… but in the sending, I can tell that some people don’t understand my efforts. Whereas 99% of people who love hand working have come to understand why I have done what I have over the decades, some have yet to see the implications of working only with machines and then too myriad other distractive influences. Not getting it is fine, I understand that sometimes it takes time to dismantle the coding that established our preconceived ideas and the programming from the decades of influencing. That being so, I feel I should at least try to decode some things. In the age of mass-information, we face the ever-greater reality that misinformation is highly intrusive and finds itself a whole new platform.

On watching videos

I’d like to say that I rarely look for something on the internet to watch and so when someone sends me a link to something they found interesting there is a good chance that I don’t go to it unless there is a clear explanation of why I should. Some of this links to something else that might help and that is that I just don’t watch TV. I stopped watching it in 1986 so in 34 years I may have seen a few days of TV, usually in places where I couldn’t switch it off, garage repair waiting rooms for instance, or hotel breakfast areas in the USA. Neither do I watch videos, though I might occasionally see a film. I hasten to add here that I see nothing wrong with people watching TV, videos and films, etc, just that it’s rarely if ever something I might choose for me.

More importantly in this, sometimes the link more confirms something I have said or taught. The idea is to encourage me that this or that thing I talked about is confirmed by this science or this other expert as though we’re on the same page or I need some additional confirmation. The huge difference is that a scientist might spend a year setting up equipment to take a shaving and film the outcome of different effects. The video proves that this or that affects the outcome. What the video cannot do is take 20-30 different kinds of wood taken from fifty different points in a tree stem and explain the different results as an outcome of real working at the real workbench by someone who has done nothing else over 50 plus years. Their system cannot skew the plane, alter pressures, flex left and right according to sensing and whatever else. To do that would take more than a lifetime of scientific input and at the end of the day, the scientist would still only know a small fraction of what the crafting artisan in the zone of making every day would know at the end of the plane hand. Even the experimenter impacts the experiment by the very rigidity science itself imposes on the testing etc. In my world, I choose to present the only thing that I know to be proven by the using and the knowing of it experientially; something well-tested and then well-proven as well. I don’t put out something that’s, well, just more novelly interesting.

On sharpening

The reality of sharpening is that you can sharpen any metal to any level and you need only one thing — abrasive. The choice of abrasive is then what needs to be looked at. The problem, of course, is that every woodworker with any experience has her and his preferred method, system and abrasive they work with. It’s not a boast if I say I have probably worked with every type at some point and have worked through what is the most productively efficient and most effective for me in my real woodworking there working at the workbench. You must remember that many woodworkers are ever fascinated by an hour or two creating the single most perfect cutting edge with the most expensive method. That’s not me, though in my research over the years I will most likely have tried it, looked at it seriously and then made an educated decision as to how I think it will be best for others to work with. At the end of the day, I found that the hollow grind was more a waste of time and that I most likely would never need to go to any kind of mechanical grinder to reestablish a bevel because my hand method is indeed faster and actually better than the best any mechanical grinder could give. My finding is that machines and other methods like hollow grinds to bevels do not create any sharper an edge than hand methods and neither do they create better cuts even though the claim often is that they need less effort to affect the cut. I did not find too that Japanese water stones gave me any more than the diamond plates or many other man-made sharpening stones. Calling a stone a Japanese water stone does not mean that it is any less manmade than stones made in most other regions of the world. 95% of Japanese water stones are manufactured and not natural. Fact is, all abrasives work but some might cut better than others. Then too, of course, we have the natural stones and they come in every level fineness too. The natural stones are more expensive because of quarrying and so on whereas baking ceramic and carborundum gives ease and simplicity to the giant conglomerates producing the manmade versions. Profits were massive. But today my system works as well if not better and costs under £10 for several years of sharpening service to chisels, planes and spokeshaves. No system I have seen gives me as much as what I have and so watch this and tell me why I should change a thing:

Woodworking bench heights

My posts about bench heights have drug on for a while and it recently sparked off another volley in a chain of events surrounding the right height for people to work at. Whereas my research and my surveys were not scientific and neither did I turn to so-called health-care professionals, they were very practically worked out and have proved helpful for a large number of people who ended up being surprised by my message that higher was likely better than lower for most. Many, many of you did confirm that your health and strength and then too your wellbeing markedly improved by simply raising your bench heights by several inches over what you had understood from gurus when you started out. Someone nudged me towards yet another guru expressing his idea on bench heights and yet again the bench was obviously too low and the man did hold himself in a very awkward posture as though nursing his bad back, stiff neck, etc.

