I think it’s more the strange thing to work still at an actual craft at my age. By that, I mean full time as a maker when the retirement years come and go. I don’t know any others that do, or, perhaps more accurately, I have yet to meet any that do. The internet gives a false reading in the use of the word ‘know’. In my world, I have met only a handful of true woodworkers with a long lifetime of working wood full time in the trade of crafting. The woodworkers I have met and do know to be so-called professionals may have just a year or two, maybe few more in some cases, under their belt, but they do seem to treat work-life more as, well, perhaps more a casual occupation than something that truly grabs them to where they just cannot put it down. That is how it has been for me for 55 years to date. The ones I once knew as ‘in the trade‘, so to speak, were similarly placed. They mostly loved the work they did.

When I left the UK to migrate to the US almost 40 years ago now, I still knew tradesmen making furniture and joinery. We didn’t need terms like hybrid woodworker and such. Nothing new about using hand tools and machines, we just did it. Those men mostly wore what we called bib and brace overalls. Sleeves were never short but always rolled-up when the day got hot. Fancy smarts and neckties made the distinction between workmen as did start and finish times. Those in offices started at 9, finished at 5 and took an hour for lunch. They could also make tea or coffee freely throughout the day. We started at 8 were allowed a half-hour lunch break and finished at 5.30. We also got paid an hourly wage of less money while the office workers were paid a fixed monthly salary. Jeans wore through from working in them. I wonder at what point they began to be manufactured with horizontal slits and wear patches that looked as if work-worn but someone on another continent was buzzing the wear in with abrasive sanders and probably those workers wondered why. The fake world of ‘looking like‘ you might work manually with your whole body obviously needed a few props–some built-in character to make you feel better about yourself–I guess–maybe! There became a sort of casualness about the whole thing when that actually wasn’t really the case in the 50s and 60s. Working clothes were something you bought from shops called The Army and Navy Stores and then hardware stores sold them too. Bib and brace overalls were neatly folded, starched stiff, pressed, and stacked in square, cubbyhole shelves behind the counter of the shop. You asked for them by size and colour options were either dark blue, brown or offwhite. Mostly they fit where they touched, which was two points on the shoulders where the straps hung the rest to your body. You certainly didn’t wear them to be accepted in your peer-group. Funny how the real becomes artificial and the artificial somehow manages to wheedle its way in to supplant it and the change becomes permanent. Lies always stand in truth’s stead! I see more men and women in pre-worn, unworked clothing looking like ragged trousered casualties of dereliction than I ever did actual manual workers. The jeans are always too tight to bend in and work from, even though made from the newer stretchier cotton weave.

And there is another casualty of our time. Most of the men I know aged 70 plus retired 10 years and more ago, or then more and less too. No matter, my hands, and muscle are not big and neither are they by any means small but they would be hard to match as far as resilience, strength and stamina go. I have no aches that stop me, though I might not jump from a great height down anymore, or over too wide a wide ditch so readily as I did when I was a slightly younger man. Imagine on Monday when I wake being almost unable to contain the excitement I feel about the woodworking I’ll make in an hour or so’s time, after a 15-mile bike ride, or then too, the planing of my wood. I will be out of breath, not sweaty, and I might need a periodic stop, but it will be honest work and I will swipe sawdust from my knees and belly now and then. Have I ever told you that one of my favourite machines is my bandsaw? No, it’s not a big bandsaw at 16″, but it’s all I ever need and I have never wanted a bigger one though I have used 30″ ones in my daily work with them. I use it for much of the resaw work though I do not run to it for every cut. Far from it. I say some of this to say that cultivating muscle seems more to permeate culture and people walk stiffly in a certain gait of rigidity I never witnessed in the world of working men and women. At what point did this thing happen? Hmm!

