When are you going to write more magazine articles?

A lot of people have  asked this question in the past year.  I have to answer, “You’re looking in the wrong place.”  I have been doing a lot of writing, but for a different magazine.  If you want to read my articles, you have to subscribe to Popular Woodworking.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I have been very happy with Pop Wood, as they are willing  to print the type of articles I like to write.  As a teacher, I work cheek and jowl with woodworkers all the time.  I know them very well.   Since I run into the same situations over and over, I know the average woodworker’s strengths and weaknesses.  Take hand planes, for example.  Very few woodworkers know how to use one any more.  They have become a mystery tool. They come in all sorts of sizes and they have  all sorts of strange knobs and levers.  The same applies to sharpening.  For most woodworkers sharpening is all Greek.

I have longed complained to my editors that a woodworking magazine should be teaching people what they DO NOT  know.  Like many of you I will scream if I see another “Ultimate Router Table” article.  I argued until I was blue in the face that an article on tuning up a hand plane does not help the average woodworker who does not know hand plane basics.   It is like writing an article on super charging an engine for people without a drivers license.  A tool review of hand planes is equally useless.  That’s like an article on choosing the best sports car for those same guys without  drivers licenses.  I argued that what we need to do first is teach how to drive.

When I made that argument to Chris Schwartz at Pop Wood, he agreed and told me to get writing.  I was used to editors chopping up my articles to fit their space. I was delighted that Chris made space for my articles.  In the past half year, he has published an article by me on how to sharpen.  Then, he published my article on hand plane basics.  Yet to come, are two more articles on how to use hand planes.  In the course of a year, a woodworker who puts into practice the information in that series of articles will be able to sharpen all hand tools, as as well as understand and use hand planes.  Grouped together those articles are what an apprentice working 200 years ago would learn in his first couple of years in the shop.

Popular Woodworking’s editorial interests  remind me a lot of the old black and white American Woodworker of the early 1980’s, although Pop Wood is in color.  If you liked woodworking magazines in the old days before the endless tool reviews and router table articles, I would urge you to subscribe to Pop Woodworking.  That’s where you’ll find me.