LumberJocks

Paul Sellers push for a return to traditional woodworking skills

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Jon_Banquer posted 08-10-2012 01:21 AM 2128 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1504 days


08-10-2012 01:21 AM

Paul Sellers is very much on a mission. His mission is to put the emphasis back on building true artisan woodworking skills and to change the focus from what woodworking has become. I’ve seen a lot of video on woodworking and watched a lot of TV shows on woodworking and I can’t think of anyone who does a better job teaching woodworking than Paul Sellers does. I have nothing but respect for this man and what he’s trying to do.

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist


37 replies so far

View Zinderin's profile

Zinderin

94 posts in 828 days


#1 posted 08-10-2012 03:45 AM

I have watched the zen of Paul on YouTube. He is very good.

I am always nervous when someone starts talking “traditional woodworking skills”. It usually translates to “let’s do it the way the Amish did it 300 years ago.” Uhm, no thanks. I like my power tools.

However, Paul isn’t really like that at all. He’s more about understanding why and how you get there … then get there however you like.

I support those guys that like to keep the knowledge alive by doing their wood-working “old school”. We need those types.

But there’s a reason I don’t own an abacus, and frankly if we end up in a road warrior world where I can’t use my power tools, wood working will be the least of my concerns.

View pierce85's profile

pierce85

508 posts in 1257 days


#2 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.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

4202 posts in 1024 days


#3 posted 08-10-2012 07:23 PM

I like Paul’s YouTube vids….

but have to confess, I am gladly an “artificial” woodworker.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1504 days


#4 posted 08-10-2012 07:37 PM

“What exactly has woodworking become?”

In my opinion the focus has shifted to selling expensive tools rather than on skill building. Many of the people you named are heavily influenced by companies making expensive woodworking tools. I also don’t think any of the people you named can teach at the level Paul Sellers can and none of them offer the kind of comprehensive fundamental woodworking training that Paul does.

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1477 posts in 1056 days


#5 posted 08-10-2012 09:26 PM

I’ve only watched a couple Sellers videos, but my reaction is that what he does is very much like baton twirling. That is, a baton twirler may spend 47 years developing his/her twirling skill, becoming the greatest baton twirler in the world, but when all is said and done, it’s still baton twirling. Likewise, Sellers’ 47 years experience may make him the consummate wood worker , but it says nothing about the tangible product that he’s going to leave behind. Other woodworkers, like Krenov, Maloof, G&G, and Nakashima, created designs that have inspired generations of craftsmen, regardless of their or their followers’ skill at cutting a dovetail.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View bunkie's profile

bunkie

411 posts in 1842 days


#6 posted 08-10-2012 09:34 PM

I’ll take a stab at what’s not traditional woodworking>

The use of engineered wood.

I’m plagued by it. Part of me would like to never cut another piece of plywood or MDF ever again. It’s a necessary evil considering what most of my woodworking is (big boxes of one sort or another built to a price).

I dream of nothing but natural boards made from trees grown on my non-existent property milled and dried by me and worked with nothing but hand tools. I also dream of owning my own LearJet.

-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1504 days


#7 posted 08-10-2012 09:50 PM

“Other woodworkers, like Krenov, Maloof, G&G, and Nakashima, created designs that have inspired generations of craftsmen, regardless of their or their followers’ skill at cutting a dovetail.”

Got any links to their videos that show how they teach the fundamentals of woodworking?

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 1065 days


#8 posted 08-10-2012 10:10 PM

Well, Krenov started a fine woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods.

Starting to wonder if this thread fall under the new religion ban. :-/

-- John

View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1504 days


#9 posted 08-10-2012 10:24 PM

“Well, Krenov started a fine woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods.”

What about those who can’t attend and who need high quality video training that teaches the fundamentals of woodworking?

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View pierce85's profile

pierce85

508 posts in 1257 days


#10 posted 08-10-2012 10:32 PM

In my opinion the focus has shifted to selling expensive tools rather than on skill building. Many of the people you named are heavily influenced by companies making expensive woodworking tools.

I agree to some extent, but Roy UnderHill, Chris Schwarz, and Shannon Rogers are certainly not boutique handtool mavens; Rob Cosman, yeah, but then he’s selling his own line of tools and designs. Ironically, the current vintage handtool market – the tools that Paul uses – is in a fairly substantial bubble now. For the price of some of these vintage tools you see on ebay and elsewhere, you could actually save money by buying a new Lie Nielsen or Lee Valley equivalent. That gap is closing very quickly.

I also don’t think any of the people you named can teach at the level Paul Sellers can and none of them offer the kind of comprehensive fundamental woodworking training that Paul does.

Perhaps, but I’m guessing you’d get a different assessment from students of other woodworking instructors.

Hey, I like what Paul does. I don’t doubt his expertise and teaching skills one iota. What I find unnecessary is the way he markets himself and his woodworking philosophy. I think his methods and teaching speak for themselves and don’t need that if you want to know what real woodworking is all about and want to be a real woodworker then follow me…

Paul may mean something entirely innocuous when he talks about “real woodworking” and “real woodworkers,” but if he does he needs to do a much better job making that clearer.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2879 posts in 1939 days


#11 posted 08-10-2012 10:48 PM

I like to compare woodworking to cooking. A great cullinary school can teach someone the essentials to be a chef, but it’s up to the chef to make something that the school never taught him. In other words, a woodworker or chef must be inspired to create something great; the school can only go so far. This does not detract from the teacher one bit. The two become a partnership.
True there are some (many?) who are in it for the money and I try to avoid buying what I feel doesn’t add much to the value of woodworking. Think convenience foods vs home cooking.

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 1065 days


#12 posted 08-10-2012 11:31 PM

So the only gauge of a woodworking instructor is whether they have videos on youtube?

Like many here, I like Paul, think he’s a great resource, but I don’t see him as particularly special. Schwarz has lots of videos, but you have to buy most of them. Does that make him less than Paul if he puts more of his content up for free? Paul also has a DVD series for sale at Lee Valley. Paul obviously teaches face-to-face, so are the youtube videos just a loss leader to drive attendance?

Looking at his website (http://paulsellers.com/real-woodworking/) I’m not too sure I like his vibe either; sound more than a bit elitist; although maybe it’s not intended to be.

-- John

View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1504 days


#13 posted 08-10-2012 11:41 PM

“So the only gauge of a woodworking instructor is whether they have videos on youtube?”

My only gauge is video’s I’ve seen / own:

Charles Neil
Christopher Schwarz
David Charlesworth
Frank Klauz
Gary Rogowski
Rob Cosman
Norm Abrams
Tons of stuff from Fine Woodworking / Taunton Press
Marc Spagnuolo

Others I can’t remember right now. None of the above came close to inspiring me or giving me the confidence that Paul Sellers does. I’m sure it’s different for others.

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View Jon_Banquer's profile

Jon_Banquer

69 posts in 1504 days


#14 posted 08-10-2012 11:48 PM

“Looking at his website (http://paulsellers.com/real-woodworking/) I’m not too sure I like his vibe either; sound more than a bit elitist; although maybe it’s not intended to be.”

Have never found him to be elitist. Just the opposite.

-- Jon Banquer San Diego, CA CAD / CAM programmer, CNC Machinist

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1477 posts in 1056 days


#15 posted 08-10-2012 11:51 PM

How’s your baton twirling coming along, Jon? C’mon,show us your work. That’s what counts.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

showing 1 through 15 of 37 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase