Similar to anyone born after 1975, Fine Woodworking has been around my whole life. My first knowledge of the publication came at an early age.
My Pa (my maternal grandfather) was a solitary woodworking hobbyist. I say it like that because he wasn’t a professional woodworker or metalworker, nor was he an electrician or plumber, but rather, he was a 69-year-old, retired mechanical engineer/fire chief who did a little bit of everything … quietly, slowly, and methodically.
Every night after dinner he’d either call the neighbors over to play pinochle, or he’d sit down in his chair, do a crossword puzzle, or read one of his magazines while my Gram put me to bed. This was where the magazines started, Phase 1. In Phase 2 the magazines went through a surgery of sorts. My Pa would expertly dissect the spine from the pages and then insert the pages corresponding with his project into clear school binder pockets, keeping them free from workshop hazards and the confines of a book format. Phase 3 was “a placement ceremony.” After completion of a project, he would gather the project pages in their clear pockets and join them with a single keyring at the top. He’d put one of those tiny brass hooks in a ceiling joist and place the keyring. In my mind it was a practical suspended catalogue of honor. The joists were lined with them like bats.
On February 15, 1987, he died of an aneurysm, after dinner, in his chair, with a Fine Woodworking magazine in one hand and a small, neatly knife-sharpened pencil in the other.
A lot changed quickly after he died and I don’t know what happened to all that stuff—his magazines and workshop in the basement. I was only 3.5 years old at the time and not in charge of such things. The pieces he made were always held in high esteem, always regarded with almost disbelief. “Your Pa made this, isn’t that amazing?” I grew up knowing that creating something, making furniture, fixing something, or designing a solution to a problem was the greatest thing ever and everyone appreciates it. So that’s who I am.
Now, 35 years later, I have my partner, Audi Culver, who also loves making and designing furniture. We started SIOSI about 10 years ago and one of the first gifts we received was about 75 lb. worth of old Fine Woodworking magazines. A treasure. Here are a few of my favorite Fine Woodworking articles and videos.