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Frustrated with wood working magazines

by roofner
posted 11-29-2012 10:38 AM

42 replies so far

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2915 days

#1 posted 11-29-2012 11:01 AM

I really like Popular Woodworking. I subscribe to that and Shopnotes. I occasionally purchase FineWoodworking from time to time.

There are a few out there that I won’t subscribe to, but I think they each have some value. I have been inspired from time to time by looking at some of the projects, but I do not get them for inspiration. If that’s what you are looking for, maybe you can switch what you receive now to ones that more inspire you. Barnes and Nobles has a very large selection of woodworking magazines which would give you a chance to see a bunch of different ones.

Good Luck.

-- Mike

View b2rtch's profile


4851 posts in 3011 days

#2 posted 11-29-2012 11:15 AM

I am in the same boat.These magazines are mostly full of advertisements and little else. (sorry for those who I am sure try very hard to make these magazines attractive and interesting)
I shall keep Fine Woodworking as it is my favorite and a friend of mine writes in it.

-- Bert

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4947 posts in 2456 days

#3 posted 11-29-2012 11:58 AM

I think what happens is that you get tired reading the same stuff over and over…common with any of them. I also subscribed to several hunting/shooting magazines and ran into the same. stuff. Now, if you’ve just started woodworking (or any other hobby) they would have what is new/fresh info (maybe). To be honest, some of them are so bad, I wouldn’t subscribe if it was free (in my case, that would be WWJ). But last year I was getting probably 5, and I’ve let all of them but one expire, and recently I re-subscribed to one of them. Even the “shop tips” start getting repeated after you’ve subscribed for a few years. The projects sometimes look like they one the published last year, made with a different wood. Now, if I get a killer deal I’ll pick it up…otherwise, I’ll set back a few years and wait.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View mloy365's profile


444 posts in 3093 days

#4 posted 11-29-2012 12:22 PM

I like subscribing to FWW “online” because of the achieve option.

-- Mike - Northern Upper Michigan

View Don W's profile

Don W

18684 posts in 2530 days

#5 posted 11-29-2012 12:26 PM

I’ve noticed its about a 2 year cycle. This goes for any kind of magazine(woodworking, hunting, fishing, archery etc), not just woodworking. After 2 years its time to try a different subscription. In a few years, (maybe 4) you can circle back around and get something out of it again.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View jdmaher's profile


426 posts in 2542 days

#6 posted 11-29-2012 12:29 PM

I get most of them, and they are all occasionally useful, but only occasionally. My two favorites are Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking.

Inevitably, most articles are about something I’m not interested in or will never try. Sometimes, though, even a “miss” gets me thinking. For example, I don’t think I’m up for chairs, but the recent PW article on a stool got me thinking. Problem was, it was by the Schwarz and a little too much “all hand work”. Still, I did think “maybe if I Google how to taper those octagonal legs on the tablesaw . . .”

Like Fred, I get tired of the “same old stuff” – especially since basic advice is often insufficient and conficting (from one article to another). An example, sharpening. I still don’t feel confident I know how long it takes (how many strokes on a 1000 grit? 6000 grit?) or how to tell when its done (big burr? little burr?). And I’ve read dozens of those articles.

I need dead-reliable, idiot-proof, “just do THIS” information – about exactly what I’m interested in at the moment. Can’t these guys just read my mind?

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2109 days

#7 posted 11-29-2012 03:17 PM

I subscribe to Shop Notes and Fine Woodworking online. I like the signal to noise ratio in Shop Notes and always find at least 2 or 3 good ideas in every issue. FWW is largely for the archive and I’m most likely going to cancel soon, as I’ve consumed most of what I’m interested in. Popular Woodworking just doesn’t appeal to me. Too much fluff, not enough stuff. I pick up the occasional single issue of Wood magazine if it has a project that appeals to me.

I don’t envy the woodworking magazine publishers these days. So much free content online that, quite honestly, is better than what they have. If you were to tell me I had a choice between paying 5 bucks a month for all the current woodworking magazines, but not use Lumberjocks and Youtube, or use Lumberjocks and Youtube and not be allowed to subscribe, I’d laugh at you because that’s no choice at all.


View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3121 days

#8 posted 11-29-2012 03:50 PM

Woodsmith has always been my favorite because of the good S/N ratio, the projects that fall in line with my tastes, and the overall usefulness. I get WS from my Dad after he finishes it. Same with Wood magazine, though I don’t enjoy it as much because of the poor S/N ratio. I subscribe to FWW, print and online, because I think it’s well put together and the content seem a little more meaty.

But I think for inspiration, Lumberjocks project section is the place to go…and as you get more experienced, the more that you have the capability of turning those ideas at LJ (or even the magazines) into something actualized. Once I got good enough to no longer need plans and cut-lists, that’s when it transformed the way I read those magazines, looking at them for what they taught as opposed to what I can make directly from them.

