We Sold The Box

Some of you will have noticed that we offered one of my boxes for sale on eBay and that the money raised, £640, went to support the work at a local preschool my granddaughter attended for two years before starting primary school. We were glad to be able to do this and decided to do something similar on a regular basis.

This week I have been revising an early video we made in our starter months in video work in 2010/11. Back then we used inexpensive camcorders with a single operator. Following the workbench made in my then back yard we moved on to making a wall clock.

This is one of the original clocks establishing the design. I made several from different woods including basic pine which also looked nice. It proved to be one of our most popular videos.

Remaking this clock this past week, I spent a little time refining the design and working on new drawings. I enjoyed it. I found some extreme quarter-sawn oak with rippling grain all the way through it to make my new one from. I have had it for a while with no particular project for it so I was glad to make the clock from it. Hard to imagine making the first ones to the design all that time ago now.

Quite rare to find. There is something about going back that I like. For decades I taught my classes using just hand tools. The reinforcements for training came through projects and not exercise pieces. Better the real thing with the real challenges a project delivers than repeat exercises simply because the project itself carries with it the dynamic that cannot be replaced by any other means and especially artificiality. Skill building is best not to be put off or postponed as it’s best to learn right off in the saddle.

Just six housing dadoes and the tool tote came together from dimensioned wood bought from any wood supplier. This one’s taken a beating but still holds good. A great project of substance for working with new woodworkers working with hand tools; no matter the age.

My early tool tote uses the same joint: a series of basic housing dadoes sawn, chiseled and routed to uniform depth with a hand router plane. Back in or around 1992 I held my first woodworking class for local children in Austin, Texas. The kids couldn’t wait to get going. Tools in plastic carrie bagss poked out through the sides and we all needed a tool tote. The wood was pre-cut to the needed lengths and planed four-square directly from the store. We could get straight to the task of laying out and cutting the first four of the six dadoes.


  1. Please do not remove your original videos.At least just put your remakes next to them. It is nice to see how far you have come in your journey. Besides, those little “flaws” in the original video will become educational. They will be able to show what small design changes can do for a project. The next group will be able to start learning about design from Day One.

      1. That is a relief! Because – as I have said numerous times before – those videos of you making a work bench on the lawn with seagulls and kids hollering in the background… That was a turning point for me! And I am confident I am in very good company.
        Seeing that made me realize that there is no need for anything special. No shop, no level and smooth floor, no torsion box assembly table, no table saw… Just basic tools, some random sheets of plywood, a couple of saw horses and a tree. I used a coarse concrete floor, plastic saw horses, an old cardboard core door and the wall in my then garage, now woodworking shop.

        Making something useful in an environment one would not think was that appropriate for the task, really highlights the core of the demonstration.

        I am now in the 6th year as a woodworking shop owner with very few power tools in regular use. I am content.

        1. Totally. That backyard bench build is one of my favorites too. I’ve watched it a couple of times and already had a bench. So much about it is useful.

        2. Yes, you’re in good company. For me this making of the work bench on the lawn and with the school bell ringing 🙂
          This gave me the confidence to simply try. No sophisticated workshop necessary. No high-end tool.

    1. I agree. I enjoy going back to some of the really early videos. Having participated in this community for a number of years, it is very obvious that as we learned about the craft of woodworking, Paul and team learned about the craft of making teaching videos. I find great value in watching the progression. Paul explains some techniques differently in the old videos. There is an interesting balance with teaching. I think that consistently explaining something the same way over and over is important. At the same time, Paul has always been great at explaining alternative paths to the same outcome- variations of technique or alternative approaches. While he does this with great effect overtly, it also happens organically over time. For completely different reasons, I also really like the old workbench video where he bangs the thing together outside with wind and various other noises. It is gritty and unpolished compared to the newer videos, but brilliant in its own way none-the-less.

    2. I got hooked on Paul Sellers videos when I discovered the workbench series filmed in Paul’s back yard. I made piles of scrap learning to cut accurately by hand, which led me to sharpening videos, the ‘Poor Man’s Router’ and so on. I still like to go back and watch those videos.

  2. Hi Paul. That’s wonderful news.

    Really looking forward to the tool tote and clock videos being redone. I made 3 tool totes; I liked using the router plane so much that on one of them I didn’t bother to chisel out the waste just knife lined and routed it out. Yes, that took longer but I was having too much fun. I think I’ve made 7 or 8 of the clocks. They make great gifts and I’ve given a few at charity auctions. The one I donated last year out of mahogany the person was so excited and grateful; she saw me a year later and came to thank me again for the wonderful clock. That really made my day to see someone enjoy something so much.

