All in a Week!

Finishing my projects seems always to open up new possibilities. Between now and Christmas my plans are many and diverse. Planning becomes more important as there are only so many hours in a day, so much energy available to me and of course spending relief time is critical.

Mostly my relief is in the work I do and the nature that surround me. Stepping out of the workshop door I am literally 100 yards from wild land in recovery and the ponds and lake where the kingfishers dart and the water voles plop. Nuthatches and treecreepers entertain me as do a mass of other birds. It’s migration time and that always brings along some sport. The regulars from Scandinavia, the fieldfares, seem always to invade so I watch for them ravaging the treetops for berries and bobbing along in the fields and rough grass for invertebrates!

This week I put the toolboxes to bed and started the rocking chair, but I also dismantled some large pallet wood for building my winter garden project, a new greenhouse. This will be 8 feet by 12 feet by 8 feet tall at the apex.

Similar to the one I am building.

I am looking forward to extending my gardening season and starting off my seeds early this coming season. Even though Idid have a good garden these past months I felt that the Covid caught me out with supplies and suppliers taking advantage of shortages. My onions and shallots and garlic are already in the ground.

So the pallets I retrieved from leaning by the skip cleaned up well with my scrub and jack planes. These were made up from seven pieces 75mm by 75mm (3″ x 3″s), enough to do my end frames with the pinnacle point at 8 feet. I cannot believe that these pallets are a one-time-use item but that’s my gain. I love the DIY of retrieval. To me, the best part is where DIY and recycling piggyback and come into tandem with my lifestyle woodworking. It’s the search; I love the hunt. That search-eye that spies out the wood and stops you on your bike to detour. So glad I don’t have a Lexus or a Teslar!!! I love sliding wood into my car, a car I bought for exactly that purpose. Long enough to take eight-foot lengths, square and blocky enough to take most furniture and pallets too.

My greenhouse wood collection so far
How it planed up!

Sweeping away the waste of a week’s work, sharpening up the tools I used last is the therapy I need for the conclusion of a project. There are few things more satisfying than cleaning up after a project. This for me is the release and relief of manual work.

I remember flying in from delivering the White House pieces. The first thing I did was see my family, of course, but then I went to the workshop to dismantle the stands I had built to build the pieces on.

We had meticulously leveled and fixed the bases to the wooden floor of the workshop to ensure everything was perfectly aligned throughout the build. I swept and cleaned, sharpened, and put away my tools. This recalibration in my mind gave me cause for thankfulness. Little did I know then that these two pieces would be my last pieces to be made in the USA. Little did I know then that six months later I would be leaving the US to live back in the UK. My sweeping gave cause for remembering just how the work had been accomplished in so short a time. The obstacles I and others had faced. I remember picking up a Veritas low-angle jack plane and feeling so grateful for its performance in fitting dozens of mitres in highly-figured mesquite. My number 4 Stanley, the one I had bought when I was 15 years old that cost me £3.50, a full weeks wage back then, sat on my bench, sole down, waiting for the next work. These things passed through my mind as I rejoiced at the victory in delivering those beautiful pieces.

Oh! I didn’t forget my granddaughter’s birthday today! She’s two today and I made a few things for her from my offcuts. She’s a creative, a maker and a baker, and a grower! These things are all in my life today and I am so thankful.

30 thoughts on “All in a Week!”

  1. Things I’ve been happy about. I saw a gilgie, I saw a golden orb spider, I read a book last week pretty easily for a change so I have to exercise that as a habit.
    My pear tree put on its first shoots in the ground. I’m not entirely broke.
    I know some kind people.

  2. My father passed a year ago, he was a joiner, I never grew up with him but he left me all his hand tools. I have all the gear but no idea as they say, I bought the book and I follow the YouTube channel and other webpages, they are a great resource, I’ve learned how to sharpen chisels freehand, plane blades, spokeshave, I’ve made a spatula, a spoon, a cutting board, a cutting board with a handle, a bowl, and currently making a three legged stool. I’m almost 40 and I wonder if I can make some sort of go at being a hand tool woodworker?

