Editor looking for feedback on his reworked and reenergized Woodcraft Magazine

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Forum topic by JimVH1 posted 08-10-2008 09:44 PM 1630 views 2 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 4206 days

08-10-2008 09:44 PM

Dear fellow woodworkers,

A little over a year ago I joined Lumberjocks after retiring at WOOD magazine as the Executive Editor. I was there at the very beginning at WOOD and learned what worked and didn’t work (going all the way back to 1984). Within a day or two, I was contacted by folks associated with WOODCRAFT Magazine and was asked to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of their publication. The magazine was seriously broken at the time, having the absolute wrong editorial direction that emphasized fluffy people stories and included mediorcre projects that lacked step-by-step how-to instructions and dimensioned drawings. The challenge was a bit daunting, but was the kind of thing I was interested in wrapping my arms around. The fixes would be profound and fast-coming. Today, the magazine is not even a shadow of its former self. These changes include the following approaches and story types:
1. Five to 15 quality project designs in every issue, from beginner to more advanced, appealing to a wide range of skill levels and interests.
2. Writing the projects up in comprehensive step-by-step fashion, complete with dimensioned illustrations and how-to photos, cutting diagrams, cut lists, and buying guides.
3. Working with top project designers from across the country.
4. Building every project from scratch and triple checking dimensions during the course of developing the instructions.
1. Focusing on techniques throughout; special techniques include joinery, finishing, and router techniques.
2. Lessons from a pro feature experts in each issue who address a selected technique such as dimensioning lumber or measuring and marking.
1. Hot new tool and tool accessories
2. Problem-solving product write-ups/critiques
3. Feature on a main tool category
1. A visit to America’s top workshops
2. Shop-related stories
3. Shop projects

The reason I am writing this is to get feedback from you. In my constant pursuit of creating the most useful woodworking magazine on the planet, one that is “action-oriented,” allowing woodworkers to go into their shops right now and do something, I need help. If you happen to see a copy of this past year’s Woodcraft at Barnes and Nobles or at a local Woodcraft Store, pick it up and page through it. Not asking you to buy it, just look at it. Does it do anything for you? What is it missing? Where can we improve? I am on a mission to make woodworking the best (and most fun) hobby on the planet. Drop me an email at to let me know what you think. And, if you want to help the cause, send in your best shop tip or photos of an extremely well-thought-out, fully-functional workshop. In each case, there could be money in it for you. Or, if you want to see what the publication looks like, go to

I hope this wasn’t a bother for you. To all my friends at Lumberjocks, have a great day and enjoy your shop time.

Jim Harrold

-- JimVH, Iowa

21 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35140 posts in 4576 days

#1 posted 08-10-2008 10:29 PM


I’ve got all of the early magazines. But haven’t picked up one reciently. I’ll try and make a review after getting a current issue.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4029 posts in 4239 days

#2 posted 08-10-2008 10:31 PM

I’ll take a look. I have sat the fence for some time about subscribing. I need another magazine, as I eat through another well known bi-monthly magazine in a week or so. What I am looking for is a source for information that will take my craft to a higher level, not another hobbyist rag that caters to weekend warriors alone. It sounds like you have breathed new life into the magazine, with many good ideas and a solidly thought-out gameplan.

As a LumberJock, have you considered advertising here to help get the word out? Looks like there is a spot
right over there >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3990 days

#3 posted 08-10-2008 10:31 PM

Hi Jim,

What I look for
  • Design ideas from professional designer/builders.
  • Construction techniques. I’m not talking about how to cut dovetails here, I’m talking about how to construct “things” like tables or case goods or boxes . . .
  • Honest tool reviews.
  • Clever jig construction
  • Processes to be more efficient
What I don’t look for
  • How to’s on extremely common joinery techniques (how many ways can there possibly be to cut dovetails or tenons)
  • How to’s on extremely common tool usage.
  • Plans that don’t challenge my ability. (I know that’s a hard one).

Good luck. I’ll try to pick up a copy for my flight to Spokane tomorrow.

-- Scott - Chico California

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3863 days

#4 posted 08-10-2008 10:55 PM

I had a subscription a couple years back and just let it run out because it seemed at that time that every other page was advertising of some sort . Haven’t bothered to pick up another issue to even look at one since. I subscribed to Wood magazine and I really enjoy it as well as Woodworking Magazine which has NO ads in it at all . Maybe you could send out a copy to former subscribers and say “LOOK AT US NOW ”....If your mag has improved that much , it might just bring back some “old” customers….....Thank you for asking : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4475 days

#5 posted 08-10-2008 11:03 PM

I’d like to see a magazine similar to WOODSMITH, with no advertising.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4071 days

#6 posted 08-10-2008 11:29 PM

I’m in league with Scott.