    Looking forward to see if you put any additional spins on these projects. I recall early on You didn’t and that was fine as you are quite busy. Happy to say since then, I have learned how to come up with ideas and variations. Seemed difficult back then but not so much now.

  3. hey my name is Ozzie and I’m new to wood working ( about 8 months in) I just want to say thank you Paul for all your informative videos. it’s people like you that makes this journey that more interesting.

  4. I agree the original videos are perfect. I am still building my workbench so I haven’t been able to start the projects but I’ve been watching the old ones and want to start my projects from the beginning of your curriculum. I’m very excited to get going.

  5. Fantastic, what a great reward for the pre-school. Hopefully they’ll put it to good use. My daughter went to a beautiful nursery, with plenty of light and outdoor space, it was a great start in life for her, so important.

  6. Seeing a charity benefit from something you’ve made with your own hands has got to be extremely gratifying. You know, the little marks you put on pieces of wood to remind you of what’s the face, the edge, the top, front, etc. are called Witness Marks. Mr. Sellers, what you do and how you do it places witness marks on everyone’s hearts and minds. You teach us the right way to build and the right way to live. Thank you for inspiring us to work hard to do better.

  7. All your videos have been excellent and instructive. The one that stands out for me was that in which you showed the chopping of a mortice with a glass side to enable us to see exactly what was going on within. This alone enabled me to realise where I’d been going wrong, as prior to this my mortices were never very accurate. They are now!

  8. It would be difficult for me to choose THE video.
    – Building a workbench in the garden, without a workbench was very important for me.
    – I have looked, I don’t know how many times, the video of mortising behind a glass. It shows one doesn’t have to pry on the chisel (and mortising chisels are not essential tools).
    – …

    All your videos are great but to get the maximum out of them one has also to read attentively written explanations in this blog.
    For example “what’s a knifewall?” dated 27 december 2017, and especially the first and last picture in that post is one of my “Aha!” moments.
    Furthermore, it is an opportubity to get answers to questions.
    And the search function is a great help when one wants to read again an explanation. That is not possible with “questions and anwers” videos.
    That is not to say I could do without the videos.

    Thank you for all the efforts you make to educate us.

  9. Agree. Examples, showing us a path (& not the only route) is great. A while ago, we reframed a 6 foot redwood sign. What was left of the sign and donated materials all were irregular, lending to on site assembly. My buddy was surprised we finished repairs in a few hours and no electricity.
    A heavy 4″x6” post, served as my bench, clamped to a couple saw horses. A combination plane, a coffin plane smoother, a hand saw and some screws did the trick. Surprisingly, a lot of people hiking the redwood forest noticed our redwood sign. Everything was sharp before heading to the job site. Thought is a great tool – Thanks Paul.

  10. My first encounter was a random link to your blog, which led to searching YouTube for videos, and enrolling in the Woodworking Master Classes to make sure I wouldn’t miss anything. The experience has allowed me to unplug and cover my table saw, donate or sell my planer and routers, and refurbish hand tools I inherited, bought cheap at garage sales and farm sales 40 years ago, or found on eBay. My latest effort is a sword case for a blacksmith friend of mine, and I am halfway through ploughing 16 linear feet of 1/4 x 1/4 groove in oak for the top and bottom inserts. All the tips and tricks from those videos have helped me immensely, from setting up my 45 to dealing with wild grain. And my right shoulder is finally loosening up again. So many thanks to you, Paul, as well as your ‘production department’, for all your past and future presentations. Greatly appreciated.

  11. That series making the workbench in your back garden is one of my favourites too, also influential as Vidar has mentioned. In North Wales wasn’t it? It emphasised to me that you don’t need fancy tools, or even a workshop, to really get started, which as a novice was very impactful. Prior to that I attended one of your courses at Penrhyn Castle, which was the most impactful moment, since exploring my grandad’s garage workshop (he was a woodworker too) as a small child. He died before he was able to pass on his skills but I’m glad I found this again in later years. I recall at Penrhyn your introduction commenting on the issues of mass consumerism whilst preparing by hand, pretty much with a plane I think, the most perfect looking shelf, made in front of my eyes. All my grandad’s pieces were made ‘in the past’, using techniques mysterious to me. That was a great re-introduction to the craft.

  12. The out side bench was the bust out video for many of us. Prior to that I worked with saw horses, B&D table, and a cruddy sawhorse bench with a vise and power tools, although I did have a number four and five plane but couldn’t ever get consistent results with either. But I knew a good bench would make my life better and that started my hand tool woodworking quest and it has been a blast. The videos help the beginner take the leap and instill confidence in one abilities and we are thank for for your generosity to share your knowledge so freely. Those little totes are great beginner projects, I have made a lot of them, one for my small garden tools and after that I resized them larger to fit three terracotta pots and give them away as gifts with flowering plants in them. People love them.

