I’m Happy!

Occasionally I take a short break from blogging because it gives me time to renew myself. I love to blog, don’t get me wrong. What I don’t like to do is churn out meaningless words just for the sake of indulging my writing. Same on other platforms too but especially is this so in my blog space and YouTube because what I say means more to me when I know that it’s truly changing perspectives people might have and thereby changing lives.

Whereas many express their preference for me to stick purely to woodworking, that I do not digress along rabbit trails like this one, but the truth is, these rabbit trails are as much about my life as a woodworker as actual woodworking itself. I do understand the desire for more information about something you are all fairly passionate about, but without nature, interest in people, pastoral considerations, cooking my own food and gardening for food and such, I think we often leave people behind. For me, woodworking is as much about people understanding the reasons we work wood and the therapy of working with our hands as it is the beautiful tenon that fits the pristinely into its mortise hole, or the newly made coffee table that graces a home. I can recall the delivery of a clock I once made as a gift and then a rocking chair I made from curly maple where the new owner was a friend who told me a month after she had commissioned it that she had bequeathed it back to me in her will should anything happen to her.

Another time I wrote of changed lives through the restoration of a smoothing plane when a man changed his drug habit and dealing drugs to support his habit to become a woodworker. What of the other, a man, or two, or three, those who had several heart-bypasses who improved their heart conditions so much and so rapidly that the consultants were amazed by their heart’s amazing transformations to good health. They traced it back to a direct correlation woodworking had to create a natural exercise program when hand tools become the preferred means of making.

Everything from heart to mind and mental wellbeing may well come from the tool’s cutting edge in simple tasks like planing and sawing. As I took a bit of a sabbatical this last week or two through the COVID-19 issue I found myself in deep reflection that it is important to reconcile the whys of why we do things and discover that too goes far beyond just making. I have enjoyed all of the tools I have garnered over the years and storing them safely is not only my ambition but my sanity and wellbeing because I am not yet quite done with them.

42 thoughts on “I’m Happy!”

  1. Well said, good sir. I enjoy your talk about leisure as much as I enjoy your woodworking instruction. Take care during these unpleasant times.

  2. Thomas Redfern


    Slightly off-topic, but do have any further updates on your use of the cheaper diamond plates you mentioned previous blogs? Just wondering if you are still using them and how they’re holding up.

    Kind regards,

      1. Thomas Redfern

        That’s good to hear. I think I’ll buy some, as I can’t really afford the DMT or EZE Lap ones.

        Thanks for your reply.


          Thomas, Don’t hesitate to buy the cheap plates, they work fine. I have been using these for about three months myself and haven’t touched my water stones since.
          Tape them onto something flat, make yourself a strop and you’ll never look back.
          Razor-sharp in two minutes or less.

    1. Please share the source for these stones as I must have been dozing and missed the discussion. A link to the discussions would be greatly appreciated and gratefully received as well.


  3. Brian the golfer.

    Hi Paul. Just want to let you know you have cost me a fortune. Three months ago I did not possess a plane. Now I have a collection after restoring an old Stanley that I bought on eBay based on some advice I received ( from you ). I have also bought old saws, chisels, and sharpening equipment after watching your videos. I used the money I had for holidays that were cancelled this year for obvious reasons. It was the best investment I ever made. I now have the tools if not the talent ( yet ) to enjoy woodworking for the rest of my life. I now go out to the garage just to plane an old piece of timber and to see the shavings come off from a plane I restored and blade that I sharpened myself. Guess where I learned how to do that. I am looking forward to taking on some projects to develop my skills. Now I don’t need a holiday. I have a garage instead.

    1. Hmm! Don’t you really mean I saved you a fortune as well as all our fingers and eyes, hearing, etc? Hehe!

      1. Brian the golfer

        Not sure I understand your point Paul. What I was saying is I don’t regret a single penny and if i do have a regret it is that I did not do it years ago. I have found something that I really enjoy and will hopefully continue to develop for years to come. I also need to work on my self control to stop looking for bargains in tools on eBay 🙂

        1. Hello Brian. I think Paul simply means that by following his advice to buy and restore used but good quality tools you will have saved a fortune against what you’d have paid for new, possibly inferior, items.

        2. @Brian the golfer, I think what Paul meant was he also saved you from woodworking with power tools!

        3. @Brian the woodworker 😉

          Post your first project on WWMC gallery goodness. Next thing you know, you may be making violins, or bookcases, or tables, or rocking chairs, or toys…or golf clubs.

