator. (It is sad to write that in past tense, but he passed away just a few weeks ago.)

          Intention and purpose mean more than the method.

          • Paul Sellers on 15 January 2020 at 8:11 am

            I think it is important to understand how things were and have been. For every one of me there has been many, many thousands advocating machine-use only methods and that as been for three or more decades plus some to my knowledge. My concerns then are as is now. This then led to long periods when my craft was so lost it seemed almost dead and buried; you could hardly find traces of it anywhere and especially was this so in professional realms including even magazines, which of course were plastered cover to cover with full-page ad’s by the big-boy machine manufacturers paying the magazines for premium pages. Then too the then editors said it didn’t affect their choices of editorial content when it absolutely did. These primary influencers of the day had a serious negative influence on the art and craft of woodworking and I know you at least know exactly what I mean. This then provoked my advocacy for a steady and progressive return to hand work using hand tools and providing a resource for anyone wanting to develop skills too, it did indeed trigger a quiet but responsive revival over a number of years that was so needed for a steady and progressive return to the well proven technologies I knew still to be of great validity. To do this it was indeed necessary for a sledgehammer-to-nut endeavour to disabuse machinists of the idea that it was archaic to use hand tools, an endeavour in which I was very much a lone wolf in the day, hence I didn’t just leave it there. I wrote curriculum, developed courses and even wrote magazine article for scant reward, never using anything but hand tools to prove my point. It has worked. I do feel the comment was more angry than someone pained, despite what you say. Gradually people saw the efficacy of hand work and hand tools. I know they did and in the odd case it promotes a dislike for my stance. I don’t mind that. I also traveled thousands upon thousands of miles across the US year on year for two decades to demonstrate and lecture at events where I carried my own workbench and hand tools at tremendous inconvenience and mostly at my own expense, loss of earnings and so on. Today I cannot yet let up because the advocacy by the massive companies and media controllers are so very strong and they leave me no wiggle room. Making a difference is what matters and I still shun the support I could have even from hand tool manufacturing sponsorships and such because this bias is not one I care to shake hands with. Using a CNC assist is not merely an assist but a replacement or displacement of woodworking skill. This is what many if not most dislike me saying but I do see machine methods and technologies have their place in industry, global economics and of course consumerism. I do see that some like it for personal enjoyment and challenge and such but for developing the skilled hand work I advocate it simply does not work. My viewers cannot watch the videos alone, it requires them to go out to the workshop and sharpen up, cut the wood and expend their own physical and mental energies. That’s what they want. At the end they will have developed skilful woodworking. A machine will not give you skilled woodworking, just an easier path. Ultimately I will no longer see my craft dead and buried in my lifetime. That alone was and is worth the fight. Rest assured, for me and others, it has been a fight.



          • Jurandyr on 15 January 2020 at 1:30 pm

            The Industrial Revolution and its consequences. We used to need skilled artisans to produce any item, today anyone can buy an electric machine and plastic jigs and produce it. The problem is that the Industrial Revolution is perhaps the largest base of capitalism and we had great benefits from it. We also have serious problems such as decreased manual skills and consequent decrease in workers’ wages, increased consumerism, degradation of increasingly scarce environmental resources, etc. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to produce handcrafted commercially (with some exceptions). So the question here is personal, developing the skill or buying the skill at an electrical machine shop. Anyone can buy an MDF plate, a bench saw, some screws and assemble any box, or you can make an oak box using a dovetail and glue, erring and learning, bonding closely with the wood, knowing its fiber, the smell and how it behaves. No one here is wrong, it just depends on knowing what your goal is? Simply get to the final destination as quickly as possible or enjoy every step of the journey and get to know the entire route? I personally prefer the second option. And, of course, there are also those who don’t care about fate or journey, are only happy to collect as many tools as possible even if they don’t use them, but that’s another story.



          • Ed on 15 January 2020 at 2:05 pm

            “…it was indeed necessary for a sledgehammer-to-nut endeavour…” Interesting. I hadn’t thought in terms of the battle that was being fought. I have a machinist friend who likes to ask frequently, “are you still playing with chisels?” He’s just teasing, but underneath I know that he really doesn’t appreciate what it takes to “play with chisels” and doesn’t appreciate the freedom and power gained by mastering it. Thank you for fighting to get these skills into peoples hands (literally) and not just onto paper.



