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    Hi Folks 🙂

    Through your involvement with Paul’s course/courses I was simply wondering if many of you have specific goals after gaining or enhancing skill sets.

    The reasoning behind my signing up is primarily due to my teenage son being a second year apprentice cabinetmaker and – in spite of being a time served and experienced cabinetmaker in my own right, but unfortunately disabled by rheumatoid arthritis and unable to work with Jonathan for long periods at home – I think it’s a fabulous opportunity for him to enhance his knowledge and skill sets by studying Paul’s methods and approach toward craftsmanship.

    I’ll be working with my son on each of the projects as they progress, but primarily as an observer.  He has prepared the timber for his wall clock and should be starting on the first project this weekend. 🙂

    I’m sorely tempted to build a fresh work bench for us to work on, but lack of indoor work space (Sheds at the new property are rather decrepid and a new moderately sized 15′ x 20′ workshop is planned for) means it would need to be outdoors beneath an overhead canopy. 🙂

    George Bridgeman

    I’ve been setting myself small goals and am working through them now I’ve got a better understanding of what’s required for the craft and made a lot of mistakes!

    My recent goal has been to get a couple of handsaws set up for dimensioning 3/4″ thick timber. I’ve now got 8pt rip and 10pt crosscut saws sharpened, set and working nicely.

    The next job is sorting out my chisels. When I was mortising the timber for my workbench I put 30 degree bevels on a couple of them because the 25 degree ones required sharpening too often, and have ruined the bevel on a couple others while learning to hand sharpen. Now the bench is complete and my sharpening skills are more refined I’m reverting them to 25 and will, at some point, get a different set for mortising. I’ve been learning to use my electric grinder, grinding bevels onto an old set of Irwin chisels as practice. I’m glad I did – turns out it’s easy to blue tool steel! Once I’m confident with it and grind some new bevels on my Narex chisels I’ll hone them on my new stones (arrived this morning! Woo!).

    As soon as my chisels are in good shape again, I’ll be at a good point to get cracking on some actual projects. One of the biggest hurdles I’ve found when getting into the craft is the real basics are pretty difficult – sourcing good timber, getting it cut to size and having a set of semi-decent tools to use to cut joints.


    "To know and not do is to not know"


    I would say that my goals on the course are pretty simple really……to develop a set of skills with which I can turn ideas into actual, tangible objects.

    I work as a product/project manager in the mobile telecoms industry, and have done for the past decade.  During that time I’ve delivered multiple multi-million pound projects for a variety of the best known telcos in the UK.  Not once in all that time have I actually seen anything that I’ve been responsible for ‘building’.  It’s all servers and switches and boxes with flashing lights, that live in data centres hidden away from prying eyes on grey industrial estates.  There is nothing you can touch, feel, smell or look at in anything I’ve done.  It’s all a bit too abstract for me.

    I got the idea of working with wood and such things a few months ago whilst doing some DIY.  I needed to repair some detailed plaster coving in the dining room (which had been trashed by some lazy woodworking by a previous owner of the house).  By the time I’d finished and had it looking pristine again, I’d had to take a silicon mould from a good piece of coving, built a jig (a bit of simple woodwork) to hold it in place  the mould in place/steady/square whilst pouring the restoration plaster, trimmed and refitted it.  I got more pleasure from that little piece of work than in anything I do for a living.  At that point I decided I needed to do some more creative stuff using my hands -even if only as a hobby.  Since then I’ve built my own, very rough and ready, workbench and also made a rare-earth magnetic knife block which I made by laminating some old shelving and forming into a quarter circle.  It might be very crude and not very well finished, but it’s my first attempt and I’m proud of it.

    Moving forward I want to be able to saw straight and flatten square and not be scared to look at a project and think ‘I can do that’.  I think if I follow Paul’s course I’ve a pretty good chance of achieving that.  Anyway, back to the mobile networks……….



