Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About #20: I drive a station wagon but Fine Woodworking says I need a "Vette"!

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Blog entry by StumpyNubs posted 05-17-2012 05:13 PM 4232 reads 1 time favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 19: Safety week? We don't need no stinking safety week! (Stumpy's Safety Poster) Part 20 of Crazy Stuff Stumpy Thinks About series Part 21: "The reason for the season"- It's almost time for the Stumpies! »

It’s created a rukus bigger than that time I tried on all the underwear at Walmart. A hullabaloo on the scale of the great sawdust snorting contest we did in ‘91.

For those who have been living in a cave, here’s the crisis we faced this week: “A perfect storm of stupidity.” That’s what Fine Woodworking appeared to call the greatest threat to woodworking since the biscuit joint. You see, woodworkers around the world are being subjected to unapproved, un-vetted ignoramuses who utilize their blogs and low budget YouTube videos to fill the unwitting craftsman’s mind with so called “tips” and “techniques” that haven’t been reviewed by the proper body of experts.

In their recent podcast, the folks at Fine Woodworking magazine bemoaned the abundance of internet blogs and videos. The episode was titled “A Perfect Storm of Stupidity” and seemed to broadly paint us new media pioneers as being bad for the craft, creating a cesspool of unapproved content.

Unapproved? Yes, casting themselves in the unenviable role of hoity-toity-fru-fru woodworkers they explained that it is dangerous to consume woodworking information unless it has been properly vetted by the powers that be. Who are the powers that be? The woodworking magazines and the accredited schools of joinery.

Woodworkers the world over were outraged First, FWW editor Asa Christiana implied that too many people were presenting themselves as experts while teaching unsafe or poorly executed woodworking techniques. But the real kicker was the implication that the average Joe Sixpack is so dumb that he will copy everything he sees on those podcasts and blogs. Like a child who will chug the bleach under the sink if a Mr. Yuck sticker isn’t applied, woodworkers need a parent to filter out the unapproved content lest we end up with a population of finger-less nimrods who think a proper finish comes in a can labeled Minwax.

Let me be fair The lion’s share of the problem can be traced directly back to the podcast’s title, which has since been changed. Fine Woodworking explained today (better late than never) that “storm of stupidity” referred to a later segment about mistakes that they had made in the shop recently. That does help take away some of the sting.

The problem, though, is more complex: The crux of Fine Woodworking’s argument was that new woodworkers could pick up bad or even dangerous habits from watching or reading these “unvetted” sources. Even IF the internet was full of people saying “I’m an expert in everything so when I tell you it’s safe to stop a spinning sawblade with your tongue, you can trust me”... I find it hard to believe that an intelligent person would be prepared to french kiss his table saw. I have seen some outrageously unsafe stuff on YouTube, mostly skateboarders smashing nuts first into poles, and I can tell you I have never went home and tried to copy it.

I am one of those “unvetted” bloggers and all of my viewers know what I stand for: having fun in the shop. I never present myself as an expert in funriture making or hand tools or anything of the sort. I demonstrate techniques which I can do well, but I never present my way as the only, or even the best way of doing things. I have watched a LOT of podcasts and read a lot of blogs. Any fool can tell the difference between the guy who used his car’s spinning wheel as a lathe to turn a bowl and a guy like Curtis Buchannan who turns delicate legs for his Windsor chairs.

All of us are vetted. Not by the woodworking magazines and schools, but by thousands who watch or read and then write their comments about what they see. In the first episode of Blue Collar Woodworking I wore gloves while milling some wood. I immediately got comments about safety. There’s a lot of debate on the issue. And now anyone who watches that video can see from those comments that it is something he should think about before he does it.

True story: TODAY I got three emails from someone vetting my statements on the history of the hand plane. In episode #6 I said that the Wright brothers invented it, along with popcorn. At least one viewer took it upon themselves to post comments stating that this wasn’t true. A while back I did a bit about daylight savings time being invented by farmers. I got several comments about the actual history of daylight savings time. This proves two things. First, that some people can’t spot tongue-in-cheek humor, and second, that every practice, every word is carefully scrutinized by not just a couple of “experts”, but by thousands of real life woodworkers. If I fall out of line, they catch it.

I am very sorry that the internet is cutting into the readership of traditional woodworking magazines. I still subscribe to several, including Fine Woodworking. But people are getting lots of tips, tricks and yes, entertainment from shows like Blue Collar Woodworking and The Wood Whisperer and Woodworking for Mere Mortals without paying $7 an issue. And while it is true that some of that free info is hardly worth the price you pay for it, the good stuff far outweighs the bad. Guys like me will never replace the true experts like Charles Neil and Roy Underhill. But I’m not trying to. I’m just having a good time doing what I love. And if I lose a finger and you go cut off one of yours to be like me… well, you don’t deserve ten fingers anyway.

