You would think that with everyone gone from the studio that I would have been able to optimise my output be that what it may. That’s not been the case thus far. I do miss the “Paul!” from the other side of the wall, the pressure of getting ready to film an intro for the next series and then just the day to day passing, nodding, waving, hellos and such from everyone that punctuate my day. I am not complaining, safety comes first. I am just saying that I miss face-to-face moments and skype is not quite the same.

The other day we needed a vital piece for the filming series that we just completed before everyone went to work from home. Will and Natalie always take care of this work filming so for the first time they had to walk me through it from their now home edit office. That was fun. So many things to go wrong and try to imagine filming something for a few minutes only to find the camera quit or the sound wasn’t on. But we got there and the video worked the second take.

Outside now I see only runners and walkers taking their exercise. The milkman delivers my groceries with the milk. It reminded me of the Eyam Plague back in the 17c when the Bubonic plague arrived in the tiny village of Eyam in Derbyshire. Though Eyam was 150 north of London, a bolt of cloth ordered by the local tailor arrived in damp condition and inside the folds fleas carrying the plague thrived

As many people became infected and died, the pastor of the village church, William Mompesson, and his predecessor Thomas Stanley, suggested to the local villagers that the only way to prevent the disease from spreading out to the other villages around was to cut off face to face contact with those outside the village completely. Neighbouring communities brought food and supplies to a meeting point just outside the village where a stone well carved from a solid rock was placed. The well was filled with vinegar so that villagers from inside the village could pay for the food they needed. Vinegar was the only known disinfectant at the time but the disease was stemmed through the self-sacrifice of the people of Eyam. My visiting the village 57 years ago impressed on me then the sacrifice that the villagers made as a whole not to allow the spread of the Bubonic plague to the northern climes. A third of the village died but then two-thirds survived and the plague was stayed and never went further north to the big cities.

Today I am back on track knowing that my friends around the world are striving to do what they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. In an hour or two I will have another children’s project completed for families to make. To say that these are interesting times would trivialise the tragedy that’s taking place in the loss of life. Hopefully, we can keep encouraging our friends and loved ones, colleagues and everyone else in this time of need. If we each do our part and support those who might be overwhelmed in despondency, depression, anxiety or whatever, COVID-19 will hopefully be behind us.

33 Comments

  1. David on 26 March 2020 at 5:54 pm

    Hi, Paul. Thanks for these updates. I’ve been turning to them over the past couple of weeks while on work breaks in a major hospital in New Orleans. Reading your articles and thinking of woodworking takes my mind away from doctor stresses, which are many these days. Cheers and stay safe to you and all your readers!

  2. Tad on 26 March 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Paul, thank you for your continued postings. For some of us, this is the only “face to face” contact we get. It is nice to have input from sources other than the news.

  3. John lockett on 26 March 2020 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Paul can you tell me if the depth stop on a record 44 is the same as a 43 I’d be much obliged if you could let me know. Just to say I love your excellence in all things wood and beyond.
    Regards John

    • John Cadd on 30 March 2020 at 2:09 pm

      Hello John Lockett—I need to mend my broken adjuster too .You might find an expensive replacement on ebay but if you have the original rod part just try fitting a small Meccano brass wheel on the rod. The fixing screw will keep it in place . Improvised bodges will work for that part . I think resin / metal glues might be too fragile .
      I must look to see if Paul has a video about these multi plough planes .
      I have only managed to make one window sill groove so far .

  4. Salko Safic on 26 March 2020 at 10:01 pm

    Your studio setup has just blown me away. I’ve seen some financially successful woodworkers in my life, but never in teaching to the extent of using videography as I’ve witnessed here.

    • Paul Sellers on 27 March 2020 at 3:45 am

      It was the only way I could extend the legacy of real woodworking through my then lone campaign to a world losing out to machine-only working of wood that was becoming or indeed actually was the only way people saw of working wood. I never met hand toolists when I lived in the USA and almost none of any in the UK too, though many Americans did assume that the UK had many such woodworkers in the UK. In reality, I found that it was the USA that had the true and greater appreciation of skilled craftwork no matter the craft. My craft then was almost dead both in the USA and indeed in the UK too. People then, thirty years ago, scoffed and mocked me and some still do, but no matter, here I am living the dream of spreading the good news to even millions in any given month these days. I realised teaching one-on-one I would only see my craft die. I liked teaching that way, but it was drifting towards only a narrow margin of middle-class people with high levels of disposable income and though I wanted all people to be able to learn in my cases, the class sizes and geographical location meant then only 3-400 students at a peak per year. I could make a good living that way, but the legacy was dying and would indeed would eventually die out altogether. I then saw hope for the conservation of the culture I wanted to pass on would fully rest in the hands of the amateur and I am now proven right. My main burden as a maker was to pass on my skills to all people who wanted to become hand tool woodworkers without reserve. I wanted an all-inclusive way of doing it. People, usually professionals in some sphere or other, occasionally attack me by saying something like, “Paul’s way is the high way.” or “Paul’s way is the only way.” but that’s not true at all. I take that as their own insecurity. They never really got to know me, never really spoke to me or understood what I saw and knew about woodworking because they had never actually lived what I was living and have indeed lived and made my life from: my love of and for my craft.