          • Paul Sellers on 15 January 2020 at 4:17 pm

            Oh, Ed, though it was a real battle, the mocking and the scoffing I went through, and then the rejection too, but I would not trade one lick of it for a free tablesaw or a power router though some day I might buy in a nice chisel mortiser if my hands do one day give out (having just chopped out 20 in succession for my new shoe tidy project). And you too have been very much a part of my journey in the classes in New York. A month long and you went from foundation course through to coffee table, tool chest to rocking chair. It has been so rewarding to reach this stage in my campaign fight. Your questions were always the best and when you got it you really got it.



      • Gerard on 13 January 2020 at 9:41 pm

        Ironic, really, given that your dental hygienist is doing manual work, using hand tools.

  2. Al H. on 10 January 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Taking a long view. I have planted a few trees. Hickory, Black Walnut, River Birch, Red Oak, and a couple of pines. I will ever see the results of those plantings. Hopefully, my grandchildren will have the resources and materials upon which use the hand tools I plan to pass along to them.

  3. Richard on 10 January 2020 at 4:49 pm

    Paul, Thanks to your teaching, my recovery is happening daily. I do have machines and have stopped calling them tools. They still have a purpose for me and that is to dimension large quantities of rough lumber when needed. The air fills with fine dust that wants to get into my lungs and the loud, piercing noise is breaking the peace of the day.

    But if I can use a hand tool to dimension the smaller projects I get the wonderful exercise and the great feeling that I used no electricity to power my way through the wood and I strengthen my body at the same time. My skills increase as a bonus. I think back to the videos often and think Paul said this or Paul said that. The plane is starting to take more effort so now its time to sharpen the iron or oil the sole. The chisel is not cutting like it was, so go I take 5 minutes to sharpen instead of pounding on the chisel even harder to make it go through the wood.

    Now the project is completed and I marvel at what was once firewood or rough lumber or part of a pallet is now a beautiful stool or a box or a spoon. It’s a great feeling. I have sold a number of different things including four 3-legged stools and people now come to me asking for my work. I have been able to make projects to donate to raise funds for medical missions in a third world country. All this with 2 hands and a few hand tools. And the therapy works. Thanks Paul, and happy birthday!

  4. Ed on 10 January 2020 at 5:29 pm

    We might consider how our work serves as personal expression to connect with others (or ourselves) via the emotions it evokes through its art or brings benefits to others through the utility it provides. Reflecting on these things rather than on the perfection or imperfection of our joinery and finish may affect how much we are able to experience the recovery Paul writes about.

  5. John Polly on 10 January 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Great words of wisdom. I have just begun the process of utilizing hand tools for woodworking after many years of using power tools. I find it is one of the most rewarding things I have ever attempted.
    Thank you

  6. Rick Yanco on 11 January 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Paul thank you for your thoughts. As an actual Paramedic I totally agree that healthcare comes in many forms. As a new person to your site I would also like to thank you for getting my interest back into wood working. As I do not claim in no means to be a wood worker I consider myself to be more of a professional sawdust and shavings maker who occasionally pulls a chair out of my labour. Non the less whether I make sawdust or a chair the time I spend in my humble little work shop helps me deal with the demons of my actual profession I look forward to watching and learning

  7. Raymond Johnston on 12 January 2020 at 7:05 am

    I am an Emergency Medical Technician and a Paramedic for 15 years and I worked until my heart failed. I suffer PTSD and I know what recovery means. Thank you for sharing your life and your skill. It gives me hope as I work each day towards recovery, I look forward to being out in the shop feeling the texture of the wood and smelling the clean scent of fresh shavings.

  8. Mike Griffin on 13 January 2020 at 11:09 am

    One of the things I love most about Paul’s videos are that they are in real time. It is a time of recovery for me to watch this master at work while listening to his words of wisdom and encouragement.