My experience with bench heights spans over five decades experimenting and five decades working at the most ideal height. How I got there is shown in the articles I built and used and then too filmed for others to make. Look through my early blogs (use the search box. It works!) for the answers to you deciding on your particular bench height. Whereas I want to learn from others, I have such good health I am very reluctant to ‘fix what ain’t broke‘. Also, I did get support from thousands of students who loved the bench heights of my school benches which were all 38″. That meant that those of 6’ 3″ working at 30″ had been given bad advice and that they could even raise up my 38″ bench if needed. What’s been wrong with guru presentations is that they perhaps wrote what they wrote without too much actual experience when they did, or even questioning the status quo. I know having two or three benches of different heights might be handy a couple of times a year, but that is such a luxury for most of us it is totally impractical. Additionally, I recently visited a college of woodworking and the benches there were just massive behemoths, massive to the point that the workspace was half of what could have been much more practical. These were what was being recommended as standard, made from heavy beechwood but they were no way suited for building for a home workshop and with someone just starting out with a handful of hand tools. I think it says something that I have worked at softwood benches one third the weight, one quarter the cost and half the length too and yet they have stood with me in every test to remain immoveable in use and unswerving under any and all pressures. Why would I make something costing four times as much if what I already built lasted me for fifty years and was still good to hand down to my children? In my world, it’s as unreal to believe that real-life full-time woodworkers have several benches to choose to work from as it is to think that those learning with me would feel the need to own several workbenches. That’s what was suggested by one person. Silly.

So, then I could go on to other areas but I will leave it parked for now. I have covered how I feel about this through the years and so I will offer a break here. I must keep my work simple without being at all simplistic. Doing that makes it fully inclusive to any and all.

44 Comments

  1. Joe on 8 March 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks Paul. In one of your posts you mentioned that your doctor had pegged you as 18 months away from death. I don’t want to force you to be too persona but could you please elaborate what changes you made that completely altered things as you are a healthy 70 year old. I am not in a healthy state and want to change. I really do. I could use some inspiration.

    I think you have been successful for a number of reasons as an Internet teach. Below are my thoughts.
    1. You did have done it as a profession for over 50 years. That gives you insight that is hard to by any other way.
    2. You are pragmatic and practical about how to do things. Many folks can get wrapped up on details and have analysis paralysis. You cut through that.
    3. You are not selling any tools or woodworking products and don’t have a sponsor. That makes it much easier for you to be completely open in your evaluation.
    4. Your free content really does contain all of the how to knowledge. You aren’t holding anything back for the paid masterclass in terms of teaching. Same with your blogs.
    5. You are humble and have a good teaching style. It works well for me.

    I am so glad that you are doing for us. I had wanted to woodwork for decades but didn’t know how to get started. After all, those machines were expensive. You showed me a way that made sense, didn’t cost a fortune, and avoided machines. Thank you m

    • Mark D. Baker on 9 March 2020 at 6:10 pm

      Aloha Joe,
      Mahalo for your comments to Paul. They were upbuilding as can be.
      Mark Baker

    • David Campbell on 9 March 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Keep doing what you do, the way that you do it, Paul. Your advice and methods achieve 95% of what’s possible in 10% of the time, which means you are at the top of the value curve in every sense. I’ve now got a crate of fully restored hand tools (for peanuts), and I’m working on stout handmade boxes for them. Good for you, Paul. Thanks.

  2. Iain Liversedge on 8 March 2020 at 11:13 pm

    I was troubled by this a bit Paul, I’ve been a woodworker for two decades less than you, and became one because I believed in the sacred nature of work, particularly with wood. your commitment to an older notion, older skills, and the real and genuine difference between hand work and machines resonated with me the I stand I first encounter it some years ago, and I direct those with the same passions to your videos as a benchmark. I hope that you aren’t obliged to justify your methods or mind set by others,..you’ve been a lonestar for my own continuing journey, and it’s been tremendously Inspiring to dip in to your world when I’m lagging.
    Thanks for your uniqueness .