        4. Michael Michalofsky

          Please stop looking on eBay for tool bargains!
          Leave the bargains for me

          1. Stephen McGonigle

            Antique shops and centres, this is where the bargains are to be had. I know it sounds counterintuitive but most antique dealers have a bit of a blind spot regards tools. They’ll charge a fortune for something that isn’t particularly special or even complete simply because the wood waxes nicely and it has brass fittings to polish. Meanwhile I’ve repeatedly found great items that are actually usable for next to nothing, often in a box or bucket tucked away.
            At the recently reopened Victoria Mill Antiques Centre in Congleton I bought a beautiful S&J panel saw dating from the 1950s for £8.00. Two lovely bevelled chisels cost me £10, and there was a bucket of old tools which were around £1 to £2 each, and this provided three lovely screwdrivers or turnscrews if you will. All were clean which made appraisal really easy.

    2. Roger L. Anderson

      Hi Brian, How fun to read of someone who is taking a similar path toward fine woodworking as I did. I ‘retired’ from running a small business @ age 70 and was pretty much ‘stocked up’ on hobbies at that time….and watched one of Paul’s video’s on restoring a hand plane. (who knew they needed sharpening from time to time?) I lapped a suite of old Stanley planes and moved on to hand saws….then to some shop furniture. Then a replica of an old woodworking bench that weighs nearly 400#. And starting working toward making some actual furniture for the house. A set of chairs inspired by George Nakamura’s Conoid Chair now sit around the kitchen island. They were WAY over my head skill-wise…but hell, I once built a 3-mast schooner with no prior experience. It’s all in what we think we can do….or can’t do. (Either way, yer right!) You’ve got some good fun in your future. Me too! -Veteran ’66-68

  4. Terry Bohannon

    I enjoy reading your blog. It inspires me, even though I am just starting out, to reflect more deeply about what I’m doing, and why. I tell my wife and son about what I learn and they know who I mean when I speak of the wood working philosopher.

  5. Reading what you have said about the man with the heart condition hit home. I recently took up this hand tool approach to my woodwork but I also found out that I have a heart condition.
    I was ready to put the tools away until I read your blog.
    This may be the greatest words of encouragement ever spoken to me.
    I will return to my small shop and do my best to make woodworking my rehabilitation.
    Thank you so much and God bless.

    1. Rick Selby, that’s great to hear, keep at it, keep moving and making. God bless!

  6. BackYardJackOfAllTrades

    Paul and his team, I also try my best to limit my communications with family members. Sometimes I say too much and I know that they nor I have any time in our busy schedules to listen or read what I am sending out. I watch your videos when I am at work and place the close captions on so not to bother others on my journey. At this moment I’m into cement work and making wooden frames for my pavers. I cannot afford the “High-End” items sold so I decided to make my own. I am also trying to make a pattern to press onto the pavers before it hardens. So many things are attributed to you even carving. The only way I can regenerate myself is to reduce my time texting relatives and focusing on the objective at hand. You have tons of blogs and videos that I haven’t even had a chance to read. I’m still watching your first workbench and learning from it each time. The only issue now are the commercials on YouTube which throw My thought pattern off. I’m glad I had watched before some analysts found another way to stop me whilst walking in the street. Please if you take a sabbatical I do understand and believe the public understands also. The best thing is that you have a team that can speak for you and even show their lessons learned.

    1. No commercial interruptions on woodworking masterclasses!
      There’s so much free content that it’s hard to get to the paid. But I like the idea of supporting Paul’s work and team.

  7. Thanks Paul. I enjoy reading what you write. I always figure if I don’t want to read something, I can skip it without commenting to you. Speaking of comments, I have a couple of general thoughts:

    1. I am focused on woodworking and enjoy it. I also see where blacksmith and leather work could be appealing. Have you ever done any woodworking you’ve done some customized metal work on leather incorporated into the piece?

    2. Speaking of muscles. Though not my heard, the other day, for some reason, I noticed that my biceps and triceps are noticeably firmer (not that they will be mistaken for a body builder arms but that isn’t my goal) after nearly 5 years of hand tool woodwork. I was pleased. by this. Also, I noticed that my hands no longer feel really sore after a weekend of woodworking. You are right that our bodies do adapt and become stronger.

  8. Paul, I enjoy your “rabbit trail” side trip blogs, it’s like sitting with a friend and getting to know them better and forming a closer bond. I’d dare to say not unlike how you got to know George and came to respect and cherish his wisdom. To many of us, you are our “George”… Don’t change a thing in your blogging.

    1. My sentiments exactly. Please don’t change anything Paul. I truly love reading your thoughts and “philosophies” towards life.

