Thank you!

Thank you everyone for taking the time to wish us all a Merry and Happy Christmas! It was a delightful time of rest and recreation for me and catching up on things we save and savour for this unique break. I am grateful that at least two members of my family love to cook so we had some scrumptious meals flanked by sessions of storybook reading, kitten playing, and listening to music throughout the days. We experimented with coffee and chocolate, trying on new clothes and socks but the best bit was the warmth I felt from all that we worked through to make life happen last year.

These hands have supplied all of my needs and the needs of my family and friends and now they reach around the world to train thousands of others.

And it is not over. The bit between Christmas and New Year reinforces the need and benefit of rest and recovery. Stress release is important to us all. Taking the foot off the pedal and the fingers off the mallet isn’t always easy for us all but I might suggest that walking will do you good whether you are in New York City or the rurals of France. My making in the physical is over until the New Year now. The bed is all but finished and starts the new year series. I didn’t plan that but it was perfect to finish 2022 with the dining room and start 2023 with the bedrooms upstairs. Neat, unscheduled and unplanned for.

It still amazes me that the same hands I first picked a plane up with continue to support my life as a full time maker.

Thank you all for your very encouraging words. Some of you have told me how your physical hearts are so much stronger from doing woodworking. I am no medical expert so I cannot say more than exercise is generally good for us. What I do love is words. Encourage is a wonderful word. Encourage comes from an old French word, ‘encoragier‘. What a wonderful thought that we might make our hearts strong enough in the face of an enemy to our wellbeing by simply working consistently with our hands, minds and hearts. Lifestyle woodworking works for me and has done so for close to six successive decades without fail. Wouldn’t have changed a thing!


  1. I have been slowly transitioning from power tools to hand tools over the past two years.
    There is a steep learning curve but once you learn one basic fundamental you can move onto the next. ( similar to how the karate kid learned)
    This year I learned to sharpen a scraper, square, curved it doesn’t matter anymore.
    I can put a fine, medium or coarse edge on successfully every time. I even figured out how to scrape pine after experimenting with approach angles. I used a safety razor blade to figure out the right angle on a piece I was working on.
    I finally learned to make a board square using a hand plane. I had to reference your book to learn how to set the lateral adjustment on the blade which solved my problem.
    You may say I’m slow perhaps but I’m not doing this full time and I’m working at my own pace. Yes I make a lot of beginner mistakes like not planing to my gage lines and getting tear out on a fielded panel but it’s making me think differently and now I can fix the problems in my process. In other words there is a logical sequence to shape wood and a way to improve your work continuously.
    Seemingly unconnected is the positive changes to my state of mind.
    Maybe it’s because I have something that I can have influence over unlike world events.
    Next year I will improve some more, something to look forward to.

  2. Paul,
    My apologies for being late in wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    All my best to you and yours,

    Craig French

  3. I’m late too in wishing you a very merry Christmas, but in time to wish you a very happy new year, full of health and hapiness, and thank you for all you do one more time.
    Best wishes for you, your family and your team.

  4. Hello Paul,

    I would like to add my thanks to you for making my retirement so busy learning the skills you freely teach. I now have all the tools I need and spend a lot of time making bits and pieces for the home and friends.
    You mentioned that the enjoyment of woodworking may be good for your heart. I recall an old saying I was told while in Australia that would support that view.
    “A heart that is happy, forgets to grow old”.

    With my very best wishes

    John S

  5. Happy New Year Paul and Crew!

    Oh, the things you have taught me—Pine de Paul perfume, setting a plane to precision using a tuning fork, and dispelling my initial impression that USA trees were somehow secondary in quality to European trees once a woodworker learns that a plane designed for bevel-down works better sharpened and installed bevel down (shavings with a “whoosh” instead of sawdust with hours of sweat). Winding sticks, 4-square wood prep, grain appreciation, millimeter measure, shellac discovery, removal of “about a thou” as in a 1,000th of an inch, the dead sound of a chisel or joint reaching bottom, books, the power of powerless hand tools . . . Thank you.

  6. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Paul and team! Much thanks for all you do. I look forward to Wednesday for the new video to post and thoroughly enjoy reading this blog. Your work and words are very inspiring. God bless you all.

  7. Hi Paul, season greetings from our families to yours. I don’t think any of us can thank you enough for all you do. With arthritis it can be very challenging to do much of anything. At the young age of 62 i can’t work any more and i am on a pension. the sadness can be overwhelming some days. Your words and teaching Paul give me so much joy and entertainment amongst all the others on the net., My mind has become a sponge and can’t learn fast enough it feel at times. i try to remain grateful each day that i can at least get out a few hrs most days. Again thank you God Bless, Dwayne Hyatt, Canada

  8. The images of your hands + the suggestion to pause for rest and renewal = encouragement. The loose grip can be hard to learn. We sometimes hold the wrong things and struggle to let go. Other times we hold the right things, but too tightly or for too long. Our hands – our lives – seem to work better when we learn the loose grip.

  9. Thank you Paul,
    for yet another amazing year. I am filled with gratitude – and ave – over all you give so freely. I try and better myself where I can by your sterling example, and here I think way beyond woodworking.

