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JOEL Joel's Blog

Things From England - British Things


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For all the decline in circulation of woodworking magazines, and with all the information available for free on the internet, magazines really still have value -- and it is great to see an exciting new woodwork publication emerge. The Internet is an unedited collection of resources. The content ranges the world over; some of it is brilliant, some okay, some horrible. It is up to the reader to figure out the validity of the content and put it in context. A magazine is a collection of material by different people, under the aegis of an "Editor." At the most basic level, the editor and staff are responsible in making sure the writers don't embarrass themselves. But the real job of an editor -- and this job is so important -- is to shape the content: both the "what" that goes in an issue and the "how" of the way the information is presented. And since the same editorial team generally works from issue to issue, the magazine can offer a certsin consistency.

English woodworking magazines have always been stylistically different from American magazines. In the old days we would be able to receive them via expensive subscriptions delayed by months. Imagine my delight when a wonderful new magazine, "Quercus," an English publication dedicated to "Working Wood by Hand" showed up in my mailbox. I'll go into some details, but the executive summary is "It's GREAT!" And the reason it's great is because it covers topics I didn't know I was interested in. It's not about projects; it's about people, the tools they use, the materials they use, and how to use those tools and materials better. And finally, the results of their work.

Of the dozen of so articles in the new issue, I liked and learned from about half, really liked and learned from about another third, and enjoyed reading the rest even if I didn't agree with everything. That's a pretty good hit rate! While the magazine is English and published and edited by veteran editor Nick Gibbs, the contributors are from all over, including Americans Drew Langsner, Mary May, and Doug Stowe, and Brits Mike Abbott and Richard Arnold. My favorite article in the issue is about Boxwood Arts & Crafts.

Nick Gibbs wanted to create an affordable magazine. To save costs in both printing and shipping, the paper used is thin. But there is no advertising and the cost for four actual print issues is 18 pounds a year in England or 39 pounds a year for the US and most or the rest of the world. A digital only subscription is £13.50 per year. For a magazine of this quality and interest (with, I repeat, no advertising) this is a steal!. Subscribe by clicking here. Any profits from the magazine are being donated to "Headway" an English charity for anyone suffering from a brain injury. So please subscribe directly as it is most profitable for them.
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Another attribute of the Internet is that it allows someone living in one country - in this case, England - with a niche hobby - making planes - to have a worldwide following big enough to justify writing a book and telling people about it. I just got my copy of "Making Small Boxwood and Ebony Planes" by Bill and Sarah Carter and I am most chuffed. Bill Carter has been making infill planes for years - mostly small mitres, though he has done impressive work on other styles. In this book Bill tells you how to make tiny little planes out of boxwood that were mostly used for miniature work and by luthiers. The book is very inexpensive, informative, loaded with pictures, and is available directly from Bill and Sarah (

PS We do not get a commission or any compensation for linking to either of these publications. We just want to support great projects!

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09/16/2020 Bill Dalton
I have really enjoyed this magazine. Great content and pictures. It's paper quality is not a Mortise and Tenon magazine, but it's also not as expensive. The writing and content in my opinion is up there with any of the current wood working magazines. May not be some folks cup of tea, but it's a great read with a cup of tea, or stronger.
09/16/2020 Jay Simmons
A very unscientific survey on my part but I believe the magazine availability is greater in the UK, this based upon the number and variety of mags available on UK Internet subscription services such as Pocketmags. There is still a very large number of special interest mags for Hobbies and Crafts etc. The Internet subscription services are a great way to access the UK mags at reasonable cost
09/17/2020 Andrew Forste
This magazine was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the post.
09/17/2020 Bruce Mack
Thanks, Joel. I just got the digital version. In the 90s I found a couple of British magazines at a comprehensive newsstand in Elmira, NY. The articles featured projects beyond my skill but I admired the artisans and the the unstated counsel "do it".
09/24/2020 James
It's unrelated to the current post, but I wanted to say congrats on the defeat of the Industry City rezoning:
Thanks,I felt really good about it.But I think the real reason for pulling the project is that the market for offices and shopping is nil to none. But the times article is a disgrace. It takes the 20K jobs as a given, doesn't ask if the jobs are just moved from other parts of NYC - which they are and calls it construction instead of converting industrial space to commercial.
It also doesn't mention IC keeping tons of space vacant and being actively hostile to small makers. Not a single local was quoted in the article but they found an outlier Republican who missing handouts to Amazon - in spite of Amazon still hiring the people they said they would - just without handouts.
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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the blog's author and guests and in no way reflect the views of Tools for Working Wood.