It Was A Humbling Thing

I don’t follow but two others online. One is a cafe I haven’t been able to go back to because I no longer live near to it and the other is a support for those with a disability. But I clicked on an Instagram account of someone following me and saw something I had not realised. The first thing I saw was my triple diamond plate set up according to the pattern I gave and have used for around 30 years. The plates were held in a QR vise and I became more intrigued.

From there I realised that this woodworker had identically made the carrier for the diamond plates I was using too. He’d recessed them into the board as per my 2013 blog on how to do it but probably followed my video from 2017 here: sharpening plate holder. From there I went up the images and found the wall shelf from 1963 when I made my first woodworking project in school woodworking and replicated it for a new instructional.

As I went through the dozens of images I saw the Wall Hung Tool Cabinet followed by the complex tool chest (that wasn’t so complicated) we made for woodworking masterclasses.

And there was one of these but painted a different colour rather than graphite.

Passing through the months and years we went from saw horses to the workbench, and a myriad of other pieces he’d diligently worked through alongside everyday issues around sharpening every tool using only hand methods. This man alone proved the efficacy of my early intent, the one I’d wondered about in 2010 when I asked myself if this could ever work; that we could be training others around the world on a distance-learning program hitherto not done. So here we are!


  1. If you only did but know it Paul ,without realising you have trained thousands of people , many of whom do not post on social media . Well done .

  2. I wish I was taught your methods in school. Instead we were lined up to have our turn at machines. I can’t help but think my life could have changed for the better had I known how to work with hand tools much earlier in life.

    1. Truth is, the teachers stopped using them and then they couldn’t use hand tools. Here’s what happens. The desire for woodworking starts out with seeing planes and saws in use in pictures or elsewhere and a spike is ignited. These someones come along that can’t use hand tools yet and another seemingly connected to woodworking says that those methods are out of date and they introduce them to machines. Effectively this is the equivalent of cutting off their hands.Once a machinist always a machinist for the majority

  3. Paul, you have left an indelible mark on me for life. I am so grateful for your sharing of wonderful skills that I put to use every day.
    I am almost as old as you 😉

  4. I’m a few weeks older than you, Paul, but I began my hand tool adventure only a few years ago. I’m stumbling forward one step at a time and despite often creating crude imitations of some of your projects, I enjoy every step. Thank you for being the inspiration that you are.

  5. You could be describing my Instagram page. I’ve done many of them from the very beginning. But then, I’m certain I’m one of many which is the best part. Thank you.

  6. I follow and watch many, many woodworkers on Youtube, and let me tell you Mr. Sellers…you have taught them all. I see them using your techniques and it is obvious where they learned it.

  7. Finding one of your videos on YouTube purely by accident was the first time I ever considered woodworking to be something I could actually do. Several hours of watching your videos over many months has guided me to where I am now building my very first workbench by hand. You are an amazing inspiration and educator. Thank you.

  8. Yes….you are a masterful tutor…and I have watched and rewatched many of your tutorials Paul…and I try to replicate some of them if I have time. I like trying the smaller pieces like the plane knobs… a real joy to seek to emulate your skills…not ever as polished, but I truly enjoy it and find the learning process rewarding…including rectifying oversights I make!

  9. Paul, your legacy is in it’s infancy. I believe it will continue for generations. Soon people will long for “Authentic human content”.
    Yours is as human as human can be. When A.I. is building a machined existence there will still be people longing for the simplicity of 10 essential handtools.
    Thank you for your efforts.

  10. Back in the mists of time, early 60’s, I had the temerity to criticise the poor design and waste of rare hardwood for a base in a ghastly table lamp I could never have taken home. I was promptly banned from ever entering the woodwork shop ever again! My sister in another school, when asking to do woodwork , was sent to get one to one tuition at a college half a day per week. Over half a century later I now realise that I was designed the basic training which could have led to a fulfilling career. The shiny plane bought half a century ago to make kitchen shelves never worked well even from new since I never had the basic sharpening / set up lesson at school and the plane came with no instructions!

    Generations of us must have been frustrated until discovering online tutorials like yours.

  11. Ooops, machine decided that denighed was not the word I wanted to use! I much prefer mechanical tools to these stupid electronic horrors which my destroy us all with one careless glitch!