  9. Robert Flowers on 13 January 2020 at 11:44 am

    Timely post I’m laying in a hospital bed right now got the flu the first time both my wife and I have been sick at the same time she’s ok st home me I’ve spent the last 14 days in the hospital had a tube down my throat for 11 of them so far I’m doing ok home to go home this weekend.

  10. David S on 13 January 2020 at 1:24 pm

    As a person who is living life after major neck surgery in late 2012 very much differently than what I was living before then, I re-started woodworking to keep myself from going insane. I had always been doing some woodworking, small projects like plain boxes, step stools, shelves, but nothing spectacular of overly complicated. Woodworking was my first passion; my first woodworking class was in the 1973-74 school year, and I took two more years in 75-76 and 76-77. Unfortunately when I graduated in 1977, there wasn’t much opportunity to make a living at woodworking in my area, so I went the route of automotive repair. I had a great career; I never recommended a repair that I wouldn’t have performed on my own car, and I always went to bed knowing that I did my best that day. I’m trying to do the same with my woodworking, but not being able to drive and having no one during the day to take me for more wood, supplies, or anything else when it is needed, I go to bed at night feeling dissatisfied a lot of times. I guess I should look at it as I did the best I could under the circumstances, but for some reason I don’t.

  11. Stephen McFadyen on 13 January 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Mr Sellers, from a long time ago in the 6o’s a document called desiderata drew my attention as the opening phrase “Go placidly among the noise and haste, and remember what peace there is in silence”. The inner peace of finding a hand craft or machine craft that wholey distracts the spirit from the vexatious norm.
    You have found that inner peace from your craft and pass on to us a valuable lesson apart from the joy of making.

  12. Mark D. Baker on 13 January 2020 at 8:02 pm

    Aloha Paul,
    You summed out the recovery part of getting over injuries very well. What I find maddening is the way ‘pills’ are pushed on us by the ‘recovery industry’. It seems no one listens to ‘you’ the injured person, in favor of: ‘just one more pill and we will have you all fixed up!- mindset’.
    After 7 years of pill-pushers, I finally threw them all away and for 1 year now, I’m making it on my own with better results. I sleep better, I putter away with ‘hand-tooled projects is often as I can[and I don’t need ear plugs] and can listen to the wood sing-off with each slice. Something lost with ‘production-based’ woodworking.
    I’m hopeful of more recovery and hope to even earn some sort of income. My former income was much more than the SSDI check that I’m glad to at least provide for the family’s needs monthly. I still study daily in the fields of woods of the world, beekeeping, meteorology, and others.
    With being so far away, I’m that stone under your foot that tripped you up last week and your that stone I bumped my toe on last week. Even though the world is keeping us apart, we share the same passion in our therapeutic works.
    Mahalo for getting to know you and enjoy the ‘singing’ of your planes or routers as I do from here!
    Mark Baker

  13. Eric Maddison on 13 January 2020 at 8:44 pm

    Jesus was a carpenter

  14. Reggie on 13 January 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Paul and Phil, great stuff here. I’ve learned that I’ll never be truly healed but I am always recovering. I put this into my own understanding to move on with life. I read Charles Darwin’s books years ago and in one of them he says that Sailors old wounds tend to open when under stress like Scurvy and heal over time with citrus fruits. So whenever I feel down I say to myself that “I’m Recovering.” Thank you for all you do. No rush to recover, over time everything recovers.

  15. Rod Riffel on 13 January 2020 at 9:58 pm

    It’s the journey my friend not the destination.. lighten up.

  16. John P. on 13 January 2020 at 10:43 pm

    Well put, and timely. Thank you Paul.

  17. Nath on 13 January 2020 at 11:27 pm

    “A very carefully constructed fake world”. ‘Hypernormalisation’ a documentary by Adam Curtis.
    We will spend years teaching our kids how to see through the illusions, of this carefully constructed fake world.

  18. Howard Tuckey on 13 January 2020 at 11:44 pm

    At age 78, and a stage 3 esophageal cancer survivor, I’ve just discovered Paul Sellers and his work, and I appreciate that more than anyone can know. I also have a deep appreciation for the similar, if much simpler (but still fascinating) work of a few other woodworkers – Rex Kreuger comes to mind – who have shared their skills with me via the social media venues.