    Yorkshireman currently living in Hampshire


    Hi George,

    It sounds like you’re doing brilliantly and have a solid grasp of where you want to be with your woodworking 🙂

    I honestly think tool management and sharpening are often the most overlooked and miss-understood aspects of woodworking, as quite a few seem to over complicate matters by trying to alter pre-existing recipe for success by overlooking actual craft practices.  These and material selection are only a few of the many areas through which Paul can guide each one of his pupils to successful end goals. 🙂


    Hi Jon,

    that’s the true beauty of learning a craft or crafts, as they provide the ability for one to manipulate raw materials (Especially in terms of woodworking and masonry) and create tangible, practical and often quite beautiful pieces of work.  I can well imagine just how satisfying it must be for you.  With experience you’ll tend to find challenges falling into place beneath new headings instead of what must seem pretty steep learning curves.  The great thing concerning the fresh challenges is they’ll tend to surround design decisions and how best to get new tools past SWMBO’s radar. 😀


    I’m a lot like Jon in that I spend my days working on a computer building 3D graphics and doing CAD work for clients designs. You would think that would be fairly rewarding, and sometimes it is, but there is nothing physical I can hold, or touch at the end of the project. I have some friends with a four year old daughter who I adore, and I carved a small dolphin last Christmas for her. It came out well and she loved it.  There was something about being able to actually “make” something from a piece of wood that gave me a sense of accomplishment. It was something tangible. I learned a lot about fighting the wood versus learning to coerce it. That being said, the wood and I still have major disagreements about who is in charge. That got me back into woodworking after 25 years.

    My short term goals are to finish my workbench (Paul’s design), then practice mortise & tenons (not as easy as Paul makes it look), then onto dovetails. I’m going to try to practice cut one a day of either until I get it down. Then onto building a dresser, then bookshelves. I’ve mastered sharpening chisels and plane blades thanks to Paul’s videos. And I have the hairless patched arms to prove it. ; )


    P.S.  There’s also something addicting about the sound and feel of a sharp plane taking a shaving that is satisfying as well. You just can’t beat that sound. I don’t know why.


    Nice one Jeffrey 😉  Gifts – such as the one you made – tend to be treasured and often remain with a child for life.  Kudos to you for doing such a wonderful thing. 🙂

    I know just what you mean in terms of the satisfaction that springs from the use of a well set plane with a crisp iron.  Here’s wishing the all the best with your endeavour to conquer timber in it’s many guises.  Keep practising and you’ll be surprised just how quickly the skill sets fall into place.

    Charles Cleland

    Ok, here goes:


    I’m a bit different than many of you, in that my drive to start woodworking started in wanting to furnish my home.  After bouncing around in the service for my first 9 years away from home and making due with inexpensive particle board furniture in all my temporary (less than a year) lodging and giving it away when it came time to deploy, move, etc  I really got tired of having flimsy, cheap looking furniture.  When it came time to get out of the military and settle down I wanted some quality, well built and sturdy furnishings, but realized that if I purchased the tools and drew on those almost forgotten lessons from my past, I could have better furniture AND a full set of tools for about the same cost or even less than purchasing it outright.  As I’ve assembled the shop I’ve changed directions a couple of times, going from log furniture designs to more traditional, and from power tools to hand tools.  Along the way I found that I hated the whine, dust, and constant hyperattention to danger that comes along with power tools, and found myself in need of instruction into using the hand tools to get professional looking results.  That’s how I ended up here, and so the goal is to develop the necessary skill to be able to take those furniture designs in my head and turn them into real objects that I’ll be able to use through the years with the satisfaction that I’ve made them myself.  Though I’m fairly young (26), I tend to turn to the old ways of doing most things in life, and find the greatest satisfaction that way.

    Washington State, USA
    My own humble blog:


    Well said Charles 🙂  I think you’ve made a sound choice in signing up for Paul’s course and hope you achieve everything you’re aiming for. 😉


    Nice thread you got going Gary 🙂

    Interesting to read and ponder the various paths that got us into woodworking and Paul’s online classes.

