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. billlattpa

    Sorry to hear that Chris is leaving. His workbench book turned me on to PW and he answered patiently some questions I had when constructing my own bench, although I’m sure he was busy. I hope the magazine stays the same as it possibly can. Good Luck and I hope to see more of your work be it videos, woodworking books, television, or all of the above..

  2. gwdan725

    Wow! I’d like to echo some of the previous sentiments. I enjoy your publications and will continue. I (along with a number of Shopsmith users) toured your previous Art Deco building a number of years ago and beginning with that trip I began purchasing some of your publications. Your magazine and books are first rate, your staff is first rate and I wish the best for you all. I look forward to upcoming articles and good works!

  3. 8iowa

    Chris:

    You are “one of a kind” in woodworking publishing. My son and I really enjoyed being on the front row of your classes at the WIA.

    Best wishes for success at your new endeavors. I’m glad you decided against the Llama farm, who would want to live in Tibet anyway.

  4. wolferlmd

    I wish you well and hope your continued contributions to this magazine will not decrease too much.

    You said, “and I want to make sure I’m heading into the rest of my life with no regrets.”

    Don’t neglect preparing for what is next after this life. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me. John 14:6

    Don’t have any regrets when this life ends.

  5. rdeviney

    Good for you Chris. Sounds like a win-win: you follow your dreams, and the larger woodworking community still gets a regular dose of your wit, wisdom and wonder. Bob

  6. mitchellm

    Chris,

    I really hate to see you go. Your blogging and generous sharing of information on hand tools is what got me interested in woodworking after a long break from it. I love hand tools, they have changed my work and my increased my joy from the craft. Your writing has been a guiding light for me through the magazine, the blog, your books and video’s and the Lost Art Press work you have done. I am eagerly awaiting my preordered copy of the Anarchist’s Toolbox and all of your other future work.

    I hope the magazine keeps hand tools in the lime light and keeps generating such wonderful information. Mostly I wish the best of luck, success and happiness as you focus your efforts on your company.

    Mike Mitchell

  7. Michael H

    Chris,
    I may never build a bench or do any of the things you do or have done, but
    I started reading this blog because of your style. I hope you do continue as part of PW.

    When I was in my 30s I made a 180 degree career change and don’t regret it one bit, “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do”

    Good Luck
    Michael

  8. Bones

    In the near future I hope that you can extend your views and comments and How-to’s to something OTHER THAN “How to build a WoodWorking Bench”. I’m up to my eyeballs in benches. I have thought surely no more benches, so I look — Just more Benches!!! STOP !!!

    Chris, go home and re-arrange your benches, quietly.

    –Even if it’s birdhouses or kitchen spoons — We need relief!!

    You have also killed the topic of Planes !!! Stop beating dead dogs.
    Bones

    1. BAR 3R RANCH

      Hey “Bones” You Are A True, True DUMBASS; If You Don’t Like What He Has Been Writing, Here Is A Good Idea- DON’T READ IT!!! It Is Stupid People Like You Who Clog-Up Blogs; Nobody Else Is Complaining About Benches Or Planes, Because That Info Is Needed & Wanted!! It Is Nice To Have Plans For A Real Bench, Not Just A Flimbsy, Cheapo “Bench” Like Most That Are Available; You Must Be A Manufacturer Of A Line Of Those Wobbly “Benches” Who’s Just Afraid!!!!! And Yes, I Do Know That I Use Far Too Many Exclaimation Points, It’s Just How I Roll :-D!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Katoom

    Thanks Chris for making Popular Woodworking such a great magazine and for being a mentor from afar. I appreciate all of your timely responses to my email questions. I’m particularly indebted to you for pioneering the Roubo Workbench design. I had been looking for something like this for several years and it blew my socks off when you came out with it. My Roubo workbench is my favorite woodworking tool!

    I’m sorry to see you leave as editor of the magazine, but hope that you will continue to contribute to the future of woodworking as you have in the past. Being a bit of a rogue and pioneer has enabled you to provide valuable and fresh content for the magazine. It is also what probably influenced you to leave the magazine.

    Good luck with you new venture and keep the articles coming.

    Terry

  10. Gary Roberts

    Chris

    Huzzah! Yet another joining the ranks of independent publishers! Oh, wait, you already are an independent publisher. Never mind.

    Best of luck in growing Lost Arts Press. You’ve brought an inestimable amount of good to the world of working wood and, I trust, will continue to do so.

    Gary

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