But one thing that I think would be nice would be to separate the projects by skill level within the magazine. (“getting started”, “moving along”, “doing nicely” and “WOW you’re good!”). It seems to me that some of the other magazines forget that not everyone picks up the magazine with the same skill set (with the exception I think of FWW – which is more than obviously for the “WOW you’re good” set).

For example—a “getting started” person needs to know how to make a good butt joint. But a “WOW you’re good” person would be insulted to tell them how to make a butt joint.

Good luck with the magazine.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3895 days

#7 posted 08-11-2008 12:39 AM

With the realization that ads are where the money comes from, I agree with Dick. I don’t read the ads at all. All the knowledge about products comes from this web site from people who have actually used the product. No hype. Like Betsy’s view also.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4197 days

#8 posted 08-11-2008 01:08 AM

This is and interesting thread for me as I just read last week that more that 70% of woodworkers trust the comments of strangers on the wood forums over the ratings from magazines.

Magazines have put themselves in the unenviable position of being “shills” for their advertisers by virtue of bad advertising standards where the advertiser calls their shots on what is printed and how.

We subscribers did not create this unholy union but, by and large, we are rejecting it for a more subjective take on woodworking.

When a product from the magazine industry comes out with a detailed episode for how to build something down to the last tool and technique I think I will buy it even if it costs me 12 -20 bucks for the issue.

Getting me subscribe to a series of products as yet unannounced could be quite an effort however.

Advertising is good.
I just think it should not determine the outcome or events of a news magazine article.

Ignore me at your peril.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3898 days

#9 posted 08-11-2008 01:30 AM

I have to agree with Bob #2. I have a subscription to a woodworking magazine, your previous endevour, and have been somewhat disappointed with the past several issues. I know advertising is a big money issue for magazines, but there is such a thing as too many advertisements.

Betsy may be on to something with plans for differnt skill levels.

I will pick up a copy of your newest endevor and give it a view.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View bigdog72's profile


16 posts in 3985 days

#10 posted 08-11-2008 01:47 AM

I went to the website and checked it out. Liked what I saw and clicked the subscribe button. To my amazement, Woodcraft wanted $6.99 shipping for the subscription. As I said in an e-mail to the person who started this thread, I was born on a Sunday but it wasn’t today!!

PS: This goes along with not paying Woodcraft $9.99 shipping for a $50 item. Ridiculous!!!

-- Geoff, Lillington, NC

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3974 days

#11 posted 08-11-2008 02:09 AM

I would love to see a better magazine with in depth articles instead of fluff and tool reviews.

-- making sawdust....

View lew's profile


12382 posts in 3930 days

#12 posted 08-11-2008 02:49 AM

I have been a subscriber since the first issue. I liked the magazine then, I like it now. As far as advertising goes, except for Woodsmith and ShopNotes, it seems every magazine has about the same amount.

The new “improved” Woodcraft has more detailed projects and does list a lot of tips. I miss the projects done by the “average” guy, however. I have really never been impressed with Scott Phillips.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 3888 days

#13 posted 08-11-2008 02:49 AM

with the age of the internet upon us,print is dead.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4061 days

#14 posted 08-11-2008 04:27 AM

I’ll look forward to your next issue I’m subscribed until 12/09. I agree with what people have said about the advertising and tool reviews being controlled by the advertisers. I am going to be thinning out my WW magazine subscriptions as they expire it is getting to be to much with some magazines costing $35 a year. I am keeping records of the articles I find useful each month in each magazine and will use those figures to dictate future renewals.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4502 days

#15 posted 08-11-2008 05:27 AM

Some of us read all the magazines, some only subscribe to a few. Ad revenue tends to dictate the size of any publication, and as a 13 year veteran of newspapers I tend to almost completely ignore right hand pages while I’m flipping through issues ;)

I subscribed to several over the years, thinking if I liked an issue enough to buy it more than once, then a subscription was inevitably cheaper. however this led to a house full of magazines, many of which containing loads of redundant information. when “thinning the archives” I found myself keeping plenty for project plans I’m likely to make (not dated looking) and meet my current skill set, as well as the perennial FWW that we all aspire to.

I used to read everything that hit the stands at the B&N, so now I’m anxious to see the new woodcraft.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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