Getting the most from the videos

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    I think we would all agree what a valuable medium the videos are, but how do we get every last ounce of benefit from them? This may seem obvious to many, but perhaps not.

    Last week I was chopping mortises on a project, using some of the coffee table episodes as a reference. It was going ok but somewhat slower than Paul was managing. I studied the videos again and picked up on some fairly subtle differences in technique. My next mortise was done better, in half the time.

    I suppose the point I’m making is that we are used to passively viewing things in video/tv format as ‘entertainment’. It takes a lot more effort to really study and assimilate every detail; the angle of the tool, alignment of the elbow, shoulder and head, how each finger contacts the tool or workpiece. But it’s also more than just mimicry, it’s trying to understand why it’s done that way, based on centuries of trial and error.

    I’d be interested to hear others’ views and ideas on how they try to get the most out of the videos. Would also be great to get Paul/Joseph’s thoughts.

    Enough waffle from me, I need to go bash something with a hammer…


    You make a good point, Martin. I normally watch the vids as soon as possible when they come out, in one go. I often pause to make notes on techniques and measurements, although like Paul suggests, many of these are not absolute and subject to adjustment later. I try to pay attention to the entire process in an organic way rather than trying to capture every bit of minutiae. More of *what* Paul is doing.

    I have yet to tackle a project at the same time as a series since I joined up a bit late in the game. For this reason (I suppose I would do so anyway) when I am about to begin a project I watch the first two or three vids paying much more attention to details and the techniques, and then watch each vid again as I go along. More of *how* Paul is doing what he’s doing.

    I refer back to the vids as necessary as I go.

    This works well for me, but I’m sure others will have some different takes on this as well. Interested to read them.


    I watch the videos once at regular speed and then watch them a second or third time speed up so that it doesn’t take so long to watch it. I use VLC Media Player, which as a “Playback -> Speed -> Slower” feature. Watching Paul work 1.6 times as fast is less relaxing. But it doesn’t require as much of a time commitment.

    I am thinking of making an index so that I find and re-watch important parts of videos. For example, which coffee table video would help me get my chopped mortises to meet in the middle. How far should I fast forward to get to the part I need to see again.

    Robin ... Richmond, Virginia, USA

    Jim Burcicki

    An analogy…
    I was an accomplished martial artist in the art of Hapkido. Unfortunately, my Grandmaster was required to return to S. Korea to train military units. So I went looking for another school where I could “play”. I went to a Shotokan karate school. As I watched the class, the students were doing forms. In the one form, the foot position is very awkward. A woman was doing the form and the instructor kept on harping on her about the angle of her foot placement. Physically, she was not able to place it exactly the way he wanted. It was sad to watch and left a deep impression on me as I still remember it after many years.

    The point is that you can watch the videos. However, Paul is not you or me in stature. Don’t get hung up on matching him exactly. See what he does. Try it yourself. Figure out what works for you based on your physical stature. Watch his videos again and again but make sure there is some actual doing between viewings to better assimilate the concepts, but, adapt them to yourself.

    One last example,….

    I watch Paul cut his dovetails. I used to shoot a lot of pool/billiards. My stroke was straight as could be. It took me awhile to develop the body mechanics to make my stroke straight. When I wacth Paul and, I understand what he says about the piston wheel effect. However, standing the way he does, too much wobble for me. His body mechanics are not my body mechanics. Each of us has to figure out how to use our own bodies.

    Sure, the techinique is the same. But, How you “physically” do it oftentimes can be different. it is not something that you can watch onetime and then go out and do it perfectly. It takes study and practice and if you are “thinking” it doesn’t take that long to figure out what works.


    ..Hello my name is Brian… and I am addicted to watching (mostly Paul’s) woodwoking videos… honestly I was up way later than usual last night ‘studying’ the stock prep videos because I was not happy with the planing I had done for the breadboard prep. (well I WAS happy, then decided it just needed a little more of there…. crap…).
    There’s an enormous amount I’m thankful for with respect to the site and the videos and wish I could express my gratitude to him and his team for choosing to share it. Sometimes I wish I could stop him though and ask a question about why something is important or why it matters this way or that.
    I do ‘study’ them, my wife thinks it’s cute (sort of) however putting the visual learning into practise (physically) is where the learning really takes place. My mortices are better and dovetails are tighter, in part because Paul teaches to ‘read ‘the wood, ‘read’ the grain and in that respect, each piece of wood presents an opportunity to learn again.

    Ontario, Canada

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