  12. A couple of years ago, my wife needed a silverware chest. I went online and search for one, they all seem cheapo and overpriced. Than I thought I can make it myself. I searched YouTube and realised that I don’t have the money for the equipment needed (table saw, router, etc.) and I was disappointed. but I ask myself how they did it when they didn’t have access to all these fancy tools. And search for traditional woodworking on YouTube again and I find your video. today, I’ve made a dozen of your project and many design by myself and all with hand tools. I will never loose what you have reached me over the years and I am very grateful. now I’m trying to pass this knowledge to my daugther and my 2 sons. you should be proud of what you’ve done and I am sure your contribution to your craft will be remembered for century. thank you.

  13. I have just been researching the Record 044 plane on YouTube. Your video about setting up and using it was miles ahead of all other postings in terms of content, clarity and “video” professionalism. Congrats on an excellent job.

  14. Dear Teacher,

    This is a list of what is entirely from you in my shop:

    sharpening plate holder
    leather strop
    rag in a can oiler
    not so poor man’s router
    poor man’s rebate plane
    saw sharpening holders (two versions)
    reshaped S&J saws
    restored bench planes
    strorage racks for long and short boards
    retrofitted sash clamps
    square owl.

    But even the rest of the tools and accessories in my shop have your ideas or instructions in them. For example, you mention in a video making a table with casters for the shop at the height of the workbench. I have made one and it is a great help with very long boards.

    Sincere thanks!

  15. Your legacy to me is helping me realize that my tools were dull. Then you taught me how to sharpen my tools. As you continually emphasize, everything depends on sharp tools. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am getting closer to completing your workbench. I have made two of your diamond plate holders, a leather strop, two birdcage awls, oil-rag-in-a-can, dovetail layout tool, handled a set of Narex-Richter chisels, handled most of my files and rasps, saw sharpening clamp, modified seven of my sash clamps. I have your router plane to complete. Mr. Sellers, you are an ongoing inspiration to me.

  16. Hi Paul,

    You obviously didn’t realise how far your YouTube videos have stretched, indeed the number of “online pupils” like myself whose lives as woodworkers have been changed.
    I found you by sheer accident while searching YouTube, after deciding last year that I would take up joinery as a hobby after retirement.
    In just 6 months, I already have built the saw horses, your workbench, rag in a can oiler, the router using your kit. I also followed all of your instructions for sharpening saws, after buying a set of 6 saws online. This is just a short list of what I have done to date, but I intend carrying n your projects and methods for some time to come.

    Paul, I cannot that you enough, but here goes……thank you!

    Regards, Stuart from Lincolnshire

  17. Everytime I pick up a hand tool, I have you in the back of my head guiding me.

  18. I can only speak for myself, but finding your workbench video series, and then investing the time in following along when I couldn’t even cut a straight line by hand at the start, has changed my life for the better. I progressed from making your trestles, then workbench, then some of your small projects, to eventually making your garden bench. Following your videos has given me a productive satisfying outlet for my free time, has taught me a skill I can use the rest of my life, and has given me something I can share with my two young children. It has even allowed me to connect in some way with my great grandfather carpenter I never knew, but whose 100 year old well worn hand tools I now use on a near day-to-day basis.

    You have provided a wealth of educational videos allowing anyone to become a skilled hand tool worker. Thank you for taking the time to make this material available.

  19. I know you would find your marks all over my little shop space. I always had the desire to use hand tools and my father and grandfather’s left me an inheritance of handtools to start my woodworking journey. You gave me the knowledge and skills needed to use and maintain them. You have had a positive influence on people all over the world.
    Thank you Mr. Sellers.

  20. I am constantly referring to your hand tool videos anytime I need help. All of my older planes were tuned up using your methods. Router planes, spoke shaves, shoulder planes, chisels…etc. I mounted a yard sale find vise a few weeks ago, and yes, you were there helping me install it ! I can genuinely say, if I have a hand tool, Paul Sellers was the manual that taught me how to use it properly!

  21. Paul, whenever I find myself confronted with a woodworking project or question, I often say to myself: what would Paul do? I am the family handyman and am often asked how to do this, that, and the other. You have become my virtual mentor when it comes to all things wooden. I appreciate your common sense approach to projects, tools, and furniture design. Keep up the good work!

  22. my wife just told me that i have a peaceful face when I watch you videos. not much else does.

    my dad didn’t due much handy work at home and i just started like a year ago. and you are a big source of good Idea’s that i can follow and understand.

    just like a fun grandpa i had not around to do similar stuff with.

  23. As you can see from the replies, for everyone that publishes their content, there are thousands of us who are content working in the backgrounds. Some not following like zealots, but taking your lessons and working it into our workflows. Things that you take for granted, are an epiphany. Never occurred to me that a saw can be set and sharpened (now I have about a dozen!). My only regret was I could not attend one of your courses in the states so I will have to be satisfied with the online version. Thank you.

