Magazine plans and hardware overkill

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Forum topic by Whiskers posted 06-06-2013 12:34 AM 1320 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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389 posts in 2203 days

06-06-2013 12:34 AM

I been evaluating a bunch of magazine plans for various things and it seems the magazines just want to separate us from our money. For instance I’m looking at a u build plan for a workbench that folds up against a wall and I love the concept but see many flaws. First of course is the dimensions are very inefficient resulting in a lot of wood waste. Minor tweaking will fix that tough. The other thing is the hardware they design with is super obsessive and expensive. For a 6’ workbench they want you to buy 4 36” piano hinges. Even following their design it would save a few dollars using 2 72” piano hinges but why spend $50-60 on hinges when $10 worth of butt hinges should do the job? Am I missing something. It’s a workbench not a heirloom hope chest. Anyone else run into these situations?

15 replies so far

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2131 days

#1 posted 06-06-2013 01:48 AM

Sponsorship perhaps?

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2159 days

#2 posted 06-06-2013 01:52 AM

Their sponsors give them most everything they use, I get sickened when I see Tommy Mac’s shop just because I know he didn’t pay for a damn thing in that place, wood included.

I remember one episode he went and got some black walnut at a saw mill, it had to be 12/4 thick and like 12-15’ in length and like 20” wide didn’t pay a dime…I cried.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Alongiron's profile


649 posts in 2869 days

#3 posted 06-06-2013 02:49 AM

I like to use some of the ideas from these plans and than turn to sketchup to redesign to my style and sizes.

-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2131 days

#4 posted 06-06-2013 03:19 AM

Upstate, I know the feeling, except I’ve got Black Walnut out the wazoo, however had it been quarter sawn sycamore there would have been a robbery!

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3026 days

#5 posted 06-06-2013 04:58 AM

I see something different from what you see, Whiskers, and I posted it a couple years ago and got some agreement.

Over the years I have noticed two things in plans in beginner woodworker magazines. First, I see needless complexity. This generates failure.

Second, I see errors in dimension and materials. These lead to failure.

And in technique articles, I see unrealistic expectations. “Perfect miter joints in 2 hours!” “Build this snappy teak pergola in a weekend. Mix the cement in your food processor!”

When the articles are set up to generate failure, the ads are there to sell you the latest MakWalt DoAll or Magic Instant Gap Filling No Mix Super Intense Snake Oil Glue.

It’s an easy formula: Seduction by picture—the project done by pros. Torpedoing via faulty data in the plans. Taken together, you’ve got a woodworker who is discouraged and ads that promise new and shiny results.

We fiercely independent Americans have forgotten the value of mentoring since we did away with apprenticeships as a common way of learning a skill. We think we can do it alone. (And yes, some do.)

But the formula is obviously working based on the number of DIY and Woodworking magazines which populate the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble.

Does this fit into your observations about the plans you’re mentioning?



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View RodNGun's profile


118 posts in 2479 days

#6 posted 06-06-2013 04:59 AM

Design your own stuff. It’s not that hard and you get what you want within your budget.

View Woodknack's profile


12401 posts in 2556 days

#7 posted 06-06-2013 06:03 AM

Yeah, I’ve noticed before that magazines always seem to use piano hinges by default, probably because they have less play than butt hinges and don’t need to be mortised.

-- Rick M,

View BJODay's profile


527 posts in 2119 days

#8 posted 06-06-2013 11:26 AM


You make some great points. Many years ago I was fretting about how fine to sand a project before finishing. My older, wiser and more efficient brother told me, “It’s not a bannister for the courthouse. Nobody is going to be running their hands down the side of your bookcase.”

Realizing that I am a hobbiest and not a craftsman helps me to set my expectations to reasonable goals.


View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2068 days

#9 posted 06-06-2013 11:34 AM

Truly insightful reply there from Lee.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3147 days

#10 posted 06-06-2013 02:50 PM

Get Shop Notes.
Great plans, sequenced to teach needed skills, no ads.

View GT350's profile


370 posts in 2157 days

#11 posted 06-07-2013 01:16 AM

I have to respectfully disagree about the magazines. I enjoy the magazines and have built some of the projects from them, especially from Woodsmith. The nice thing about woodworking is that you can look at a project and like some of it and redesign it to fit what you are after wether to fit your budget, size or design. I just finished a project that I took a lot of ideas from magazines like trim pieces, door ideas, leg styles, glass doors, proportions etc.. I guess I use the magazines more for ideas and designs than complete plans.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2740 days

#12 posted 06-07-2013 01:44 AM

magazines simply give me ideas. I obsess over the design process of woodworking. Might be partially since I have a lot more time to design than I do to actually make stuff, but I don’t do much without taking pencil to paper first.

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

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4644 posts in 2485 days

#13 posted 06-07-2013 01:59 AM

“I been evaluating a bunch of magazine plans for various things and it seems the magazines just want to separate us from our money”

Isn’t that what capitalism all about. :)

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2286 days

#14 posted 06-07-2013 02:03 AM

Whiskers… I just posted a response to a thread about jig hardware that echos your sentiments!

I’ve studied with a lot of sharp folks, and there’s a time for expensive hardware, and a time for MDF stop blocks screwed in place. ;^)

View Whiskers's profile


389 posts in 2203 days

#15 posted 06-07-2013 02:20 AM

Currently I’m looking at the Shop Notes A-Frame type lumber cart. While it is a excellent and well thought out idea it’s implementation is insane. First off it uses 1x lumber for all non ply components in totally oddball dimensions. Usually 1×3. I’m not going to the trouble of buying expensive 1×4 lumber and chopping a half inch off it when other off the shelf material will work as well or better and cheaper. The designer is also overly fond of screws, and oddly not so fond of glue apparently. He has also apparently not been introduced to a Kreg pocket hole jig, my favorite tool. I am going to build that thing, got the casters today and I only ordered them last night. Wow Amazon was fast on that one, though I suspect they got drop shipped cause I never seen Amazon ship out of Nashville before. I also plan to widen it a bit as original dimensions are 32” wide, and a extra 4” will give me a lot of breathing room. I’ll try and start a post on it when I get started, though I guess it might be tricky to avoid the copyright issues. Hopefully if I step on any lines the mods will just edit and warn me and not go ballistic with bans or anything.

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