At the end of his nine day foundation course, Paul Sellers wrote that his students had learned more about using hand tools in nine days than they would otherwise have learnt in months or years. After experiencing this first hand, I think he’s absolutely right. He not only teaches you how to make three essential wood joints, but also inspires you to work with concentration, care and confidence. There’s no pussy footing about here: he demonstrates a joint, or a step in making a joint, and sets you to work. At the end of the course each student makes their own box, bookcase and table – about three days per project. Each project showcases one of the joint types so that by the time the project is complete you’ve got a lot of practice in getting it right. Accompanying this is Paul’s wit, sense of humour and general good nature, which makes you actually want to work hard. Paul also demonstrates how you don’t need many tools (or need to pay a fortune for them) without any fancy jigs. I do my woodworking some evenings during the week, and in the weekend, so nine full days of woodworking was a new but fantastic and intense experience. Although I was mentally and physically tired after each day, it was a ‘good’ tired feeling.
I had watched some of Paul’s video’s online, so it was a bit surreal walking into the school the first time. His video’s are actually filmed at his workbench right in the school. He teaches just like he does on his video’s, but with some essential differences: he’s right there to answer any questions, provide additional tips, critique your work and he drives you to work hard and with confidence. A nice touch is that Paul updates his blog regularly during the course and it’s great to see the pictures and read Paul’s reflection of how things are going on a daily basis.
The setting for the course (Penryhn Castle) is great. I would advise using a car to get to and from the course, although there is some public transport and fellow students helped out those without a car. The nearest airport is Liverpool, which is about an hour and a half away. There are plenty of places to stay in the area (B&B’s, hotels, caravan parks, cottages etc).
Paul started the course by saying “this course will change your life” and he was right. I have left the course with a new set of skills, a different approach to woodworking, and the inspiration to carry on and learn more.