chat transcript

"Woodworking, Past & Present"

a Special Guest Chat with
Editor, Popular Woodworking Magazine

with host
Stephen Shepherd

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Here is an edited transcript of our chat with Megan Fitzpatrick. It was fast paced and informative, and Megan was a lot of fun. CLICK HERE for some biographical information on Megan.
... Ellis Walentine, Host

StephenOur special guest tonight is Megan Fitzpatrick, Editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine.
Mike_Donaldson...also an occasional guest at the Woodwright's Shop
StephenEvening Megan and welcome
MeganHi all!
darrin_hillMegan.. how much do u like photographers?
MeganI love them; they make my work look good.
EllisThank you for joining us tonight, Megan, and thank you for organizing this, Stephen
Stephenmy pleasure
MeganI have a $5 bet on what one of the questions will be; I'll let you know at the end if I collect.
Stephenwhat is Chris like to work with?
MeganBest boss I ever had – truly. He hires people who do good work, and lets them do it.
mvflaimMegan, do you see more women getting into woodworking?
MeganI don't know if more are getting into it, but I think those who do it are now less seen as outliers.
EllisHave you recovered from WIA yet?
MeganOne never recovers from WIA.
Stephenare you going to do a WIA in the West again?
MeganStephen, it's possible. I'd love to do Port Townsend, for example. We're deep into planning for next year, and hoping to announce dates and location before Chritmas - no promises on that...
Mike_DonaldsonMy 10 year old daughter is my woodworking buddy. She has her own workbench and her own tools.
MeganMike, I love to hear that!
EllisCheck out Mike's blog, Megan.
MeganI will - thanks for the link
MeganI love and miss my grandfather...but I do wish he'd encouraged me more in the shop. He didn't think I belonged there (though I know he was coming around on that).
MeganBut now, I use a lot of his tools, and I'm happy to have them.
MeganApologies in advance for my crap typing; cold in my study and the fingerless gloves aren't helping.
EllisGender means much less these days. There are some amazing women craftsmen out there. I was very impressed with Mary May for one... and all the turner ladies. I think there is a gender related flavor to style and design -- maybe that's even too much to say.
MeganYeah...I don't see that Ellis ;-) But then, I like to build 8' tall casework. But yes – Mary is amazing, and an excellent teacher, too.
Mike_DonaldsonMegan, is your woodworking career always framed by the fact that you're a woman?
MeganMike, people always bring it up, and I know there were a few raised eyebrows in the WW community when I was promoted to my current job. But I try not to let things like that bother me.
EllisSome of the finest woodworking editors have started out as journalists.
MeganI do, however, get annoyed when prominent craftsmen make a public issue our of a dichotomy; it feels condescending.
Bob_in_NJMegan, sorry if this is old ground, how long have you been interested in woodworking and when did it first become a serious passion?
MeganBob, no worries! I did some DIY house stuff throughout my life (we had an old house...part of the game). But I didn't start making what I'd call nice furniture until about 6 years ago, 2 years after I joined the PWM staff
MeganAnd now, I'm hooked.
mvflaimMegan, ww needs your perspective on things. Too many articles are based on arts and crafts furniture and not enough with furniture that appeals to women. My wife asks me that all the time. she'll say "why don't they (ww magazines) build furniture women would want."
MeganHey now - I love A&C! (And maybe I should rethink that Stickley piece I was gonna buld for the Oct issue...)
mvflaimhaha i do too
MeganTo be fair, I do tend toward English A&C, which has silver inlay etc in more pieces than does American A&C...o maybe that's a litlte more feminine.
MeganSo mvflaim...what does your wife think appeals to women?
mvflaimFrench country.. she loves it. she buys old antiques and repaints them and sells them in her booth. she does really well.
MeganOh right! I've seen her work on FB. It's nice. Not my cup of tea to build, but I do see the appeal.
adam_of_oaklandPWW Mag title "What Women Want" please?
MeganWe do try to offer something for all tastes...though we can't always please everyone all the time.
MeganAdam. Not a chance.
adam_of_oaklandi was being sarcastic
MeganAdam, I know.
MeganI am often sarcastic.
adam_of_oaklandgood :-)
MeganI thought my piece in the Dec issue was kinda girly, if you will. (It had curves)
mvflaimhaha I'd love to see some more furniture with those types of french counrty curves in magazines. would be challenging to build.
MeganWell, we did have Chris' Creole table a while back...does that count?
mvflaimyes.. very good article
MeganActually, I'd love to see queries for non A&C, W&M and Shaker stuff. We have that end of things covered with staff (and I want folks to be able to build what they like). But we could use some good French Country, modern, etc...the stuff we _don't_ do.
