Woodworking magazines in the U.S.

On this side of the Atlantic there are a number of publications. The best of the lot is currently Fine WoodworkingFine Woodworking has always been a joy to read. The articles are well thought out, and the photographs are detailed – including step-by-step instructions in many cases. Fine Woodworking is also one of the few magazines that still does somewhat extensive tool reviews.

fineWW

I think about 10 years ago I had stopped buying it because the magazine had become lacklustre, but having been revitalized, it’s now an excellent magazine once again. It’s projects are more down-to-earth, and provide quite a lot of visual information, and exceptional “exploded” views of projects. Here is an example of a recent project:

fineWWpages

Woodworking Magazine was an excellent publication – the original magazine had black-and-white photographs, and “no ads”. In its circa 30-page issues you could read a 3-page article on the use of hide glue in liquid form, or 6 pages on the system of three hand planes. Published at the same time was Popular Woodworking,  a more ad-based colour magazine. Both these magazines merged to form Popular Woodworking Magazine, circa 2010 although the magazine is no longer true to its roots. I would pay more to have something which is more akin to the original Woodworking Magazine, even if it had an ad section in the back (in one recent issue I counted 19/64 pages as ads). I have to admit that part of the new magazines issue is its choice of paper, the drawings, and the overall choice of topics. In some respects sometimes I think there is too much text in the articles, versus more visual information.

WWpopular

Don’t get me wrong, there are still excellent articles, like Willard Anderson’s “Bench Plane Restoration” article in the Oct.2014 issue. I am really only inclined to purchase an issue now if there are 2-3 good articles in it that interest me. Some of it is also down to cost. Popular Woodworking Magazine costs $8.99 here in Canada, and Fine Woodworking only $1 more… so I am more inclined to buy it every couple of months.

One magazine that was  around for a long while was Woodwork (1989-2014). Seems like it was an interesting magazine.

WoodWork

It really was a magazine that seemed to have a good vibe to it. Below is the start of an 8-page article by Peter Follansbee on building a caved box. It doesn’t seem possible to obtain back-issues anymore, but there are some on eBay, and you can buy the whole series in digital form on Amazon.

WoodWorkpages

The latest magazine is Mortise & Tenon magazine, which is more of a work of art than a magazine. It explores the world of “handmade, pre-industrial furniture”,  though essays and photographs, something no other magazine does. There are also alternate media, such as blogs, and online content from 360Woodworking, and The Unplugged Workshop.

I’ll note that I have never been fond of magazines such as Wood, Woodsmith, or (the now defunct) American Woodworker, although the B&W issues of the latter from the 1980s are quite nice – the illustrations are crisp, and ads are confined to the rear of the magazine (You can find the 1989/1990 issues on Google Books). If you love projects, then these magazines are okay. I do understand that the magazine business is not exactly easy these days, with competition from the likes of YouTube. It is possible to learn how to cut dovetails or build a Roubo workbench just by watching videos, or following someone’s build on their blog.

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One thought on “Woodworking magazines in the U.S.

  1. MVFlaim Furnituremaker says:

    I too enjoy “Fine Woodworking” again as I just renewed my subscription after a five year lapse. “Popular Woodworking” is also a good magazine. I just wish it wasn’t so thin. I actually don’t mind ads. I’ve gotten tons of good information from looking at ads, then going to their website to learn about the company.

    One of the Best woodworking magazines I’ve ever subscribed to was a video magazine called “Woodworking In Action” by Graham Blackburn. He would go to woodworker’s shops and shoot videos of how craftsmen would build furniture or an exotic jig that they dreamt up. It was an awesome woodworking magazine that inspired me to try new things in the shop. Unfortunately, it never found a following as YouTube was just starting to catch on.

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