-- jay,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3271 days

#9 posted 11-29-2012 03:52 PM

For years I subscribed to several woodworking magazines and kept every issue thinking I would refer back to them at some future time. A few weeks ago I realized that they were just taking up space on my shelves and I had not even re-read a single issue..especially with the fact that finding whatever article I might have been interested in during the original reading would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

They were good reading at the time but not good enough to save.

I threw out a huge stack of these after filling my trash can and will most likely throw out the remaining ones soon.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4181 days

#10 posted 11-29-2012 03:58 PM

I think we all pretty much agree…. When you are new to woodworking, the magazines are great. After a while, though, you just start seeing the same thing rehashed over and over.

Like others have mentioned, I like having the FWW online subscription because I can look up specific information when I need it. Apart from that, I’m in the process of letting all my print subscriptions expire.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2934 days

#11 posted 11-29-2012 03:59 PM

I’m a Shop Notes subscriber and I like Fine Woodworking, but I can’t afford it. I will buy an occasional issue off the stand.
I like and subscribe to Popular Woodworking for the historic and philosophical content, but it’s just not a project oriented magazine.

View roofner's profile


122 posts in 2246 days

#12 posted 11-29-2012 04:07 PM

What is FWW magazine?

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4947 posts in 2456 days

#13 posted 11-29-2012 04:08 PM

Fine Woodworking… guys tossing those things out should consider trying to sell them. At one time they were in demand on e-bay.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3707 days

#14 posted 11-29-2012 04:13 PM

Like Charlie, I just keep to retrieve info, but the most of the mags just seem to rehash the same thing. I like just surfing the web for photos, to get my inspiration, and it can come from anywhere. Architecture styles have inspired furniture designs or details that I’ve used in the past. If you need to find out about historical woodworking, I read, which is written by a fellow lumberjock.

View Biff's profile


126 posts in 1977 days

#15 posted 11-29-2012 04:16 PM

I finally ditched all my subscriptions for the same reason. I keep Family Handyman because it is cheap and has great tips and tricks. Other than that, I find more valuable info and ideas on the ‘net. Besides, that money spent on magazines can now go to tools!

-- Interested in Oregon property? Visit me at

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2829 days

#16 posted 11-29-2012 04:58 PM

I get just enough out of most of them to keep me subscribing.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2136 days

#17 posted 11-29-2012 05:06 PM

If you really wanna get inspired, Fine Woodworking magazine would be the best (imho).

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View TeamTurpin's profile


85 posts in 2024 days

#18 posted 11-29-2012 05:39 PM

I like Shop Notes and it’s format makes it easy to keep/store. I read and toss others that I pick up occasionally from newstands. I do, however, tear out specific articles from them and they go into a binder. I go back to my ‘articles’ binder on a regular basis.


View TroutStalker's profile


30 posts in 3331 days

#19 posted 11-29-2012 09:10 PM

I subscribe to Woodsmith, ShopNotes, Wood, Woodcraft, Fine Woodworking, Woodworkers Journal and Popular Woodworking. Yes, I have a subscription problem; I really like to read.

I’ll not be renewing my subscription to Woodworkers Journal or Popular Woodworking. Woodworkere Journal just doesn’t have much that I’m interested in. I keep all the back issues to all my magazines except Woodworkers Journal. That tells me that I don’t need it. I used to like Popular Woodworking a log up until about two years ago. They merged Popular Woodworking with Woodworking magazine and changed their focus to being a multimedia company (web, dvd and print). About the same time Chris Schwarz left the magazine. Since then they seem to be focused on seperating woodworkers from their money in as many ways as possible. I’d rather spen my money on tools, wood or beer.

-- The best thing online is a fish

View bandit571's profile


19713 posts in 2646 days

#20 posted 11-29-2012 09:18 PM

IF one has something that does interest me, I might pick it up of the shelf at the store. The one Mag I will NEVER even look through, or even pick up, let alone touch, would be anything by Meredith Prod. to include WOOD. Ain’t never going back to a place where an Editor, using an unlisted/unknown phone number will call you up and SCREAM cuss words at you, without even asking if you are you on the line. BTDT, my son handed me the phone while this “person” was still yelling.

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2877 days

#21 posted 11-29-2012 09:34 PM

I was fortunate a couple of years ago, when a friend gave me his deceased father’s WW-ing magazines and books. I only bring this up because of several comments to the effect that many of these magazines keep recycling old ideas with minor modifications. On that, I concur. The ones I use the most are Shop Notes, Woodsmith, and Wood. I do try to do my project searches online, and then pull the hard copy for reading.