  24. Hi Paul,
    I live in Chile, and I started learning from you 2 years ago. By now, I already built my own saw horses, sharpen my own tools and I’m building my workbench, all of this, thank to you.
    I’m very grateful for all the material you’ve developed.

  25. Paul is like an extension of my old woodworking teacher . The teacher sharpened all of our planes and chisels and if you abused them he gave you a smack , he was one of the very few teachers I respected and listened to , and in fact they sent me to him twice a week instead of just the once because I got into less trouble with him . This was 1956 till 1960 , schools were very different then .

  26. Paul, this is a great body of work. To help it live on, you might consider releasing your materials, textual and video, under a Creative Commons license. That would allow you to retain your copyright over the materials while allowing people to reuse it in creative ways of which you approve. These licenses are sometimes referred to as “copyleft.” They result in works being available not simply in the public domain, but with much less restrictive legal controls than with standard copyright.

    The non-profit Internet Archive will, if you like, host such materials in perpetuity, even re-encoding videos over the years as technology advances, such that new audiences can view the videos even if they were recorded with decades-old technology. You can still link to them from your own website, and unlike with no-fee (for now) commercial services like YouTube, their availability will not be at the pleasure of a for-profit organization who has no obligation to you.

  27. Very nice. I’m in my 50’s and used to be a ships captain. The sum total of my carpentry experience was repairing pallets with 4 inch nails when i was a deckhand. Since I found your channel, I’ve made 3 legged stools, picture frames, a work bench, a router plane, learned to sharpen my tools and tons of other stuff. Some of it is good enough to be called carpentry. You’re an amazing, gifted, no nonsense teacher. Thank you Paul

  28. Paul,

    I have tried to use Stanley Bailey Planes for years with very limited success. I watched your tutorial on how to refurbish old planes and applied what you taught. I had my No. 5 antique store plane tuned up and sharpened in about 4 hours. It is now a pleasure to work with it and the others in my collection. I learned how to clean it up and tune it up when I was 63 years old and am 65 at present.. Now I plan to do all planes in my collection about 50 at last count. Thank you so much for teaching usable skills that I can pass on to my grandchildren.

  29. Paul,
    Thank you for inspiring me and thousands of other to take up hand woodworking. I have built two Roubo work benches, a workworking chest, an island for my wife, 4 dovetailed boxes for my daughters, granddaughter, and wife, and am about to start a Gibson chair. Early on you got me hooked on the diamond plates for sharpening.
    I still use a sharpening jig as am not comfortable going freehand–but getting there.
    Have used your video to refurbish multiple planes, my favorite being the #4, or maybe the 4 1/2. Also have resharpened a couple saws following your video. Amazing tutorials!
    But what amazes me the most is your writing and insight into the many facets of life.
    I eagerly look forward to all your blogs. So much wisdom…..

  30. Paul,

    If you have any doubt about the degree of your span on influencing/teaching woodworker’s, all you need to do is recall the effect it had on the availability of Stanley Router planes, or the supply/demand on Ebay for a tool (Bailey #4’s, Spokeshaves, Bullnose planes, saw’s, etc,) that you featured in a video.

    If Paul Sellers mentions it, there’s sure to be a run on it!

  31. Paul, I too have recreated your sharpening system. I recently made a spatula for my mother for mother’s days, and a candle box for my son, and a workbench and, and, and. Your video’s introducing me to hand tool woodworking helped pull me out of a deep depression. Today I look forward to spending time in my bench finishing a box for my wife. Your influence has reached far and wide. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Andrew. Educators dismiss the validity of hand skills for our whole wellbeing and you can see that by the distance they created between academics and craft. When they needed craft skills for working people they crafts were a part of the education curriculum. Not so now yet we put so much trust in teachers that only ever lived and worked in educational institutions.

  32. Don’t know if you have enough time to read all the comments on your blog as there must be thousands of people like myself who are grateful for your teaching. You must have done immeasurable good to so many peoples mental health worldwide, not to mention all the things made from wood to be treasured for generations by people following your guidance.
    Thank you

    1. I do read every comment, John. And thank you for your kind words too. I believe that mental health is the same as physical disability and a shared responsibility for of us all to absorb where, when and if we can.