I started this post last Sunday evening and my blood pressure was 119/61, my blood sugar remained its average of around 6 throughout the day and I enjoyed a variety of weekend things including special family time, protocols in place, and respected, of course, gardening, and making things. Occasionally a Monday means a Bank Holiday but calling it that is not a celebratory issue so why a ‘holiday‘ is the term of reference I have yet to work it out. These are bonus days for me because they are days when I can usually get twice as much done because there are no interruptions. The artificiality of terminology is now multidimensional. Muscle is developed not to be used or employed, so to speak, in work, and clothing can be made to look worn through by use but comes from the manufacturer in Bangladesh or Turkey and elsewhere. Bank Holidays, a British term for a public day off work, hardly constitutes a holiday. Why not just public holiday anyway, no matter the root of it.

The fact that work itself should be something well worth celebrating should not need stating, but, of course, things have changed markedly with the working week starting at between 8 and 9 on a Monday and finishing at the end of the fifth day around 5 pm. For me, as a self employed man and an artisan, that’s just always been too late a start and early a finish time to get in a decent days graft. Not because I needed to work more to make enough money, but to give me more time working because I always found it hard waiting to start so late as 8 am and then finish so early at 5 pm. Between 6 and 7 am seemed a much better time to me and so did 6.30 pm with a restart after supper at 7.30 and going until around 10 or 11 pm. What I liked about the before-and-after-hours times was the lack of phone calls. The fire was lit on damp and cold days and I burned my shavings and offcuts of wood which I saved for those autumn days, winter freezes and cold and chilly starts to spring days. The kettle went on as soon as I arrived and I would glance over to look for the steam to rise from the spout ten minutes later. I always closed the evening with a larger log centred in the stove chamber and the stovepipe damper closed down. That kept the cold chill off and meant a good start for the kindling to kick in for a roaring kick-starter of a fire when I came in. Hot tea first thing is refreshing and essential to my wellbeing as well as the best way to start at the benchwork.

The fondest memories of woodworking are in the darker days and evenings of wintertime. Nothing equals watching my boys making their tools or their toys, furniture pieces and even instruments. Why at one time one of my young sons decided to make his own bed followed by his bedside table and a bedside lamp.

39 Comments

  1. John Cunneen on 22 June 2020 at 4:58 am

    Paul, starting at 8am. Luxury the four Yorkshireman would say.
    When I worked at factories in the 1970’s the start was 7am. When I was filling in for one worker I started at 6am.
    We wore jeans, t shirts, shirts and jumpers depending on weather. I wore soft shoes as I could not afford workbooks.
    The tradesmen wore overalls, leading hands a bit better with foremen in coats, usually blue. You clocked in and walked to your area. No stopping for a long chat as many seem to do. 9am, a short break, 12 lunch from that which you bought often leftovers on bread wrapped in paper.
    The old bags carried these to and from the factory. You walked to the train, caught a connecting bus and walked to the factory or back home. My first wage for 40 hours per week at 16 was $25.00 per week. With $1.25 deducted for tax each week. Even the guys at Cole’s got $60 per week.
    There were distinctions between tradesman and labourer, office worker and engineer. Poor apprentices were treated badly.
    I wonder how many potential tradesmen and women were bullied or could not justify the lower wages during their apprenticeship and worked somewhere else, even as a labourer.
    You were lucky, Paul, to find someone like a George who saw the light in you and fanned it gently and firmly, like lighting and caring for a fire.
    Your gifts took you further, the love of what you do is very important, but so is opportunity and the willingness to take chances, like uprooting your family and going to the US.
    Take care, we are here listening, reading and considering what you say and watching. We don’t always make a comment. Have no fear, we do hear you.

