Being Real With Each Other

I wrote recently on beech wood and spoke of what I might see and describe as more soulless methods of making in the sense and mix of it giving very little if any sensory feedback. It wasn’t to open a conversation so much as to try to explain why we hand-tool woodworkers handle our materials of wood so very differently and why we need to actually understand it and relate to it differently too. Of course, hand tools can be as soulless as any machine when used as blunt and dulled instruments by blunt and dulled minds. But when used with ultimate sensitivity and sharpness there is a dynamic with hand tools that’s not needed as any part of a machining process for wood. For those of us working only or mainly with hand tools, this information becomes key to how and why we work so connectedly to our wood and the hand tools that work it. Ever-increasingly, our sensitivities become more finely attuned to our working and prove essential to the success we strive for as we grow and cultivate our skillfulness along with the awareness needed to make the senses work well for us. We spin and skew bench planes of different types and sizes in a heartbeat and by this we avoid tear-out, yes, but, more than that, we’re optimising those skewings and twists for the premium cuts that intentionally and hopefully leave a glass-like finish wherever possible and no matter the wood. For the main part, most people working wood these days are most unlikely to have known this level of performance and outcome and this is because it’s most unlikely that they have indeed never touched a hand-planed surface in their life though they might well think they have.

The shavings rise with ease when the plane set and sharpness are sensitively matched to the performance needed and then too the wood type. I love this picture and not because it’s of me and my hands but because the photographer captured the pure power and dynamic energy hand planes give to us.

In the day-to-day, I use different scrapers reliably and lift one or the other in moments of seamless working where with flexed fingers the flaws are erased in two or three swipes. Sanding usually roughens the surface of my work with the planes and scrapers and doesn’t, cannot, technically smooth it though it may well feel smoother. Mostly this will be no more than the dust between the fingertips and the wood although power-sanding with a random-orbit sander will give an acceptably fine and smooth surface ready for finish. Why do I say this? Well, if you sharpen your plane to 10,000 grit how come the wood’s surface is then less smooth than the 250-grit sandpaper you used? As I said, mostly it’s the dust between the wood and your fingers that reduces friction and makes things feel smoother. There is a place for sanding though. I use it to sand the surface rough for adhesion of my wood finish and not to smooth it. Sanding in general, doesn’t true wood and the plane always will when done well with a sharp cutting edge. How about that for a concept to be learned when all of our lives we have been told that sandpaper smooths wood? Mostly it just smooths wood when hand tools like planes and chisels are not used.

It’s doubtful that any sanding could ever leave the wood surface I am creating here could ever be as true and smooth as this chisel will leave it in a single stroke. Also, I can use the same chisel and in a single stroke bevel the corner I just created with the crispest edge ever possible. The single pass in a slice cut develops a pristine result that’s dead flat at whatever sidth I choose. No other method can do this.

The twist of our chisels to split grain and pare-cut second by second with and across the grain allows grain speak-back we rely on to guide us by grain-pull, grain-ease, leverage and sound. By all of this we micro-shift, adjust angles and present our bodies to absorb change and thereby vary direction, pressure as though the chisel is the mouth that speaks and serves as a total extension for our fingers, hands, arms and hearing too to meet the demand. The muscle-mass of shoulders lock on to follow through and an angle so precise delivers the smoothest pare cuts no other method of woodworking can. Our knifewalls stop fibre fracture occurring in the wrong places by allowing the separation of shorter ‘straws‘ of fibre to be lifted out. This is not who we were but who we’ve become over a number of weeks, months and years. We have no gymnasium for no gymnasium is ever equipped to produce the dynamism we need but we work out in ways no other woodworking methods can possibly offer either. If we don’t do this, have command of our bodies, it will result in poor levels of workmanship and our sensitivity is key to every twist, thrust, pull and turn of a cutting edge.

I have no issue allowing Rosie to play, mess around or rest and sleep in my shavings. She loves being in there and has done so since she was little. try sweeping the shavings with her around and she only sees prey to chase around like a rat.