  33. Hello Mr. Seller,
    I believe I discovered your website around 7 years ago after I was given “ indefinite layoff “ papers then. I tried to get other jobs , but I was never satisfied with anything other then what I did before. Long story short, I’m 70 years old now and far far away from being a real woodworker, but the hand tools, methods for using these tools and then learning how to maintain them in good working order, This is all priceless to me and has given me the best last 7 years ever.
    I work out of my basement in winter and garage in spring / summer, both places are cramped and just enough room to stand and sit. I mostly sit down now to do things but the calmness and sense of accomplishment I get from making a little dovetail box for my remaining siblings, daughter and nephews and nieces is so rewarding.
    Thank you for sharing your life ,skill and knowledge with the world, you are truly appreciated Worldwide.

  34. Prezado Paul, aqui no Brasil conheço vários seguidores de suas postagens… Sempre que alguém tem uma dúvida você é a referência numero 1 de indicações… Obrigado por suas postagens, ensinamentos e compartilhamentos… Abraços!

  35. Most public schools in the U.S. have stopped offering ‘Shop class’ due to the liability and dangers of power equipment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they revived your methods and began offering ‘Hand Tool Woodworking’ instead? I bet students would flock to it.

    1. Hard to imagine but head of design engineering at Stanford came to my foundation course around 2012 and asked if he could teach a class that following year using my curriculum and hand tools only. He wrote me and said the course was a total success and was always full.

  36. Have yet to see anyone “throw” the plane as you do let alone flip. Both game changing techniques.

  37. I was taught woodwork at school using hand tools. Unfortunately, the teacher who taught us seemed to have no idea how to sharpen a tool — and he certainly never taught us how to do it. I have terrible recollections of churning out ugly pieces that seemed to take months, hacking away with a blunt spokeshave. To be honest, it would have been much easier if we’d been using power tools. At least we would have seen some reasonable results within a sensible time frame — though if he’d only bothered to keep the tools sharp or teach us how to maintain them ourselves, that would have been better still.

  38. “Tech” at our school in the 70’s was a couple of disillusioned old men who were hiding in the teaching profession rather than working at ICI Ardeer or in a shipyard. The only part of the woodworking element that I remember was how to use a saw – a skill that my dad had already taught me so the whole experience was a waste of time.
    Nearly fifty years on and, although I’ve done a lot of DIY, I’m now learning how to properly use all of those tools that I inherited and you’re videos are trully a Masterclass.
    You’re calm, measured attitude is inspiring and good for the blood pressure. All those other presenters who mistake shouting (Yo, Bro, Dude etc) and loud music for enthusiasm should learn from you what real enthusiasm and passion looks like.
    I’m also fed up with videos showing how to make “cheap” things out of “scrap” wood and then they use birch ply (£200 per sheet?), a bandsaw, a table saw, a mitre saw, a table router, a drill press, a belt sander and about 20 sash clamps to make the “cheap” item. If I had enough money for all those tools and the workshop to use them in then I wouldn’t be looking to make a “cheap” wood turning lathe out of my drill, I would just go and buy one! Your poor man’s series of videos are actually within the reach of those working on a limited budget with only basic tools and they are going to be my first attempts to copy your work.
    I know that you said you only follow a couple of people online but if you explore Youtube you will see multiple presenters re-presenting your methods – the honest ones will be good enough to acknowledge that its a Paul Sellers design, the less honest ones pass it off as their own work and take all the plaudits for themselves (I saw one for a hand router plane which was identical to yours right down to the dimensions, yet no mention of your original version). I suppose they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Keep up the good work.

  39. I recently welded up some scrap steel to make a dolly for my jointer/thicknesser, so that I can move it about the shop when needed. Two wheels at one end, rubber feet on the other. An eye bolt and a rod with two skate board wheels and a hook, and I can just lever the front of the thing up in the air and drive it around.

    While this was a metal working project, the “Paul Sellers” influence was to just make it myself in stead of buying something. The most vital thing I’ve learned, is that I don’t need a perfect setup to make good stuff. I don’t need a perfectly flat welding table, nor did I need a perfectly flat floor to make my work bench.
    That in an of itself is priceless! And I am teaching my kids this mentality – in stead of buying it, maybe you can make it? That option is very important to contemplate. Perhaps it will be best to just buy a ready made thing at times (to save money, time or both, or because one does not have the time to spare), but maybe one can make it. Saves on streaming services monthly payments, mind you. 🙂

    Thank you for showing me that one can make a good workbench on the lawn, butted up against a tree!
    That opened up the whole woodworking world to me.

    And I actually do flip the plane! 😀 Or even mount it upside down in the vise. 😉

  40. Paul you you’ve changed my life too – always thought I was no good with woodworking and here I am today, rebuilding our house with a lot of handtools to make a better home for my family – thanks!

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