    • Ben on 22 June 2020 at 1:18 pm

      7 o’clock! I used to dream of starting at 7 o’clock. I need to wake up tomorrow at 4:50am and be working by six. I will then pick my son up from school at 3:00pm and come home and cook dinner for four. I will then wash up clean the kitchen and then get down the workshop for a couple of hours to play. I really appreciate those hours in the workshop.
      I’m making some architraves and shelves for the kitchen out of silky oak (Australian timber)

  2. Paul jackson on 22 June 2020 at 10:25 am

    You are right of course. People loved their work, before red tape, hr staff, and health and safety staff (see I was going to say men). I am almost 50 but have been in manual work for 33 years, I happily did a 12 hour shift with a 30 minute break, in my own work clothes, I used to bring my own tools in if the boss didn’t have one. All that is now frowned upon. I’m practically shoved out of the door after my 8 hours to be replaced by an equally automated human, having swapped my corporate overalls with matching hi viz stripes, and changed my hard hat and safety glasses for a bobble and driving glasses. I now have more time at home to do what I want in the shed!. However I remember when I would have gladly (and did do) work 18 hours for that boss and still turn up eager and willing the next day, he is long under the clay now, and I suspect it is the work of his children that has brought us to where we are, black and white photos of people (me included) grafting, blend into garish colour ones, as the past moves forwards old lorrys, flared pants and strange hairdos stare at us from the office corridor walls. A reminder of how it was. A kind of ‘look what it used to be like compared to now!’ I would go back in a breath.

  3. Ermir on 22 June 2020 at 10:36 am

    This article touches many different topics worth discussing further. I will try to be brief on this one (and I’ll fail):

    “Funny how the real becomes artificial and the artificial somehow manages to wheedle its way in to supplant it and the change becomes permanent.”

    This is true in a sad kind of way. The value of the real remains intact. Men who know it, uphold it and stand for it; every one in his own domain and in his own field of influence – like Mr. Sellers in woodworking and working in general (deeply appreciated!). Those who don’t know it, crave for it. Nothing can replace the real and a void remains inside. But others make a profit out of this craving, by way of deceiving. They sell the artificial and name it “real”. They sell a machine and name it “tool”. (How deceiving for me some years ago to eat the dust of the power router and not having the skill to make a chamfer by hand.) Unfortunately, it becomes permanent, because it creates dependency, addiction. Artificial substitutes are designed for that, especially when they have to do with the appearance. Fake worn jeans on fake muscles. …anyway, witnessing the real may have an engaging effect, even a shocking one, although the means may be a youtube video on hand planing or making a wall clock with a handful of tools. Making a bead with a screw!! Experiencing the real, on the other hand, is transformative, if the receptors have not been suppressed yet by the artificial.

    • Paul Boegel on 23 June 2020 at 7:15 am

      At 70 I am now retired and actually have the freedom to play in my shop every day. So many things I am doing now that I have the time not taken up by an hours drive each way and spending the day tied to a phone. I derive a great satisfaction from accomplishing a task with a hand tool that I am not able to do with a power tool. Sometimes that is the way of it and the young ones will eventually find that out when they have all the power tools they think they need and find they only do part of the job. I spent 3 hours today running a chainsaw to claim some Western Red Cedar. A friend owes me so I am cutting up this 40in dia log to make lumber out of. Perfect clear wood for Adirondack chairs that will add to the workshop account. I am tired but happy and can see that my efforts will eventually bear fruit. Rather than cut it all up I am going over to Lee Valley tools which is close to me here in Vancouver to pick up a Froe. The grain is straight so I think it better to actually split off the boards rather that waste a lot of wood to the chainsaw blade. Back to old school. In my case it is retirement that has allowed me to play with all the hand tools I have collected over the years that I never had the time to learn. There is joy to be gained when you pull off a perfect job with a hand tool that nobody you know has any idea of how to use it. Sad actually but we all make our choices. I am busy now and I like it that way. As well, people learn that you have tools and will come to you with jobs. Some have actually expressed an interest in learning to do some of this.

  4. Kenneth Rytter Jensen on 22 June 2020 at 11:29 am

    If you are looking for people that does not retire, look st other crafts like ceramists etc. As well as people making fine arts. A lot of those people never retire, unless the health stops them from working.