A partial list includes:

  • Shop Notes: # 1-60
  • Woodsmith: #36-88
  • Fine Woodworking: # 60-109
  • Fine Woodworking Techniques: # 1-9 Hardbacks (covers issues #1-55)
  • Fine Woodworking Design Books: #2-3
  • Fine Woodworking on: Tips, Spindle and Faceplate Turning
  • Wood Magazine: Issues # 1—201(only missing #1) collection from Dec.1984—Dec 2010 (*Oldnovice helped me out with about 8yr of these as well)
  • plus many others I have not even had chance to go through…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2139 days

#22 posted 11-29-2012 09:47 PM

Magazines do ran out of ideas. Even with reinvention, you cannot help but get bored with the same things presented through time. Take a breather for a couple of months and get back to it when you feel like they have something fresh on the table.

View MrRon's profile


4710 posts in 3206 days

#23 posted 11-29-2012 11:08 PM

Some of the magazines seem to target beginners. Safety articles especially are repeated. That takes up content space. FWW is good, but the most expensive one on the news stands.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2638 days

#24 posted 11-30-2012 02:39 AM

I was having a problem with a magazine a few years back. I kept getting the renew now notices and my wife kept renewing them so I was bought up for 5 years out. When I contacted them about another issue I told them I was good for 5 years and I wasn’t sure they would be around 5 years from now. They called me on the phone and said they toold those statements seriously and wanted to know why I felt that way. Through the conversation I said I had subscribed to their magazine for over 20 years and he said this is amazing. We hardly ever have anyone that stays for more than 4 or 5 years. He said it is difficult to keep things fresh that long. I have 1 year left on my subscription now and I will admit they have changed their format and ideas. I was tired of reading about building better garage shelves every month.
Fine Woodworking? Will never subscribe to it until the editor changes. Don’t like his articles and don’t like the way these folks jump on their readers. They use no diplomacy. NONE! I can do without their nonsense and their magazine.

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2275 days

#25 posted 11-30-2012 02:51 AM

I do better with books, than magazines. For some reason I can not shake, I love doing boxes. The Doug Stowe book keeps me interested, I may not make his boxes, but features from his boxes are showing up in my work. I have a few other “box” books to refer to, and though I almost never make one box from their plans, the choices they offer help me think up what my next project will be. And you guys also give me some ideas, for example, I intend to add wooden hinges into my designs. I have seen that here.

My other inspirations come from needs, and other hobbies. I like canoes- so I made a whilrigig canoe dude. Not high end woodworking, but everyone loves him. I came up with a canoe shaped key holder. The deck of my favorite canoe is now cherry and tiger maple combined sorta cutting board style. My kid plays cello, so I worked up a nice wooden music stand. Do we need plans for a music stand? Nah… come on, a lot of this stuff isn’t that complicated, or that fussy.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2275 days

#26 posted 11-30-2012 03:01 AM

The FWW archive on DVD is floating around, I have seen it at a friends. Every issue published, thru 2011 if memory serves. Nice built in search engine for it.

Expensive as hell, but a great reference. Go halves with a neighbor maybe? I would never suggest that any LJocks go poking around usenet, but hey, you might just stumble onto it one day, if your moral compass is slightly tipped.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2527 days

#27 posted 11-30-2012 03:11 AM

I have a subscription to PWW that I got a good deal on. After that I got a few issues of FWW and I like it way better. Waiting for PWW to expire so that I can get FWW subscription.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2946 days

#28 posted 11-30-2012 03:23 AM

i only subscribe to popular woodworking. i like the others, but i get them, at the news stand. because if i see an article or a project i like, i’ll buy, but if i don’t see anything i like, i won’t buy.

View Woodbum's profile


806 posts in 3028 days

#29 posted 11-30-2012 02:16 PM

Building workbenches is the current darling of all of these mags. I am so tired of articles on building workbenches FWW is a fine magazine with a great website, and my favorite. All of these publications appeal to their own niche of woodworkers. Most magazines of any subject matter have gotten carried away with product reviews. I dropped Outside Magazine and Backpacker because of all their “gear reviews”. Woodworking mags are going down the same road. Sell more stuff with less content about techniques and proper use of this “stuff” is becoming more frequent. Like a dumb s**t, I still get them all. That and supplier catalogs make great throne literature. I like to read anything and everything about our passion, good, bad or indifferent. But every once in a while I’ll find a gem of an article that I’ll actually build or buy. As they say here in Okie land “Even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while”

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View americanwoodworker's profile


185 posts in 2337 days

#30 posted 11-30-2012 02:29 PM

My problem with them are the advertisements. There’s more advertisements then there is quality substance. Don’t get me wrong. I love searching through advertisements to learn what there is out there, but
I am not paying for them. I am paying for substance.