    1. Thomas, I’d say yes to that! Unless you’re lucky it won’t happen overnight, but if you start with making modest stuff for family and friends – birthday, Christmas, wedding presents – your skill and confidence will grow along with customers. I’m 72, and have ALWAYS struggled to dovetail in working full-time, running a home and family, gardening etc. with my woodworking. Even if you don’t make a full-time job of it, or make a lot of money you’ll still be richer for learning the skills. Good luck.

    2. I am you age and new to woodworking. I have really loved the small amount of hand tool woodworking I have been able to do between my job and helping my wife with our kids. If you have the time and resources to keep doing it I have a feeling you won’t regret it.

    3. To all those “starting out” with woodworking, you are blessed to have this wonderful resource. You can and will build your own skills and make amazing things, a few may not be “perfect”, but they are all important, and you created them. Please trust me not one piece bought in or flat-packed to be knocked together will ever give you the pride and joy of something you create with your own hands.

      And there is no time limit, remember that. There maybe a deadline to get the project done, but the joy of working and creating can and will take the rest of your days. Enjoy every minute, don’t stress about the deadlines and the quest for perfection, you will get there, and realise that the whole point of all of it, was the journey, not the ending.

      Thank you Paul, yet again your words resonate with me, and encourage me to do more.

  3. It would be great to see the greenhouse as a Masterclass build in due course.

    My onions and garlic are just beginning to poke through up here in South Yorkshire.

  4. Gee Paul, I just built a semi solar greenhouse this summer, mostly from reclaimed material. It only has glass on the south side and west end. Hopefully you can view the picture. Most of lumber was from crates being thrown away where I worked. I brought them home, dismantled ans stored the lumber in my barn. The windows are old double pain 5/8 inch thick sliding patio doors that had been replaced because the seals broke and they fog up a little. Still good for letting sunlight in and keeping cold out. I also put a rain barrel inside catching roof water so I don’t have to carry water for the plants.

  5. Montana Channing

    Greenhouse should be a little wider than example shown or you will find you bumping into yourself every time you turn around. I always wanted a greenhouse but no money. I built a summer one here in Maine out of plastic pipe 12 ft wide by 32 feet long and tall enough in the center for me (6’6″) for $80. Down end of pipe went in holes bored in scrap 2×8. Covered it in Professional greenhouse plastic for another 80. The end of the day we put it up, we had a freak windstorm with winds of 50mph but we had gotten the plastic drum tight so no problem.
    So, make it a little wider. You’ll be glad you did.

    1. I don’t mean to be rude to you, Montana, but you tell me you’ve never owned a greenhouse but advise me to make it wider because I will find myself bumping into myself. I won’t. You then tell me you built a plastic tunnel 12′ by 32′ from bent water pipe and commercial plastic. In my world, and dare I say for a growing number of eco-conscious people, I generally but not in all cases, see plastic as more a temporary, cheap solution and something in today’s climate to be avoided wherever possible. Half my garden would be gone if I put something that size there. Here’s the thing though. I stood inside the depicted greenhouse, bigger than I wanted, and found ample space for my long term needs. It was indeed all that I wanted. Surely building any structure is about space availability and individual need, together with cost. Building a domed plastic tunnel is very different than increasing the span on a wooden structure supporting glass. I’ll go with my original plan. It will be just fine.

  6. Than you so much for another sharing of your moments and your history, especially the ones about rescuing resources. I grew up on a small farm in Western Kansas, with my grandfather’s old plows and equipment parked down in the draw and my great-grandfather’s (blacksmith) iron storage rack standing behind the grainery – both were sources of raw material in times of need, even if the dimensions weren’t quite right.
    In the early 70’s I read a book by an old New Englander whose mantra was ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without’. He espoused basic principles like maintaining your tools, cleaning shovels and rakes after use, and oiling and protecting tools before putting away for the winter.
    As a result I have spent my lifetime (now 69) ‘saving’ things, re-purposing items and looking for ways to use what I have rather than buying new. It does my heart good to see you rescuing items and putting them to new use.
    Keep up the good work, be safe, and enjoy the upcoming holiday season. Love the Master Classes, btw – so much to take in and absorb.