    That said, I also felt somewhat frantic, knowing that I have so much catching up to do – so far I have cobbled together a rude workbench (on saw horses), a wineglass caddy, and several bootjacks – which I had to demonstrate to my grandkids before they understood their purpose. But that’s a long way from turning out my first Windsor Chair, or Chinese Puzzle Box.

    But as someone reminded me earlier in these comments, “It’s not the destination, but the journey,” that really matters.

    So thank you, Paul, for making this a more pleasant journey!

  19. Herbert “Matt”Mathews on 14 January 2020 at 4:16 am

    Paul,

    I am in my mid 50s and have done woodworking, built projects from shelves to houses and by trade I am a health care provider ( pediatric pharmacist). Last year I had a serious fall which damaging my dominant left shoulder substantially. In the workup for shoulder surgery, a heart blockage was discovered and open heart surgery required to fix that before shoulder surgery. Having never had a surgery or even a broken bone it was a new experience for me to have two major surgeries in one year. Recovery time for open heart surgery was short and shoulder surgery followed 4 months to the day later. Recovery has been much longer though. One of my milestones was a return to handtool woodworking. I watched your videos on sharpening chisels and plane blades and started sharpening my tools. Next came the discovery that my shoulder was too weak to use my saws so I tried a Japanese saw and discovered that cutting on the pull was possible. Next came chiseling. Although I can only use a mallet for a brief time I can chisel. I started to make a Dutch style tool chest to practice making dovetail joints.

    My final discovery was that holding a battery operated drill was difficult left handed and quite humorous but nevertheless poor results right handed. Needing several holes drilled, I dug out my grandfathers Stanley “egg-beater” and found that I could hold and push right handed and crank the handle left handed. This led to purchasing a Miller Falls 5 and a Goodell-Pratt 2 speed which I am currently restoring.

    That said Recovery has been wonderful time. I watched every episode of building your workbench. My milestones for shoulder surgery are being meet and I am returning to hand tool woodworking and have discovered restoring old tools is also and enjoyable part of woodworking.

    Thank you for posting your many educational videos, they have been extremely useful in my recovery!

  20. Robert W Mielke on 14 January 2020 at 10:03 am

    After reading your blog I’m reassured that my walk in life has been a long and fruitful one. I have enjoyed many lifelong hobbies that include woodworking. I’ve reached a point in my retirement where I must put my woodworking on the back burner due to growing physical limitations. Now, sadly, I spend most of my time going to doctor’s appointments, hospitals and clinics. Just last week I gave the vast majority of my hand tools to a local high school shop teach. It took two trips with his pickup truck to take them all. I’m reassured they will be put to good use teaching kids about woodworking.

  21. David Fisher on 14 January 2020 at 10:14 am

    I spent last summer helping a friend of my wife’s do some remodelling work in her back garden, which involved some ground work, wood work and general lifting and hauling. My wife and I spent around six weeks, at our leisure undertaking the work while enjoying the bird song and sun on our backs. I lost around 2 stone (28lbs) and felt like a 30 year old again. after the initial strains of exercising muscles I had not worked for several years my normal aches and pains disappeared after only a couple of days. Even today my old aches have not returned. It was hard honest work but very satisfying.

    Our friends teenage daughters would appear most mid mornings in their expensive gym kit (sports wear, smartphone and complicated looking drinking vessel) awaiting their mum to drive them to the gym several miles away. I told them if weight loss and conditioning was their aim then I could guarantee them that within only a few days. They both looked at me as if I had horns.

    • nemo on 15 January 2020 at 1:21 pm

      Nearly 20 years ago, in my late twenties, I decided to run a quick errand to a store 2 km away by bicycle. Not sure what made me use the bicycle that day, as I did everything by car in those days. When I got to the store I was utterly exhausted. Not good, especially not at such a young age. Realized something had to be done so started using the bike more often. Condition improved and to my surprize, I found it enjoyable to ride (being Dutch I had cycled from an early age but until then always considered it a chore, not as something that could be pleasant as well. It’s all a matter of attitude/mindset). Also learned in that time that physical exertion and being outside, in nature, are good ways to counter depression/burnout/whatever-it-was.

