The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Baby Come Back.

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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.

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12 Comments

  1. Art Watson says:

    “It’s not you baby…. it’s me….” LOL

    You’ve matured whereas I still light-up when I get a Klingspore, Rockler or Lee Valley catalog in the mail. I can’t help that I love to window shop….

  2. forbeskm says:

    I am dropping my fine woodworking as it is mostly machine stuff that I have no room for on my front porch shop. Lee valley, veritas was at a local show here and were more interested in chatting amongst themselves then selling anything so theirs hits the recycle bin when it arrives.

    I am not much for reading anything on a tablet except for my paper white.

    • billlattpa says:

      I subscribed to FW for one year and didn’t really care for it. I liked the lay out, but I didn’t care for the direction of the magazine.
      I’m surprised that LV had bad reps, but at the same time they’ve never been in my area so I have no frame of reference. I’ve been to 4 or 5 Lie Nielsen events and everybody there was really easy to deal with.
      Thanks
      Bill

  3. Kinderhook88 says:

    You and I must be very close to the same age. In reading this I had the feeling I had written it, my story is so similar.

    • billlattpa says:

      I’ll be 42 in a few weeks, which I’m honestly not all that excited about, but what can you do? I know I must be getting old because I don’t want to read a magazine on a tablet. There are people I know who read the newspaper, magazines, plans, etc on a tablet, I just can’t get excited about it like some people. At the same time, because I sometimes save my magazines, it would definitely make it a lot easier to store them. Maybe one day I’ll be more digitally inclined as far as magazines are concerned, but that day hasn’t arrived as of yet.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  4. Randall says:

    Well written. If there was a handtool oriented magazine I’d likely subscribe.

    • billlattpa says:

      Woodworking Magazine used to be heavily oriented to hand tools. They folded a few years back and merged with Popular Woodworking, but I think there is a way to still get the back issues. I have a disc with every issue on it. It was probably my favorite woodworking magazine before it went under.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  5. Steve D says:

    I look forward to the return of “angry Bill”. I wish there was a “Popular Basement Cleaning” magazine that focused on power methods. Maybe then I could get some woodworking in someday.

    • billlattpa says:

      I’m still here. My wife has been nice to me lately and I haven’t been on a tool forum in months, so right now I’m placated like a lion in a zoo.
      Thanks.
      Bill

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