Happy New Year!

by | Jan 1, 2015 | 31 comments

I’ve never been one for resolutions but there’s no doubt that today marks a great opportunity to pause and consider what we’ve been doing for the past year, and what may lay ahead. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I’m making a sigh of relief to see the back of 2014. It was a productive year for us and one full of change, but much of it fell out of our hands as I struggled with illness and perhaps worse, realised what a sorryful sort the human race can become when help is most needed.
I feel it’s fair to write that we were forced to leave our workshop this year. But we were fortunate to find the energy and opportunity to take one of our own barns from a leaking, creaking pile of bricks and make it whole again, breathing in new life and preparing it for our next chapter.
We’ve moved home more recently too and now that we’re settled it feels like one of the greatest changes left to get used to is having no internet. It still hasn’t been connected, with the latest promise being made for April. I’ve got myself in the mind that it won’t ever be installed and funnily I’ve become quite happy with that. For work reasons we will create a new routine of popping to the library so the blog will no longer suffer, and my good old brother is very local and happy for us to leave videos uploading overnight if necessary so all can resume. For all other reasons I’m offline and content for now. It’s the perfect reason to get on an do some woodwork just the way I want to do it, without the temptation to look up for design ideas or opinions on that great expanse of the internet.  celebrations in the workshop I’ve had some extremely hectic years building workbenches, always building a greater quantity than the year before. This year I plan to build less, considerably less. Among the changes last year we came to realise that nothing can be more valuable than taking back some control for ourselves. Bigger and faster does not mean better and I’m eager to become a craftsman again and not just a man who works with wood. My workshop now is smaller than ever and with less machines, but it’s also warmer, more comfortable and more inspirational than any workshop I’ve used before it.
George at doorI’m looking forward to this new year as a year to learn. About myself and about woodwork. To explore new ideas and enjoy this as the year which we write our book. And to ensure things don’t get too comfortable and contemplative, I’ve a shit load of building work to do to keep me on my toes!

Happy new year to all.

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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Gordon

    All the Best to you and yours in 2015

  2. Arthur van der Harg

    Well, you know the saying: whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Sounds like you’ve gained a lot of strength last year. I wish you and Helen the best of years to come. Have fun rebuilding the farm, too!

  3. Chris Buckingham

    Glad to see that you now have a workshop again, and that you are out of the fume ridden unit that you were in.
    I am sure that as soon as you feel established in your new home, (and it will take some time before you have put your mark on it) you will feel that it was the best move you could have made, there is nothing better than being in charge of your own destiny, although it may sometimes make you think why you are going there.
    Having also moved into another house, that too will have to have your mark on it, so I think it fair to say that you have your work planned for some time now. All Best Wishes for the future.

  4. Paul Chapman

    Happy New Year, Richard and Helen.

  5. Ken Haygarth

    There are many paths you can chose to walk, I’m sure you have picked the right one my friend.

    Very best to all 😉

  6. Rob Stoakley

    Happy New Year to you both…just make sure Richard, that you hang onto your planes when using them. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with this year. All the best – Rob

  7. Ian Troughton


    You remind me of a book a I read this year about managing change entitled ‘Who Moved My Cheese”. A quick read and well worth it for a fiver.

    PS. Well chuffed with my Artisan bench. thanks.

    A happy New Year to you & Helen.


  8. Steve Tripp

    Happy New Year to you and your family. Your post is heartfelt and true and I doubt I’m the only one who can identify with the emotions behind it.

  9. Barry Lowis

    Hi Richard and Helen.
    Well what a year that has been!. We too have been through all sorts of ups and downs this last year – not something to be repeated too often we hope. Please take good care of yourselves and have a brilliant 2015. all the best Barry and Hilary – hope to see you at a show or two.

  10. DonP

    So pleased to hear you are both doing well. Quality craftsmen are hard to find. Glad you are with us.
    Thanks Don

  11. Paul craig

    Hi Richard. I knew you were having some problems this year, but Im sorry to hear that it has been so traumatic. I hope next year is better whatever you decide to do. Can I say how much I have enjoyed what you have done in your bog. Your practical down to earth approach is so refreshing and I hope you will be able to continue it in some form in future. Best of luck. – Paul

  12. Dave Ray

    Richard & Helen, may the new year bring you the best. I sure hope your health problems are under control. Lookin fwd to many good things from you and about you. God Bless

  13. Mitchell

    What I wish for me and mine, I wish the same for you and yours.



  14. mike murray

    All this time I have been reading your blog and never knew you had a brother. I’m very glad to know that you do and how special. He looks very much like you too. I mentioned once before that it would be good to be able to read about your families. I think it would be interesting for sure.

    We don’t get to see Helen in the pictures but I presume the lady across the table is your brother’s wife. The bright, happy expression on her face says it all. Looks like you folks had a special night.

    When I saw “George” in the doorway and up to the edge of the table, I had a good chuckle. He is a cute one and what a picture showing him there.

    Helen, those are wonderful pictures! Magazines would pay good money for pictures like those. Very special.

    I want to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year! I’m definitely hoping and praying that this new year will be much better than ’14.

    Thanks for posting and giving us a chance to look in on your wonderful dinner and family gathering.
    All the best,

  15. Greg Melton

    All best wishes for a happy and healthy 2015. My wife and I recently relocated to the Northern California redwoods and your blog and videos have inspired me to take up woodcraft as I am also faced with a long list of projects. 🙂

  16. Nikolaus

    Dear Richard and Helen,

    all the best for your 2015. It’s lovely to read that your settling in a new health and a new place. On my behalf I’m looking forward to new posts form you both. There so inspiring! And I love to see your book in the future.