  5. Wayne Whalen on 22 June 2020 at 12:57 pm

    When i entered the work force in 1967 there were no radios allowed in the work place but today even the roofers have one blaring ungodly rackets up on the roof. I asked a man once who had a radio going in a shop i was in after they were allowed why he had to play it and he looked at me pathetically and said he couldn’t function without it. Makes one wonder what is going on in the heads of people today if anything at all. I’ve turned off more then a few noise boxes in the shops i worked in and dared them to turn them back on as long as i was there. God gave my mind to think, to solve problems, to inquire, learn and to be constructive. Not that i can’t sit down quietly and listen to some favorite songs at times when my mind is too tired to think once in a while but not when i need to focus on the job at hand. I enjoy thinking and when i say thinking i don’t mean sitting around worrying about the cares of life because i let them look after themselves. I build and construct in my mind before i ever put it to my hands. Anyhow enough said for now … i need to get back to thinking and do some work.

    • Richard on 24 June 2020 at 12:45 am

      I think before I start my woodworking, and so listening to the radio is both pleasurable and a non-issue for me. When I do need to think in the middle of a task, I can easily tune out any background music or noise. Of course, multi-tasking is not for everyone.

      The only “noise” I find troubling is music people blast in their videos…which does have an easy solution called “mute.”

  6. Rod Hughes on 22 June 2020 at 2:10 pm

    Good day Paul. Thanks as always for your thoughtful insights.
    At 63 years old I put on my overall and “turn to” pretty much every morning as a full time Lifeboat mechanic, generally around seven or half past.
    Thanks to your masterclasses I now have the joy of learning something of the craft of woodworking in the evenings.
    But you struck another resonant chord – of all the pleasures and delights granted to the working man and woman by bountiful Providence there are none to equal the first mug of tea of the day, and especially when it’s made in a shed!
    There’s just something so right about it.

  7. jay on 22 June 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Terrific seeing the pieces you built!!! Show us more – please.

  8. Thomas on 22 June 2020 at 3:21 pm

    Paul,

    A bit off-topic but I’d be interested to know if you have listened to Bob Dylan’s new album Rough and Rowdy Ways? The ruminations in this post immediately reminded me of it.

    Kind regards,

    • Paul Sellers on 22 June 2020 at 4:21 pm

      I haven’t, but thank you for the nudge.

  9. Tone on 22 June 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Father’s I knew of my Dad’s generation mostly did not make it to 65 before retiring, they had to retire earlier due to serious ill health, in their fifties, quite a few didn’t make it to 65 :(. When I started work, a Union representative advised a single colleague approaching retirement to get a lump sum because “men usually only live 2 years after retiring”. Thankfully things have improved remarkably since.

    I believe Swedish woodcrafter Wille Sunqvist carried on carving until he passed away recently in his 90s. He made a woodturning video / sloyd video in his 90s. So Paul, we’re looking to you to take that into the century 😉

    There is a remarkable chap on YouTube who took up violin making in his small garden shed after retiring as an engineer in the Midlands l think. He makes replicas of the two classic Cremona designs (Stradivarius and, I forget, maybe Amati?). His son made the video for posterity. Inspiring, much like yourself Paul 😉

    • Sean Fennell on 23 June 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Do you have a link?
      I searched Youtube but couldn’t find it.

  10. Paul on 22 June 2020 at 7:24 pm

    I learned to work in both my father’s construction business and my maternal grandfather’s print shop. But something I see missing today in too many folks, both young and old… the work ethic and an understanding that work has dignity and is considered by some to be a form of worship. A job well done, no matter how menial and who’s watching.

    The greatest reward… “Nothing equals watching my boys making their tools or their toys, furniture pieces and even instruments.” If only all fathers could leave such a legacy to their children.

    Blessings Paul!

