Best YouTube channels to learn... woodworking

16 March 2018

It's funny how some interests (or trades) got onto YouTube very early.  Woodworking has been popular on there since the video-sharing behemoth got started.  I suspect this is because the US has a strong tradition of TV shows about woodworking - two great examples being Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop and Roy Underhill's Woodwright Shop.  With a plethora of channels available on cable, and a bigger population, broadcasters were able to air more niche, and thus detailed shows.   Over in the UK we had four channels, and so if something wasn't going to appeal to at least 5% of the population (or it was cultural) then it didn't stand a chance.  

In no particular order, here's a list of channels that I've learned from.

The Wood Whisperer

A long-established channel with Italian-American woodworking geek Marc Spagnoli and his sidekick Nicole.   It's filled with great tutorials, guides, reviews and generally high quality content.  I'd described as aimed at an improving, and committed, woodworker - he uses fairly lots of clamps and glue, and shows in professional how to build quality pieces, generally of furniture.  I learned a huge amount from here, and it's easy bedtime viewing.  

Typical projects

Woodworking for Mere Mortals

Steve Ramsey.  He's an energetic, fast-talking eccentric whose built his channel based on projects that can be done without investing in fancy tools.  He trudges out a banged-up table saw from his garage, chops stuff up on the bed of his truck, and generally produces well-structured projects - even if I can't agree with his design aesthetic and color choices.  Lots of good stuff to learn and a great channel for someone starting out.  

Typical projects

Frank Makes

Frank Howarth is a unique guy - educated as an architect, but with practical woodworking skills to rival any journeyman.  He has the most enviable workshop of anybody I've seen, and his projects are aspirational on every level - creativity, originality, ingenuity, and craftsmanship.  He devotes a lot of time to talking about the layout and design of his ever-changing workshop, and there's a lot of clever ideas to steal and pass off as your own.   If you can't tell, I love Frank.  Oh, and his stopmotion videos are awesome. 

Typical projects

Mathias Wandel

Matthias Wandel loves himself some precision engineering.  His craftsmanship is great, but he's more a Da Vince for his contraptions.  He tends to build his own tools, and he's very much a function over form guy.  There's geekery aplenty with maths, physics and all sorts of CAD wackiness - feast your eyes on the marble machines!  All seemingly done on a shoestring budget.  Genius is the word for Matthias.

Typical projects

Ron Paulk

Ron Paulk is an extremely likeable mystery and I think he deserves 10x more subscribers than he has. I'm convinced he's a secret millionaire - he has a workshop in what seems to be the 20-car garage of a multi-million dollar mansion - which he claims belongs to a friend and he's only using it temporarily while they sell the house.  I think it's been five years now that he's been there.  But anyway, Ron is mainly a finish carpentry contractor - that's things like baseboard, fireplaces, kitchen cabinets etc.  He is a master craftsman.  What makes him unique is his approach to working - he is all about being portable, mobile and lightweight.  Every year he seems to fit out a new van or trailer as a mobile woodshop.  I've built Ultimate Workbench, Chop Saw station and fitted out a van following his designs.  He introduced me to Festool, which was a costly mistake for me!  I've built a lot of his projects, and I learned a whole lot along the way.

Typical videos


Roy Underhill

Roy Underhill is a gentleman woodworker.  Nothing electrical for him, he works with hand tools only, and it's a delight to listen to and watch him work.  He's pre-Youtube and so it's a bit of a hunt to find his videos but you'll be rewarded with real charm that makes you want to grab an axe, fell a neighbours tree and hone it into a bench.  Or he just makes you thankful for plywood and routers.

Typical projects

Norm Abrams

With a 20-year run ending in 2009, The New Yankee Workshop is a beautiful series that you can binge-watch for months.  It has production quality that shines through its VHS 360p resolution.  There's gold to be found in them there YouTube rips.   

Typical episodes

And finally...

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