What’s Next for Popular Woodworking Magazine?


With the promotion of Megan Fitzpatrick to editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I have been besieged with e-mail about what this means for the future of the magazine.

My response: Do I look like a redhead?

So I decided to ask Megan about her plans for the future editorial content of PWM. Here is an abbreviated transcript of our conversation as she was driving us both to Columbus, Ohio, Saturday morning to speak to the Woodworkers of Central Ohio club.

Chris: So one of my favorite internet comments about your promotion was this: “Great, now it can be a mediocre magazine with a feminine touch.” How does that make you feel?

Megan: Well they are half-right. It’s going to be an excellent magazine with a feminine touch.

Chris: Uh, really? What do you mean by that?

Megan: Our demographic data shows that more than 90 percent of our readers are men. If we can add women to our subscription base, we’ll be expanding the craft, instead of just pandering to the same customers we’ve served for years.

Chris: You’re going to attract female readers to the magazine? How?

Megan: I call my program: “Put a Heart on It.” We’re going to ensure that 20 percent of the projects in the magazine incorporate a cut-out of a heart, a goose or a pineapple (which as we all know is the universal symbol for unbounded hospitality). If this program works, I’m also working on proposals for “Add a Drawer for Doilies” and “Secret Compartments for Feminine Products.”

Chris: You lie.

Megan: No. I’m serious. Chuck Bender’s upcoming William & Mary spice cabinet will have a scrollsawn heart nestled into its tombstone door. Chuck – always a team player – has also agreed to some tole painting on the interior.

Chris: Tole painting?

Megan: You know, small images painted in oil paints using a palette of soft pastels. I think Chuck said some gnomes in Elizabethan outfits could adorn the drawers. Perhaps a gnome with his pants down could be on the inside of the secret drawer behind a Quaker lock.

Chris: Wait. Wait. What do the other editors think of this? Bob Lang? Steve Shanesy? Did you run it by them?

Megan: Au naturellement. Bob has a ponytail. Steve has a beret. They are actually much more in touch with their sensitive sides than you ever allowed them to be. They…

Chris: You are totally making this up.

Megan: I say this without any prevarication.

Chris: Wait. I have to look that word up.

Megan: I also plan to reverse the years and years of the patriarchal, hegemonic craft language you promoted under your term as editor.

Chris: Hege-what?

Megan: “Crafts-man” will be “Craftsperson.” And “brad-point bit” will be gender-neutralized to “pat-point bit.” A drill “chuck” will be called the more gender-neutral “charlie.” “Crotch wood” will be called “Tender wood.” “Cock bead” will be “poultry bead.” “Glue creep” will be “glue Crispin Glover.” And “bastard grain” will be…

Chris: OK. Got it. Any new columns in the works?

Megan: Absolutely. We’re going to have a column called “Nurture and Grow Your Wood” about raising small saplings and using their tender shoots – harvested without killing the tree – to make beautiful necklaces, bracelets and charms. A column called “What Color is Your Wood?” about using color theory to influence your grain selection. I think that Sam Maloof was a winter; that’s clear from his choice of walnut for many chairs. James Krenov – obviously a spring. Look at his olivewood. Many woodworkers have never explored how their own skin tones influence their choices at the lumberyard. Plus, my editor’s letter in every issue will cover must-know hair and makeup tips for looking your best in the shop.

Chris: Indeed.

Megan: I have to say you don’t sound enthused about these proposed changes.

Chris: Naw, lady, I always like a little feathered crotch with my wood.

Megan: That is exactly the problem of which I am speaking.

Chris: Huh?

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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68 Responses to What’s Next for Popular Woodworking Magazine?

  1. frpaulas says:

    Suggested article: Baking with cutoffs in cutoffs (save money, look cute)

  2. Kevin Flemming says:

    I don’t know what you were consuming when you wrote this, but I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

  3. Bill says:

    I think you have a new book idea here, Imperial Hegemonic Craft Language of the Campaign Funiture Period.

  4. jasongc says:

    “glue Crispin Glover”

    That may be the most inspired woodworking descriptor ever penned. That’s up there with “tube-top friendly”.

    On a serious note, I’m more than a little bummed to think we might be seeing less writing from Megan now that she’s moving up, or over, a chair. She’s one of my favorite writers regardless of subject.

    • Publius Secundus says:

      Long live ribaldry and double entendres from Megan (and Chris.) It’s been refreshing to see her, over the years,allow herself to be drawn into the politically incorrect sport of our rustic lower classes. Smiles sell subscriptions too.