I like that waste in lengths falls from the saw to the bench and floor; chunks are the norm and then shavings as long as my arm settle around my feet yet cause no dust, need no extraction, there’s no screaming, burning and zero apprehension. Of course, machining wood must cut the waste away by a million micro-cuts to create minute particles of sawdust and short chips to remove them at speed to extract them. In my world of hand making, I can grab my waste by the handfuls and take my waste to neighbours for fire starting and stove heat. A machine can only work wood by cuts resulting in the longest chips being no more than a few small millimetres. A machinist works always in thrust-pushing to engage the wood to the powerfeed and align it to follow a path central to the planer or tablesaw––there is no reverse, no turning back or turning around and or sideswipes. It legalistically goes, with or against the grain whether good or bad, right or wrong. Not much or even anything sentient about it. Of course, the wood will usually come out flat, parallel and with almost no effort from the machine worker. Much less to think about really whereas for hand work it will be a totally immersive experience throughout the day.

And old tools like wooden planes are still equally as valid (and maybe even moreso) as any so-called premium plane and any metal-cast version. I still use these and the only reason I do not use them in my videos is not because they were bettered but because they are not available.

I haven’t put this out to open up a discussion that would most likely be fruitless. My defense of handwork in woodworking is to dismantle any and all attitudes coming from professionals over the decades saying that you cannot make a living from woodworking by hand methods. That depends on who you are. I have no problem and one of my previous blogs prved that you could if you have the drive and skills. I present this and that from what I now know from my six decades experiencing the most comprehensive ways in a day-to-day-life of working wood. I’ve worked equally in both worlds of machining and hand tool working. I absolutely understand the reasons many people rely on their work using machines; why they use them throughout their workday if they make woodwork for their living. It’s an unfortunate thing that most professionals don’t believe that handwork will indeed deliver options they might never have understood, practiced or trained themselves in and so decided never to master handwork. It is NOT to criticise anyone or indeed anything but that in any way. What I do is merely to explain that there is almost no connection between the two methods and that there is much more to hand tools than simply comparing the speed and delivery of machines used in industry to hand tool methods. I do all of what I do because there is a very significant and important ‘missing link‘ in information that no longer comes from the masters of old immersed daily in the craft to the boy awaiting direction, instruction and supervision under a watchful eye.

In a time past I was sim-ly proving false information from gurus who were not really gurus by experience. These guys almost if not always tell you you need a low bench to bear down overhead over the plane to make the planes cut and my proof here is that a sharp plane pulls itself to task. I hate disinformation as much as I hate having to work at a too-low bench these advocates with planes always seem to promote. Low benches are for short people and people who have disabilities.

In times past an apprentice grew as a supervised novice over a number of years and facts were passed down in an exchange we will not see again. Such knowledge was work-based at the bench and could not be something read up on in a book or in a magazine. I’m not talking about basic facts. The kind of thing you get from a magazine or a book. It’s the physics of working that I’m trying to express. The days of bona fide apprenticeships as in times past are very much gone no matter what governments and educators may say. At age sixteen I saw a man take a single sweep with a one-inch wide chisel and in that single sweep cleaned up every ounce of bandsaw kerf from the inside of a cove but the bevel of the chisel was uppermost. Imagine, all saw kerf removed and the finish was as silk.

An apprenticeship begins with small projects, a handful of ordinary and inexpensive tools following some basic and simple instruction from a knowledgeable and well-practiced woodworker. Over a number of years, this transforms the individual into a knowledgeable and experienced maker capable of making anything from wood using still the same basic tools, joints and material too . . .

. . . John’s rocking chair below is made from highly figured elm and is meticulously constructed in the finest workmanship With every component planed and jointed by hand only.

It’s a few years since John first started learning his craft with me. mentoring someone in craft is one of the greatest privileges any maker can have but something we are losing sight of I’m afraid. John, a former apprentice, followed my Craftsman-style rocking chair guide to make this unusual rocker using elm. The detail is meticulous and the work meticulously executed. This one he selling for £950. It’s a weeks work.

