Chris Schwarz's Blog

Significant Staff Changes at Popular Woodworking Magazine

Note: This is a longer message than we usually post here on the blog and is in two parts. First, a message from Steve Shanesy, the publisher and leader of our woodworking community at F+W Media. Then a message from Editor Christopher Schwarz.


Heading Back into the Front Lines of Writing

Nearly 17 years ago I was at home on a ladder painting when the phone rang.

“I’m with F&W Publications here in Cincinnati, and we’ve recently bought a woodworking magazine. We are looking for an editor. Would you have any interest?”

How could I have known that call would lead to such a long career with Popular Woodworking Magazine?

A couple months back, I decided to leave my busy and often demanding position as business leader of everything relating to woodworking at F+W. I wanted more time in the shop and to begin writing about the craft again. To many, it might have looked like retirement, but it was really about changing gears now that I’m approaching 63 years of age.

Well, folks, the phone rang again.

A few weeks ago, Senior Editor Glen D. Huey told us of a great opportunity that has come his way and that he would be leaving the job. (I’m very glad that he will continue to write for us a contributor.) That hole in the editorial team has become an opening for me. I’m really thrilled to be moving into Glen’s position and continue with the magazine. It’s a new/old role that takes me right back to my editorial roots here and allows me to do what I’ve longed for – more time for woodworking and writing. Some days you get lucky.

And other days you’re not so lucky. In what I’m sure to many will look a bit like a soap opera, I had the unhappy task earlier this week of letting the staff know that our longtime and much-respected editor has decided to move on as well. Chris is filling you in on his plans below, which really look pretty cool. We’re all very happy for him and are getting on with the business of keeping the magazine rolling along.

I know there will be those who will look for intrigue behind these staff changes. The truth is it’s just an amazing set of coincidences. As with Glen, we have every intention of Chris continuing to have a role in the magazine by contributing articles, online content and presenting classes at Woodworking in America this fall.

I’ve had the good fortune of a stable editorial team for years and that’s unusual in the magazine world. There is a certain inevitability that it couldn’t continue forever.

— Steve Shanesy


I’m Leaving the Editor’s Chair

On June 15, I’ll be stepping down as editor of this magazine, which I love almost as much as my wife and children, to launch the next phase of my life, which I have been working toward for many years.

An organic llama farm.

Just kidding about the llama farm. Actually, I’m going to plunge deeper into woodworking history, old texts and traditional hand-tool techniques with my little company, Lost Art Press LLC. To my friends, this move should come as no surprise. I’ve always preferred to work independently. Before I came to Popular Woodworking in 1996, I was editor and co-founder of a small newspaper that covered state politics in Frankfort, Ky.

That business struggled mightily (and eventually failed), despite our every effort to grow it. And I left it in defeat and came here to this magazine, tail between my legs, and learned a lot about the business side of a publication from my boss, Steve Shanesy.

But I am now ready to go back out on my own and try to stand on my own two feet. I might succeed this time. I might not.

Either way, I hope that you’ll still hear a lot from me in Popular Woodworking Magazine, on this blog and at Woodworking in America. I’ve offered to keep writing my blog here at popularwoodworking.com, author regular articles for the magazine and demonstrate at Woodworking in America.

In other words, I don’t want to leave the fold here.

I know it looks like we have been shifting around a lot of duties and job descriptions here at Popular Woodworking Magazine. But for the last 15 years or so, things have been remarkably stable for a national magazine, with only a few comings and goings of note.

So perhaps, from a karmic point of view, we were overdue for some change here. Or perhaps, in my particular case, the right timing, urges and opportunities arose all at the same time.

No matter the reason for the personnel change, I know what isn’t going to change: The quality of the magazine. No one in this organization, from the very top down to the bottom, thinks that Popular Woodworking Magazine is due for an overhaul. Our balance sheet is excellent. Our bean-counting superiors are happy. Our readers are (generally) satisfied.

So why am I messing with things?

That’s hard for me to say. I turn 43 in a few weeks, and I want to make sure I’m heading into the rest of my life with no regrets.

And for me, that means I need to take one more big gamble.

— Christopher Schwarz

p.s. I promise you this transition will be transparent. I have not been fired or forced out. I’m not leaving in disgust. We’ll be offering more information on the coming changes and Steve and I will even be answering your questions in a public forum.

