Reply by pierce85

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Posted on Paul Sellers push for a return to traditional woodworking skills

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508 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 08-10-2012 06:56 PM

I enjoy Paul’s instructional videos as well and have learned quite a bit from watching them. However, I’m not sure what he means when talks about “Real Woodworking” for “real woodworkers.” I assume it’s related to “His mission… to put the emphasis back on building true artisan woodworking skills and to change the focus from what woodworking has become.”

What exactly has woodworking become? The renaissance in hand-tool woodworking is alive and well as far as I can tell and has continued to grow for some time. So it’s unclear to me what he’s trying to revive or bring back or emphasize that others have not. People like Roy UnderHill, Christopher Schwarz, Rob Cosman, the folks at Lie Nielsen, Lee Valley, Tools For Working Wood, not to mention smaller online schools like Shannon Rogers’ Hand Tool School, among many many others, have all been actively promoting “traditional woodworking skills” for quite a while now. Roy has been doing this publicly for over 30 years.

I don’t mean to take anything away from Paul. He’s a talented and accomplished woodworker, who contributes a tremendous amount to the woodworking community. I’ve watched all his videos and check his site almost daily to see if he has anything new. I wish him all the success in the world. But I think he overplays his “Real Woodworking” theme too much, and it’s also a bit misplaced. I can’t imagine defining any of the above woodworkers as being engaged in fake woodworking.

I understand that any woodworker trying to make a living teaching the craft needs a hook of some sort to grab attention and make people feel they’re getting something unique and different from the other guys. It’s an incredibly tough business. Nevertheless, the notion of “real woodworking” implies that there are those who practice unreal, inauthentic woodworking. I just don’t see the need to use that message to promote one’s methods or vision.

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