      What really helped me personally during that time was physical exertion (particularly, cycling) in the outdoors. Increasingly longer bicycle rides, coming home sunburned, sweaty, shivering from cold and snow or soaking wet from the rain. I’m sure being a lumberjock would have worked just as fine for me. Being cocooned all up every day, in our air-conditioned house, then car, then office, then car, then house again, day after day, is not healthy (physically and mentally), I’ve come to realize since. Suffering some minor physical discomforts (wetness, cold, heat, fatigue, minor aches) is perhaps a necessary condition for living healthily?

      • Joe on 17 January 2020 at 8:23 pm

        They have done studies on mice where if they were given ideal conditions, they didn’t live as long as if they had some stress in their lives. So, yes, I think some stress is helpful. But much like alcohol, a little goes a long way.

  22. Arthur Schueler on 14 January 2020 at 12:18 pm

    I never post online. And this is going to be a little cheesy. However, this I felt compelled to respond to. I am a family physician, trained during a transition from “old school” residency to newer ways of training physicians. In many ways our training was like apprenticeship, and I see this style of education as waning. It does remind me of the training people have to master the most difficult crafts like woodworking, the person having been trained in such a way really does transcend the technology meant to usurp or “help” their job.

    I’m going to try to find a way to incorporate this into my practice to help people recover from various things. Thanks, Paul.
    Regardless, the ideas of being called a “practitioner” bother a lot of people in the field. Nurse practitioners are generally proud to be nurses, many people would rather not see a physician but rather a physician’s assistant or a nurse, as they seem kinder in some ways.

    Regarding recovery, I think although you don’t have a title per se, you are a practicing professional healer. Facing reality in the workshop is looking at a piece of wood and the interaction between the tool, the wood, yourself, and that very fact that whatever you think is going to happen, it might not — it depends on how well practiced, trained etc you are with that tool, that wood and then the wood itself will hold a reality you don’t expect, sometimes in a twist of grain that thwarts what you are about to do, often the opposite where it glides along and your intended action works better than you thought. Facing reality helps people recover, as what hurts a lot is where expectations fail them.

    Lastly, inherent in all woodworking projects is people. Why make things from wood? It’s not for termites, pets, or etc. It’s for other people or yourself. So every project is therapy for someone, either a seat, an object to make life easier or more tidy, or just beauty alone. This is a form of healing. Training people to do so doubly so.

    Still working on spatulas myself.

  23. Allen R. on 17 January 2020 at 4:42 am

    I’m unwilling to advocate for unbridled progress until somebody is willing to tell me what we’re progressing towards 🙂

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  • Michael Geiger on Furniture For Your HomeThis post has got my hands itching. My wife and I have just began to push the canoe of a big venture into the waters. We've purchased our first house (awaiting home loan approval a…
  • Sylvain on It’s All in the Joinery- Grant, if the two sides of your assembly were adjacent cut from a same board, they will be showing the same compressibility property. - Paul, very interesting this drawing. Now m…
  • Sylvain on Furniture For Your Home- funny to see your reflection in two window glasses on the second picture. - many women complain that men leaves too much life-management mental-strain on them. That comes from th…
  • Paul Sellers on It’s All in the JoineryI am always struck by how many people go to such great lengths to flatten the flat face of their plane irons when the lever cap presses the blade along the whole of the fore-edge t…
  • William Nenna on It’s All in the JoineryHonestly, I find your concerns on sharpening a thicker blade moot if handled differently. Doing a grind at whatever bevel angle you are using on the primary bevel down to just shor…
  • Garrett Swalwell on It’s All in the JoineryMy first dovetail box has gaps. Currently working on a commissioned coin box for a work friend.
  • Jim on Furniture For Your HomeJust imagine Paul, that with all of the skills that you have taught us if we lived during the middle ages we could be building cross bows for the kings army!