  11. Bill on 22 June 2020 at 8:09 pm

    I once read a story about someone who had died and gone to a sort of heaven. He was taken to a computer where he played computer games forever, when he complained the authorities said “Well that is how you liked to spend your life on Earth so that is how you will spend eternity”. It struck me that there are two options, either this life is it and wasting time is well, wasted! Or there is an afterlife and if we are asked how did you spend your life? It might be a bit embarrassing to admit that you wasted it.

    Me, I am busy making things in my workshop, growing things and helping others. And 76 does not feel that old, except after a heavy day digging the garden.

  12. Tom B on 22 June 2020 at 8:16 pm

    So I have watched my weight, I walk on average ten miles a day between hiking through the woods, golfing , gardening around the house kayaking or building stone walls. My BP is 145/100 in the morning and drops down to 120/72 in the afternoon with medications. It’s hereditary, nothing to do with not exercising or being overweight. Just like diabetes can be hereditary so can high blood pressure. I went to a trade school to learn mechanics, hydraulic systems, electric and electronics. With advances in technologies my skills are obsolete now, even scrapping close tolerances with a carbide blade on machine ways once a very skilled trade is now obsolete.
    I wish I could have been a woodworker but there was no path in the 1970s to any kind of woodworking apprenticeship and so it would have been difficult if not impossible to make a living with no knowledge or experience.
    We all find our way in life, I’ll make no apologies to being an office worker Sales clerk, dishwasher, salesman, or metal cutting engineer during my working career. I don’t think anybody worth anything would think owning a pair of jeans that were ripped and had holes in them would make them seem like hardworking people. It’s more a “fashion statement” that gullible people believe in like tattoos and nose rings. It’s good that your around Paul, I have learned a lot over the years following your methods. But not everyone can follow the same path as you and arrive at the same place.

  13. Tom Kerns on 22 June 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Paul, it’s good to see you in your former milieu in the Texas Hill Country, most of it still unspoiled. My workshop hits the mid-nineties in these days approaching July, but I still manage a little time in the mornings and evenings to get some work done. Hard work belies my almost 87 years; I’m still learning and still doing.

    Tom Kerns
    San Antonio

  14. Martyn Legg on 22 June 2020 at 9:24 pm

    A lovely, poignant piece Paul, I’m sixty-two and three quarters as the kids say, started life late fourteen in what even then was an old joinery shop. Eight till six, an hour for lunch, nine till twelve on Saturdays, my first pay-packet was £4.95, £3.00 to mother and out on the town with the rest. Only recently, due to my wife’s cancer have I stopped working six and a half days a week, it seems odd, not to be so productive. With her health in mind, I have retired, which means I am now closer, but building another house on in our garden, The only thing I don’t do is skimming and making off the electric board before testing. I thank God for patient old guys who saw the same flicker of light they saw in you and were kind enough to pass on good ways and a desire to only produce the best, salt of the earth types. Where would I be without the trade skills that were drummed into me? I try to encourage work-shy clock and iPhone watchers to do what they love, leave the job if they hate it so much, find what lights them up, but somehow they would rather stay and grumble. I’ll be up at five-thirty tomorrow, itching to get going, gardening, painting the conservatory I built twenty-five years ago and progressing the build which will hopefully fund our retirement, if, God willing my Hez pulls through all this horror. It’s the dithering and doing that keep me sane and focused, the last time I put a tv on was Diana’s funeral, but I do love watching boatbuilding with Louis Sauzedde, no-dig veg growing with Charles Dowding and green oak construction with Roderick James, all guys that have no intention of stopping just because of age! All these skills can fill life to utter contentment and make it all worthwhile. Keep at it and keep writing, your stuff is always inspirational. Thanks for all you do.

  15. nemo on 22 June 2020 at 9:25 pm

    About a year ago I visited an uncle (nearly your age). He was completely overhauling his new house and garden at the time, all by himself. He was wearing old jeans with a large tear in them. I remarked that as he was getting older he was also getting more hip, following the latest fashion trends. Last week I visited again, he was wearing the same trousers. By now they were riddled with holes and tears from all the work. Told him he should sell it on E-Bay, people would go bananas for a pair of trousers like that. He’d be able to buy several new jeans with the proceeds! We had a good laugh about it.