Apprenticeships in the real sense and strength of the word no longer exist in the fullness they once did. This sad reality occurred mainly because college course training displaced bona fide apprenticeships thinking it could better what ordinary workmen passed so willingly and capably from one generation to the next. These college courses offer very little more than what can be gleaned from reading just a few books or magazines but job security is mostly about meeting the industry needs by box ticking and common sense health and safety; something any parent could teach usually, the core information I speak of is what I am writing and filming day on day, week on week, month on month and year on year. Hand tool woodworking is not old-fashioned, archaic or old-school working. It’s the current technology of centuries past that holds just as good for us today as it did in those past centuries and we simply extracted what worked best and kept what worked best for our current work that’s all. Do we have to abandon machines and technology though? That’s just silly––of course not. If we can afford the money and space for both then those that want to can. I choose not to having been content for seasons in both camps for decades (more than most) I chose what I have purely from experience and decided that this was indeed me. From that I encouraged others to simply pursue what I considered would best equip them for a rather more fulfilled life using their own developed skills and power for a variety of really good reasons. But we can run our personal training in tandem without compromising anything; it is, however, important to see that machining wood does in no way equip you for handwork with hand tools. The two are barely related, really. The connection can be made by categorising one in one camp and the other squarely away in the other. The now more populist term of hybrid is really not new at all, it’s what we’ve done for two centuries but never needed to described it so.

Woodworking is a world of ordinary people learning a craft to make is dynamic. By people investing themselves as best they can in learning and mastering the work of the artisan.

Even well-intended books and articles cannot articulate feeling and especially the feelings of a working artisan who spent a lifetime working his wood but never wrote down what the wood spoke to him in the doing of it. Consider this though. That’s like millions of woodworkers throughout the pre-conveyor belt world of earlier centuries. Take this and add in the differences between hundreds of species of wood, the different cuts made into it and then the tool types used and the tools used that make them work. By this, you will understand how comprehensive this man-to-apprentice transfer of knowledge and work-based information was in the pre-internet days when the information carried much deeper meaning for the apprentice relating to the men of the day must by necessity have been. With apprenticeship and the whole intimacy of working the wood by hand, you have the most incredible shortfall imaginable in the training of a future hand tool woodworker. Thirty or so years ago this was dismissed because, well, who was going to hand plane a piece of wood anyway? Who was going to rip and thickness their wood by hand? I know, in the 1980s, I thought the same. Wood magazines back then always showed power routers and tablesaws on the front covers along with the gladiator gear and posings and 95% of the content surrounded machining wood. The change came by a gradual recognition that machines were really limiting, highly invasive offering ease and speed for some things but little in versatility. They were also extremely noisy, messy, highly dangerous and any outcome was always clouded by how they really limited our work, how intrusive they were to our moving lucidity and calmness through our working hours. Believe it or not, amateur woodworkers actually like the concept of physical, high-demand work in a quiet atmosphere. They are generally more knowledgeable than professionals too. You see, we want the feel of muscle and sinew stretched by the mind to make woodwork with hand tools and with hand tools we can afford to give time and space to.

I often think of something I have seen creep into woodworking in recent decades. What I like about my work and the direction I finally chose to go in is the realness of my craft and the working knowledge of it. Watch me working and you will usually see me using a handful of hand tools you can buy for around £20 a piece and less; a hundred pounds gets you started and usually these are the tools you will rely on for 90% of all you ever make in the future. Just sayin’!

I am not sure why but many woodworkers on the net with any kind of following have created an image that in no way really validates them because, well, it’s obviously an unlived and contrived way. A backdrop of several thousand pounds or dollars worth of hand planes isn’t really exemplary of much more than conjuring up an image they perceive to be validating. Let me give you an example.