  3. John Cunneen on 9 March 2020 at 12:39 am

    Paul, my bench height was determined by what I felt was the correct for me plus a bit more. It is not a low 30 inches and closer to 38. I wanted one that would be able to be pulled apart for moving and suitable for those in my family who are 6 ft plus. I am far less but I have found it such a delight to have and use. It took me over 30 years to build mine after using a workmate for that time.
    Using secondhand timber- hardwood, Oregon and some newer pine has given me something I treasure. It is not without faults but it does fit for me and I am 5 ft 9.
    Thank you again.

  4. Michael on 9 March 2020 at 10:11 am

    I think that part of the problem with all the debates around sharpening and bench heights etc is that the small details of the process tend to get in the way if the result.

    I’m not trying to oppose Mr Sellers adage of “it’s not so much what you make than how you make it” as I love the idea of the process mattering as much as the result.

    But when it comes to some things like sharpening I feel it matters less how one gets the edge and more that one gets an edge. For Mr Sellers, his method works well and he can get a new edge in under a minute. Other professionals may be able to achieve same result with a slightly different method and that works for them. So the method we students use comes down to who taught it and what worked for each person. As long as you can get a sharp edge in a way that doesn’t interrupt work flow what does it matter which stones you used etc.

    Mr Sellers the one question I have about this post is how you arrived at your method with diamond stones costing less that £10 for several years of sharpening? I think I misunderstood you here. I recently bought coarse and extra fine diamond plates and love them and would recommend them to anyone. But they definitely cost more than £10. Could you please explain a bit further what you meant? Your time and expertise is very much appreciated.

    • Michael Finley on 9 March 2020 at 3:41 pm

      I took him to mean that because of the very long lifespan of diamond plates, they only cost ten pounds per year. Compared to sandpaper for example, which has much lower initial cost but much higher total cost over time.

      • Michael on 9 March 2020 at 7:38 pm

        That makes sense, thank you

    • Alexander on 9 March 2020 at 6:49 pm

      Hi Michael,
      I’ve been using cheap diamond plates for 2 and half year, bought them on ebay and paid more or less 10€ for the set of 3.
      Sometime I feel guilty and think I should buy better diamond plates, but if it’s not broke don’t fix it…

  5. Sylvain on 9 March 2020 at 11:15 am

    – The comment I have made about workbench height (this morning), pointing to health and safety studies, is there for the people who don’t believe you.
    Those studies confirm that your experience is not merely an opinion contrary to the guru’s opinion.

    Personally, I am perfectly happy with my 96 cm high workbench (I am 1.75 m).
    My work space is about 5 m² and I certainly don’t have space for multiple workbenches.

    – I guess 10£ for diamond plates is to be understood as 10£/year taking into account your intensive use. I don’t think I will wear mine down.

  6. Samuel on 9 March 2020 at 12:04 pm

    If people insist on working on the floor, what can u do..
    If people insist on using pumice stones and orange juice, well.
    Time to put the kettle on.

  7. Greg on 9 March 2020 at 1:06 pm

    I gave up my TV well over 20 years ago. I was one of those who turned it on when I got home from work and turned it off when I went to bed. My wife and I sold the house and moved onto our boat where we didn’t have room for a TV. We live back on the dirt now (in a house) and decided not to buy a TV for one simple reason. Getting rid of it was the most liberating thing we’ve ever done. More time for reading, being with each other and not just in the physical sense, and, well, wood working. It’s as if I got my life back.

    • Joe on 10 March 2020 at 5:04 pm

      I feel as if I am wasting my life away with TV. I recall an advert that Delta had for their machine tools before the New Yankee Workshop that was quite funny. It panned a street and you could hear for three or four homes the tv one with the lights on in the living room. Then, it pans to one home. Lights on in the garage and the sound of a Delta saw going. It used to make me chuckle every time I saw it.

      I want to be the one with just the garage light on with the sound of my hand plane whishing away. Getting rid of the tv could very well help. I gave up Facebook for Lent. That’s the first step in that direction.

