Over the last few years I’ve been frequently asked why I write for Popular Woodworking Magazine. The conversation usually begins something like, “Someone with your experience could write for any magazine they want, why Popular Woodworking Magazine?” Now that I’ve joined the editorial team, that question has been cropping up a lot more. Because I am an editor, and this is the Editors’ Blog, I thought I’d answer the question here.
From the beginning I saw several reasons to write for Popular Woodworking Magazine above all others. As a contributor (someone who writes articles but is not part of the full time staff) I saw a great diversity in the subject matter covered by the magazine. Having traveled all over the country exhibiting at woodworking shows and doing presentations at woodworking clubs, I’ve gotten to interact with lots of readers of the magazine. One of the things I noticed early on was that the readers were as diverse as the topics covered in the magazine. And every one of them has a viewpoint on the magazine.
The more I talked to people the more I knew Popular Woodworking Magazine was on the right track. Some folks told me what they liked about the magazine while most were more than willing to share “constructive” criticism. One person would tell me there were too many beginner projects, and the next would remark how so many of the projects were way too hard. I heard how there were too many hand tool articles and almost immediately someone would say how there was too much of a focus on power tools. Too many period/Arts & Crafts/modern furniture projects preceded too few of whatever style you like. Whenever I heard criticism like this I thought, “They are obviously not leaning too far in any one direction.” The editors and contributors are obviously a diverse group of woodworkers reaching out to a diverse group of woodworkers.
Additionally, as a contributor, I have always appreciated the fact that the words you read in an article are actually those of the author. Sure there are times when an article is trimmed a little to better fit the page or corrected for spelling and grammatical errors, but the flavor of every article remains distinctly that of the writer. When you have the likes of Frank Klausz, Ron Herman, Jeff Miller, Toshio Odate, Glen Huey, Bob Lang and Darrell Peart passing on their hard-earned knowledge you certainly want to get the most out of it. That doesn’t happen if their words are turned, twisted and homogenized. I want to learn what they know in their own words with their own style. It makes them and their knowledge more “real” if I can identify with them.
The other major factor that drove me to Popular Woodworking Magazine was the utter approachability of the people involved. They’re real people who are passionate about the craft. From the editorial staff to the contributors, I’ve found everyone to be more than friendly. I remember meeting Adam Cherubini at a furniture show right about the same time my first article got published. He greeted me with a warm and friendly handshake. Don Williams helped out during my first hands-on presentations at Woodworking in America when it was held in Valley Forge. I had never met him before but instantly felt a kinship with a like-minded woodworker. The first time I dropped into the magazine offices for a visit, everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome.
This attitude doesn’t only hold true for contributors. I’ve been told numerous times how a woodworker was surprised that they called the magazine with a question and got Megan Fitzpatrick, Bob or Glen on the phone (Chris Schwarz, Matthew Teague and Steve Shanesy, too, when they were there). People have told me how shocked they are that they e-mailed the author of an interesting article with a question and actually got an answer…from the author. The editors and contributors to the magazine are just regular folks who love woodworking. More than any other reason this is why I write only for Popular Woodworking Magazine, and it’s the biggest reason I have joined this magnificent team. I know I’m biased but, viewing it as objectively as possible, I truly believe there is no other magazine out there that is so in tune with its readers and has as much raw woodworking experience at its fingertips as Popular Woodworking Magazine.