I’m still grateful for the workshop I work in: it’s the one I close the door on at night and then open at first light. I reach inside for the light switch and light floods what was left the night before. There’s always the certainty of gratitude that so too floods my mind for the work I do, have done and will be doing for as long as I can. The two doors hung and closed gently to in my new wardrobe piece last night hang still in the silence and in perfect alignment and I treasure these moments as pockets of fulfilment I am not sure I have felt quite the same way before. What kind of gift is this that a man now aged 73 can say “I so enjoyed the work yesterday.” I remembered feeling wearied in both mind and body but to still feel fulfilled and happy at the making of the thousandth piece seems awesomely incredible to me. There, I used the overworked word many use just to say their ‘yes‘ in answer to another. But to not only be in awe still in the working of a man’s two well-worn hands, the lungs, heart and mind but to feel joyful too is a remarkable thing.

What prompted this blog post? This image two nights ago did. Imagine!

The large case now stood square and steady surrounded by shavings I’d left to remind me of the joy of work. In the still evening when the day closes on the workshop and I glimpse my day’s work once more I always feel the certainty of hope even in these highly troubling times. Beneath the darkness now enclosing my days work I consider the daunting task I faced in the beginning when bords of oak would be changed to 200 pieces all to become fitly framed together as a carcass. Each day’s building ended with the same feeling of contentment coupled with fulfilment. Such perfect closure is not the way for every working man and woman so I look twice and with respect to the decades of closing the doors on my perfect days.

This, this is true recreation from a recreational activity I have found no other to parallel in or equal to in the daily grind of life.

Up to now, I have ripped 200 pieces of oak on the bandsaw mostly but then I have hand planed the four faces to each one using a hand plane. If I said it was easy I would be lying. But I will say that the first roughsawn surface from the mill, with its cups, bows and twists didn’t put me off. The workout it gave me could never be achieved by going to the gym dressed in fitness wear and showering to engage with the world. I don’t have much muscle but what muscle I do have seems always equal to the task. I usually plane steadily for between an hour or two when I am preparing roughsawn wood ready for final sizing and measuring for joint-making. I do this without much of a break as there is a certain flow to the work that I don’t like to interrupt or be interrupted. It’s as much to do with the alignment and synchronising of the planes I use as anything else. Four or five planes is common to me. The two scrub planes, adapted #78 and #4, sit ready for roughing down the rough wood alongside two regular #4s and #4 1/2 for finishing and refining stgrokes but then I also like the two jack planes as #5 and #5 1/2. These come in for straightening longer lengths mostly with the wider 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 used best on wider surfaces. But do not forget that I can and often do use just my 4. It’s just that on large projects like this wardrobe I must go the extra mile to be efficient with my time, my personal physical limitations and so on. All of this is what gives me the mental acuity such work demands of me. Thankfully, oak’s one of the easiest woods to hand plane and saw with the different handsaws. Even so, I rely on my bandsaw for the long and wide cuts. Western woods all plane quite well with a sharp plane; ash, cherry, walnut, all the maples and so on all work pretty much the same but the one ingredient that should never be neglected is sharpening. To plane so much wood by hand means sharpening fifty times not ten. This work and the way of it demands my whole being to engage with it so I never allow anything between me and the work and that includes never wearing headphones, listening to other things in short and controlled measure and disallowing the luxuries others seem always to be distracted by. I work isolatedly with my wood and the tools–I never allow myself too much entertainment beyond my working.

My hand router plane designed and made by me with my own hands and hand tools enabled and equipped me to perfect the tenons in my wardrobe.. How fulfilling is that!

My 800 surfaces are planed, sanded and joined together. My bench planes are resharpened before stowing so as to be ready for the intermittent use I will use them for now. Only a deep satisfaction remains settled with me knowing what I achieved kept me mentally and physically fit and in tune with my work. As I closed the workshop door I couldn’t resist that last glimpsing of my work where the fronts of the doors caught the last light. As the door swung closed the dark became the shroud of protection covering my work in safety for the night. I can’t say that my lips moved into a smile but I did smile within…and all over!

Imagine having made a hundred thousand woodworking joints in a lifetime of woodworking and still feeling fulfilment in the making of the latest ones. I did.

Sometimes the video work interrupts the steadiness of my pace. I have had to get used to that. The saving factor is the millions of woodworkers that will see this work in the years to come. With the present talk of artificial intelligence I relise that AI will never flip a plane with the obvious dexterity of my experience even though I do know that it might well render me obsolete faster than at any other time in the Industrial Revolution. Technology has been ever advancing through two centuries and more and my obsolescence in one realm as a maker has translated me into a new world of making and teaching. Of course, I am one of the few makers that could still make a living from making by hand and selling everything I make. I know that, but my interests now lie in the world of we amateur woodworkers making simply because we love making. There is no competition for us. Our life as new genre woodworkers is to simply make and be creative in the whole of the process. What do want? We want skilled work that’s high demand. Something that truly costs us at the end of the day. Why? One word! Fulfilment. Something that can’t quite be caught by the camera but’s important to see. The flow of it all, the interconnectedness of each phase, results in an indescribable satisfaction time and time again.