    My own story is probably about going full circle. I always built stuff from wood during my childhood. I was fortunate to have a dad with both skills and hand tools to get a young boy creative. So the saw, knife and hammer was with me all the time building the things you need, tree houses, bows, swords and so on.

    I stayed creative and have kept building and inventing, though moving from wood to metal and mechanics and later on to electronics and circuits. Started working in the electronics industry when I was 19 (that’s 13 years ago) and now I work as an electronics design engineer for a consultant company. I enjoy the core of my engineering work but often the creative part is lost when project plans, release dates and economics rule the day. And they rule every day.

    So for me woodworking is a way to be creative and concern myself only with how to perform the task at hand for my own satisfaction. I love wood as a creative material. Every piece has lived a life full of events. Events that are recorded and preserved in the very structure. Simply taking any piece of lumber and plane it to reveal that history and beauty is really half the pleasure.

    The reason for me to join Paul’s online classes is simple. I need a mentor. Reading books and watching dvd’s is great but I like the thought of regular classes. And the simple yet elegant ways Paul demonstrated in his Youtube videos appeal to me. If I can support the Real Woodworking initiative and also gain a mentor I’m all in.

    So what am I building/planing for the moment? In the shop the sawbench build is moving along. I have the wood picked out for the clock and the wood for a small sharpening bench waiting for the plane. In the planning phase is a proper workbench. It will be inspired by both Paul’s bench and the theory recorded in Chris Schwarz book’s on the subject.

    One of the things I did not realize when joining Woodworking Masterclasses is the living and vibrant community that we ourselves build. There is a lot of knowledge and experience among the more senior that complement Paul’s videos in a great way.

    Hopefully we will all enjoy this woodworking adventure together for a long time coming.


    Located in Jönköping, Sweden.


    Real nice post Jesper, I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    Very Best



    Me too Ken 😀

    Many thanks Jesper 🙂  Both for your response and the very positive content concerning your goals.

    Ron Harper

    I was a better than average power tool woodworker. A divorce, a move, crating up my shop, caused a ten year hiatus from the craft. At 67 years of age, I have returned to woodworking with a vengeance. I have determined to use my hands and tools to work wood, not machines. I like Paul’s approach. I want to get as good as I can with the time I have remaining


    I know the feeling regarding the need to take a break from crafting, although mine was due to ill health and fortunately only lasted seven years until the rheumatologist eventually tripped over a more aggressive medical treatment capable of slowing the progress of the disease.  I am on borrowed crafting time, but making hay while the sun shines and enjoying the time I have teaching my son. 😀

    Paul’s approach is sound and one not too dissimilar to the manner in which I trained and continued teaching apprentices.  In terms of providing a solid background in hand tooling, I can’t think of a better route than the one Paul encourages because tool maintenance must take priority alongside well co-ordinated rote learning.  The temptation is always there for one to try and rush ahead, but – whilst some begin crafting as if they were born to it – not all learn at the same pace and this is where patient substantive support from others can make a very real difference.


    Nice thread guys!
    After reading all posts I have found so much similarity with my situation but I guess that is also reason why we all are here. I’m working in Telco industry, mobile part in particular dealing mostly with projects and processes (Jon, is this sound familiar to you ;-)). I started with woodworking two years ago mostly with power tools and machines and with intention to build some furniture I was missing. But that way of working didn’t differ much from my job, you are always constructing jigs and constantly in high attention mode because of real danger that comes when working with machines. I was at point of giving up on whole thing when I stumbled on Paul DVD’s and that change game for me.
    I’m started to slowly collect hand tools and I’m still bad at using it but I’m now relaxed and enjoying all the time. Joining this course will hopefully help me in establishing sound basic skills and the way Paul is teaching is giving me high hopes on fulfilment of this goal. So for me making projects is on second place (not saying that is not important) but watching and learning about skills and techniques is my primary goal.
    And, also very important, I think that community here looks very promising with real positive attitude and desire to help
    So far this looks like beginning of wonderful journey…

    Living in Croatia

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