65 thoughts on “Significant Staff Changes at Popular Woodworking Magazine

  1. John Cashman

    Best of luck to all of you. You’ve each brought something unique, educational, and entertaining, and I hope to continue to go along for the ride.

    For what it’s worth, I think Chris should have his own sitcom. I would definitely watch that.

  2. chris k.

    I am very happy for you both! While I am slightly concerned that my favorite magaizine may change, I believe that you both will do well with your new endeavors. Best wishes to you both!

    Chris K.

  3. bicyforev

    Christopher, I hate to see a perfect product change. Your articles and books have always hit my hot buttons – great handtools, planes, benches, and even more benches. I’m sure you read my mind for topics.

    Well, back to bicycle touring as my main hobby. (Woodcraft and Highland Hardware are already regretting the revenue reduction.)

    Mark

  4. Mike M

    Good luck with your plans. We all only get limited chances to follow our dreams. Seize the opportunity, can’t win if you don’t take a shot at it. Would this be a good time to ask when I can pre-order the Roubo translation?

  5. Joe "the Pro" Sainz

    Christopher you have done incredible work at PW. I’ll be on the lookout for your regular articles, and as long as you don’t stop writing (here or at LAP), I won’t stop reading.

    Does this change your plans of not offering classes in 2012? Too soon to tell? Either way, I look forward to grabbing a beer with you sometime. Maybe now you will have a little more of a chance to do so.

  6. rheilke

    Congratulations to both of you!

    Chris: I’m glad for you. We typically don’t get a chance to try again. I’ll be looking for your writings, and am still hoping to grab the first copy of The Anarchist’s Tool Chest off of my local Lee Valley’s shelf.

    Megan: I think red with purple pinstripes is the perfect “I’m a crazy Irish lass who’s serious business” hair for you. ;-)

    Rainer

  7. Asa@FWW

    Chris and Steve–
    You have both done amazing jobs at PopWood. And it is good to see you both following your bliss, as they say. I especially envy Steve. I was never happier than when I was simply a staff editor, working on articles.
    And Chris, glad you are able to change gears. You’ve poured your heart and soul into Pop Wood.
    All the best to both of you.
    –Your pal at FWW

  8. Andrew Yang

    Is it wrong to write “Noooooooo!!!” instead of good luck for Chris’s announcement?

    Steve’s new to me, aside from his rebuild videos of the Unisaw, so I look forward to seeing what he brings (or brings back) to the magazine.

  9. Wood Zealot

    Good luck Chris in this new path. Sounds like it’s one that will be very nourishing to your soul. I look forward to continuing to follow along your pursuits on LAP!

    And Steve, have fun getting back in the shop. Again, sounds like a very healthy move for you!

    Now I’m going to collect all the fruit on the ceiling (from my world being turned upside down)

  10. abt

    Agreed with your friends that the move would come as no surprise. I’ve got some of your DVD’s and books (great stuff) and you seem to be in tune with the history side of the craft as you often discuss the history right along with whatever project or technique your demonstrating.

    Good luck Chris.

  11. meackerman

    I’ve really enjoyed the changes that have been made to PWW over the last couple of years, I hope with all the staff changes the magazine doesn’t. Best of luck to all of you.

  12. Bob Rozaieski

    Best of luck Chris! It takes a lot of courage to leave the comfort of a guaranteed paycheck and take a chance, especially in today’s economic environment. I wish you all the best!

    1. Mark

      I think Bob Lang is just the fall guy. The real usurper is Megan. Those red heads are a devious bunch. I know. I’m married to one. But seriously, how can we complain? It seems to me Chris will only have more time to do what we all love about him and the magazine remains in most excellent hands. Best of all possible worlds no?

          1. Chuck Bender

            But is that dye alcohol or water based and what are you planning to do to make the grain pop?

            Good luck to Chris and Steve. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you both in and out of the pages of the magazine. Glen, you’re the greatest my friend. I look forward to continuing my friendship and working relationship with all of you.

      1. Wood Zealot

        I don’t see the point in dying it given the likelihood of you needing to pull it out in coming months. May I suggest putting a massage therapist on retainer (or a liqueur store perhaps)? Good luck working through all the changes. You can do it!!

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