  5. David K NC says:

    Ha! Well, some magazines have already started down this path, and they’re not actually joking. Here’s an example (they’ve been publishing this crap for their nov-dec issue for years):


  6. Bob says:

    This was one of the best morning reads I could have asked for! Now I just have to clean the coffee off my screen before I head out to move some snow… Thanks!

  7. mysticcarver says:

    Well I am getting a beret now and thinking of new ways of marrying my woodworking with knitting! Oh and buying a stencil of a heart so I won’t have to hand draw so many… have to man it up somewhere !

    • John Switzer says:

      Comining woodworing and knitting, what a great idea. I can just see a nice miter box cozy or maybe an angora wool tool role.

    • SteveR says:

      In his book, ‘Mischief in the Forest’, Derrick Jensen weaves a tale between yarn and the forest, though it could hardly qualify as a woodworking book but as an appreciation of where materials for woodworking comes from. A good yarn.

  8. Padraig says:

    Christopher- Christopher-Christopher,

    Hope when I see you at hand works you have some arse left after the chewing you may get from this epistle. I sometimes wonder if you two( Megan and Christopher) shouldn’t have adult supervision when together.

  9. mikeandike says:

    “Nurture and Grow Your Wood”? Why do I think that there’s a double entendre in there somewhere?

    And I have to ask this. Does the presence of a garden gnome, as in the case of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, indicate the presence of a painful backstory? Yes, “Phineas and Ferb” are funny for parents too.

  10. SteveR says:

    Oh yes, rounder chests! Tools chests will now be bombe chests.

  11. Brian O. says:

    As the others have said, this was coffee-spraying funny!

    Nothing but nothing beats the tube-top line. I was instantly 13 years old again after reading that one.

  12. Michael Rogen says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I’d wager that in the “craft language you promoted under your term as editor” section, I’m sure that “poultry bead” was not your first choice. Or second. What does thou say to that?

  13. Jonas Jensen says:

    I think that it serves to your credit, that people ask what you think regarding a magazine, that you don’t work for anymore (at least not as the editor).
    I hope that you will continue to write articles for them once in a while.

  14. kv41 says:

    I laughed my feminist arse off!

  15. JJ says:

    All jokes aside, if you want to hear what Megan has to say about her new role, and the future of the magazine, check out the latest episode of the Modern Woodworkers Association’s podcast, where they interview her. It’s good stuff.

  16. Graham Burbank says:

    Hair tip: Well contained near lathes and drill presses(not to mention shapers and routers). May I suggest princess leia buns for you pony-tailed gents? Picture bob in this! A beehive hairdo also works. Perhaps instruction on how to polish one’s wood. In a tube top. Oops,sorry, wrong website.

    • Graham Burbank says:

      All joking aside, I hope the readership supports the magazine, and megan, in her new role. Women in this field are seriously under-represented and often actively discouraged in the workplace. Of the four women I have worked with or for in the past 25 years, all have left the career. Outside of academia, women woodworkers are rather scarce. The ones who stick it out tend to outperform their male counterparts. Knowing when the joking and innuendo is acceptable in good spirit and when it crosses the line is a balancing act. We don’t all have to use church manners and still have a good time.

  17. ROTFLMAO! Now I am able to fill out the emailed survey sent out by “The High Priestess”.

  18. billlattpa says:

    I definitely agree that woodworking magazines pander to a certain demographic, go to a woodworking show and I’ll give you one guess to who that demographic might be. When we as woodworkers talk about saving woodworking for future generations, well…..nevermind….I actually liked the movie Cocoon..

  19. You have excelled yourself this time.

  20. Marlon E says:

    I imagined myself sitting in the back seat riding with you two. I know y’all were serious, but you write it soo funny. When Megan reads this I can see her hit her forehead saying, “I can’t believe he quoted me on that one.” To Megan, I say go for it. Maybe my wife will read the magazine in the future.
    Next: “The Adventures of Lucy & Chris at Wal-Mart”….oughta be an excellent best seller!

  21. Tom Pier says:

    The magazine’s shop will be cleaner, and better organized. The window treatments will be more tasteful. No more articles about building humidors, instead it will be jewelry boxes.

  22. RicD says:

    While I picking myself up off the floor I thought you two need to talk to me about putting this stuff on tape.

  23. Jeff Skiver says:

    Brilliant, Chris. By the way, which definition of prevarication do you think she meant?
    A) The planning stage of a trip with the family?
    B) The time when a manuscript is written but not yet vetted?

  24. Thanks Chris, I sure needed a good laugh this morning.

  25. Carlos Zenteno says:

    Megaaaaaaaaaaaan !!!
    I just want you to include in the magazine the recipe for “Buffalo Dovetails”
    on a serious note…
    you should think of organizing a:
    “Bring your daughter to your workshop” day !!!

