It took only two sentences to convince me to resign my position as editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, forsaking a stable salary and a company that appreciated my efforts.
I was teaching a class on handplanes with Thomas Lie-Nielsen at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking a couple years ago. On the second day of the class, Thomas narrated a film of how he makes tools at his factory in Warren, Me. At the end of his presentation, one of the students asked the following question:
“Aren’t you afraid that the inexpensive Wood River planes are going to put you out of business?”
“They can’t put me out of business,” Thomas replied. “Even if I had to let go of every single one of my employees, I’d still be there making planes until I died.”
At that moment, my world turned upside down.
I had started Lost Art Press in part as a way to insulate myself. Editors of magazines get fired – a lot. My goal was to grow Lost Art Press slowly using pet projects, such as “The Art of Joinery.” Then, when some day I got called into the Glass Woodshed by the People Upstairs, I would have something to fall back on. But after listening to Thomas, I knew that I had the equation reversed.
My undying and consuming passion for the craft was what would insulate me from failure, not some little business.
So starting June 15, I will be full time here at Lost Art Press. I’ll be blogging here almost every day about my work in the shop. I have about two or three years of work and books lined up for us to publish. And – I hope – I’ll also be blogging and writing for Popular Woodworking Magazine, which I have only the deepest affection for.
What’s going to change? Good question. I probably won’t be able to do many tool reviews. At Popular Woodworking Magazine, I personally purchased (or borrowed) all the tools I wrote about to avoid a conflict of interest. And I’m not about to become a hand-tool harlot, complaining about my irritable bowel syndrome and whining about how toolmakers won’t send me free stuff.
That’s not me. I buy my own tools.
And with a four-figure income (the other half of the headline on this blog post), my tool purchases are going to be more carefully made. I don’t want to go out of business.
Oh yeah, I forgot. That’s not possible. Thanks Tom.
— Christopher Schwarz