Just how do you persuade people wanting to master a craft like mine that with the tools shown here you can make just about anything you care to name in wood? We can add a few others; a spokeshave, a gouge or two, some more specialist hand tools like plough planes and rebate planes, but every single woodworking joint you care to name, and that is what furniture making mostly is, joinery, you can make with just these few tools.

When I was 18 years old I had been rock climbing for five years having trained at an Outdoor Pursuits Centre in Hope Valley, Derbyshire and being taken on as a volunteer aide by the team there. I became a competent climber with exactly the weight-to-strength ratio needed to climb hard climbs as a freestyle climber. I teamed up with an old school friend and he bought into the gear because of his family wealth. When we walked up to the crags and met other climbers along the way he was always left out of the framework of real climbers whereas I got the nods. My gear was far from fancy because mostly it was secondhand, old and well-worn in both senses of the word. One day we walked along and he commented, “How come you look so much like a climber and here I am with all the best gear and nobody says ‘Hi’ like they do to you“?’ The difference was that he wanted both the image of the climber and the acceptance. A backwall of the best planes and saws money can buy and all lined up like a cook’s kitchen is usually just an image. This isn’t really very qualifying but I understand that for some, appearances are everything. Dismantling our need for acceptance is not the easiest of things to do. School (both Private and State) trained us by systems of merit. Ticks on pages and gold stars, straight A’s and such all fed our senses by our being in some way approved. This then feeds the need to be accepted by others approving us to fit into their world when really, just becoming an artisan needs no approval by peers to elevate us. That said, every woodworking association seems to work on that basis rather than the freedom of being, well, just ordinary real. We create systems by which merit is given and yet hundreds of thousands of woodworkers in centuries past went through life just making but they made in anonymity and were simply respected by those they worked with. These people were just real. They weren’t searching for or needing approval because the work they accomplished in the day-to-day itself approved them. It attested to their ability and stood testament to it at the close of day. there was no parading of expensive hand tools or a workshop so pristine it looked like a premium kitchen in an expensive home. This kind of imagery seems more to undermine what we strive for.

Imagine yourself in a workshop for 30 straight days making what you see here when you’ve barely made anything with hand tools in your life before and at the end of it you take home half a dozen pieces (three are not shown here) and you feel for the first time you own the real skills and knowledge of woodworking to make whatever you want to.

In my world now teaching the more I look back on the ordinary people I taught woodworking to. A 30-day class took students, most with almost zero experience of hand tool working, to conclude serious projects including a tool chest, a coffee table and a rocking chair (as above). Most students were just real and down-to-earth people. Postal workers and clinicians, a dentist and an artist, people working at life. Parents, mums and dads, woodworking teachers and such. The level of achievement was high. High enough for me to say what they made could have been sold as professional work had they wanted to. Of course, they didn’t. They wanted the skills more than the pieces they made. It was nice. really nice. Unpretentious. No false claims. Transparent openness.

25 Comments

  1. Just a thought sparked by your mention of a wooden plane. I bought a wooden plane off eBay a couple of years ago. It was in good condition, just needed a clean up and the iron sharpening. It planed beautifully, so I wrote to the seller and told him so. He was as pleased as Punch to know that his dad’s old plane was being put to good use.

    So if you buy an old tool, tell the seller. It might make them happy to know that their tool is still being used to make something.

    1. I did similar with an old chisel and saw I bought. Thanked the seller and told them I was now using them. The lady was delighted as she hadn’t known much about them and they were quite rusty when sent. They were cheap tools, quite poor quality, but exactly what I needed for a particular job. I’ve still got them and use them now.

    2. This post strikes me, as something similar happened to me recently. While browsing in a craft/antique(?) mall with my wife I finally stumbled on a panel saw in fair condition. Most tools there are either broken or missing parts. Here I found an older Craftsman model 3600 for $10.00, that l later noticed was made by Disston! The medallion was emblazoned Disston and Sons.

      It was in fair condition and freshly sharpened, but I planned on cleaning it up further and refinishing the tote. When removing the tote I noticed the original price tag on the bottom of the lower horn. Clear and legible, it read Sears and Roebuck Company Retail Store $2.10. I subsequently found an original listing for this saw in a catalog from 1937 the price listed was $1.95 Needless to say, I left it as it was.