  26. andrew smith says:

    The percentages make change but the overall numbers will drop. They lost me. I am inspired for beer and tools. Maybe our culture will be so feminised that they wont need us after a while. Tired of this, society normal. I am hiding my wifes shoes from her. 😉

  27. Dave says:

    Upcoming PWW articles:
    Handplaning in High Heels, You Can make it work!
    The Best Rasps for maintaining your French Manicure.
    Product Comparison, Steel wool vs the Loofah

  28. Jim@FFO says:

    You folks need to get some fresh air. Clearly, the toluene in the laquer is getting to you…

  29. Michael H. says:

    Funny, thanks.

  30. Rex says:

    I hope she uses a little restraint.

  31. andrae says:

    Funny stuff.

    I wonder if Chris was inundated with worried emails when Matthew Teague became the editor? Although he was only around for a year (that was quick), all-in-all the magazine seemed the same as usual. Perhaps a slight tilt towards more powertools. Why would anyone fret, with Megan at the wheel, that the magazine will veer off into an embankment?

  32. Paul says:

    How to use nail polish as a wood finish. Your blog was better than the Sunday Comics. Thank you!

  33. Patrick says:

    Have you figured out where you are going to put the hearts on the milkman’s bench and the Dutch chest? (Heart shaped bench dogs would be cool for the bench and heart shaped handles on the chest might look super.)

  34. John "Lefty" Orear says:

    the reason I chose never to work in the lunchroom as a kid in school was because of how the lunch lady looked in he hair net, and I refused to wear one…… if the hair net becomes a part of the wood shop “uniform”……. well look on ebay for some nice tools up for sale !!!

  35. Oh great. My wife already swipes the magazine and reads it before I get home. Now my daughters are going to get in on the act, too. Maybe I should just get a second subscription delivered directly to the office…

  36. Martin Schwarz says:

    On the one hand I agree that it’s somewhat of a compliment to Chris and his tenure as editor that so many might take the time to ask his opinion both of Megan as editor as well as what directions the magazine may now take. On the other hand, I think it’s a bit odd that so many my think that a change in editors will mean a change in direction for the magazine, and even more so that, seemingly, the fact that the new editor is a woman is sending shivers up the spines of so many.

    I think this blog post was wonderful and a great response to the concerns of so many. I laughed out loud several times and smiled the whole time as I read it. What a creative response! Well crafted.

    My friends call me Byrdie but I prefer to think of myself as “the other Schwarz.”

  37. Christopher Harrington says:

    Best. Blog post. Ever.

  38. Decoupage maybe but tole painting? Really?

  39. BobB says:

    Thanks Chris. I spent a half hour cleaning milk and cereal off my laptop screen and keyboard.

    I do look forward to the OMG Ponies! themed PW issue.

  40. Jason says:

    Shit, you guys are funny!

  41. DBear says:

    It may be a time for some of us to post the ‘man’s prayer’, courtesy of Red Green (http://www.redgreen.com/) over our shop door to encourage a little reflection on entering:
    I’m a man,
    I can change,
    if I have to,
    I guess.

  42. My wife peaking over my shoulder: “Christopher!”

  43. The next time you two go driving somewhere please call me. I have a 28/4 english dictionary, handcuffs, a police whistle and duct tape! …and I would love to be sitting in the back seat!

  44. Jesse says:

    Do the “pat-point bits” come with their own protective fanny pack?

  45. More pineapples on more projects please!

  46. abtuser says:

    First, congratulations Megan. Is a women editor for a mainstream wood work magazine a first (forgive my ignorance)? If so, about time.

    Great post too, laughing all the way down.

  47. David Barbee says:

    The curse jar in the shop will have to be emptied daily. This of course keeps in line with a woodworking tradition older than dovetails.

  48. Amos says:

    Will there be any “language” columns for those of us who don’t have access to a translator?

  49. Brian Morgan says:

    Bwahahaha! Glad I just renewed. I’ve always thought that Shaker furniture suffered from a lack of little pink hearts.

  50. lemonjell0 says:

    Fantastic! Thank you sir, and Ma’am, for injecting a little levity into this! I was scared the craft and needlework section of the bookstore magazine rack was going to gain another slot as my favorite magazine disappears…
    Megan definitely seems the fit for the job! Congratulations!

  51. Chris P. says:

    I have that gnome cookie jar its pretty awesome…just saying.

  52. I think someone is beating her the “hearts on everything” punch:

  53. Paul says:

    Some time ago, you commented about goose quill pens. Recently I found a wild Peacock roost.
    The cast off wing feathers, 12/14” long have very thick quills. May these would work. I intend to surf for instrructions on how to cut them for pens.

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