So, crack a cold one and watch the latest episode of Blue Collar Woodworking. Then go buy an issue of Fine Woodworking with the confidence that Stumpy Nubs personally vetted them. :)

(NOTE: Asa Christiana, editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine subscribed to Lumberjocks today so he could respond to this article with an apology. He also wrote a blog explaining that he had screwed up and wanted to clarify his comments. So I decided to rewrite the article above to give a fair assessment of the contraversy based on the new facts, such as the misunderstanding over the title, etc, while still stating my opinion in the witty, sarcastic way I am prone to. We still disagree over this issue, but I want to thank Asa for being a stand up guy.)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

37 comments so far

View josephbert's profile


20 posts in 2801 days

#1 posted 05-17-2012 05:22 PM

Well said, Stumpy! Agreed 1,000%(That’s a Maury percentage, so you know it’s a lot)

-- Comfortably covered in dust

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


17771 posts in 3212 days

#2 posted 05-17-2012 05:31 PM

Im also with ya on this one Stumparino. Ill get my information wherever is deem fit whether it be magazine, podcast, youtube, LJ’s, or written on a rock in the desert its my choice. Ive never been a subscriber to any of the woodworking mags, they can take their high n mighty attitude and stick it. IMO there is always a different way to accomplish certain tasks and if i wanna believe that my tongue will easily stop a spinning blade … well i deserve it. Keep on doin what you do Stump they’re just tryin to sell magazines.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3509 days

#3 posted 05-17-2012 05:43 PM

hey dont you believe it, i stopped a spinning blade once, yep sure did, now i talk with a forked tongue…lol…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stevenmadden's profile


174 posts in 3295 days

#4 posted 05-17-2012 05:45 PM

StumpyNubs: DISCLAIMER- I am in no way defending what was done or said in the FineWoodworking podcast. Having stated that, the title “A perfect storm of stupidity” was referring to mistakes that Asa and Michael have made in their own woodworking, not to the proliferation of woodworking information on the World Wide Web. Anyway, in their comments about woodworking podcasts, I don’t think that they were directing them toward quality programs with quality information such as The Wood Whisperer, Woodworking for Mere Mortals, or yours. That’s just the way I saw it, not defending anybody.


EDIT: I just read your update, followed the link and read the article. Pretty much what I thought from the beginning.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8566 posts in 2534 days

#5 posted 05-17-2012 05:53 PM

and here I am waiting to here the “true” stroy of Stumpy scarfing Christmas trees from da yoopers…. all thoroughly vetted by authentic park rangers, of course. (if I already missed it, please tell me what episode that little gem is in, and if not, please include all possible embelishments when you do tell it)

And since we’re in vetting mode…. since when does “a cold one” mean a Yoohoo? By golly, if I really did deserve a cold one and somebody hands me a Yoohoo…. it’s gonna ruin my day!

Shocker of shocker… via. free and uncensored media, we’re finally realizing what we already knew deep in our hearts…. the people who do extremely stupid stuff, need to be allowed to remove themselves from the gene pool, without the privilage of sueing the but off of some hapless fish fryer….. but nooooooo…. we need the FWW thought police to put us all back in our cages, so we can continue to drink the blue Koolaide and not get too upiddy.

If your looking to tag the threat that put a nail in the heart of the profession of woodworking in the US…. look no further than when Slick Willy gave the facist Chinese gub’ment most favored nation trade status and ushered in 25 years of slave labor built snap together home furnishings….. (and yes, IKEA was actually outed for previously contracting with the facist Cuban gub’ment to have prison labor make their furniture).

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 2876 days

#6 posted 05-17-2012 05:53 PM

WHAT!!!! The Wright brothers didn’t invent popcorn? I’m outta here! ;-)

-- Bryan

View Blown's profile


2 posts in 2435 days

#7 posted 05-17-2012 05:55 PM

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3094 days

#8 posted 05-17-2012 06:07 PM

Hiya Stumps.

It isn’t just the wood mags, it’s the print media in general.They can hear the death knell sounding for their way of life and refuse to evolve. There are some who have the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude, like Woodsmith Magazine, who have embraced the net instead of fighting it. They have many decent plans available for free download without having to subscribe to their magazine. They put out videos every week on a tip or hint, many of which aren’t bad. Sure, you get the mandatory plug for their printed dinosaur, but it isn’t that long and you can skip it if you want.

Edison was sued by a man who made gas lamps for use in street lighting when he came out with the electric light, trying to get the courts to ban them! Some people insist on living in the “golden age”, which by their definition means when they were young. Not me. I am alive today because of medical examination tools that weren’t invented until I was in my 50’s, treatments that came along about the same time, and drugs as new as few years ago. If medicine was as bad as the print media, doctors would still wear necklaces of animal bones, shake rattles to ward off evil spirits, and apply leaches to cure everything. No thanks, I’ll take the 21st century thank you very much.