      Now that I read the previous post I’ve decided to contact the seller and let them know this will be a user saw, and won’t end up on the wall covered in chalk paint

  2. Thanks Paul. The picture of Rosie lying in the shavings brought to mind my daughter. My daughter, Clara (named after her great grandma who I was very close to growing up and into my 30s), flutters between two hobbies. My wife is a talented artist and has an art studio in the house (fancy word for the spare bedroom). I have the walls along the garage. My daughter has space in both places. Not that long ago, I came home to find my daughter intently carving in the art studio with the Sloyd knife and basswood I had given her not that long ago. When she came out of the room, she was covered in wood chips. Tons in her curly hair and all over her clothes. The left a bread crumb trail of shavings as she went from the art room to the kitchen to grab a snack. I felt very proud and content to see her in the flow. No picture could have captured that magic moment. Of course, later, I gently asked her to sweep up the shavings which she willing did. All recalled from Rosie in the shavings. Thanks for sharing that photo of Rosie.

  3. This reinforces my opinion of some online communities relating to amassing tools. I bought into that for a short period and then realized I was trying to keep up with the Jones when I really did not care to keep up.
    So now I work the few planes and saws I do have, some much older than myself and simply enjoy the movement and the dance of planing to a shine and cutting to a line.
    Thanks Paul. I completely agree with take on the loss of apprenticeships. I believe I would truly enjoy learning by watching and doing in person as opposed to viewing it all online.

  4. Re the importance and sad demise of proper apprenticeships:
    Testify Brother. Testify.
    I don’t know the global situation, but here in Australia ‘apprentice’ plumbers no longer need to be able to solder.
    Dumbing down seems to be the order of the day.
    But maybe I’m just a silly old pffart.

    1. The nice thing now is that there is no need not to learn and master soldering and it is more accessible now than ever in history. In the beginning of our videoing I did not see how it could work let alone whether it would work. I’m so glad we took what seemed to me something of a gamble at the time because now we reach a million and more in a given month and the perpetuation of hand tool woodworking has found new life in the hands of those who alone can carry this work on to new levels. iYou see these days it is not professional woodworkers any more but amateurs with a professional ability that far exceed that of the carpenter. How neat it that!

  5. I have had great pleasure in my first year of retirement from hand planing rough pallet boards to a silky finish using my father-in-law’s old Stanley #4 and a £5 wooden plane from eBay. I haven’t made anything of any note but I simply enjoy the process and the transformation which comes about in both the wood and in myself. All thanks to you Paul, you have taught me how to set and use the tools and also the value of doing so, rather than using noisy, dusty, expensive power tools.
    Thanks again.

  6. Seems like a Spear & Jackson panel saw for cutting down larger pieces of wood is missing from the basic set of hand tools.

  7. Today, I’m mortising columns into the shoe and tympanum of a grandfather clock bonnet. The columns are turned and carved. The tympanum has carved goosenecks and much other work. I cannot imagine cutting the mortises or tenons on machines. It would take forever to setup and to build jigs. Also, there is too much at risk and with hand tools I control everything (sometimes to my detriment, though). At the same time, I am so very glad that I could buy a lunchbox planer. After I joint by hand, it is better at flattening things than I am. At one point, I found that I was slowing my development because there was enough time invested in milling wood by hand that I was procrastinating and triple checking everything because I didn’t want to have flatten new material. The lunchbox planer short circuited that. Hand tools, though, are just how I think. They are inseparable from the creative process. I confess that I’ve never tried to make an entire set of dining chairs. I’ve wondered whether that project would make me feel a longing for a machine.

    Paul, over the years, you have mentioned “bench tests” that people would perform to demonstrate their capabilities when being considered for a position. Would you consider writing about a bench test that someone would take to start as a journeyman? One of the challenges we have as self-taught workers is doubt about our skill level since we don’t have someone to comment. If you described the elements of a journeyman bench test and any requirements for speed, it might be a useful self-assessment and might motivational.