      • nemo on 10 March 2020 at 10:51 pm

        Perhaps you could ease into the new lifestyle by putting the TV set in the garage? (I initially meant that comment in jest but the more I’m thinking about it, the more I’m beginning to take it seriously)

        I don’t have a TV either. Made a conscious decision not to have one in the living room in my house. There is one TV in the studyroom but it’s not connected to an antenna and used only to watch videos from an USB stick. Often videos of a certain English woodworking gentleman…., the rest of the time educative videos and documentaries. Either way, it means that *I* am in control over what’s on the telly, not the broadcasters and their advertisers.

        The few times I get a glimpse of TV (when visiting others, or in a store, or at the doctor) I’m confirmed that not having one was the right choice for me. But it’s surprising how many people are judgmental and consider you stuck-up or elitist for not having a television. So be it.

  8. Frank McInroy on 9 March 2020 at 1:47 pm

    The subject of bench height is always going to be controversial , let’s face it we are all different heights , today’s generation are more likely to be 6ft and over, us post war generation likely to under 6ft.
    As an oldie with close to sixty years at the bench both as a woodworker and an engineer I have found that your trouser belt height is about right .
    Add another 5″ for the engineers vice and the jaws are just right for filing albeit saw sharpening or filing metal flat and straight.
    As for sharpening abrasives I’m afraid my engineers head rules my woodworkers heart.
    Frank

  9. E Thomas Ashworth III on 9 March 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Mr. Sellers:
    I want to thank you and give you some positive feedback in terms of the height of workbenches. I’m currently building three (2 small, one largish) for my tiny shop, and I was so encouraged, both by your videos on building them, and on your advice about workbench heights. I was all set to build mine around 36″, but worried due to three herniated discs in my lower back. I was so relieved to read someone whom I respect giving me permission to build the darned thing so you can use it, not because this guy wrote to set it at 30″. My temp bench is 36″ and I finish the day with a back ache as a routine thing. Glad to have the three on the way (one 25″ wide band saw bench, one 16″ deep by 40″ long sharpening bench, and a 72″ work bench a la Mr. Sellers.
    My diamond plates work fine, but I still find myself turning to the oil stones sometimes when I just can’t get a burr. I have some German chisels that are apparently made out of titanium of something, and the oil stones are the only method that works for them.
    Enjoy your work, and your quiet, sensible way of presenting max info in practical chunks.
    ETA

  10. Roger on 9 March 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Ditto on the TV – almost…
    On the sharpening front, I always used a couple of oilstones, coarse and fine, in conjunction with an Eclipse angle guide: must get those 30/25 degree angles right because that’s what the ‘experts’ say. Then, quite by chance, I found Paul’s website and the honing guide hasn’t seen the light of day since. and d’you know what? my planes and chisels cut just as well by freehand sharpening as they ever did; even better since I pushed the boat out and invested in diamond plates and made the strop. It’s just a pity it took until I reached my late 70s before I was shown the light. It’s never too late for an old dog to learn new tricks.
    Thanks for sharing everything with us, Paul.

  11. John S. on 9 March 2020 at 3:06 pm

    AS far as sharpening goes I too, was one of those who spent a pretty penny on Japanese waterstones, which I discovered worked to an extent but often were not as practical or economical as the method you demonstrated-which I have used ever since and have always gotten the results I desired.

    When it comes to workbench height, I simply followed what I felt to be natural and I have no complaints. No backaches, neck aches etc. If I have any complaints that I’m trying to resolve it’s trying to set up a decent lighting system in my shop.

  12. Lou Carreras on 9 March 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Paul, my transformative moment in sharpening happened while working with a former boatbuilder. He was demonstrating the use of the side ax for shaving a ship frame fair. His only stone was a broken stone he’d been using since his apprentice days in Greece in the late ’40’s. He maintained that technique was more important than equipment.
    To an extent, I differed. But, to my students, I’d point out that the seven to nine pages of elaborate sharpening equipment in a popular woodworking catalog were more than a bit excessive.

    • Paul Frederick on 9 March 2020 at 5:43 pm

      No one is going to sell me on the theory that anything available today is better than synthetic diamonds for the kind of sharpening that needs to be done in a hand tool workshop. They stay flat and cut fast. That is key for what we all need to do maintaining bevels of plane irons and bench chisels.

