The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Embracing technology


I recently did a routine cleaning/organization of my garage and once again discovered some items I didn’t even realize I had, among them literally thousands of drill bits, of every size you can possibly imagine (where did I get them? your guess is as good as mine). But I think the most surprising discovery was a stack of hundreds of woodworking magazines. Everything was there from Shop Notes, Woodsmith, Popular Woodworking, Fine Woodworking, Wood, and several others. I did not stop and bother to count them out, but there were at least 200. Many years ago I installed two spare kitchen cabinets in the back corner of my garage, which is ‘L’ shaped, and considering that the ‘L’ portion of my garage is a forgotten corner of odds and ends, I basically forgot about them. And since I’ve been reading woodworking magazines even before I started woodworking, I had amassed quite a collection. Likely, I placed the magazines in the cabinet sometime during the spring of 2013 because, June 2013 is the latest issue I can find in there, but I found some Shop Notes dating back to 2005, which is surprising because I honestly hadn’t realized I had been subscribing for that long. Here’s the worst part, I also have three plus years worth of Popular Woodworking in our spare bedroom.

I couldn’t tell you how many magazines I’ve subscribed to in my lifetime, but it has been a lot. I can name at least forty off the top of my head, yet there are at least forty more that I am forgetting.  I would have to say my love of magazines started in the military. As I was in during the pre-cell phone, pre-internet world, receiving a magazine or two or three during mail call was a connection to the outside world during a time when it was very easy to feel isolated from the rest of society. And being a man of many interests, I subsequently subscribed to a variety of different magazines.

Yet, there has been a difference between my woodworking magazines and nearly every other magazine I’ve ever read; for whatever reasons it seems I’ve been vey reluctant to discard those woodworking magazines. I’m not quite sure what this reluctance stems from, however. Going through that pile, I made the difficult choice to put many of them in the recycle bins. The Woodsmith and Shopnotes, which have thicker paper and binder rings, I hope can be used by my local library, otherwise, I will recycle many of those as well.

I’ve never been a hoarder, not even close. Every six months I go through my clothing, and every six months I bring a pile to Goodwill. The same can be said for many things I have; if it is unused it gets donated, period. I cannot stand the thought of clutter, yet for some reason I could not stand the thought of parting with my old woodworking magazines. Maybe that says something about me and the value that woodworking has in my life. I’m sure it does in some regard.

So, just this morning I renewed my subscription to Popular Woodworking. I had let it lapse without realizing. And when I renewed I selected the ‘Digital Issue’ option. This is the first time I have ever purchased a digital only magazine, and I’m not too sure how I feel about it just yet. One of the great, simple pleasures I enjoyed was throwing the latest issue of PW into my backpack and reading it during break at work, or paging through it while sitting in the living room. Now, I will have to read it from a tablet, or from my desktop. Of things to complain about, having to read a magazine from a tablet is way down on the list. And the good news is I now have an instant archive to go through when need be.

Though I embraced the digital world years ago, there are many things I miss. I am sure many people feel the same way. Maybe one day soon print magazines will no longer exist. And maybe that is a good thing, because I would think that it is much more cost effective to go that route. When and if that day comes, I won’t be too happy about it. But, I had to make a choice to help keep my life and house uncluttered, and a digital magazine is a start.



  1. Jonas Jensen says:

    Hi Bill.
    I am impressed that you sort through clothes etc. every six months.
    I have to say that I am a hoarder and a packrat compared to that.
    My clothes locker is filled to the brim with old T-shirts and pants etc. The T-shirts still fits me, but my belly has grown a bit the last 10 years, so there’s probably a couple of the pants that I can’t fit into anymore.
    I hate throwing out clothes, I guess it is a principle for me to wear them till they really can’t hold up to anymore use.
    I had a seamstress repairing my bib overalls because Mette said she couldn’t do it because I accidentally ripped the so much.
    I finally threw out one pair last time I was at home, but that is really rare for me to do something like that.

    I have the same problem with books. I can’t throw them out. Magazines are the same group.

    I have kept all of my Popular woodworking and Woodworking Magazine issues at home. I usually bring two or three with me on board the ship, and I take them back home every time too So they are still used regularly.

    There is also something like 10 years of Motorrad Classic (a German classic bike magazine). I haven’t read in those for years, but my problem is that I have kind of a photographic memory. And I know pretty much which articles are hidden somewhere in those magazines. Five years ago a friend of mine got himself an old Suzuki GT 750 from 1975. I immediately remembered having a magazine with that bike as the main theme. A quick flip through the pile and there it was.
    So I am afraid that if I throw out my magazines I will suddenly need them one day, and get angry with myself for throwing them out.

    The idea of a digital subscription has crossed my mind, but I am so conservative that I have discarded the idea.
    I have one digital issue of PWM, and it really doesn’t feel the same reading it that way compared to flipping through the pages of a printed magazine.


    • billlattpa says:

      Clothes especially, as I do not like to keep clothes around that I do not wear. The only exception I make is for jackets/coats, and jeans. But things like shorts, button shirts, golf shirts, ect. I always make sure to donate. I can happily say that my clothes closet just has the necessities in it for now. I try to go through our attic every spring and take a few more items for the donation pile. I have actually lost weight, as I haven’t been able to lift weights for several months because of the problems I am having with my shoulder. I am down from 200lbs to just under 190. So my pants are fitting better than ever!

      Another item is books. I have many, many books, some from school, some novels, a ton of reference books; the list goes on and on. I have been donating them a few here or there at a time for more than 2 years. Though in that case it has mainly been novels and such, as I never let go of reference books, but I actually have donated a few woodworking books to the library.

      I agree with you whole heartedly concerning digital magazines. I like the hardcopy so much better, but at this point I am simply out of space for them. I should post some photos of my bookshelves. I have a mini library all on my own of just woodworking books and American history books. Probably several hundred there alone. And I have probably 50 books on electrical work. It just goes on and on.

      I held on to about 50 magazines, paging through the ones with projects that I liked, the rest I wrapped and recycled. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen shopnotes or woodsmith, but they have hard paper and binder rings, so I placed my favorites into binders and the rest I am hoping our local library would like to take, because they are in very good condition.


  2. The biggest problem with digital subscription of woodworking magazines is that you can’t wipe your ass with it if the issue sucks.

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