Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Philip Shelton


Philip Shelton

photo by Glenn Lucas

I grew up woodworking; I spent a lot of time in the shop with my father, who makes Windsor chairs. I learned a lot of ‘foundational’ things about power and hand tools as a child and teenager; although looking back, I wish I had paid more attention and spent even more time with him during those years. It never occurred to me then, that woodworking might be something that I could make a career out of. It wasn’t something people talked about: my friends, my guidance counselors, my teachers. Everyone said ‘you have to go to college; you have to get a degree’. And so, I did.

I spent three relatively miserable years not doing anything with my hands, besides turning pages in a book. And in the end, I had a relatively worthless degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. By that time I had grown to know myself better and realized I wasn’t going to be happy working in an office or pursing a path in academia. So, it started; working outside, working with my hands, finding greater joy than I had experienced while in college.

Working outside as a landscape carpenter was a good place to start, then as a residential carpenter where I found the world of fine finish work to be more fulfilling, in the short term. This lead me back to thinking about my early years in my dad’s shop, and the joy and simplicity of hand tool work and fine furniture making. I had to find an outlet for my creative flows and bring them into reality with traditional woodworking techniques. I found the perfect fit at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking, Furniture Making Intensive.

I completed the twelve-week intensive in March, 2019. And after moving my belongings and tools here in December 2018, I purchased property as well. The Olympic Peninsula is home now. I have a woodworking shop, busy building a barn and a kitchen shelter, settling in and working at the school where I found inspiration and community.




E-mail: philip@ptwoodschool.org
Location: Quilcene, WA