    I recall when in the ’70s in kindergarten that if we had a hole in our trousers, our mothers would sew on a patch. Patches were sold (or sometimes included as gifts in women’s magazines) for that purpose, often of a little clown, an apple, orange, steam train or something else cheery and colourful. When you arrived at school next day with your newly-patched trousers, the other children would gather around to admire the patch, criticize, and show off their own. Badges of honour. Thriftiness and style at the same time.

  16. tayler on 22 June 2020 at 10:25 pm

    at 14 i was ‘asked’ to leave school. not that i felt i was particularly unruly, but rather totally uninterested in my peers or the education system. as a horse rider from the age of ten i was used to be up and about as soon as the light started breaking on the horizon or earlier. i spent the rest of my teen years working on stables, farms, factories etc. due to my failure in education i believed i was stupid, however, it turned out to be the opposite. at 20 i returned to school and began waiting tables to support myself. i took to hospitality like a duck to water, so to speak and progressed very rapidly into management where i usually worked 6 or 7 days each week and at least 12 hours a day. i loved it and and have run some of the best hotels of the day. in my 30’s a messy divorce and my childhood trauma finally catching up i suffered from severe depression and was no longer able to cope with the stress. it was at this time that i finally made a commitment to follow a dream of wood working that i had had dormantly simmering below the surface. after training under a wonderful old codger i set up as a one man shop in my garage making furniture on commission. like yourself i was never shy of long hours or hard work if i was enjoying what i was doing. i am now retired and still enjoy making pieces for myself and others. having a 100 year old 4000 sqft home on half an acre i have so much to do in maintenance that being bored isn’t an option. this was a long way to say i am disappointed with a large part of the younger generation. they in general seem reluctant to do any more than is required to the minimum standard (in the process earning no pride). rather than build up a sweat at work they will go to the gym, or spend hours on their phones. it is all so backwards now. in nz now it is hard for farmers to get staff, not that there is no unemployment, but because the hours and work seem to be excessive for youngsters to handle. yet if they got out there and enjoyed the benefits of simple labour in fresh air they might surprise themselves. anyway sorry for the rant lol.

  17. Lisa A Burt on 22 June 2020 at 11:15 pm

    I loved seeing the pictures of you as younger man (I said young-er, because you’re still young!) Keep on movin’ Paul, we need you out there!

  18. Jeff W on 22 June 2020 at 11:38 pm

    Paul
    I tried to enlarge the newspaper article from Texas and read about you as younger man. Did I read correctly that in your life’s journey you were a policeman? If yes, I am curious as to how that influenced you

  19. mark leatherland on 23 June 2020 at 12:02 am

    Great Blog as usual! And likewise I have also enjoyed reading the comments.

    Its great to have a little moan about the pre stressed jeans. I was flabbergasted when i first saw these on a hanger in a shop, though yesterday I saw a funny sight of someone wearing their jeans so that you can see almost all of their underpants down their backside. We’ve all seen this right? But this guy must have been mid-thirties at least! We all need a laugh and this guy did it for me.

    Your work ethic reminded me again of my ol’ Gramps. He prided himself of being able to work harder than others. He boasted that he made his hands bleed hoeing weeds on a farm to make sure he did more than anyone else and as a soft earth minor he said 2 blokes couldn’t keep up with clearing what he alone dug off of the face.

    Such a contrast to some of my mates at the time who worked at Rover and their boast was about how little they could get away with and be annoyed if they had to work a bit harder than their colleagues.

    Different generation, and as my ol’ Gramp used to joke with me when i had blisters on my relatively soft hands…. ‘they don’t make ’em like they used to’. I loved my Gramps.

