As this issue goes to press, Popular Woodworking is changing ownership. The last few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me, my colleagues, readers and contributors. There’s been uncertainty about jobs, the status of stories and projects, and an overall sense of unease about the world at large. And it’s during this time that it’s been clearer than ever how much woodworking means to me and the role it plays in my life.
Just about a year ago, I tore the kitchen of my 1906 house down to the studs, which started a journey that included rewiring and replumbing the entire house, replacing some rotted sill plates and spending more time in the basement and attic than I ever want to do again. At the moment, I’m installing the kitchen cabinets I built, and the end of the project is visible (if not completely in focus yet). When I talk about this project with friends, I sound crazy. I could’ve bought cabinets from a store, or hired out portions of the project. But really, this project is exactly what I needed.
Spending my nights and weekends, holed up in the shop with a complex, multi-step project, is my favorite choice of therapy (I’m betting it’s also comparable in cost to the real thing). Yes, I’m focused on the task at hand, but there’s plenty of time in between steps to think about those things and ask the big questions: What should I be doing with my life? Are magazines the best way to serve woodworkers? If I move my lumber rack up a foot, could I fit another workbench under it? Where did I put my tape measure?
I’ve never built an entire kitchen’s worth of cabinets before. We’re going to be living with them for the foreseeable future. They need to be up to the quality of the old-world craftsmanship that’s throughout the rest of the home, but still have the modern conveniences a world-class baker and cook must have. As much as I want to get this project over with, I also can’t rush it. Setting ourselves up for success in the future takes work, often unseen, to make the result feel cohesive, effortless and part of the house.
That’s a lot like the journey this magazine and brand has taken over the last six months. How do we continue to publish inspiring projects and stories and helpful advice, shoot informative videos, interact with our readers across social media and still find time to sleep.
It’s a process that’s always being tweaked and improved, rethought and rejiggered. I’m happy to report that, for the first time in a while, things are looking up for Popular Woodworking. And, I’ve forgiven the previous inhabitants of my house for the shortsightedness of their last kitchen remodel.