    Baard from Norway

  10. Should a person pull out all the stops to make a bench before learning many skills?
    For example when trying to true up stock with a square to make winding sticks so U can then go on to true stock… — you need a vise with enough contact area to hold the wood still.
    I’m asking this because I’m the perennial, “I have some time, let’s try to make something.”
    2 hours of wrestling on a folding work bench passes and I pack up for the next few weeks

    1. I tried to give this some thought before answering. Most of the things I made at age 15, toolbox, workbench, projects to sell to people asking me to were projects I had never made and had little idea of how to too. I think to just go ahead as you have all of the instructions, drawings and cutting lists there for free. The basic bench we offer is what I still use after 60 years. No need to hybridize it, use heavier stock or anything. hundreds of people have made it and use it thee days. It will give you a bench even if it is not perfect and then in a year or two, after some practice, you can make another.

    2. To laminate the workbench-top, you don’t need to true the boards, just remove the cup/bow on each face. As long as you can bring the boards together without much effort, you can glue them. One is not obliged to glue all the boards in one operation. One board at a time is fine (no need for heavy-duty clamps you probably won’t use afterwards).
      Once you have a workbench-top, flatten it (more or less, you can/might have to come back to it later) and clamp it to you folding workbench. That is what I did to then build the aprons and leg-frames on it.
      A B&D workmate is useful but it is so much easier to work on a real workbench.
      Note: before assembly, the bottom of the workbench-top MUST be out of wind (at least the areas where it seats on the leg frames).

  11. Happy New Year to you and your family, Paul, and to all who follow you. This making things from wood is certainly a worthwhile calling. So thank you for helping me along.

  12. Happy New Year, Paul!! Here’s to a new year of creativity and development, may the moss never grow under you feet!

  13. Paul and crew,
    Thank you for all the joy that you have given me. I have learned so much and look forward to each Wednesday episode of your Master Class. Thank you for your gift.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year

  14. I’ve been a hobby level woodworker for fine decades (the latter part of my life), at first as a skill I needed to learn to work on restoration of old houses that my wife and I bought in four different cities. Carpentry, but also electrical wiring, plumbing, painting, brick masonry, and more…

    When we bought a Craftsman-era house in Pasadena, CA, I became really interested in Arts & Crafts furniture, both US designers (Stickley) and UK (Macintosh, in particular). I built up quite a workshop in the basement, with all the standard power tools. But more recently, after multiple retina detachments, my depth perception has gotten out of whack. I decided to ditch the power saws, power router, planer, etc. and learn to do it by hand. Needless to say, Paul, your blog has been truly invaluable to me in re-learning how to work wood.

    Doing it all with hand tools is slower in most cases (but not all). The process of making things is much more rewarding now than before. And safer for me.

    Thank you, Paul, and keep up the great work.

  15. I am looking forward to January 11th. yes, it’s my birthday so maybe I’ll get something like a new card scrapper or a Gift card to my favorite wood store. And it’s my wedding Anniversary and I’ve already got my wife her present. For me, see the first item. However what will make that date so great is my Cardiologist clearing me to start back working in my shop. You see on November 26th I had a complete heart failure and have received an implant and I’ve had to take life at a very slow rate. But you can rest assured my plane irons and chisels are all sharp and waiting to get back to work.
    I’ve come to love working with hand tools through your Blog, classes and YouTube Channel.

  16. All the best for 2023, for you and yours. Looking forward to the bedroom furniture.

    I have spent my vacation doing my first REAL chisel sharpening, well up to #6000 water stone anyway. All new Narex chisels, 6 cabinet and 5 mortise , and while I can detect their flaws, with a little effort I am very pleased with the results. Also restored a plane, Stanley No 4 (type 15 1931-32) and got mirrors on that iron too. Next I have a Stanley No 3 type 15, and an Aussie Carter Tools No 5 WWII vintage. Your videos have been very helpful. My #12000 ceramic stone arrived today so I can feel another round of sharpening coming on!

    However I also set up my new Sherwood helical head thickness planer today for the first time, and I can’t believe the smooth finish it produces. So I am likely to keep a foot in both camps. Machines for heavy stuff and hand sharpened blades for any fine finishing. Sounds like a plan?

  17. Wishing you and your family and crew a very happy new year. many thanks for your inspiration and encouragement not just as a woodworker, but as a role model. i can’t even begin to express how important what you do is for our world.

  18. Dear Paul and all of you!
    In Swedish we have a separate way of wishing a happy new year after new years day: “God fortsättning på det nya året!” May the new year continue well for you. This I wish all of you!

  19. Dear Paul, a simple thank you doesn’t seem enough for the gift you give with the work you do. This past year has been a revelation for me as I learned your technique and committed to hand work. Something as simple as the knife wall has restored my confidence and I am daily surprised at the quality improvements I’ve achieved.
    Happy New Year for you, your team and your family. May your year be filled with joy.

  20. Well, I’m going to use this space to wish you, Paul, and your entire team a 1) very Merry XMas, 2) Happy New Year, and … 3) Happy B’day along with wishes for another (and many more) trip around the Sun. All, unfortunately, a bit late. But, it’s the thought that counts right?

  21. Hi Paul,
    Just wondering if you have any tips for the Record 044 plough plane. I have watched your video, and have come to the conclusion that I may have an older model. It does not have a retaining screw that locates onto the side of the blade. In fact there is nowhere for a screw to go, which makes me wonder if I have an older model (purchased on eBay). There is of course the clamp which goes on the top. This makes it difficult to use, as the blade moves sideways. Do you have any tips on how I can still use this please?
    Regards, Stuart.

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