Coming Friday: The Return of ‘Work’ Magazine

“…(F)or if the professional works to live, does not the amateur in an equal degree live to work?”

— Work Magazine, Issue 1, Vol. 1.

For several years, Joel Moskowitz at Tools for Working Wood has extolled the virtues of Work magazine, a publication that began in 1889. The magazine was, in Joel’s words, the “greatest of all the DIY publications.”

And starting Friday, Joel will try to prove his assertion by republishing the magazine in digital format starting with issue 1. And it will be free for anyone with a connection to the Internet.

Joel let me read the first couple issues this week, and I think they are definitely worth your time to download, print out and read. Both of the 16-page issues had articles that were interesting and enjoyable reading for a woodworker. And they had some stuff that I just skimmed over – ah such is the problem of producing a general-interest publication.

Here are some highlights of the first couple issues that you can look forward to:

In Issue 1, the best article, hands-down, is “A Chat About Furniture” by David Adamson. This piece, which is about the construction of two tables, is how every project article should be written.

Instead of simply telling you “put tab A in slot B,” the author engages you in a lengthy design discussion about these tables. He knows that you will want to modify the plan for your own use, and so he takes great pains to explain the design language of the elements. In other words, after you read the article, you’ll know how to draw and make a table in this mode without making a serious blunder.

The joinery is discussed, but not in a “how you cut the tenons” manner. It’s more about choosing the correct joinery and scaling it correctly for this object.

I also enjoyed the author’s sharp tongue/pen. Here’s a sample:

“In all its horrible eccentricity of non-descript Gothic, worse Chinese, and inane rococo, combined though they be with the most exquisite workmanship and occasionally a quaint gracefulness, Chippendale’s style is not in favour with those whose training enables them to discriminate between the true and false in design.”

Issue 1 also has some articles that are amusing if not useful. They have many pages on how to turn your lathe into a table saw. It is in every way, exactly what Shopsmith does with its machine.

Issue 2 has some good stuff as well. At the top of the list is an article on “Artistic Furniture,” which also could be titled “A Primer on Dumpster Diving.”

It’s about the author busting up some packing crates to salvage the wood and make an overmantle using nails and screws. Most of the article is, again, an interesting discussion of the design and a defense of the simple joinery methods. It’s the kind of article that will inspire the beginner and make them hungry to build something.

The issue also has an article by David Denning (another familiar name) on making a wooden copying press – a project that most moderns would use for pressing flowers. It’s a fun project that I’d like to make myself someday.

Each issue also has tool reviews and letters that are fun to read. Plus the advertisements are a hoot. I read every one of them. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but my favorite advert was for “Pond’s Extract,” which cures gout, hemorrhoids, wounds, burns etc. The copy exclaims in huge letters that it is used by “HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN” and below that in tiny type “of Romania.”

Good stuff. To read more about Work magazine, read this blog entry from Joel. And to download the first issue on Friday, go to this page – a special blog devoted to Work.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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5 Responses to Coming Friday: The Return of ‘Work’ Magazine

  1. Rob Fisher says:

    Any chance we will be getting your thoughts on “…the true and false in (furniture) design.”, in book form, sooner than later? The archetypal or elementals book you’ve mentioned before?

    Oh, and I am really looking forward to this magazine. Joel should be applauded for his efforts in republishing it. Go Joel!!!

  2. Bob Jones says:

    You can quit bugging him, but I plan to continue. 🙂
    The career path just makes sense, Chris. Step one – using hand tools. Step two – build a good bench. Step three – build your tool set and store them. Step four – build basic, excellent, useful furniture for you and your ancestors. I may be forgetting something in there. 🙂
    Keep up the good work. Thanks

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