For the first time since I picked up a woodworking tool and tried to make furniture I do not subscribe to a woodworking magazine. Earlier this year I decided to let my subscriptions to Woodsmith and Popular Woodworking expire. My decision wasn’t based on cost; woodworking magazine subscriptions are generally cheap. I came to the conclusion that woodworking magazines were becoming more of a distraction than a teaching implement. At this juncture, I don’t have the time or need for dozens of different finishing or sharpening techniques; I barely have the time to focus on just one method. I don’t fault the publishers of woodworking magazines at all, they need to do what they have to in order to stay interesting. The problem is with me, not them.
This does not mean that I’ve stopped reading about woodworking. Lately, my woodworking “education” has more or less been reading books rather than magazines. While I enjoy reading woodworking books, I’ve found myself missing the familiar feeling of receiving a woodworking periodical in the mail monthly. Though the world of woodworking media may already be a long way down the digital road, I still miss stuffing the latest woodworking magazine into my bag and reading it during my break at work. Woodworking books, as much as I enjoy them at times, aren’t a substitute for magazines in that sense and likely never will be.
I could switch to a digital subscription. Like just about every household in America it seems, we also have a smart tablet, but I really don’t want to go that route. Maybe it’s my generation. My age demographic (born between 1965-1975) is probably the last generation in America that didn’t grow up in a digital world. To put it in perspective, I did not touch a computer until I was 13 years old. I took three years of typing in high school, the first two of which were taught on actual typewriters. While this is hardly the equivalent of walking miles to get to the nearest water pump, it pretty much makes me a dinosaur in the digital age. For example, my daughter, while in kindergarten, used an iPad rather than workbooks. Still, like the vast majority of my peers, I adapted to and embraced the digital age. Just last night after work, I plugged the smartstick into the TV and my daughter and I watched YouTube woodworking videos for almost an hour. Nonetheless, I honestly miss reading a woodworking magazine, and I really didn’t think I would.
So later on tonight I may just hop on the computer and renew my subscriptions to both Popular Woodworking and Woodsmith. My magazine withdrawal came as a real surprise, because for the first month or two I didn’t even think about it. But like an old pain-in-the-ass girlfriend that you just can’t seem to let go of, I find myself missing the familiarity of it all. Maybe she’ll end up breaking my heart again, but I think I’m going to risk it anyway.