This Was the Week

It’s a year since the pandemic and we are still doing what we do plus much more.

Hannah will fit her rockers and arms and her chair will be done.

When I have closed up the shop through the years I have always had the greatest pleasure in reflecting on the day’s work and worth as I dim the lights and lock the door as I reach for my bike. These last few weeks I wander a little further between the workbenches to look through the work of the others I am surrounded by and distanced from. John and Hannah have been in most days and Jack will be in again shortly after he works out his transport and accommodation issues to stay and keep others safe.

From the bench to the stars, inlaid coasters and now the joiner’s traveling toolbox, John has regained his passion to perform.

So far none of us at work have suffered the COVID disease directly by being infected but some have only been an inch from it. In some ways, the work surrounding me is very obvious in the made things resting on, beside and beneath the benches, but behind the literal scenes, I have to tell you how much I enjoyed the videography in the recent new episodes on our starting out with the first piece, the rocking chair. Here is the prototype in space as a placeholder, alongside the sofa.

The first two pieces are clearly on their way but not yet ready to set up. I already have a third, fourth and fifth piece in the sketchpad and on their way as I type. I want to thank everyone who videoed the work we do for their insights and their creativity in making what we make. I think those of you that are members of woodworkingmasterclasses will enjoy this new beginning as we progress the series on building what seems a complex furniture piece as a kick-off to the new season under the banner of sellers home. So many of you who have watched episode two have commented on the new standards of expert videography. If you are a subscriber to WWMC you will have caught the introduction video already. I thought it was just lovely and lovingly put together. If your long-term goal is to become an experienced furniture maker and you have a passion for skilful handwork to enhance your outcome, you can distance apprentice with me throughout the upcoming years and experience the past nine years of content too. It’s no small thing! You can start and stop membership whenever you want to but it will be the best tool investment you will ever make!

Will, Natalie and Izzy all stand behind the cameras to film my efforts to preserve my craft for the generations yet to come. I have 56 years of daily furniture making and woodworking experience that drove me to go beyond the limits of my own sphere of creativity to start teaching one-on-one 30 years ago part-time. Establishing three woodworking schools trained me to train others as did apprenticing apprentices and mentoring them as they became craftsmen and now a craftswoman (Hannah, my first woman to apprentice) in their own right. Will and Natalie are the ket videographers and editors for the work I do making.

Izzy keeps taking on more and more to make the content accessible and to keep us up to date. She worked through making the projects in commonwoodworking tutorials and the foundation course to gain first-hand knowledge on what it felt like to be a raw beginner without any previous woodworking experience. Her questions for me were the questions we then knew that new woodworkers would be asking and she answered the questions before they were asked. Brilliant! It works! This alone so validates our commonwoodworking offering and so many agree.

All three of those I mention now work mostly from home because they are intent on kerbing the virus as much as possible. John, Hannah and Jack need a space and place to be creative and it is easy where we are to do that. There are a couple of unique needs that validate my decision to open the doors to them so that’s what makes things so perfect. Truth is that most of us cannot do what we do without coming into the workshop.

Another person key to everything we do is Mark who is another who handles many things in any given day. Bookkeeping is a main task but then he does so much more like editing my drawings for PDFs, uploading stuff I don’t even know about, reviewing and shipping out the books on a daily basis (no small task if you look at what he shipped out between the 2nd December 2020 and January 2021).

All of this is what makes everything tick. Your support over the past ten years has made everything so worthwhile. Ten years ago I wondered what we could achieve. I look forward evermore to the next ten and perhaps even more!


Jack’s back in the saddle and finishing off his rocking chair too. He arrived this morning so bags of company again!

13 thoughts on “This Was the Week”

  1. Looks like a good set up so members of your team can work from home and great that it allows for those that need the workshop can still come in and work safely.
    I count myself lucky that I have my own workspace, albeit quite small, that I can retreat to.
    Best wishes to all of you!

  2. Hi Paul ,
    Thanks for this blog . I have always enjoyed the behind the scenes pictures and updates on your team . The Utube Q&A with you and Joseph are also very informative and enjoyable .

    The quality of the new rocking chair videos are superb and I particularly appreciate the closeup shots ( the shots of the chisel paring should win an award ! ) . I am nearing the completion of a coffee table based on your early ( 2013 ? ) coffee table videos and while these videos may not be of the same standard as your current work they are a priceless record of Hand Tool methods .

    all the best , Peter

  3. A million thank yous for what you do Paul. You have advanced the skills of even a loser like me to new levels.

  4. Hey Paul, some constructive criticism here:

    I have followed and done all of the Common Woodworking exercises and projects, and Izzy has been GREAT at answering questions.

    However, upon trying to get started with Woodworking Masterclasses, i am a bit overwhelmed. I did make the drink tray. But its hard for me to find a project that may be in my skillset.

    My suggestion, either have set of “easier projects” within WWMC kind of like how colleges use 101, 201 etc, so Common Woodworking could be 101 and a subset of WWMC could be 201, or have “rankings” for each project, like 1-5 stars or “saws” or whatever so I can graduate from 1 Star projects to 2 star once I feel i have the skills and tools.