MeganAnd now Glen, Bob and Chuck will be angry...they can, of course, build just about anything. Didn't mean to imply otherwise. But I think we get better articles and better looking pieces if the maker loves the project – and that comes through to the readers.
Stephenmore painted furniture
MeganStephen, we're looking at two pieces right now that I think you'll like...
Stephenas long as it isn't milk paint!
mvflaimyou have to have passion in what you build. That's why Chris Becksvoort Shaker pieces are so good.
MeganI read your blog. I wouldn't even _think_ of raising that spectre
Megan(I like milk paint...she types quietly, hoping no one would notice...)
EllisDon't get him started
EllisActually, I like milk paint, too. It just doesn't pass Stephen's authenticity test.
mvflaimChalk paint is all the rage now
MeganYes - I use it and wholly approve. I've fixed too many chairs not to.
Stephengood answer Megan
Mike_DonaldsonHot hide glue?
MeganHowever, I usually use liquid hide glue, simply for the convenience.
StephenI use a lot of liquid hide glue, especially fish glue
MeganStephen, I haven't tried fish glue...yet.
Stephenworks great for repair work, aggressive tack and dries quickly [out here]
MeganWell, I'm not married to authenticity in most of what I make; I want the piece to look good and perhaps take cues from period work, but work for the modern home. I don't use hand tools because it's the old way of doing things; I use them because I prefer them (for all but rough work)
Mike_DonaldsonThis is Emry, I'm 10 years old. what was the hardest thing you ever built?
MeganHi Emry. The hardest thing? Depends on how one defines hard. By my def., that would be the small dovetailed box in which I keep the ashes of a loved pet.
BrianMonumentCOMegan what made the small box hard other than the ashes?
Bob_in_NJthe ashes, Brian!
MeganSeeing the DT lines in walnut whilst crying. It was no challenge from a tech viewpoint; it was just hard due to the emotion.
EllisHow sweet. Yes, emotion is a big ingredient in the most passionate works of creativity.
MeganBut the most physically challenging build is probably my Shaker stepback, simply because of its size...and my size.
Mike_Donaldsonwhat is a Shaker stepback?
MeganMike, a stepback is a lower, wide casepiece with a taller, narrower piece atop it (think china cupboard, of sorts)
EllisHow about the most technically challenging?
MeganThe most technically challenging is a piece that wasn't in the magazine, because I built it during a Marc Adams class with Phil Lowe - a veneered demilune table
Mike_DonaldsonThis is still Emry. Ii am making a small box right now. My dad shows me how to do a step and then I do it.
MeganThat's great Emry! Keep it up, and you'll soon be doing it w/out help.
EllisEmry, keep up the good work. Your grandpa was a great woodworker, too. Looks like it was passed down in the family.
Mike_DonaldsonI know. It is my 2ed project.
MeganOh - but never be afraid to ask for help when you need it – saves frustration.
Mike_DonaldsonI always ask my dad for help.
Mike_DonaldsonEllis, still Emry, how do you know my grandpa?
EllisYour grandpa Dan was a very important part of WoodCentral for many years. He has stayed at my house many times. We were friends. We played music together.
Mike_Donaldsongoodnight. thanks for chatting with me.
EllisOkay. Thanks for chatting with us.
MeganGood night Emry!
Mike_DonaldsonEmry had to go to bed. I am back
StephenMegan, what do you pay for woodworking articles?
MeganStephen, it depends on the author's experience (as both a WW and a writer, and how much work it will be for an editor). Also, the author has to be able to take his or her own digital images. But to answer your question, it's a range that begins at about $300 per page.
MeganStephen, but we do pay on acceptance; don't have to wait until the article is published.
EllisMegan, what new articles are on the horizon for you?
MeganIn the Feb issue, I've an article on my favorite tool – the router plane.
EllisAh, the router plane. Whose do you prefer?
MeganOK...the router plane is _among_ my fvorites. I have several favorites. Both the Veritas and the LN are good. (but on the small, I prefer the LN; on the large, either)
mvflaimMy old Stanley router plane gets me out of trouble constantly.
EllisIs the router plane article a survey of techniques?
MeganEllis, it's a bit about what makes the maker's planes different, and then a short touch on a couple of uses...only had a few pages. :-(
adam_of_oaklandapropos to ellis' question: megan how much does survey input steer your magazine decisions?
MeganThat's a mean question, and you're going to get me in trouble.
MeganTo _some_ extent we use the surveys to make decisions...but we also rely on what we think will work. It's a mix. But we always get at least some requests for things we're unlikely to run.
Bob_in_NJAh, and that plate rack caught my eye in the December issue, something different always appeals, Megan.
