Chris Schwarz VS Paul Sellers

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    You guys should have seen my first dovetail box 🙂  You could have driven a truck through the gaps 🙂  I still have that damnable box, everytime I cut dovetails now I look at it to remind myself how not to cut dovetails 🙂



    Dave, I find that post very refreshing. Your dovetails are sure up to the mark now, and I’m sure people still struggling with this joint will find the inspiration to keep practicing and improving


    I have to say I’m glad this thread didn’t veer off course. I haven’t watched a lot of DVD’s I can only say what I know from the times I’ve seen Chris Schwarz on the Woodwright’s shop and a couple of his youtube videos. Otherwise I only know of him from his blog at Lost Art Press, and from that I can say that I am glad he does what he does and he makes a good contribution to the craft. The posts cover a lot of ground on the history of woodworking, various techniques, where to get supplies, how to think about hand tool work, etc. At Lost Art Press they are definitely bringing back some important historical works. As far as who I would rather watch a video of it would definitely be Paul for the reasons everyone else has mentioned. So having both of them is definitely a good thing in this case.



    The woodwright is on purpose a mixture between the woodworking instructor Roy Underhill and the storyteller and historian temporarily playing the roles of the people he is talking about.

    Roy also plays the role of the neophyte when guest craftspeople are in an episode. He asks naive questions about the tools and techniques they deploy, as if he did not know full well. One episode I did watch was with Chris Schwarz and his “Anarchist” tool chest. It was a blast when Roy asked him quite quizzically about the term (almost to poke fun), looked sideways at all of his shiny expensive hand tools, and dropped one of Schwarz’s moulding planes on the floor. You could tell Chris was a bit nervous, honored and annoyed all at the same time.

    I applaud Underhill for his great impact, although I personally have a hard time watching his program when he is so frenetic and goofy. Definitely a stage actor.

    -Scott Los Angeles


    If you ever get a chance, you should check out the videos of Jim Kingshott, very similar approach to Paul’s.  I have heard it said before, and I fully agree, watching either of them on video is like pulling up a stool and being right there in the shop with them.

    I have the Kingshott videos, and I think the comparison to Paul is interesting.

    You are exactly right that the videos play like your right there with Kingshott in the shop. He had a very relaxed demeanor, and he certainly knew his stuff. Very enjoyable. He was keen on showing off his fancier tools, including some overly complicated Richard Kell dovetail marking gauge (that he prefers not to use)  and his massive Norris Infill plane. He also seemed to be a big proponent of Japanese tools, and the Dovetail video features his Japanese dovetail chisels quite prominently.

    My only issue with Kingshotts videos is that I would have liked him to spend more time talking about the details of what he was doing. For example, in the Dovetail video, (where he only demonstrates the half-blind dovetail joint – another sore point for me), he does not talk in detail about any step. Beginners are going to want to know how to start a saw cut smoothly, how close to the line to cut, to be warned against cutting through the baseline, or to know how to hold and control a chisel for dovetail paring. Some clues can be had by carefully watching the visuals, but I was hungry to know more. I would also like to know how Kingshott got his chisels so incredibly sharp that they can cut through mahogany so effortlessly.

    Perhaps Kingshott took these basic skills for granted, but  I am very grateful that Paul takes the time to introduce and reiterate fundamental techniques of accuracy and craftsmanship, and describes in detail how he responds to the nature of the wood as he proceeds through a project. This part of Paul’s teaching, as well as his more philosophic take on the craft are what I find both unique and inspiring.

    As a side note: I would love to get Paul’s thoughts on Kingshott’s vertical paring method for removing the waste in dovetails. No chopping involved. He removes most of the waste with a coping saw, pares at an angle to form a hump in the middle of the sockets, and then pares vertically to remove the rest of the waste. Seems to require super sharp chisels and superior control. How common is this method? What advantages does this method have over any other?


    -Scott Los Angeles


    Frank Klausz – again, I’ve met him in person, have a signed dovetail – and he’s a great teacher. But he’s not a great DVD teacher…. If you were in the shop with him, it would be 1000x better. But he doesn’t really teach – he shows…. “Cut here like this, now here, now here….”

    Klausz is in the same “old guard” teaching style as Tage Frid. Experts at what they do, but teaching a mild form of “fail until you succeed” (or is it, “trial by fire”?)  method. I suspect that those teachers do not appreciate all the hand-holding that is going on these days. 😉


    I wish there were some Tage Frid videos just because I’d have liked to see him work. His books are very detailed and clear. He wrote one of my favorite woodworking lines (paraphrasing): “This joint is very easy to make, especially after you screw it up a dozen times.”

    There is one Tage Frid “Profile” DVD that comes bundled with the boxed set of his books. Published by Taunton, you can also buy it separately from Amazon or elsewhere. You follow him through one of his typical woodworking days, and he discusses his tools, shows you a few things and describes his approach to design and woodworking in general. Very enjoyable since it feels like a personal tour, but the DVD is not very useful in terms of instruction. He has a very un-fussy style, and jokes about being cheap when choosing tools for his work, which I find charming. He was very dedicated to his powered router and table saw, neither of which appeal to me.

    His joinery book was required reading many years ago in college, so I will always have a fondness for Frid.

    -Scott Los Angeles

    Matt Vaughn

    Just finished watching Schwarz in Building A Shaker Table.  I liked it.  Schwarz reminds me of myself when i work ….. hurried, unhandy, and quoting other experts.  Dont get me wrong he is a great writer and editor.  But…… paul Sellers is a Master Craftsmen.  His pace of work says it all.  Not his speed of project completion of course because he is slowed way down, but the pace of each individual process is pure harmony.  Running a scribe line for a groove, the right amount of force with the chisal hammer, and even the speed of  adjusting his plane is right.

    I am the son of a carpenter.  My dad Has worked his entire life building.  Not fine furniture like Mr. sellers but he to made his living with wood.  Its uncanny how much Sellers reminds me of my dad when “laying out” or striking a chisel.

    I have also watched many surgeons in my education and  profession.  The good ones always have a correct “pace” to their work.  Its effortless! Or at least appears that way.

    Here is a great video of a master bricklayer.  Watch how every movment is poetry. Amazing!


    David Gill

    Great video  Matt  fascinating to watch , not a wasted movement


    Wigan, Lancs. England :


    Love the video Matt

    Lopik - Netherlands

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