I Can Do That! A Labor of Love - Popular Woodworking Magazine

I Can Do That! A Labor of Love

 In Feature Articles, Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

We’ve just finished shooting the eleventh episode of Season 4 of I Can Do That (a cool router bit storage cabinet), and I thought it useful to reflect on what is truly a labor of love for the Popular Woodworking staff. We started the I Can Do That! series as magazine articles in 2006. The concept was simple, we wanted to offer projects for the occasional or burgeoning woodworker. We surmised that many homes have a basic set of tools for home use that could also translate to the woodworking trade. A general set of hand tools (hammer, screwdriver, measuring tape…) and a few hand-held power tools (jigsaw, circular saw). The concept was to only use materials available from the home center stores and to avoid joinery as much as possible to keep the build simple. We also wanted to offer projects that were attractive and functional, not just as a test of the building concept. The goal? To allow non-woodworkers to have a successful and empowering woodworking experience.

Twelve-years later and the series has spawned a couple of books and a video series. We were lucky enough to have Chad Stanton host the first three seasons of the video series, and during those years we took the opportunity to review our goals and even our toolset. We discussed whether to increase the level of teaching to build on what had already been shown. Should we add some joinery to grow the viewer’s skills? Ultimately the answer was yes, but we still wanted to make sure we didn’t forget the basics (at least every so often) to keep things approachable for the new woodworker. We also decided that lots of homes had miter saws and routers, so those tools were added. We also started mentioning that while we’re showing a step with a jigsaw and hand plane, a bandsaw (if available) was a reasonable option. Then, this year, we took the leap and decided to add a portable contractor table saw. These fairly inexpensive power tools are in a lot of garages and we felt it time to up the ante a bit. And I’ve got to say, it’s amazing the processes that are made simpler with a table saw!

And along with adding the saw, Chad decided to focus on his personal YouTube channel, so David Lyell and Andrew Zoellner stepped in as rotating (and sometimes team) hosts of the series. And that brings us back to the labor of love. Our staff, from the beginning until today, have felt a strong commitment to making learning about woodworking a positive and successful experience for everyone. A lot of detail goes into the planning, and even today, while filming with the staff, we’ll stop and question if we’re doing our best to make the project approachable, manageable and cool.

So if you’ve not had the chance to watch the episodes, all of Season 4 (so far, eight more to come) are online and free to watch (thanks to our sponsors Woodcraft and Titebond) on our site, and on our YouTube channel. We hope you enjoy, and we’ll keep making more … loving the labor along the way.

– David Thiel


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