Friday, December 28, 2012

Magazine Review: Wood, Dec/Jan 2012/2013

I love my mom.  I really do.

Mom and Dad
My mom still cries whenever she hears music with trombones in it, and if you ask her she will say that it would sound even better if it was me playing instead of whoever is on the recording.  She is my biggest fan.

Ever since I moved to  Germany, she sends me things when she is thinking about me.  Once, she mailed an apple pie.

I started this blog about five months ago, and she has been my most loyal reader.  You might even find a comment from her here and there, usually somthing that says, "Brian, this blog is great!  I think it is exciting even if I don't understand a single word!"

She was being thoughtful when she saw this Wood Magazine two-pack at the newstand:

Wood Magazine double pack

I love to read about woodworking, but I try not to spend much money on things that won't last long in my house, if I can help it.  This two pack had a list price of $9.99, which seems a bit on the steep side.  I hope she paid less than the listed price.

I started with the "Big Ideas for Small Workshops" issue.  Mom probably bought this for me since my space is awfully small.  Unfortunately, there was not much of interest to me.  My workspace is truly tiny.  I work in a storage room that I share with my wife's storage, and the whole thing is about eleven feet by nine, give or take some.

Apparently most Americans' view of a small shop is an empty two-car garage.  Give me a two-car garage, and I could conquer the world!

Actually, if I had a two car garage, I probably would not have gotten into hand tools in the first place.  I can't fit a table saw in my workspace.  If I could, I probably would have been evicted from my apartment building by now.

On to the current issue of Wood Magazine, which was the other publication in the two pack.

My first impression is this magazine for people who think a table saw and an electric router are mandatory to do woodwork.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to power tools, but there are other methods that can easily be superior.  Read Matt Bickford's book and you will want to get rid of your router.

With that being said, there are some good articles in here.  There are two really good project articles:  the wine rack on the cover, as well as an end table that looks really cute.

As expected, the instructions include the use of table saws, router tables, plywood and a host of cordless power tools.  Paradise for a DIYer on crack.  What I usually do if I want to build something from an article like this is take the parts of the project I like and change the parts I don't.  Nothing wrong with that.

There is also a fantastic review of chisels.  I was very pleased to see this, as they included 16 different brands and models.  Among them were some of the premium chisels I think you should consider such as Lie Nielsen (my favorite), Veritas and Blue Spruce.

If you are looking to get some new chisels, I would recommend reading what they have to say.  You should also read my recent post on chisels in my Beginner's Took Kit series.

If you follow my advice, you can pick up the two chisels you need.  Get more when you need them and when you have the money.  Or, you could buy an entire set of lesser-quality chisels that you will eventually want to replace.

Overall, I did not find the small-shop issue useful to me as I have no plans to put machines in a large home shop.  The magazine issue itself has a few articles that make it worth the money, but it would also benefit from a bit more substantial content.  Perhaps an article or two about a basic operation or a hand tool method would be good.

To be fair, there is an article on building a bench hook to use a hand saw to cut miters.  But, can you think of anything else you can do with a bench hook?

Thanks for thinking of me, mom.  I like getting magazines in the mail.  Keep reading my blog and maybe you'll want to start woodworking yourself, someday!


  1. Brian, this blog is great! I think it is exciting even if I don't understand a single word!

  2. It is great! and I understand it, believe it or not. You have many gifts, one of which is writing and artculating your joy and love of woodworking. Good job.

    p.s. Russ loves the flashlight. He got it today. It's a nice one, so he says. I don't know much about flashlights. They all look the same to me. But, thanks!

  3. Many of us started with a closet for a shop. I know I built several things cleaning up the kitchen table before dinner.
    As you know the magazines plans and descriptions are ideas that can be translated into the methods and results that you really want.

  4. Thank you for your kind words about me (your Mom) and the lovely picture of your Dad and me. I'm hoping you can get a couple of ideas out of the magazines that you can convert into your own way of doing it. And no, I did not pay that price for the magazines. I love you, too! I probably won't want to start doing woodworking anytime soon, but I will always read your blog. I'm proud of you.

  5. My mother does similar things (she's in Australia and I'm in the US). Mothers hey?! I also have a tiny British shed for my workshop (sounds close to your dimensions) so I also laugh at the North American idea of a "small" workshop. If only!

  6. Mom, it is a hook for a bench.

    1. Haha! Debbie, you are funny. But, you are right.

      It is a board that has a smaller piece of wood on the front underside and the back top, so you can put it on your bench and hold other work on it. It keeps your work from sliding all over the place and helps avoid chopping big holes directly in your bench, among other things.

  7. Mr. Eve, thank you. Your post accomplished exactly what you intended, "I think at some point everyone needs a place to start, and that's what I've tried to do here." This is exactly what I needed, as my retirement is fast approaching and I find myself moving toward the realm of hand tool woodworking. With the internet and beautiful catalogs, it is easy to succumb to wanting, "one of everything." My daughter got me the Anarchist Tool Chest for Christmas; a great book, but a little overwelming to the beginner. Your blog has put things in perspective for me. Well done. dk