Friends, after 3+ years at Popular Woodworking and 15 years editing for consumer audiences I’m moving on to new digs.
This week I begin a new adventure in writing and editing as the digital editor for CompositesWorld. I’m looking forward to learning some pretty fascinating stuff; composites are used for everything from aerospace and space travel to wind farms to sports cars – anywhere you might require a light yet highly durable material. I’ve always been fascinated with space travel and am thrilled to explore a field that contributes to environmental concerns.
Just what will the future hold? I’m excited to find out. Will my head explode from overexposure to tech-speak? Maybe. Will I be spending my days with people smarter than me. Um, yes. Will I get to meet Elon Musk at a composites trade show? I tend to doubt it. But he seems like one weird dude.
I’m a podcaster now! Popular Woodworking has added a podcast to it’s line up and I’m the host for the first episode. “The Afterlife of Trees” tells stories about about woodworking, art and oddities – all centered around wood as a medium. The first story, “Trees Are Weird,” comes from PW contributing editor Christopher Schwarz, who tells a tale of a mysterious method for drying wood (and possibly the key to immortality) – a story that ended up being just a little too odd for the magazine. Check it out.
Mackintosh is often remembered as a graphic designer and architect, but he also created hundreds of furniture designs throughout his career. I recently edited a book, “Mackintosh Furniture” by Michael Crow, that offers shop drawings and insights into creating some of the famous designer’s furniture. The plans in this book were previously unavailable and have been extrapolated from drawings and photos of Mackintosh’s work, offering woodworkers access to details to help recreate some of his most enduring designs. Here’s a preview of the book:
“Hand Tool Basics” by Steve Branam hits bookstore shelves this week. I learned a quite a bit editing this book and have already started referring back to it myself when I’m in the workshop. It covers everything you need to know about a range of woodworking hand tools from sharpening to prepping stock to joinery. Good stuff for any maker looking to incorporate hand tools into their work. Check out this preview:
Check out the book trailer for the latest edition of Christopher Schwarz’s “Handplane Essentials.” Chris was kind enough to take some time to hang out with us and do a voiceover. The video turned out great (shout out to PW video editors David Thiel & Jacob Motz) and the book itself is a fantastic reference for anyone who works with handplanes, whether you prefer a hand tool only approach to woodworking or you incorporate them into a combined approach with power tools.
Several books that I had the recent pleasure of editing are now available – if you’re getting the itch to build something here are a few titles that might just be the instruction or inspiration you’ve been looking for to start your summer project.
“The Practical Workshop” by Christopher Schwarz and the editors of Popular Woodworking is a great book for anyone who is looking to set up a shop, no matter the size of your space. Whether you’re a beginner or a woodworker who is simply relocating your woodworking shop, the book is a great tool that can help you think through workshop setup and build some shop furniture and fixtures that can help you streamline your workflow. From building a workbench to thinking through your floor layout for efficiency, this book covers everything you need.
The tiny house movement continues to be a popular trend driven by an increasing need for environmental responsibility and sustainable lifestyles – not to mention a need for a simpler life. “Building Small” by David & Jeanie Stiles is a fun book for anyone interested in building a small structure. The book has plenty of advice and building techniques for taking your project from start to finish, as well as several plans for tiny homes and backyard buildings and a inspirational gallery of completed tiny house builds.
“Simple & Stylish Woodworking” offers 20 smaller scale projects that make great home accents or to give as gifts. From clocks and lamps to mirrors and picture frames, this book offers great ideas for practicing your woodworking skills while building something that will make a lovely addition to any home.
Within a week or so the new edition of “Handplane Essentials” by Christopher Schwarz should be available. This book was such a pleasure to edit and I’m excited to see how it is received. Chris added a ton of new material to the book (just check out his list of updates here). It was a great book to begin with, but now has been brought up to date since its last printing with new tool reviews and revisions throughout. Woodworkers looking to demystify handplanes and find out just how efficient and precise these tools can be need look no further.
This modular “Sugar Cube” house is one of the tiny house designs included in “Building Small” by David & Jeanie Stiles (pub date: 7/24/17).
In addition to the woodworking books I edit, I occasionally get to work on something a little bit different. Last year I edited a book on building treehouses – and now I’m delving into the world of tiny houses. “Building Small” by David & Jeanie Stiles offers construction methods and best practices for building small structures. While many tiny house books on the market explore the dream of downsizing and living small, this book digs into actually building a tiny house. Coming July 2017, “Building Small” will offer plenty of general building practices, plans for seven small structure designs, as well as success stories from tiny home builders and advocates of the tiny house lifestyle.
The latest book I had the pleasure of editing is a new edition of “The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home” by Kent Lester & Dave McGuerty. This book has been around for a while but we had the opportunity to do a relevant update by adding a whole new section on green and sustainable building practices. There’s a ton of new information about how to not only build in environmentally friendly ways, but also to reap the benefits of energy savings. Great stuff for anyone building a new home (or even if you’re doing some rennovating or just to be an informed home buyer).
“With Saw, Plane & Chisel” is a great book for anyone interested in creating furniture by hand. Period furniture expert Zachary Dillinger walks you through six classic American furniture projects using hand-tool construction and period-accurate joinery methods.
I learned a lot about old school methods editing this book and recommend it for woodworkers who are interested in hand-tool methods or recreating period details in their furniture.