  9. Dear Paul.
    Thank you for an inspirational and uplifting post.
    There was a man called Mr Calderwood who was a wonderful craftsman and did his level best to teach me woodworking at Grammar School but I was young and foolish, besides being already on my path to being a mechanical engineer. I’m afraid I was disrespectful and took the Mickey, even calling him by his nickname “Knocker”.
    You have taught me a great deal through your YouTube channel and blog and not just about woodworking. I’ve learned to pay attention with a little humility. How I wish now I had been so attentive to Knocker Calderwood half a century ago.
    I’ve rediscovered the joy of toolmaking too. I tried your penny washer method for cutting dowels but it didn’t do too well with the recycled 200 year old mahogany I’m working with. So I have made a tool from scrap steel flatstock to make dowels from 6 to 9mm and it works nicely. Just a slight twist on your idea.
    Into the box with it, beside the bevel gauge I made last week!
    I’ve just washed my hands but I still have the faint scent of RTD cutting oil on me, which I love. What a very happy afternoon in the workshop.
    It’s generous of you to spend so much time on teaching us and giving the benefit of your experience to so many. I’ll never match your skills but I’m grateful to you for it.
    Take care and thank you.
    Kindest regards;

  10. Brian the Golfer says, ‘I now go out to the garage just to plane an old piece of timber and to see the shavings come off…’

    I do that too. Does that make us ‘nerds’?

    I’ve just started doing hand tool woodwork for the first time since leaving school in 1962. Between then and now it’s just been standard DIY with chipboard, MDF, B&Q timber, and power tools. Two things happened: I was getting fed up with the noise and dust, and the lack of connection with what I was doing; the other thing was that my mitre saw ate one of my fingers!

    I got back into the groove by practising – planing square and true, sawing square and true, mortise and tenons, etc. I then made a small 4 ft by 2 ft Shoji panel, made some rice glue, then covered it with Shoji paper. It turned out OK, so now I’m making a Shoji room divider.

    Like Brian, I’ll often nip down the the garage and plane a piece of wood. I find it relaxing, and I love the whistling sound a sharp plane makes as it takes off a thin shaving. The other sound I like is the tapping sound when I adjust the plane iron on a wooden plane.

    Can’t get used to putting the plane down on its sole though. Mr Norman, my woodwork teacher, would have a fit.

  11. Paul Smithies

    Thanks Paul, your calm words put things into perspective, I was angry tonight when I got home, I’ve lost my phone (probably locked at work) so no access to Facebook, since I’ve never logged in on the tablet I’m using, and can’t remember the password. I’ve been enjoying some woodworking groups on there.
    I am making a simple shelf for my mother in law, and went out to the garden and made the supports using a spokeshave and a file to shape them. Gradually as I worked the wood the stress levels dropped, came in read your blog and now feel relaxed

  12. I get almost as much reading the comments of my fellow apprentices as i do from trying to imitate the master’s work.

    I am working on a beehive build from horizontalhive.com which the Dr. Sharashkin builds from scrap lumber. I had some from an old pine waterbed headboard. I am still learning the knifewall and to crosscut well but i managed to get some clean crosscuts!!! Accuracy!

  13. Paul, your work and words are inspirational, keep at it, so many of us guys don’t have close friends or mentors. We’re islands, watching from afar, appreciating your time and encouragement. Don’t go putting down any pens or planes just yet… 🙂

  14. Dear Paul,
    About 4 years ago, your videos inspired me to begin woodworking. I’ve since collected about 1000 pounds of Stanley, Record, and Disston (and other old tools) for about $1000. I think. I really don’t care anymore, because I’ve only bought a few things I don’t need.
    The things I’ve built and done in the last 3 years makes it all worthwhile. I still drink and curse like a sailor, but I work with wood like an Englishman.

  15. Hmm…
    U can have a break sure…we’ll allow it.
    But not too long.
    Oh Fagan?!,!
    “You can go but be back soon..”

  16. Godfrey Millinson

    Dear Paul,
    Your happy ! But just look at the amount you have spread around to generate the lovely comments that are coming back to you !
    Thank you.

  17. I loved the rocking chair. Beautiful shape, beautiful grain and so inviting. I could spend many a happy hour in one. Would it count as exercise I wonder?

  18. I had to return to this. Apart from the wonderful figuring, the shapes of the components and their cross sections vary delightfully in three dimensions. I think it is a real masterpiece.

  19. Your passion is an inspiration!

    The craftsmanship you display when you talk about your products with the evidence in the final product is astounding.

    I think sometimes people forget why handmade products are a sign of quality.

  20. Paul – Thank you for opening your heart to us. I took up woodworking last summer as a means of dealing with the daily stress in life. I found quickly how satisfying it is to produce something besides powerpoint presentations after 25+ years in the corporate world. I wrote in my journal how therapeutic it is to hand plane a piece of wood without care or concern for the outcome. Then I discovered YouTube and your videos and a host of others like you (if you study YouTube woodworking like I do you may realize there are more people like you than you think). Lifestyle Woodworking is the perfect term for this and it is essential to share the why and the how which as you say includes the non-wooden aspects of life including gardening, cooking, nature and generally connecting with the earth. Thanks for sharing all aspects of your journey. <3

    1. I’m currently working on a new design for a new one for the houseful of furniture.

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