  7. At 65 I’ve turned back to carpentry this year to take my mind away from all the horrible things going on at the moment around the planet. The only tool I have left from my fathers collection who died when i was 9 is a marking gauge with a spike so worn out it barely works and an end chewed off by an errant dog years ago. I guess one of the first things then is to make myself some gauges I’ve followed your sharpening videos and have spent a few days resurrecting and restoring my tool box which has only been used for DIY for more years than I care to remember. I’ve also been heavily into re-purposing and have an impressive collection of pallets. Over the winter I intend to build some garden trugs and planters to get my hand back in but first on the list will surely be the plywood bench. Thank you so much for sharing your working and leisure time with us. Really appreciated and just gives us time to stop, listen, breath… and carry on.

  8. Hello Paul,

    I’ve had a wooden greehouse for twenty years that’s only 8×6 but I’ve found gives me most of what I need. 12 x 8 would be a good improvement. I’ve never had any problems as it’s cedar , but I’ve seen some softwood ones rot fast because of the nooks and crannies. I suppose it would need a good preservative.

  9. Hopefully on your treasure hunts you’ve also found plenty of old glass panes. Takes quite a few square metres of glass to build a greenhouse. I often see complete glass windows in the building skips around here.

    It was only the previous weekend that I pulled out the tomato and sweet-pepper plants after picking the final fruits. A cold greenhouse really extends the growing season. Just measured it, it’s 2 x 5 metre. Large, but all space tends to get used. I’ve never had any issue with bumping into things. It basically consists of two smaller aluminium-framed greenhouses (2×2.5 m) attached end-to-end to create a larger space. But do make sure you properly anchor it to its foundation, because even in this built-up area, completely surrounded with trees and houses, there’s still plenty of wind (turbulence, rather) to move the greenhouse off its foundation, before I anchored it down more properly. Your garden seems much more open and wind-exposed than mine. Your wooden design looks much, much lovelier than my utilitarian-ugly aluminium-framed one, but I’d be worried about the wood rotting, with all the heat and humidity.

    Either way, make sure it’s big enough to put in a chair, small table and a few books. In springtime, when it’s still rather cold outside, the greenhouse makes for a wonderfully warm and quiet space to read or otherwise relax.

    BTW, the mentioning of greenhouses stirred a thought in me: boomerangs! Don’t recall you making one, would make a wonderful project and toy for children after they’ve outgrown the sandbox and the hissy-snake. Spent quite a few hours in my youth crafting wooden boomerangs. Most even returned. I hesitate to tell why greenhouses will in my mind be forever associated with boomerangs.

    1. A boomerang that doesn’t return is called a ‘stick’… at least that’s what I called them

  10. Mr. Sellers, thank you again! After watching your video on the 078 rebate plane, I have since purchased one for my self from ebay, after dealing with blade, used it with much excitement, most of my stock know has rebated ends!! What a great find,will be using on a project next couple of days. What’s the best way to hold the little three sided spur cutter to sharpen it?

  11. Hi Paul — I’m curious why the low-angle jack plane was the preferred tool for the mesquite. I have a low-angle jack plane and a couple Stanley #4s, but I’m too inexperienced to say why I choose one over the other in various situations.

  12. Always a good good read on here. A problem I’ve wrestled with since making my first teapot stand at age 12 (I’m now 72) is that because I spent all my working life in industry, my time spent on woodworking was split into chunks. Rarely did I have a whole 8-hour day in my workshop. This means that between projects I tend to lose my edge. Sure, I can still do all the work I want to do, but it’s often the case that by the end of the project I’m just getting my edge back again! One of the things I’ve enjoyed most amongst your videos, Paul, is the dovetail tutorials. It would be good to see one that show drawer construction from start to finish. I always struggle to work out the relationship between the drawer bottom and the back of the drawer. I always get there in the end, but I’m sure it’s not the ‘classic’ method of construction!