Just look at a popular mechanics mag. of today. Then go to google books and look at them from the 1900’s. Most of the mag. has very interesting substance and there is very little advertisements. I find that there is so much substance I can read that mag. for 30min. or more. Then have to reread it because there is so much info to digest. Today, I can read the mag in about 15min. and never pick it up again.

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2877 days

#31 posted 11-30-2012 02:37 PM

For those who have a hard copy collection of ShopNotes, It is very difficult to locate their online index without a current subscription. Talk about driving customers away! NOTE: Avid Internet searchers may find a solution to this issue/problem.

Q. How do I access the online index?

A. The online index is currently only available to subscribers, so you will need to log into your account to access this. Just click on Online Index under the “Other” tab above. Then complete the Subscriber Login information. Once you are logged into your account the link for the index can be found on the right under the photo of the current issue.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2109 days

#32 posted 11-30-2012 02:39 PM

That is annoying, Mike. What’s the point of restricting access to the index to subscribers?!? You’re basically turning off customers who might otherwise order a specific back issue. Dumb dumb dumb.


View MrRon's profile


4710 posts in 3206 days

#33 posted 11-30-2012 10:46 PM

You quickly outgrow magazines. They start out with a wow 1st issue; then start all over again with the basics. Every NEW magazine that comes along starts out the same way. After a few years, they have to target a new audience and begin again with the basics.

View MrRon's profile


4710 posts in 3206 days

#34 posted 12-01-2012 07:20 PM

Greg The Box Sculptor; Don’t throw them in the trash. Take them to your next doctor’s appointment and leave them there; also to the hospital. I hate reading 3 year old Times and US News Report magazines.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5618 posts in 2776 days

#35 posted 12-02-2012 03:40 AM

I like Fine Woodworking magazine and online subscription. It is the most detailed woodworking magazine available, and it is always the one I renew. Michael Pekovich and Greg Paolini are amazing craftsmen, and with articles and videos on nearly every topic I continue to learn with each visit.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2383 days

#36 posted 12-02-2012 03:27 PM

I subscribe to wood, popular woodworking, fww, and shop notes. I like popular woodworking and fww bevause they always seems to have slightly more hand tool content than wood and shop notes, but I like getting the mix that way. I like the magazines because they’re great for when I’m sitting in “my office” ;).eventually though there’s a lot of repetition and rehashing but for the most part I usually pick something up useful out of them.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 2525 days

#37 posted 12-02-2012 05:43 PM

There isn’t much if anything out there (print, online, broadcast media, etc.) that isn’t rehashed over and over again, and this most certainly includes Lumberjocks. Forums of all stripes are places where the same questions and answers, issues and rebuttals are repeated over and over again. Welcome to the information age.

View hamburglar's profile


42 posts in 2062 days

#38 posted 12-02-2012 05:54 PM

I’m new enough to woodworking that the magazines are fresh and exciting to me. I mainly enjoy Woodsmith and ShopNotes so far. After a real bad experience with auto renewal and the subscription company for Runners World I don’t think I will ever ‘subscribe’ to a magazine again, just have to make a trip to B+N from now on.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18244 posts in 3639 days

#39 posted 12-02-2012 06:59 PM

I like and Shop Notes. Most everything is covered there ;-)

As Fred said, “you get tired reading the same stuff over and over…common with any of them. I also subscribed to several hunting/shooting magazines and ran into the same stuff.”

Several years ago I had a collection of back issues of a shooting magazine. One author used the same picture of a deer with peculiar antlers over and over. If all those stories were true, that poor deer must have been shot at least 100 times ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5802 posts in 3157 days

#40 posted 12-02-2012 07:04 PM

I think at one time I was taking about 5-6 ww magazines….I thought “you know, this is kinda dumb” .....After a while they all start repeating themselves over and over on the projects…..maybe just a little different scenario for a few, but bascially the same down through the years…..I take 2 mags now…...

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2827 days

#41 posted 12-02-2012 07:46 PM

I had subscriptions to Woodworkers Journal, Fine Woodworking and ShopNotes.

ShopNotes is by far the most useful for me. Tons of jig and shop ideas. I Let the subscriptions run out. After a few years of subscribing there are only so many tips, plans, etc. one needs before actually moving forward and building some of those things.

Nevertheless I do like to read and browse them. Probably will be renewing Shop Notes and Journal sometime in the future.

Also bought about 20 videos on DVD from Woodworking Journal. A lot of ideas and good resources for a novice in a watchable format.

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2756 days

#42 posted 12-03-2012 02:17 AM

Just got my first Woodcraft. It’s about 50-50 as far as content-ads go. I’m a little disappointed. I get Popular Woodworking on my Kindle and so far I don’t care for it at all. I agree with most others that either Shop Notes or FWW are tops.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

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