The puzzle pieces started to come together one by one. And I was in heaven in the doing of it.

Watching it come together seamlessly creates a deep, deep love that can never be quauntified. This is what I have always had for 58 years of making. It was never the money, the weekly wage, the salary nor the silly thing we call stupidly a career. I am used to the feelings I get, yes, but they have never left me and never have I felt bereft from the hard work it has cost me. Why is that? It’s because I answered my calling as a maker at age 14. My vocational calling came early on and I never looked back and never regretted my decision. Never for the money did I work but I did need the money as does every working man and woman. Bills come, get paid and go. It’s important that we all see the point in our woodworking that might not always have been obvious to us. I understand time and money constraints but its imperative that we see the benefits of handwork in our making. You might well be answering your own vocational calling on the weekends and evenings and whenever and wherever you are. You may well be software programmer in your day jobe. This is purely practical. We don’t do what we do to be approved, to compete, to mass make or to just get the job done and get it done yesterday. We makers pull on the constraints handwork demands of us and we find all the physical and mental therapy we need to partner with good health and a mental aptitude we cannot get in other ways.

This is roughly a month ago when I started the wardrobe. One of the first images closing the door at night.


  1. When I was going through school as a child we were taught that art could be a fun thing to do but it really didn’t have any practical use in life. At the time art mostly meant painting or making things out of clay which most of us couldn’t do very well. Compared to some of my classmates who were quite good at an early age I was told I really had no talent. All I had to do was look at the work of others to confirm this was true. Woodworking was about using machines as we were being taught to be construction workers and metalworking was taught so you would be familiar with measuring tools when you became a machinist some day. So it was more about getting a job in a factory.
    Artificial intelligence is not sentient, all it does is gather data quickly and from all over the world. The jobs its going to replace are mundane, repetitive or in some cases hazardous when it’s combined with robot technology. I mean does anyone want to work below the earth in a coal mine no matter how honorable the job might be or dig a tunnel?
    Ironically it’s art that will never be replaced by AI, it’s too complex. We were never taught what art really was and how valuable a skill set it is. It’s not narrowly defined as painting a picture or making a clay pot and it takes a long time to develop the skills.

  2. One might say that we should “seek to lead a quiet life, to mind [our] own business, and to work with [our] own hands”.

  3. Thank you Paul, you are so fortunate to do what you love, and we are fortunate to get to share a part of it with you.

  4. You are truly a rare bird in the wild that I get to watch from my little spot on earth.

  5. Hi Paul ,
    Reading your account of your love for woodworking is inspirational, I often think like that, but not to the enormous experience and knowledge you obviously have and the excellent items you make and have made and demonstrate to us all.One thing I find baffling is that you quote .”the silly thing we call stupidly a career” . Is it not that to do some thing you love is to make a career of it, and there’s nothing more you would want to do but to be satisfied with your life in doing what you love.This is not a criticism at all Paul, but just a question to put to you.

  6. Hello Paul.I love watching you’re videos,and reading you’re posts.You and you’re family should be proud of the you’re accomplishments.Thank you for sharing you’re knowledge ,showing us fellow wood workers the ways of the past.There is no greater feeling when you step back and look at you’re finished project.Knowing that you did it with nothing but hand tools.God bless,and I hope u have many more years of wood working ahead of you.

  7. It will be awesome to meet you someday Paul. Thank you for your insight into the wonderful world of woodworking. Your friend from USA. SmokinBobLenart.

  8. “What do want? We want skilled work that’s high demand. Something that truly costs us at the end of the day. Why? One word! Fulfilment.” Very well said Paul. Thank you. It really explains what and why I do it.

  9. Paul W,

    Interesting that you found the quote: “the silly thing we call stupidly a career” baffling, as it was quite the opposite for me – it completely resonated, although I did wonder if it would catch people unaware. I don’t speak for Paul (neither Paul S or W!), but I see the term “career” used in the most ugly of ways these days. It seems to describe a circular goal, with the entire purpose of a career being the career – or the game of career – itself. Combined with the revolting phrase: “climbing the career ladder”, and all its associated hierarchies. It’s more particular to office work, where you – supposedly – become so good at your work that you get to become a manager of that work, or the manager of the manager of that work. Whilst, I guess, that brings variety, it does suggest that the job you originally pursued was both unfilfilling and unrewarding (in total). I think we’d worry about a child that grew up wanting to be a manager or a CEO, with control over everyone, too!
    I guess the best illustration of career over vocation, is what Paul has done. Had he pursued career, then he might be heading up the production line of Oak furniture land, or perhaps an IKEA country manager. Or, he may have become a “designer” and CEO of a company that builds “high end” furniture that embodies the ethos of its creator (whilst the creator no longer creates). The pursuit of success in the game of careers. Materialism and ego, if we boil it down truthfully.
    Of course, the reason it resonates with me, is because I’m the ladderist. Or at least I was. I’m currently staring at a screen, terrified of deciding what to do next in life. I’ve cut the ladder above and below, but I’m still standing on it waiting for it to crash to the ground – it doesn’t. I’m simply hovering in emptiness. Perhaps the next steps will come to me, but I doubt it. I’m basically another addict. Addicted to career gambling.
    I realise that it’s different for everyone!