    1. look for:
      – Paul’s desktop organiser: episode 4; and
      – How to make a workbench drawer (in 5 episodes)

  13. Love the fact you’re making your greenhouse out of reclaimed wood Paul – woodworking and gardening – nothing finer! Instead of being frustrated at lack of timber supplies these last months, I’ve had a smashing time using my imagination with what I have lying around. I’ve managed to make two cold frames – one from our old oak front door & one from some horrible pine built in wardrobes with glass from an old demolished shed. I’ve turned an old desk into a potting bench and made some fancy hexagon trellis from old roofing slats plus I’ve disguised one of my ugly plastic water butts within a wooden surround on legs – I just can’t stop! The terrible thing is I have loads of DIY jobs to do in our very (very!) old house, but who cares!!

  14. Greetings, Paul -Really enjoy your blogs. Is there a purpose to low angle planes other than possibly ergonomics? Take care.

    1. Low angle planes offer more direct inline thrust and sometimes have the added weight to back up the thrust. They are rarely a necessity but more a luxury.

  15. I love that oak tool? box! Possible plans to offer? I am helping a friend that had a pin oak tree removed (it was about 80ft tall/24.4M tall). A crane was used and the logs were sent to a mill for boards. Last weekend and this weekend, I am helping him get the lumber (white oak cut at 6/4) home. We moved 2/3 of it so far and I am lucky that for my help, he is giving me a bunch to take home. I will stick and allow to dry for a year and thanks to your channel, will make somethings! Thanks to you, I’ve repurposed/brought to life, my father’s old Stanley hand plane and will use that on the oak as well.
    I have a question, and I put it to you and your audience: my neighbor is a “restoration” worker and even has been featured some decades back in This Old House publication (he was a journeyman, working on historic home). He has two, circa 1940’s, hand saw sharpening machines, that he needs to move out of storage. They are the NORYB company, and functional. Just heavy and need of a good home. I decided to help him (since he’s not net-saavy) but can’t find any forum or source to post to. Nor info on them. Any suggestions would be helpful as he might just scrap them (and I have no room to store).

    1. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe

      If you do not already know: remember to seal the ends of the boards. Place the stickers evenly and in an OCD-friendly way vertically. Sticker the boards as close to the ends as possible. Put lots of weight on top, or use straps tightened to concert pitch. This will reduce splitting and warping, according to an advice I got when I stacked and stickered my own oak this spring.
      Allow for one year per inch in thickness. A dry, warm environment will cut down on drying time. Of course, this is only a general rule of thumb; the lumber might be dry enough way faster.
      Good luck! It is exiting making your own materials like that. I cut the tree, milled it, stacked it to dry – and in a year or two I will create furniture out of it.
      I find that to be far too satisfying! 🙂

      1. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe

        Forgot to mention: seal with wood glue, wood glue and news paper, you can paint the ends or buy products made for the purpose. One advice I got was to use grease, but I thought that would be way too messy. In short, you can use anything as long as the ends of the boards is sealed. If left untreated, the ends will dry a lot faster than the rest of the plank. This will cause the boards to split, most likely.

  16. Paul, I still haven’t been able to get to the perfection that you have with woodworking yet. But the years that I’ve been looking at your videos helped my in all my work. From aircraft to yard work woodworking is incorporated into everything. Right now I’m expanded my driveway to get room for another car. Parking is very limited in my area and when my children visit they will have space to park instead of driving and searching. One day I’ll show the work. I’m working on the foundation now. And in about a month I’ll be making six laminated fence panels similar to a Prowell Fence.

  17. Paul,

    I too enjoy looking at your woodworking creations. I am always amazed at the preciseness of your joinery and your choice/use of various woods. Thank you.

  18. Really looking forward to the toolbox project masterclass series. Beautiful looking and functional project.

  19. Hi Paul
    I have always done a lot with my hands…Worked on the farm, worked in plants and just numerous things using my hands. Lately arthritis has been bothering me. Have you had any bother you? If you have what do you do to live with it?

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