  13. steve on 9 March 2020 at 3:50 pm

    I built the pine bench featured a couple of years ago. Finished height was a shade over 38″ (about 1/4″ over). I have never had one before so little to draw comparisons with but I am 6′ tall and I find it perfect

    • Paul Frederick on 9 March 2020 at 5:31 pm

      38 inches? I’m only an inch shorter than you are and my bench top is 33 inches. I guess you really don’t like to lean into whatever you’re doing. Perhaps physics and the laws of mechanics works differently in your shop than mine? Are you just making dollhouse furniture? There must be an explanation here someplace.

      • Mark on 10 March 2020 at 12:24 am

        Why the need to “lean into” anything? Aren’t your tools sharp? Are you wanting to end up with serious back problems? There must be an explanation for such weirdness.

  14. Paul Frederick on 9 March 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I love hand tool woodworking but no one is taking my machines from me. I am fairly certain that due to grain structure you cannot sharpen any steel to any level either. Like wood metal has grain too. Just the grain in metal is so small you cannot see it with the naked eye. Can see it with a scanning electron microscope though. A number of factors go into the relative fineness of any particular sample of steel. Some iron ore is better than other ore is. Though most production today relies on scrap. So who knows where any of it came from. There’s certainly different grades of scrap iron too. The process of steel production is well understood today yet there remains varying levels of quality. Higher quality tends to take more labor and energy to produce. So there is financial incentive to do a second rate job.

    • Paul Sellers on 9 March 2020 at 5:33 pm

      I’m not sure why you open with “no one is taking my machines from me.” Who suggested or ever threatened such a thing. It seems to me a most odd statement, even a little extreme. To the second sentence, I might say that I have yet to come across a plane iron or chisel, spokeshave, ax or drawknife that did not take a truly fine edge either. I think we all know that we have to live with the consequences of capitalism and wastefulness that has indeed resulted in simply throwing out what was good and t being recycled.

      • Paul Frederick on 9 March 2020 at 7:01 pm

        Perhaps I am just not understanding you. But if you were here I could definitely hand you steels that you’d be hard pressed to hone a keen edge on. Maybe you’ve just lead a charmed existence? Trust me when I say that inferior steels do exist in this world. I know because I have some prime examples here. I got plenty of the good stuff too though. It’s just not all good.

        • Mark on 10 March 2020 at 12:27 am

          You know the old saying… “a good tradesman never blames his tools”. Might be something in that for you eh?

          We are working wood here, not shaving fractions of microns from atoms.

  15. Mark D. Baker on 9 March 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Aloha Paul,
    This post brought us all back to our first woodworking teachers, whether they were good or just putting in the time for a paycheck. You are as far as sunrise is from sunset from those sorts of teachers. My Grandfather[my Mother’s father] and my own father worked out their existence and that of their family not because of who they were but what they needed to answer the needs of those they loved and thereby made it in life.
    Tools and their ability to work at what they were needed for was the reason they were purchased. But they neither had money to waste on tools that were just ‘fine-looking’, they needed tools that actually Worked. These tools fed the family. People today are so far from their roots. Marketing rules their mind and their spending needless bundles of money on tools, just to have them, not a need but a want. Its as though they have becomes the tool diabetics, just diving into the buying of tools just to have it when they don’t even have a need for it or use of it to make them a better woodworker. They don’t know that at the bottom of their tool drawer is a long-ago purchased tool to answer the call or need of ‘that perfect needed tool’ and they have forgotten its purchase, it now covered with rust and dust. My Father’s tools and my Grandfathers tools are my heritage, they are apart of who I am. These tool-junkies are addicted to this need to spend with no real reason and the market is just happier to fed them useless tools to be used and forgotten for next weeks ‘whiz-bang’ tool of opportunity to make $$$. I chase the rust from my tools as I can and try to keep them going. I am short on glue and supplies but care for my tools.
    Tools are nothing if in the hands of mindless ones. Tools enable the gifted to express themself through their skillful use of tools. A blind-eyed, skill-less, with money to lose, are easy targets to sell useless tools to. If you are just starting out, just like other trades, the best tools of the trade are those your mentor told you you needed and trained you with. You know how to use them and produce a useful result, the ‘end product’. We learned from our mistakes enough to not make them wrong again. We listened to the tool as it was crossing the wood’s grain, to read its need for a different direction of effort to ‘craft’ it. Rather than more effort or More Tools, we knew we needed to change ‘our’ method of work to meet the need and the results were clear to us.
    Currently disabled and not to work in a ‘production workshop’ as before, I now continue on with my woodworking tools needed in my 2nd love, Beekeeping. All the parts of the hive are called ‘Bee Furniture’, and I’ve discovered a new way to spend my energy and feel useful.

