Winter Returns!

Some may not know John Winter from a half-decade and more ago, but John apprenticed with me between 2010/14. Well, given half a chance, we woodworkers might choose to craft-mentor those we come to know too, if we have the interests of others at heart, that is. Through three decades I have steered and trained a dozen or more young emerging craftsmen working through their more difficult years of gaining mastery in their craft. Only one or two did give up on those formative years, but for the main part they each remained true to their calling and it is exciting knowing that today they are masters in their own right.

John returned to work with me two weeks ago after a lengthy period studying in his home country of Argentina. He’s here now so that he can deepen his understanding of woodworking as it relates to his life now moving forwards in his later 20s. I first met John when he was 14. He, his father and myself built a workbench from scratch together. John feels that now, since gaining his degree in mathematics and having taught college-level maths for a period, that he wants to pursue his love of woodworking to deepen the connections he made in his formative years. He’s here with me now to seek out its future for his life. I don’t job coach, I simply watch, listen and guide by suggestion. Simple!

Late 2014

Last week john started to build the workbench he will use during his time here in the UK. He will set up his own creative space to establish himself. The bench he is building is the usual one I recommend people start out with and if they are like me they will usually find it suits their long-term needs anyway. Watching him work these past few days is quite the reward for me. His adoption of the methods I taught him reflect the standards of my own working in the day to day. His tools are always sharp and he sweeps and cleans as he goes. He’s systematic and efficient and his work ethic is exemplary. He will make a lot of progress because of his willingness and his maturity. These coming weeks will be very interesting.

As I would, John found his Record vise that is identical to one of mine on eBay for £60. In terms of quality, this one is in excellent condition because it has seen so little use even though it is an older model. This seller said it had belonged to his father who bought it new when he retired. The quick-release works perfectly and there is just a thin coat of rust to be removed from the guide bars.

I will keep you posted on John’s progress over the coming weeks. After making his bench, his next task will be to test the efficacy of all of the how-to manuals I wrote over the past three decades. This will ensure that when we print them they are current and up to date.


  1. I started with you about the time John was finishing up his initial training. These have been great years of growth for me. Thank you. If you are so inspiring across this digital platform, I can imagine John’s delight to be able to work and learn more with you..

    Slightly jealous


  2. “After making his bench, his next task will be to test the efficacy of all of the how-to manuals I wrote over the past three decades. This will ensure that when we print them they are current and up to date.”

    I’ve learned a great deal from your videos, and am
    very grateful that you created them.

    I don’t know anything about the ho-w-to manuals (sounds like paper?) but I know there’s one suggestion I can make:

    In your video on making knifewalls – and also your video about building the clock, when you are marking out the second knifewall of the stopped dado, you say something like:

    “Put the point of the knife almost as if you are under the edge of the piece”.

    I’ve never quite understood that and knife tip placement could be made a touch more clear.

    Still, great videos – a rich learning environment.

    Thank you.

  3. I remember John well when I spent time with you in Wales the year, I think, John departed for Argentina. His work was beautiful then and I’m excited to see your future posts about his ongoing journey. Thank you, Paul, for allowing us to experience your passion, wisdom and love of the craft.
    All Best,
    Steve (firstfiddle)

  4. “After making his bench, his next task will be to test the efficacy of all of the how-to manuals I wrote over the past three decades. This will ensure that when we print them they are current and up to date.”

    Difficult job. When are there enough explanations and when are there too much?
    About this, read “Almost Ready for a ‘Dumb-ass’ Read Posted on January 2, 2021” on the ‘Lost art press’ blog.
    And no, C.S. is not my guru, my teacher is P.S.

    What would be the prerequisites? Of course, after reading the booklet one can always exercise (new to him/her) joinery on some scraps and refer to the numerous existing P.S. videos before doing the real piece.

    I look forward for those “how-to”. I like videos but I also like paper.

  5. Interesting, but how did john get from Argentina as they have been in lock down for a number of months with external travel prohiited ?

  6. Paul, you and your team are very inspirational to me and without emphasizing the elephant in the room your posts keep me sane in an exponentially changing world. I have so many projects around my home that I don’t need to go to the gym. You have taught me more than woodworking, I’ve taken up the courage to trim my tree which after seeing that you have a small trailer to transport your projects I said to myself: “I don’t need a large truck.” Harbor Freight wood clamps grasp the larger branches onto my sawhorses in which I cut the larger branches into smaller pieces. Now the wood is saved for my fire pit and some larger pieces will be saved to make coasters and a wooden mallet. I would never have read about Peruvian Pepper Trees and why it was brought to California by the Spanish Missionaries if I didn’t learn woodworking from your first workbench. Fast growing and multiple uses from the wood is keeping me busy. I can go on forever about what I like about this tree. I’ll always think of the great things you directly and indirectly teach our world. Reggie.

  7. Thank you Paul for updating us on John. His dedication in pursuing his passion is an inspiration.

  8. Well it’s certainly a great honour to be back. I will do my best not to disappoint. Thanks for everything Paul!

    1. Contento de tener un referente argentino en el taller de Paul. Mis saludos desde Lanús, Buenos Aires.

  9. That was a very encouraging article but due to my financial status I cannot travel to England to study with you so I was wondering if there is someone that you taught lives near Saint Paul MN so that I may take some workshops or learn/practice under him or her. I have been following your YouTube classes but I know that even though they are very well presented that on hand learning is so much better. So please if you know past Master student whom I might be able to contact would be very helpful to me.

  10. As a teacher, Paul has attained the highest status in my opinion. His dedication to his art and his students should be equated with those that live by the philosophy of “compassion and wisdom”. John is truly fortunate to have this life experience for the rest of his life.

  11. Well you’ve come in at the right time to have a permanent showcase with purpose and a variety of furniture to sink your energy and skills into.

  12. Uchi-Deshi is the perfect Japanese term to define the wonderful relationship between the two of you.
    With a little bit of envy to our fortunate fellow John Winter, might I ask you if you can still receive an elder but same open-hearted apprentice?
    If so, what would be the monthly costs?
    If not, would you advise of any former students of you in the South-Eastern Europe, whom you consider worth to pass your craftmanship over?

    1. Currently, I have three young people coming in week on week. It’s not an age issue, just that they asked. I can provide workspace for them and mentor them in their craft without them taking too much of my time now that they have been here for some time. Hannah is in her fourth year, Jack starting in on his second. Covid slowed them down some but Hannah is now in almost daily, John is in daily and I am hoping Jack will be in soon too. We have worked out how best to keep distances with 3-4 meters between, masks, hand washing etc. I go for my covid vaccine in three days and a follow up two weeks later. I’m in the 71 years of age group with a couple of complications like my diabetes and a little asthma. But my health and diabetic condition are, according to my doctor, in “excellent health and diabetic control!” which has been the case for a good length of time.

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