  20. Elwood Gilliland on 23 June 2020 at 7:24 am

    Mr. Sellers, I recently became aware of your website and appreciate the quiet thoroughness, sincerity, and accuracy of your presentations. This past February I turned 80 and have never really retired. I have been doing carpentry and woodwork since I was a young child – although not professionally. I opted to follow my father in the electrical trade, but he was a highly skilled woodworker and machinist as well. My maternal grandfather was a lifelong carpenter and built three or four houses a year all with hand tools and just one helper. When he retired he gave me all of his hand tools, most of which were completely worn out, but several of those I still use. Over the past 40 plus years – working almost entirely alone – using a lot of recycled material or purchasing a little lumber every payday, I built our home, the cabinetry, and a good bit of the furniture. I work some every day; I can’t imagine not working. I look forward to reading your future posts as well as those from years past. Thank you.

  21. Stuart Woodcock on 23 June 2020 at 7:25 am

    Im right at the other end of the scale when it comes to keeping “normal” hours. After years of getting up early 6 – 7am to get to work via train or car I have again succumbed to university hours. Having worked in and out of the university system for much of the last 25 years as a student and/or lecturer.
    My hours are out of bed around 11am to 2pm, first check emails, sit outside in thd breezeway and read for a while glancing at whag next has to be done on the table I am building.
    Yes, i am the consumate night owl. Last night around midnight found me boring and driving 8 140mm holes and gluing the dowels in for the foot of the table leg.
    In a world full of rules and must haves and must do,s it is my last bastion of rebellion that i get up when i want and sleep when i need to. I will however wake early if i need to go buying or looking for tools and wood for a project 🙂

  22. Thomas Glover on 23 June 2020 at 9:02 am

    Hi, well to be honest when do you give in and throw in the towel just cause you hit the “ retirement “ age what that’s mean you sit on your arm chair and sit and wait till the end of days.

    There’s some people out there that needs mental stimulation that when they retired and did nothing within 6 months they have become mind numb almost like a potato. Obviously if you have health conditions and what not don’t mean you have to
    Be as productive as you would of 20-30 years ago but at least doing something is better than do nothing.

    The main thing if you enjoy doing something and it’s not a chore, then don’t stop it just continue doing it.

  23. Samuel on 23 June 2020 at 11:17 am

    Training as a child and what you are thinking about and have decided to think about.
    How hard it is to get thoughts working later and with a body that is now degraded by the lifestyle you’ve chosen.
    I don’t think of the divide tho between the white collar person and blue collar. I see the system as being flawed and misery being institutionalised.
    Why are we here? What is can we see and hear around us?
    These questions are being removed from life by the changing world and even the desire to answer them fades away.
    Life is not work, I hate this vibe – just because u work all hours is all hot air. Life is doing a lot of work towards something worthwhile.

  24. James Vibert on 23 June 2020 at 2:46 pm

    I think it boils down to the definition, no, the belief that work and the joy of doing get intermixed in our perception of “earning a living”. I’m in my ninth decade now and still making shavings. Albeit much slower than in my younger years but still hanging in there. You should also. By my standards you are still a youngster.

  25. Nathan F Jones on 24 June 2020 at 3:06 pm

    The ‘Bib and brace’ overalls. Never did I see ‘Fred’, my pa, a carpenter and to lesser degree a furniture maker in anything else.
    As a young boy I thought that was just what men wore!!. Most things you have spoken about in your post Paul remind me of better times, the fires, the tea, early starts the dark/cold nights working, there is a under lining spirit in some much of what you said. I get it.
    An understanding, an honesty in simplicity and living in sync with every moment.
    Creating never let’s the soul down, even when it does it’s only a lesson to be learnt.
    Thanks 🙏 Paul

  26. Bob Jones, Lafayette, CA on 26 June 2020 at 1:25 am

    Paul, would you include David Charlesworth for consideration? Still teaching full-time, and making the occasional beautiful example of craftsmanship. No, he doesn’t charge money for his pieces anymore, but he expounds an excellence of method the woodworking world, in my opinion, cannot do without. I turn to both him and you regularly for guidance on my journey as a serious hobbyist.