  16. Tom Bittner on 9 March 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Wow talk about bench height, best way to sharpen and what to make your benches out of is like talking about politics, religion and global warming!

    I’ve learned a long time ago to listen to other people who are successful at what they do. You think about it, give it an honest try and then evaluate for yourself especially if you are having problems.
    I’m not quite as fast as Paul but I now get a sharp edge within a couple of minutes using his method. I’ve used other methods including the water stones, sand paper and oil stones. It used to take me hours to sharpen a chisel, then I was afraid to use it because it took me so long to sharpen it. ( that’s usually when someone grabbed it to open a paint can).

    “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

  17. john P. on 10 March 2020 at 12:44 am

    Anyone with a height of around 6′ that spends any amount of time working at a typical 30″ kitchen counter top will soon learn the wisdom of your taller benches.

    As for sharpening, a simple system with a little practice far out weighs machines costing $$$. Along the same line, when my electric grinder gave up about a year ago I put an old restored hand crank grinder to work. Long story short, there are no plans to ever own another electric grinder. I may have borrowed that idea from you.

    Paul, thank you for all your contributions hand work.

    John

  18. Steven Newman/Bandit571 on 10 March 2020 at 4:34 am

    Have seen way too many take way too long to build a bench….and, when they finally do complete it…either it doesn’t work for them, or it is so much like Fine Furniture as to make it an Alter…..

    They tend to loose sight of one small detail…..it is a WORKbench….sooner or later, every nick, gouge, hole, or saw cut will have a story to tell.

    Which would you follow…the fancy dressed-up Dandy, or…the grizzled old veteran….?

  19. Carlos Atilio Cordova on 10 March 2020 at 5:09 am

    Totally agree with you Paul.
    It is better to work at ease, which works best for oneself.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  20. Chris on 10 March 2020 at 9:05 am

    So true about sharpening, once you have found a method that works for you stick with it.
    I could never sharpen a chisel or a plane properly then stumbled across a method that gives me repeatedly sharp results, a friend had the same problem and I recommended it him. Now we both spend less time sharpening and more time woodworking.

  21. Tim Royal on 10 March 2020 at 1:09 pm

    I built a bench loosely based on Paul’s design some years ago at 38″ of height. I am 5’11” and find the bench to be very comfortable. Additionally, I use a Moxon to cut dovetails and other joinery at the bench. Very comfortable. I use oil stones and a strop because that’s what I have. Honestly, I use the stones seldom and very briefly because I strop fairly frequently to maintain my edges.

    Thanks for your wisdom, Paul. You have added a great deal of pleasure to my shop time. May God richly bless you and yours.

  22. Steven Newman/Bandit571 on 10 March 2020 at 3:41 pm

    One other thing….I do 90% of my joinery work..while sitting down on my shop stool…..dovetails…finger/box joints…Mortise &Tenon joints. A saw, a mallet, and or a chisel in use, means I am sitting down. I am closer to the work, without bending my back. Hand plane work is when I do stand up to work. But, rather than use my back to push them along…I use my legs.

    Spinal Stenosis Lumbar….first 5 discs…..if I work to work all day bent over like some…I could not walk at all the next day…..Work sessions would be cut short, instead of 6-8hours….I’d be down to 2-4 hours at the most….before the back says “No more!”

  23. John Cadd on 10 March 2020 at 7:29 pm

    This week some adverts for chisels popped up on my screen . From Fine Tools I think it was . So I browsed through the attractive Japanese chisel sets for a while. At the end there was a set of 3 diamond sharpening plates , with a note that these plates are not suitable for Brass , Aluminium or —– Laminated Chisels —-as the softer backing metal will clog up the diamond stones . Good to know that .

  24. David on 11 March 2020 at 1:53 am

    I suspect woodworking schools have such hefty benches because they’re engineered to take abuse from a variety of inexperienced woodworkers coming in wave after wave year after year. It makes no sense to build a workbench designed for a single woodworker in his own shop who has invested his own time and money to build it (or purchase it).

    Paul, you love to pontificate. You’re not as good at it as you are at teaching hand tool woodworking. I stick to the teaching and less of the pontificating if I were you.