    For me 2014 was quite a hectic year too also with health problems (sore wrists) and huge changes. I finally gave in too my longing to become a professional joiner and in August I started my 2 year apprenticeship, at age 36. And its so much fun. And end of last year I became a father too. Another big change.

    So I feel with you both since 2014 had equally big changes for me. An when you din’t post for a longer period I thought of you and wondered if Richard was still sick or if he’ getting better.

    So a good 2015 for all of us!

  17. Peter Zimmer

    Richard and Helen,
    I too pray for a better year for you both.
    Every blessing,


  18. Rick

    And a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year to you and Helen. Life is a ship, and we are the captain. May we all be at the helm, and steer straight and true.

  19. Nathan Wolfenbarger

    Wonderful to hear from you all again.

    No wonder you’ve been so quiet, since you have been moving house also.

    Hoping you had a blessed and Merry Christmas, and wishing good fortune and blessings for the New Year!

  20. Peter Sefton

    Sometimes it’s just great to be behind your bench and back to basics, best of wishes for you both in the year ahead. Cheers Peter and Sarah

  21. Glynne

    Anyone who has a donkey at their Christmas dinner can’t fail to have a brilliant New Year. When your not sure whether to follow your head or your heart, follow your soul which I think is what you’re doing.

  22. Steve

    New Year, New beginnings…
    I’ve been following your posts, blog and videos for a couple of months.. and have read all the archive issues.
    You and Helen have a lot of talent. I am pleased to hear you are writing a book.
    You must be much better off putting your time and energy into you own shop and estate, for better or worse, it is yours.
    Much better than making some landlord richer.
    Also, the one thing none of us have enough of is time. Living closer to the shop will give you more of that also, for work and for home.
    Not to mention you can control the environment, something your recent experience proves is invaluable.

    I also live in the country, no internet cable or DSL available. There are a couple of companies here that supply satellite internet service both send and receive, I used that for about five years. But now I have a cellular modem, and they (AT&T) are pricing the data service to compete with the cable companies. The funny thing is the speed is much better than my friends in town with cable service…

    I also want to comment on your blog content and videos. They are as good a quality as anything out there. The more you can post the more people will read, and there are a lot of people making good income from the adverts on you tube, just saying, the how-to’s and diary of rebuilding the shop and barns could be an additional income, pay you back for some of your time anyway…

    Good luck in the future, you and Helen will be successful in whatever you do.

    Central Kentucky

  23. Michael Forster

    Happy new year, both! This post resonates uncannily with my position. I’ve decided to accept no commissions for several months if not the year (I’m retired so am fortunate in not having a living to earn from it). Hoqever, even with a ‘lifestyle’ business it had got to the point where I was spending all my time trying to keep up with what other people wanted me to make rather than what I did! So I’ve pulled up the drawbridge for a while and shall take time to experiment, learn new skills, develop new designs and techniques and generally just enjoy woodworking which is what I said for years that I planned to do in my retirement.
    Good luck to you both for 2015 and may it turn out to be a less fraught year than 2014!

  24. Michael

    Wishing you a happy new year Richard (and your Brother?) and Helen.

    After reading your newsletter I felt compelled to respond. Around the time of the millennium (2000) I decided to refurbish my Joiner’s workshop to make it more inspiring to work in and more efficient in several ways.

    Heating: Replaced the 1930’s concrete floor with a PVC damp course, 2” thickness of polystyrene insulation, I installed an electrical heating element (Raychem self-regulating brown cable) to heat the floor then 5” concrete floor slab. This is on a timer with the economy seven tariff hours, when it is on it keeps the shop at a constant 10 degrees C. this is variable depending on the outside temperature. I have a wall mounted Dimplex oil filled radiator connected to a wall thermostat via the timed or permanent supply to give extra heat when needed.

    Insulation: Lined the walls with ½” ply with 1” polystyrene behind.

    Wi-Fi: Because my electrical supply is via my home I can extend this though the power line using TP-Link equipment, this is very useful for checking email, eBay etc.

    Trials and Tribulation produce character and continual Stress produces illness.

    Kind regards Michael from CUMBRIA
    Joiner & Cabinet Maker (Heating & Electrical Engineer) Est: 1980

  25. tomfidgen

    Wishing you all the best in 2015 ~ Hopefully we’ll catch up for a pint in July !
    all the best,

  26. DenverGeorge

    Wishing you the very best for the New Year!

    Your video on clenched nails sent me down a rabbit hole that I have no desire to come out of. Even better, my 18 year old granddaughter has picked up the hand tool bug and is loving it. And the “Thanks” for that goes squarely to you. I’ve had more fun woodworking this last year than ever, and having a shop partner has made it even more fun.

    Now, i’ve just got to build myself a new workbench and rearrange my shop to accommodate the change over to hand tools.

  27. Patrick

    Christmas in a manger, I like it! Happy New Year!

  28. TC

    A donkey? Can’t top that as a guest for Christmas dinner! Very Nativity. Although your posts were a lot less in 2014, sort of made them more special. Doesn’t stop us wanting more though! Very best wishes for 2015.

  29. Ian Elley

    Good luck to you and the family for the New year

  30. John

    Enjoyed your bench dog and batten idea. I did enjoy your raw approach and sorry to see your videos stop….now I can see why……I hope you continue to full health. And give us more fun teachings

    Best john

  31. Allan Solomon

    I just love your craftsmanship ethos in everything you do. I so hope you return to full health and wellbeing very soon. Your videos are superb and inspire me. I have made several workbenches over the years and thought they were pretty good. Then I saw yours .. wow.


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