    1. To Steve P: I was similarly apprehensive about taking on projects which looked difficult. But don’t be: Paul will take you through everything, step by step, and if there’s anything that he treats less comprehensively, you can always find a video on masterclasses or commonwoodworking where it is explained more fully. Sure, your first joints won’t turn out like Paul’s, but with practise they will get close. The only thing which may hinder your progress is having a particular tool. When faced with this I looked at other videos and books by Paul to assess whether or not I should acquire one. The answer was usually yes, but as Paul’s “essential” tools number fewer than a couple of dozen, all readily available second-hand or not-too-pricey new, this is not an expensive business, but it can take time. Persevere and listen carefully to Paul, especially his quiet asides which often contain very useful hints and encouragement. With Paul’s tuition you can make anything!

    2. Hi Steve,

      I had to look it up again but I knew I’ve seen a list with a project progression somewhere.

      Bellow is a link to the page.

      I started myself almost a year ago, one thing that I tend to do is look at the projects and then adapt it to something I need. My first project was a shoe rack based on the 3 joints video series on youtube, my second is a dovetail box for my girlfriends birthday, a third is a tool chest that really improves my dovetailing, unfortunately I have almost ran out of wood and cant get anymore cause of the lockdowns.

      After I finish the tool set I’ll be adapting the table video from the link into an bathroom towel storage device.

      The point I’m trying to make is don’t be afraid to just go for it and don’t be afraid to just make your own designs by adapting things you see in the video’s. The only person that is gonna see your minor mistakes is gonna be you.

  5. I attended WWMC for about 4 years. I didn’t make all the projects one to one. But I keep all the Mr. Sellers’ techniqes and trips in my mind and day by day it comes more and more naturally to me how to make just about anything out of wood. Because I can and I do use the techniques in making other things which are more important to me than e.g. a coffee table or a book shelf or which ever of the many fantastic projects you can dive into.
    Before WWMC I used to underestimate the importance of sharp tools, now I know how relatively easy it is to perform woodworking – because I’ve learned how to sharpen my tools – swift and easy.
    Last December I ordered Paul Sellers’ book “Essential Woodworking Hand Tools”. I’m about half way through it now – and I’ve smiled so many times and said to myself: “I know that”. Because Paul Sellers have already said it in one or more of his videos. In my opinion it proves very well that the woodworking videos really work. Luckily I do also discover further knowledge and even more tips of the trade in the book as well, of course.
    So I’ll highly recommend Woodworking Masterclasses and the book too to everyone who has a desire of reaching quite a respectable level of skill in woodworking.
    Of course you have to invest a little of your self in the project too, of course: You must want it and you must go for it. And it’s like anything else, you don’t become world champion over night, you’ll have to practice and practice more. But have confidence and patience, you too can do it!
    I found Paul Sellers by coincidence. On YouTube. How lucky we are to have such a professional staff providing us with all that highly useful knowledge!

  6. Don’t take this the wrong way Paul, but you are incredibly energetic and productive for someone your age.

    I’m some fourty-odd years your junior and feel very much put to shame Reading about a week in your life!

  7. I couldn’t agree more, the videogeaphy in the Sellers Home Rocking Chair videos is exceptional. Really enjoy the intersplicing of outdoor/nature scenes. It just feels right!

  8. Brian O'Flaherty

    Ajens said it perfectly in his comment above and I am exactly the same in that I use the technique to make what I need. I was a DIYer using power tools before discovering Paul’s work. The thing that has changed for me is that I used to do it for the result ( ie to get the item I was making ) where as now I do it for the process. I enjoy the making more than the having the end result, which is like a bonus. It is the learning of the new techniques that is the reason I spend my free time in the garage. January was focussed on dovetails. And probably like most I have more free time than expected with the current situation. But I like to think that I am using it productively. And I also got my desk, bookshelves, TV stand out of it as well. In future I will hopefully review this period as money and time spent well spent thanks to Paul and his team.

  9. Hi Mr. Paul,
    Thanks to your videos I started to use hand tools with more intensity. I have several power tools, but they all make a lot of noise, spread a lot of dust and take up a lot of precious space. This does not happen with hand tools. I acquired saws, various chisels and planers, which I like to sharpen until they become “mirrors”, as you say. Today I spend more time finishing my projects, but I am more satisfied with the result. Thank you very much for changing my concepts on woodwork.

  10. I’ve some white oak seeking a project. The rocking chair build came just in time. Now, how to convince the Mrs of just the place for it to go?
    Also, received my copy of the book. At the risk of sounding silly – it is a work of art. Color photos are super. The writing is clear and helpful. I know one day who will receive this copy. Until then it is all mine, to be put to use.
    Thank you Paul & Team.

  11. Good day Paul, I have been following you on YouTube for quite sometime. I am no longer employed working from a another’s space and I want to concentrate on further development of my woodworking skills. How can I become a remote student and apprentice woodworker under your guidance?

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