    • Matt on 11 March 2020 at 4:14 am

      Wondered where this guy had got to – first post in a while and it’s the same old theme. Oh dear.

      Why do you feel the need to repeatedly tell someone what to do? How rude.

  25. Andrew on 11 March 2020 at 1:48 pm

    The best bench working height must take into account the size of the workpiece. It follows, of course, that this must be be variable, preferably at the touch of a button. Just like a garage vehicle hoist. Clearly telescopic legs are needed. The braking/clamping/stop system must eliminate any possible slack when stationary. Thick steel telescopic box section legs might do the job. Four internal electric motors with screw jacks or chain hoists could provide the lifting power. I haven’t yet worked out whether they should be synchronised electronically or mechanically. In another possible variant, large diameter hydraulic jack cylinders are let into the floor, so that the legs rise out of it. …………. I’ll say it for you, “Good luck with that one mate!”. Thanks Paul, for stimulating the imagination.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 March 2020 at 5:19 pm

      I have run the gamut of arguments through the decades but, you know, I don’t even think about the varying heights I work at in a given day and I think it is because I have faced off with so many gurus saying this or that height and then too the need for variation. There is absolutely no need for variable height benches once you find or custom make yours to suit you. Why do I say that? Because I see my woodworking differently than everyone. When I first started reading about this weight-over-arm, bearing down on the work wood planing I was stunned. Working with woodworkers in the field for decades I never heard such twaddle. What I knew was that these men, lifetime woodworkers, many in their 60s and 70s, had been working at benches for 40 and 50 years day in day pout and they were all agile and fit, fit enough to vault the bench and twist my ear if I did or said something wrong. There was no talk of changing bench heights, and the need for bearing down. In my woodworking world I still bend, kneel stoop, twist and push and pull and it is all a very much part of my exercise program. Without this, I would indeed be less fit than I am. Sometimes wood is a foot above the bench and I plane it and then seconds later it’s level or whatever in between and I still plane it.

      • Andrew on 12 March 2020 at 12:53 pm

        Thank you Paul. I was a little tongue-in-cheek about a rising and falling bench top, but maybe it could please the man who already has everything. My suggestions would be very costly in time and money. I note you are tremendously agile around your projects and imagine your mental agility, muscles, sinews and joints have been formed to perfection for woodworking tasks. I do have reservations about kneeling. Years ago I ruined my knees working in a low-roofed loft space. It took years for them to recover. I now only kneel on a handy garden kneeling mat, of the semi-rigid foam type an inch thick.

  26. John Cadd on 11 March 2020 at 3:39 pm

    Keep on pontificating Paul . It`s all about who you are and why you like to help us all .That`s your personality and we appreciate the thought you put into your work . Nothing wrong with having personal opinions .
    A polite Welshman would say “As to that , there is more than one opinion ” Plenty of room on the internet for millions of opinions .
    Press on regardless .

  27. Sylvain on 11 March 2020 at 4:07 pm

    – When working in the vise, as Paul does, the thickness of the piece is not relevant most of the time. The working height doesn’t change significantly.

    – If really needed, one can change shoes or walk on gratings/duckboard.

    – Adjustable workbenches are needed in school with young people from 12 to 18 year old instead of commercial 800 mm high workbenches which are too low for most of them.

  28. John Cadd on 13 March 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Today I received 3 chisels with orange plastic handles made by Bahco.
    Yesterday I had been getting an old Ward chisel into shape. The edges of the back had become rounded and needed work to get the edge in a straight line. Now it cuts like a razor. Comparing that with one of the new Bahcos , the back was very straight but near the edge there was a slight hollow between the corners. That needed a similar flattening effort to the Ward chisel . Very similar hardness against the diamond plate . Finally the cutting test was very similar to the Ward. I made a polishing surface from a piece of mahogany . Planed very flat and coated with metal polish . I chose the Bahcos after reading about Anton Berg chisels and assumed there was a pedigree in there .
    Strangely the whole blade was coated with lacquer . The bevel angle was about 40 degrees so I kept to that . The side bevelled edges are very thick.The thinnest part is about 1/8th inch . I can recpommend these even with orange handles. The mahogany polishing block gave a very quick mirror finish . All this time I`ve been messing around with softwood .

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