Keep up the good fight, buddy. We’re right here in the ranks behind you. We will dance on the grave of the print media and go merrily on our way to wood working on line without needing to go to the news stand once a month.



Just read the “retraction” and it reminded me of a dog trying to cover up an “accident” on a tile floor.

SSNVET: I don’t know where you get your internet access, but I gotta pay for mine! So much for “free and uncensored”. If you doubt the latter, set up an Al Quaida web site and see how long it takes for the guys in the Brooks Brothers suits and the aviator sunglasses to pay you a visit. :)

As for Slick Willy’s opening the borders to the yellow peril, our liberal feds here did the same thing with Pakistan and India. A friend of mine had a company he built from nothing after fleeing communism in the 50’s. He made team jackets and school jackets, the ones with the leather sleeves and cloth body. The year before the government stopped protecting our garment industry he employed about 100 people and did several million dollars in business. He was looking forward to retiring and passing the business to his son, who had worked for his dad since his teens.

The year after they pulled the plug, him and his wife came in one afternoon a week to do the occasional small job while the lawyers went through the paperwork to close the business. He told me that while he had to pay his employees close to $20 an hour in wages and benefits while the company in Pakistan that took much of his business pays its employees $8 for a 12 hour day! His cost to make a ski jacket was twice what WalMart was selling them for at retail!

The North American worker is in danger, not from foreign workers but from our own governments who cave in to those with the deepest pockets for campaign funds. Look at Obama and the Hollywood connection. They threw a party at George Clooney’s place the other day to raise money for Obama’s re-election bid, and raised MILLIONS! Wanna guess why the pres came out in favour of gay marriage the day before the party? (hint: Hollywood has the highest percentage of gay residents in the country)


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2819 days

#9 posted 05-17-2012 06:09 PM

i agree stumpy ,but the vette i thought it was a vet LJs got a good vet i was going to ask if he could help but sorry it was the wrong kind of vet.but you are right there are many,many masters on here and ,u tube ,the net. and that are sharing knowledge of this craft out of the passion of it.

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3062 days

#10 posted 05-17-2012 06:20 PM


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Gary777's profile


82 posts in 2804 days

#11 posted 05-17-2012 06:39 PM

Ignore the fools Stumpy, we are all perfectly clear on what is really going on, they are afraid of losing subscribers.

No one is going to tell me what I can and can’t read/view.

-- Gary - Carson City, NV - "Every man looks upon his wood pile with a sort of affection." — Henry David Thoreau

View bandit571's profile


21799 posts in 2889 days

#12 posted 05-17-2012 06:49 PM

Another Magazine owned site, that has it’s own Finishing “Gurus” got so mad at my way of finishing, AND even daring to talk about it, that they had me BANNED FOR LIFE! B.F.D.!!! Turns out that the finishing supplies they were so in love with, just happen to be the only products they sold. I guess they needed to keep business going for their own Store.

I think the biggest reason the one “Guru” was so “down” on one brand name, it was cutting into the sales of HIS own supplied brands. Tends to happen when it is three times the cost of those “bad, bad brands”.

Ok, rant over. maybe a video on building a workbench from just some barn beams that were on hand, and a pipe clamp powered leg vise thrown in? Nah, i might just blog it instead, as I cover it in MINWAX!!!! ( BOOO! HISSSy fit)

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Asa Christiana's profile

Asa Christiana

17 posts in 2406 days

#13 posted 05-17-2012 06:52 PM

I’d like to apologize to everyone who was offended or hurt by the unfortunate title of episode 5 of Shop Talk Live and by my comments on the podcast about online expertise. I’ve learned a lot in the past few days, the most important being that the online woodworking community is mostly about being supportive and helpful. My comments were neither, and served no good purpose. For the record, Fine Woodworking supports and celebrates the work of ALL woodworkers, despite what my comments may have implied. For more info on what I’ve learned, go to

-- Asa Christiana (editor of Fine Woodworking)

View Gary777's profile


82 posts in 2804 days

#14 posted 05-17-2012 06:58 PM

Asa → I give you a lot of credit for the article you point to. It takes a big man to write an article like that, I understood your points in Episode 5 but as you’ve learned you need to give the viewer some credit to, most woodworkers are pretty sharp (Pun not intended.)

-- Gary - Carson City, NV - "Every man looks upon his wood pile with a sort of affection." — Henry David Thoreau

View Asa Christiana's profile

Asa Christiana

17 posts in 2406 days

#15 posted 05-17-2012 07:02 PM

Thanks, Gary. A screwup is a screwup, but I always try to learn from them (after a short grieving period:-)

-- Asa Christiana (editor of Fine Woodworking)

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