    1. Interesting Ed. I guess if you had a bandsaw like Paul advocates then the thicknessing and cutting parts for dining chairs could largely be performed by that. The grandfather clock sounds wonderful!

      1. Very good point, Rico! The band saw is a remarkable thicknesser! 🙂 Yesterday I ripped a plank – after jonting it on two sides on my jointer/thicknesser – and was left with two boards. One even in thickness, the other more wedge shaped but very useable for smaller/thinner stuff. It would have ended up as chips in the bag if it was not for my band saw.
        I sometimes use the thicknessing function of my combo machine to give me uniform thickness of my boards, to speed the process up a little. A few swipes with my hand plane renders the surface pristine.
        But If I am going to make a table top or a panel, I don’t bother much with uniformity. As long as one face is flat and the sides are square to it, I’m good to go. The planing of the surface will make everything uniform afterwards, so a band sawn surface is good enough.
        And for a table top, the underside will be flat and smooth but not necessarily dead parallell with the top side. For a panel, the back side will be smooth and flat-ish, depending on if it is going to be seen or not. I plane all surfaces, but I’d happily leave a scrubbed face for the inside of a chest of drawers. That time-saving aspect of hand tool work is something I enjoy. 🙂

        A side note: I find it amusing that some people advocates the use of machines because it speeds things up. For prepping, sure. Joint making – not really, but perhaps marginally. But overall, they save lots of time on some parts of the process, but spend a lot of time sanding things smooth. Not to mention spending time carrying parts around the shop from machine to machine. I crosscut the plank right there on the bench (using a combo bench hook/shooting board), brush away the sawdust and joint the edge. No need for Mikado-like maneuvering of wood around the shop! 🙂

  8. Your eloquence intimidates for fear of comparison between it and anything I could say. But its resonance compels me to try anyway. Perhaps unknown past generations of woodworkers lost to shame of hard work, poverty, and the immigrant’s foreign accent (German speaking Russian peasants transplanted to the Dakota plains of the US.) is why, but somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought there might be a Paul Sellers out there, intimate with the visual, tactile, and even aural, intricacies of working in wood in a way that is a legacy from millenia. Not the souless spitting out of identical objects mass produced fast as mechanically possible, but through hand, eye, mind, and yes, heart, that combine to make unique durable objects containing the soul of their maker. Thank you for your quest Paul, because it has helped me fill a void of meanig in my modern life.

  9. It is a pity we can’t post images here (although I fully understand why that is) – Last week I used an old wooden plane to flatten a table top I got for free (the table was to be discarded, but it had a 30mm thick fir top!). The top had been used a lot in a kindergarten or a school, and it had all the marks to tell that tale. It was slightly cupped here and there, but mostly flat. And I needed a top for three kitchen under counter cabinets (I am Norwegian, forgive my vocabulary) that I also got for free. They are now a neat little work bench with ample storage, placed in my 30 m2 shop.
    The real hero here is that wooden plane! I sat the iron for a rather beefy cut and hogged off material across, diagonally and along the top, resulting in a dead flat surface within minutes. Two passes with my Record 04 and two coats of Osmo top oil, and the work was done.

    I did not do anything to the underside – because why would I? This is an aspect of hand tool working that easily can be overlooked. I did not need to make the underside nice, so I decided to leave it as it was. It won’t be seen unless you bend down and look up into the cabinets with a torchlight. Even I am not that picky in my own shop!

    My wooden plane glides so easliy over the surface, it weighs almost nothing – I just had a round of covid, so my strength is not back yet. But I had no issues working a 60x150cm top dead flat and silky smooth in 10 minutes. My Stanley 6 and the 7 gathers dust. I think the 6 will have to go, but there is something about using the mighty 7 from time to time… 🙂

  10. Another inspiring article!
    I am just finishing a little clinker sail and oar boat, built entirely with hand tools.
    I have to say that much of the belief that an amateur like myself could tackle the project came from your articles. I didn’t understand the wonders of a freshly sharpened saw or a properly set up and sharpened plane before now, and it’s been a revelation. Goodbye dust and noise!