      • Dennis Droege on 27 March 2020 at 1:17 pm

        God bless you. Stay healthy.

      • Jon on 27 March 2020 at 1:35 pm

        Love these behind the scenes photos.
        My adult sons and I are spending the weekend on a workbench build. Laminating the top and legs is the first, modest goal.

        Thanks for being a visionary!

      • Aaron Fore on 27 March 2020 at 5:42 pm

        Paul,

        I want to extend my thanks to you, as many others have. I have been working with wood since I was a young boy, and always wanted to learn how to do it all by hand. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone to teach me, and all I could find was machines. The last ten years, about, I have done very little of it, as I didn’t enjoy it any longer. I felt like I was just the motive power to feed another machine. Thank you very much for showing us all how to work wood in the way I have always wanted to. My love of wood working has returned, thanks to you and your teaching.

      • Patrick Sadr on 30 March 2020 at 4:25 am

        Paul,

        Through your teachings and life story’s you have truly changed the way I perceive working wood by hand and mind.

        The way you are spreading your knowledge and skills to anyone who wants to learn from you, without asking anything in return is at the very least highly commendable.

        Thankyou,

      • Salko Safic on 31 March 2020 at 5:38 am

        There’s no doubt your message has reached a very far and wide audience of all ages, and by doing so you have infused the craft into the lives of many people around the world especially those who couldn’t afford the school fees. This undoubtedly has made you in my opinion the most loved woodworking teacher in modern times. You have a purpose and you serve it well. What else can I say, but well done.

      • Lisa A Burt on 31 March 2020 at 4:42 pm

        You and other generous artists (like painter Andrew Tischler, and many, many others) have embraced technology to reach masses of others across the globe who yearn to learn these skills, but for whatever reason, weren’t able to. Through your generosity, you’ve gifted to me and countless others your knowledge and skills that we can take and pass on as well, ensuring the craft will be alive for generations to come. I’m so grateful!

  5. Mahomed Moorad on 27 March 2020 at 11:53 am

    Hello Paul,

    As all of us around the world over are in some sort of a lock down process due to the current pandemic, we welcome the effort and dedication that you and your Team has displayed, always in keeping us interested and occupied. Now more than ever, we welcome all that you have done and are doing in your contribution of encouragement in this time in need. Thank you. Stay healthy!

  6. Stephen Eastwood on 27 March 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you paul( and thank you too all the Nurses, Doctors and all the others who are putting others first in these unfortunate times),
    for the updates and inspiration to go into “the workshop” and breakaway from the isolation and tv and work wood, reorganise get sane.
    Keep up the great work be safe and now back to my workshop.

  7. CharlesBr on 27 March 2020 at 3:55 pm

    We were used to the stories of your apprenticeship a long tome ago, but I did not realize you also witnessed the black plague in the 17c 😉

    • Paul Sellers on 27 March 2020 at 6:47 pm

      Yes, I am getting on in age!!!

    • NZ Pete on 28 March 2020 at 3:14 am

      I was beaten to this comment. We know Paul has a good long memory, but this is stretching it TOO far I think. LOL
      Hoping everyone is safe and well during these difficult times.

  8. nemo on 27 March 2020 at 7:10 pm

    Good grief, that’s a veritable film studio including ‘on air’ lamp. And I thought there was just a camera with a few big LED construction floodlights… The only picture missing is from your viewpoint, when standing behind the bench facing the camera.

    My present woodworking in the shed consists of repairing/rebuilding the wood shredder for the garden. Installing a ‘new’ motor (well, an old one I found in the attic), 3 phase this time, and new control electronics. Only original parts left will be the frame, transport wheels and the rotating cutting head…. Seeing what plastic rubbish gets sold as ‘shredder’ nowadays and at what prices, I figured I’d better spend a day or two completely overhauling my old all-steel shredder. (Actually, it’s more like building an entirely new one using a few parts of the old one…)

    Shredding is woodworking too, isn’t it? …

    As for the present pandemic, no matter how bad it may be, I count my generation as extremely fortunate. When I think of what my grandfather went through in his lifetime (1918 Spanish flue pandemic, ’29 crash, WW2 in which his shop was bombed to bits, then the Cold War and emigrating to Australia partly for that reason), I count myself lucky. Basically, every decade of the first part of his life was filled with upheaval. If this is all my generation will have to live through then we are very fortunate indeed compared to previous generations. Then again, ‘count no man happy until the end is known’….

