Be an Informed Woodworker (It’s Easy!)

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Customers complain when they miss out on a special poster, book or shirt with a common refrain: Wahhh, I don’t have time to follow woodworking blogs and websites.

I’m not sure what they want us to say in reply. Perhaps: OK, next time I’ll send John Hoffman to your house to rap on your window when we have a new product we suspect you’ll be interested in (because we’re monitoring your phone. And no, your foil-covered colander isn’t blocking the transmissions).

Truth is, it has always been the duty and obligation of individual woodworkers to stay informed on the latest findings, thinkings and crackpot theories in our beloved craft. In the 18th century you were expected to read all the books that came out, join a local mechanical society and attend their lectures. In the 19th and 20th centuries, you could join a society (or union), read a trade newspaper and read books.

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And now we have the Internet (plus magazines and books – at least for now).

Luckily, technology can sort through all the new information and let you scan the headlines from the woodworking blogs. One way to do this is to visit a news aggregator, such as Unplugged Workshop.

I don’t use aggregators, however, because their interests don’t always match mine. That’s why I use a free RSS reader (I use feedly.com but there are many out there). These readers make a custom webpage for you that’s filled with the latest posts from your favorite websites. And you can add or delete sites that you follow with just a click.

Using an RSS reader is not difficult. In fact, you probably use them (or a similar technology) all the time on your mobile device (Apple’s News app works like an RSS reader).

Don’t know where to start? Below you can download an .opml file of many of the blogs I follow. You can import these into almost any RSS reader, then add or delete sites to suit your tastes. Note that about 20 percent of the sites in my feed are dormant. I keep them because sometimes they come back to life after someone gets a divorce, gets through a health crisis or simply has their chi adjusted by the local witchdoctor.

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Or view the blogs I read via this link:

https://feedly.com/christopherschwarz

Give it a try. You’ll be better informed and have to wander around aimlessly a lot less.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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17 Responses to Be an Informed Woodworker (It’s Easy!)

  1. Jarrod Dahl says:

    nice one! looks like the format to your list is wierd. I can’t open it on my Mac

  2. *tongue in cheek* Thanks, now I can really get lost down the woodworking “rabbet” hole….

  3. erikhinkston says:

    Fantastic, I’m embarrassed to say the RSS feed world has been a mystery but I’ve been searching for just this method without knowing what to ask for. Simple once I had your push to get me started. Much better than my current method of having about 20+ tabs open in my browser. Thank you for populating my list of feeds with all the ones I was aware of and more…

  4. Peter Brown says:

    http://norsewoodsmith.com/ is my daily go-to that I’m quite fond of. More than once it has led me to buy whatever the new limited whatsit of the month from LAP/Crucible as soon as they’re announced.

  5. Whoa, whoa, whoa. So you’re saying that there are things called “books” and “blogs” and “Mag-a-zeens” that I can “read”? Why hasn’t anyone told me about this stuff?

  6. Josh Cook says:

    Feedly is the bee’s pajamas. Switched over from Google Reader after they killed it.

    Chris, how do you feel about RSS feeds circumventing people’s advertising schemes? Sometimes I feel guilty that I can’t be bothered to actually visit the website to ignore their revenue-generating ads. Though not so guilty that I’ve ever stopped using RSS readers.

    PS: Thanks for including the entire article text in the LAP feed. I guess that’s because your revenue stream is book-based not ad-based.

  7. jpassacantando says:

    This is super helpful and I am grateful that you take the time to explain stuff like this.

    Also I think using Hoffman for direct marketing might be a good idea but where I come from he’s gonna need an Italian name.
    (Not to PC Warden: I have an Italian name and am allowed to make such cracks!)

    John

  8. @TheRainford says:

    Great pic of NBSS complete with Larsson adjustable workbenches :-). I miss the old building.
    https://rainfordrestorations.com/2013/07/03/sloyd-workbench-larsson-adjustable-workbench/

  9. jaredtohlen says:

    I also use Feedly and enjoy it. Use it for blog following as well as news and other diversions. It’s handy you can group your “feeds” into categories. I have “News,” “Comics,” “Woodworking,” “Tech,” “Design,” etc. Glad you’re getting the word out.

  10. nrhiller says:

    “And now we have the Internet (plus magazines and books – at least for now).” I think your opening parenthesis should have been placed before “at least for now,” since our present, relatively equal access to the Internet is also looking imperiled.

  11. I keep holding out that Millcreek will start back up because he has such an amazing amount of knowledge and information to share. He started up an IG account about a year ago, I think, but it stopped being active after a few weeks, I believe.

    *le sigh

  12. Chris, I applaud your response to those people that expect someone else to be responsible for what they should do for themselves. In grade school (many years ago), I recall quite vividly each time a student, me included, asked the teacher how to spell a word or for a definition, we were told to look it up in the dictionary! I learned a valuable life-long lesson. Before I ask for help, I do MY due diligence and research the answers to my questions. It really isn’t that hard people!

  13. roccaways says:

    I keep my RSS feeds in NewsBlur.com and that’s where I read this post (but I came here to comment).
    I tried Feedly and NewsBlur after the close of Google Reader, however NewsBlur won out for me. Aside from the usual RSS updates (blogs, Kijiji searches etc.) NewsBlur can also feed YouTube subscriptions, Twitter user feeds, email lists, sharing and commenting stories with your followers, background downloads for offline reading in App, and I’m sure more. I’m just missing Instagram. Not sure which of those features Feedly can do but if you’re not using an RSS reader and trying to keep up with more than 3 blogs it’s taking you too much time.

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