  27. Mark D. Baker on 26 June 2020 at 3:56 am

    Aloha Paul ,
    Those were the day, my friend, long nights feeling the pain of a good day’s work. handsome men, too tired to be kept awake . Our wives slept nearby hugging our bruised bodies, hearing our calls to work or aid a injuried one . All a blur now. but , what works we were able to do!
    Give me a sharp plane, a good saw, a piece of wood , and away we worked!

    • Marty on 4 August 2020 at 10:37 am

      My wife, a fine woman who has been at the same job working from her home office now over 40 years is astonished men are often willing to abuse our bodies for years on end just to earn a living. What I do now in the garage shop is a labor of love, a far cry from the years I spent poisoning myself and going to hospital emergency rooms with life threatening injuries for peanuts. I still expose myself to potential serious injuries daily and so we pays our money and takes our chances for the rare moment of happiness and a fine days work producing something others can only dream of having. That dream is a bit different for all of us, but always worth the pursuit.

      • Marty on 4 August 2020 at 10:44 am

        I often wonder how many people get to work hard all day and at the end of that day look back with absolute pride and joy at what they’ve accomplished. Fewer and fewer people toil away and get this sense of accomplishment of making something that can be handed down from generation to generation. Most just punch the clock and want nothing more than to completely forget their day. I want to remember every day now and share its fruits.

  28. Frank on 28 June 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Grow the beard again, Paul.

  29. Marty on 2 July 2020 at 9:57 am

    I’ll be 61 this month and it astonishes me just how much the world of work has changed over the years. I started out as a commercial artist, but that occupation soon gave way to computers pretty much laying waste to the old art supply houses that sold all manner of high quality products for the trade and automation has done the same for many a trade.
    It’s nearly impossible these days to take a quick drive across town to find good quality working tools for a reasonable price. The only one in town where I live pretty much has me priced out of the market.” Quality” hand tools are now what was once the junk nobody sold and the real junk has taken the place of the cheap tools. Soon I almost expect to see screwdrivers made of butter or better yet, margarine.
    Anyway, I work all day most days from sun up till past sun down in my unairconditioned and unheated shop where few people want to venture.
    Today was a particularly hot day with more than plenty of humidity in the air so I was covered with sweat and sawdust. A customer stopped by and seemed to audibly gasp to see this old man working so hard in the heat and mess. To me it was just another day. I’m surprised they didn’t whip out their phone to take a video to post about the rarest of things, an old man working with his hands in the hot summer day.

  30. Michael Muschal on 8 July 2020 at 8:36 am

    Paul, I discovered you very recently while surfing the web to started in woodworking. Some decades ago I had tried building a few projects with power tools, but was more afraid of losing digits than building skills.
    I was delighted to see that you had published a books and a set of DVDs, but disappointed that they were no longer available. I did find someone selling that set on Ebay, and for only $33.95. Too good to be true, but thinking maybe it could be true, I tried to buy the set. After making the purchase, the seller sent me a link that I could download both the books and DVDs.
    I did not want a digital copy of your work, so I tried unsuccessfully to cancel the order.
    My question to you, are you aware than your work is being sold this way? I have not yet downloaded anything, because I suspect the seller is stealing your intellectual and copyrighted material.
    If it is legit, then I will download. Please advise.

    • Paul Sellers on 8 July 2020 at 10:19 pm

      It’s not legit, Michael. Just another internet parasite.

      • Michael Muschal on 9 July 2020 at 11:46 am

        Thanks, Paul. I reported that to Ebay. I expect they’ll close him up.
        Found your Essential Tools book and DVD at Rocksmith LTD. Looking forward to reading and following your guidance.
        Michael

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