    Best wishes,

  10. Mr. Sellers you are a true craftsman and philosopher.
    I am always impressed with your skills and teachings. Thank you for sharing with us.

  11. It’s Friday night and I spent most of the evening in the garage finishing the Paul Sellers workbench – in Douglas fir (we call it oregon here in Australia).I had one tricky bit of wood that was tearing out along one part of the length with my No4,so I went and sharpened my 5 1/2 ,which took ages because I didn’t set the honing guide quite right,but when it was done I went back to the wood and took nice light shaving no problem and it looks really good.Whilst I was doing all this,I was thinkng ‘It’s Friday night,shouldn’t I be out somewhere doing something else having fun’…well the answer that came to me was that this was making me happy, and I didn’t want to be doing anything else.
    I was and am fulfilled.

  12. Going into the workshop at first light in June is rather keen.

    Sunrise in London today was 04:44

  13. Workers are hardcore. This post reminded me of my friend who is in his late sixties/early seventies. He’s a handyman. He slipped off a snowmobile and broke his neck. They rushed him to hospital and the x-ray showed a clean break across the cervical spine. They said, you’re lucky you didn’t die instantly. You will never walk again. He got up out of the bed walked to the bathroom. Then later he walked to his car and drove home. He still walks. He’s a medical miracle.

    The strength built from working with his hands his whole life lent him strength of body and character. The docs said he will never heal. He’s hardcore.

  14. Agree with everything except so far I have not found oak to be easy to work with a hand plane. I am improving but much to learn here I think.

    If anyone has tips let me have them! Currently:
    – Sharpening regularly with the convex round from hand sharpening vs a distinct secondary bevel.
    – Working on grain sensitivity and using scrapers when I have wiry/cross grain
    – Using the trick of pushing shavings into the throat on rising grain areas

    While I can get the oak dead flat for joinery and avoid tear out I cant get a non-prickly surface on the quarter sawn white oak.

  15. Paul, heart and soul you nailed it. The fulfillment and all good things that only a true craftsperson could articulate. Thank you for all you do and God bless you, your family and all you care about. Jp.

  16. well said Ben. Totally agree. Paul I enjoy every vlog you do. Thank you.

  17. Again too many months away in a foreign land from my little place of woodwork at the end of the garden. What you do, and others in your fraternity, is to bring something very special to our lives as close as this phone. It might be only for a few moments, or even an hour if I am lucky, at the end of the longish day that I can almost smell the wisp of your wood being handled and cut in your well trained hands. it’s a great comfort as I slip into slumber imagining what might next be possible. But then when I wake in the morning there will other priorities that withhold again the making of your hand made router. Must do this very soon before my 79 year old eyes fail even more. Paul, always grateful for your thoughts in all the things that are good in wood. Night.

  18. Paul est un philosophe et un poète doublé d’un artisan super doué.
    Il aime ce qu’il fait et pas il cherche à faire ce qu’il aime. C’est tout simple.
    De plus c’est un enseignant confirmé.
    Bravo Paul continue.
    Paul is a philosopher and a poet coupled with a super gifted craftsman. He likes what he does and not he tries to do what he likes. It’s quite simple. Moreover, he is an experienced teacher. Bravo Paul continues.

  19. Those that work with wood will know the sense of accomplishment spoken of so readily here on looking at a piece, fresh from the hand, and that silent whisper, “Yes!” Having slogged my way up from, “no one will notice…” through “it’s ok”, past “not bad” and on to the “Wow! Did I make that” to arrive at the glowing “Yes!!”….the word of true accomplishment. It is undoubtably the best feeling to be had to take a piece of wood and fashion it with a beautiful and weighty, finely honed plane; the razored chisel; the sweep of fine sandpaper, the lick of sweet oils and polish, the scented aroma that only wood can faze the nostrils with, and then, to stand back and look upon the thing of beauty that has been created. I live for it. The “humbling” part spoken of, the most valuable lesson I have always found to be, not just welcoming in the accomplishment, but necessary to reason, was, is, and always shall be for me at least, that I did not make the grain. That truly is the pinnacle accomplishment for any carpenter as he – or she – contemplates the beauty of what has been achieved. The privilege of the making the piece, is always to let shine the part we had no hand in. From the humblest of pine, to the finest, most exotic shadowed colours of a scented masterpiece of timber, it is always the grain. Like a diamond, it is simply on loan for a few score years.

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