  9. Sylvain on 28 March 2020 at 8:11 am

    – Paul, I hope for you those spots are LED ones, otherwise it must be rather hot there.

    – I have heard your prime minister has to face the consequences of its politics. It is not often like that.
    “Collective immunisation” when there is no vaccine is just “the survival of the fittest” with no solidarity. Everyone will appreciate on which side of the political spectrum that is.
    For those who read French, I recommend the book “L’entraide, l’autre loi de la jungle” octobre 2017 – Pablo Servigne ,Gauthier Chapelle, which demonstrate that cooperation and symbiose is at work everywhere in nature.
    Sylvain

    • Jorge on 28 March 2020 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation Sylvain

    • Roberto on 28 March 2020 at 4:13 pm

      There’s a bit more to collective immunisation than that. Similar to vaccines, you don’t need everybody to be immune. Vaccines are not 100% effective and they don’t need to be. If enough people are immune around sick people, the disease stops spreading.

      That’s how this pandemic will end. There’s no other way. You can’t manufacture 7 billion vaccines just like that.

      The spread needs to be managed so that everybody that needs can get medical attention and that the more fragile can be isolated and protected.

      Everything points towards this virus staying with us. We simply can’t stop it from spreading, as terrifying as that sounds.

      • Sylvain on 28 March 2020 at 5:12 pm

        “The spread needs to be managed so that everybody that needs can get medical attention and that the more fragile can be isolated and protected.”

        That is why waiting to take measures was playing with the more fragile people’s live and potentially ruining other countries spreading measures.

        I perfectly know that we will not get vaccine before many month (1.5 year?).

        • Roberto on 28 March 2020 at 9:53 pm

          You perfectly know. Nice way to have a conversation. Ease.

          • Sylvain on 30 March 2020 at 11:15 am

            I am sorry if that sounds agressive in English; it is not my mother language.
            I agree with what you said.
            My point was the difference between waiting ( for business reasons?) and taking measures without delay (for humanity reasons).
            This is not to say I don’t care for economy; I have lost about 9% on my savings value with this crisis.



    • John Cadd on 30 March 2020 at 1:29 pm

      Sylvain The Herd Immunity sounded a very strange idea at first but it comes down to a mathematical way to control the pandemic. If enough healthy (younger than pensioners ) people can develop immunity the virus expansion is controlled and loses it`s grip on the population . It spreads much more slowly and “hopefully “will come under control . That`s where the knife edge tension comes in . The basic idea is not survival of the fittest in the Nietsche way of thinking . Practical mathematical approaches have come from studying pandemics development over many years . However , I sympathise with your current reactions . Good health to you and your family .

  10. Samuel on 28 March 2020 at 12:56 pm

    The kitchen nearby reveals source of mugs with spoons.
    Thinking on people now working from home and doing their exercise or schoolwork via video — now everyone is relying on communication just like we have here.
    I’m hoping to use the slowing world to be a comfort to me by taking action and learning something, and also help others where possible. It’s autumn here and when the hive of humans bustling stupidly is hushed — the earth is a great balm.

  11. Ron Geer on 28 March 2020 at 5:14 pm

    I have a suggestion for a short video, if you find it suitable. I would for you to construct a wooden chisel mallet. I have a mallet, but it is large and made for timber framing. I would like to build a smaller one that you design and teach us how to build. I should think there are quite a few who would craft one after your video.

  12. David Wood on 29 March 2020 at 9:20 am

    My time at home has been busy.
    I am making 6 desktop organisers for my grandsons.
    My dovetails, blind dovetails and drawer making as well as hinge fitting are all so easy now that I know how to do it is your legacy to us all.
    It is so satisfying to slow down and enjoy the woodworking projects that you produce.
    Now I have to teach my grandsons the craft,
    Thanks mate for all you do

  13. Cleaves on 29 March 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Paul,
    I just want to add my “Thanks” to the list. As you have said many times, the satisfaction of working wood with only hand tools simply cannot be matched in any other exercise. I have begun a voluntary quarantine here in the US, out of an abundance of caution as my wife is not well, and with her condition, she can’t risk any type of infection, let alone the COVID-19. The days can be long, but being able to go to my shop in the basement, even for 15-30 minutes at a time throughout the day, has been a blessing! I am so thankful that I have been able to benefit from your dream!

  14. Chris on 30 March 2020 at 2:07 pm

    I’m scandalized by that image from behind the 4th wall! How times have changed since the workshop in the castle.

    Thanks for showing us power tool guys another way, Paul. The depth that these methods add to the craft, and honestly to life in general, has really been a blessing.

  15. Adam on 30 March 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I wish everyone in the ‘Paul Sellers’ community’ all the best for a safe and healthy time during this challenging period, and especially to Paul and his team – thanks for everything. Stay safe everyone and look out for each other.

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