    Thanks for the wonderful attitude and information!

  11. About 8 years ago, after meeting and speaking with you, Paul, in Saratoga NY, about hand tool woodworking, I started the transition from mostly working wood by machine to hand tool woodworking. Today, as an admitted hobbyist, I’m completely transitioned to hand tool woodworking. My education as to the working qualities of different woods is ongoing. All thanks to you chatting with me for 15-20 minutes at the end of a Sunday, after you had completed a demonstration. Funny how a few minutes speaking with you changed my direction.

  12. I started planing wood when I was 12 at school where I did woodworking for 5 years. I still have 4 pieces I made when I was at school 54 years ago. In the last y years I have started making things out of wood. I did buy a table saw which has gone to the tip. I love using hand tools and love hand planing the wood with curls and no noise.

  13. i am now retired now, but made furniture on commission. i never had any desire to make production run pieces, where all you do is make one component all day everyday. i worked out of an extended single garage at home, hence keeping costs down. yes i do have a few large machines for milling, but most of my work was done by hand. i can honestly say i have less gear than most amateurs i see on youtube. like yourself i have largely stayed away from buying into the expensive brand names, as generally i cannot notice where they are better in their performance. there was a term back in the 90’s. KISS, keep it simple stupid.

  14. Paul,
    Do you still teach a 30 day format type class in the UK like you did while here in the US?
    Thanks, and I enjoy your posts here in Indiana!

  15. What gives that rocker the extreme form of coloration? I’m assuming some kind of insect got into it. I picked up a piece of 1X6 pine at a big box store with the same kind of markings and have been on the lookout ever since for another. Finding enough to make a larger project with could be a problem. I have since decided that board was a fault that is usually discarded at the sawmill.

    Here in central Texas there is plenty of spalted pine to choose from. I’m assuming from an outbreak of Pine Bark Beetles which happens regularly in east Texas.

    1. This type of figuring is quite common in English elm and no it is not insect damage or any other such issue. These are dormant buds that form in the tree stem but never mature or produce to develop into full branches beyond sprouts. The colouring is all natural with no stain used at all.

  16. Another practical reason to go with hand tools. I don’t like power tools for most of the reasons you mentioned, but another big disadvantage is the cost. In my mid-sixties, I was looking for something to occupy my remaining years, provide some income, and let me enjoy my so called golden years. I had some experience in building, and so I started in learning “fine wood-working”. After a while, it occurred to me that in order to go the machine-tool route, I’d need to invest $40000-60000 dollars to outfit a shop with all the tools in a modern cabinet makers shop: planer, jointer, table saw, drill press, sanders, blah blah blah, Then there’s dust extraction to consider. And maintaining a huge shop. So it took up green-wood joinery/carving “Peter Follansbee school.” I work in a 10×12 shop I set up in my rented studio. Still refining my tools set, but soon I’ll build a tool-box that will hold all the tools I need, so I can easily move to new location, or even work on-site. The labor-saving power-tools of the last century exist to facilitate mass-production; rapid manufacture, and interchangable parts, blah blah blah. Whether or not that industrialization is an evil, soul-killing development (and it may well be), its primary benefit is to a scaled-up, big production business. For a one-person operation, that produces a variety of items, say twenty per year…not so much.

    1. Ethan, you could have copied all of those other non-Sellers YouTubers who did spend $60k on machines plus a massive workshop so that they could tell us how they allegedly make “cheap” DIY objects out of “scrap” ($100) wood. I love that Paul’s poor-man’s range can be made for virtually zero outlay and don’t require an industrial scale production facility!

  17. Handwork of any kind puts you in closer touch with the material and what you are doing. There is a feel and intimacy that machines do not provide. Many a craftsperson will attest to this.

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