  13. I love the clock. I hope you will be releasing the building of the new version in either your online course or on Youtube. I have been building a few clocks from online plans in recent years and I would love to add a “Paul Sellers Hand Tools Only” to my plans. I always give the clocks I build as gifts to friends and families and neighbors and a “Paul Sellers” would be a special gift indeed.

  14. FYI: Multiple eBay users have reported what appears to have been fraudulent bidding in this auction and they are investigating. Bidders/buyers beware.

    1. The bidding has been over for a couple of weeks and the box is safely in the home of the one who won. Nobody was cheated and no one lost out, thankfully and that’s because we kept vigilant eye on the piece up until the last minute of bidding.

      1. “Nobody was cheated …”; perhaps not. But not for lack of trying. An analysis of the Bid retraction and cancellation history at the bottom of the Bid History of the listing shows very unusual activity. Close inspection of the timing of the 1300 & 1200 bids and there subsequent retraction or cancellation reveals shill bidding that was done in collusion with the seller. Only the effort of the victimized bidder to get his/her bid cancelled prevented someone from very definitely being cheated. I have been following Paul for at least 6 years. Unless my skills of judging character are woefully inadequate, I refuse to believe that Paul had anything to do with the malicious activity that occurred. Nothing but a class act, right down the line. However, there is/was a rotten apple in the ‘rokesmithltd’ barrel.

        1. The one’s that lost out were the ones that saw some suspicious activity with an ultra-high bid causing them to withdraw their in-between maximum offer that was yet to be revealed as the bids rose.The one person placing the highest bid did so to push up the bidding to find out how hight the box might go for, bidding and then withdrawing the bid that took other bids higher ahead of a legitimate maximum bid that would and should have unfolded. The bidders with legitimate intent could still have allowed their bid to their maximum but unexposed bid and they would have won the prize but decided to withdraw. I understand that. Perfectly understandable and we will have to work out how we manage a genuine act of charity in the future. I think it might have gone to around £1200 if this had not taken place but nothing we could do about this very questionable act. And, why on earth would you suggest I might even be considered to be behind some kind of cheat or “malicious activity”? My only goal was merely to raise funds to better the efforts of a local preschool my granddaughter had benefitted from for a couple of years. And then too your using the “‘rokesmithltd barrel'” phrase there! Rokesmith is our (my family) company name. I strongly dislike this unproductive and harmful input making such hints when in the first place it was Rokesmith that asked me if I would like to consider this charitable act and has caused me to consider more such possibilities for charitable input down the line. And then your opening line, ““Nobody was cheated …”; perhaps not.” Perhaps not? What does that mean or suggest, Evan? We gave freely for the benefit of others and at great cost to Rokesmith Ltd and myself because we loved the idea.

          1. “The one person placing the highest bid did so to push up the bidding to find out how hight the box might go for, bidding and then withdrawing the bid …” … the very definition of shill bidding; prohibited by eBay. Google eBay Shill bidding policy for further. I’ll have to assume that you did not realize that this activity was prohibited and in fact is illegal in some jurisdictions; punishable by fines.
            I wish you good fortune in genuine acts of charity in the future.

          2. Well, Evan. Let’s end it here. The deals done, box sold, living on the bidder’s coffee table, money’s gone to a great charitable cause. It’s all fine now. May not be quite perfect but then there is no such thing anyway.

  15. Paul, We all appreciate all you do for us. Thank you for trying to help this deserving charity and we are sorry that your good intentions caused you grief and pain. Thank you again from all of us woodworkers from all over the world (from here in North Carolina) to whom you have brought so much joy over the years. Oh how I love to watch your artistry with that Aldi’s chisel and the old Stanley No. 4.

    1. Thank you Mike for any concern you have. Don’t trouble yourself. It caused me no grief or pain and no lack of sleep at all. The positive intentions remain and I am far from discouraged. This needs less attention than its already getting actually so I will just get back to my bench now. And my blood pressure today is 106/62 and a pulse of 61.

      1. Paul, I couldn’t agree more.
        Besides, I have several big pieces of spalted maple that I need to make into smaller pieces, fuss with them a bit, and put them back together in a different arrangement!?!?
        Look forward to the day we can share a proper cup of coffee, face to face.

  16. I have always admired Paul’s generosity. whether it is giving away:
    Video content
    and now work to be sold for charity.
    This can only be admired, ignore any Internet trolls.
    identified a need, and acted upon it.
    My favoutite video is probably the garden work bench series – I love my version. But also others were I have crated items or been inspired to. I made my first saw handle having been inspired to do so by the plane handle video.
    Well done Paul.

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