MeganThanks Bob!
Mike_DonaldsonMegan, any more guest appearances with St. Roy coming up?
MeganMy next appearance on Roy's shw is in the credits. I ran a camera for a recent Follansbee shoot (I think I got one close up shot they're going to use.)
mvflaimDo you think Roy will continue to do his show for a few more years?
MeganI sure hope Roy keeps it up! I adore him, love going to visit with his family, and his school is so much fun.
mvflaimHas he ever won an emmy for his show?
MeganI can't speak for him of course, but the man is a born performer – I can't imagine him ever gving that up.
EllisHe has a phenomenal amount of energy. He's ageless, not to mention brilliant.
JimPlanes :-)
MeganYes, Jim, I approve of planes. :-0
JimI have a few planes as you knw
MeganThanks Jim. First tool I think I paid "real" money for was an LN No. 4
MeganYes - bronze (oooo---shiny!)
Mike_Donaldsonmy LN #1, 3, 4 are all bronze love the mass
JimMegan, whats new with PWW in 2014?
MeganNew for 2014? Hopefully some more subscribers ;-) And ya know, I thought we might add a few stories on knitting.
MeganPlane socks.
Jimknitting is the new DT
EllisThank heavens.
mvflaimHow about upholstery on chairs?
Meganmvflaim – possibly! I'm thinking of building one of Jefferson's plantation chairs, which needs something between the wood bits.
StephenMegan this a good book on the Jefferson Chair:
mvflaimI'd love to see it. Books on upholstery are hard to come by.
Bob_in_NJhow about a spinning wheel repair project by Mr. Shepherd? :)
MeganBob, hmmm....I'm not sure repairing an item that few people have in their homes has a wide enough appeal (which is for me always a struggle – I love arcane things, but have to balance that with reader expectations)
JimI would love to see some of Stephans work published
StephenHas PWW ever done any articles on furniture repair?
MeganStephen, we've had a couple over the years, but not a lot. One thing we do look at surveys for is to see what kind of work readers are doing, and for most, it's new builds and home stuff. So yes, but they're rare.
Bob_in_NJWell then repar a chair. There certainly can't be anyone who reads PWW who hasn't either been challenged to repair one of their own or been asked to do it by someone else, when they're dumb enough to mention that they do woodworking):)
Megan We would absolutely consider queries from Stephen. He's got chops.
Jim@Megan, PWW has an online editor, how is the online working out?
MeganJim, the online editor is actually an e-media position, not an editorial one. His purview exceeds my domain,
MeganSo...what _is_ missing from the mag? I, for one, loved Roy's combo plane article in the current issue, and would like to do more of that sort of thing. Any tools in particular that would catch your fancy?
Bob_in_NJsaws and the care and feeding of them
mvflaimusing circular planes.
Mike_DonaldsonI have been trying to draw up a design for a non-powered iphone amplifier to incorporate into some projects. I would love to see an article on woodworking projects that compliment everyday technology, while retaining the artisan touch.
MeganSaws are hard - especially vintage saws, because so much depends on the sharpening! But it might work...
Bob_in_NJas in an acoustic iphone amp, Mike?
Mike_Donaldsonjust a wooden horn
Stephenthink spruce Mike
MeganBut after my orgy of reading about saws with "Handsaw Essentials," that one might have to wait a bit.
MeganMike, that's interesting. I'll toss that out to the other editors.
Meganmvflaim – huh. I know nothing about yes, that's a good topic. I need to learn!
Bob_in_NJyeah stupid stuff like TV stands and such, while boring to me, are the kind of things that people need now days.
Stephenany steampunk articles in the future?
MeganMaybe, depending on your def of "steampunk" -- we have something with springs coming up...
mvflaimthey're a lot of fun and you don't have to be planing a perfect circle in order for them to work.
Mike_DonaldsonI wish the tool collectors on ebay would stop pricing the circular planes (Stanley 113) out of user budgets.
MeganI like a good TV long as it can also be used as something else. I have something against "one use only" pieces; it's a personal problem.
MeganSounds like something Rob Lee and Tom Lie-Nielsen could take advantage of?
Bob_in_NJwell yes, and it needs to fit in, DVD storage and so on and so forth
StuartHMegan, I only have one question...WIA 2014, when/where?
MeganAnd I have only one answer: You'll just have to wait.
StuartHyer mean!
MeganSeriously – I don't have an answer yet. The plan is to announce before Christmas...but that's fast approaching and we have no signed contracts yet.
MeganAnd yes, I am.
Bob_in_NJI think i heard a rumor it was going to be in NC, Stuart:)
Mike_DonaldsonSo, what was the $5 question we've all danced around for the past hour?
StuartHNice! Bob!
Mike_DonaldsonWIA should be in Minneapolis. Then I could come
MeganIn one minute, I will have not won.
Bob_in_NJactually it'll be in Flemington NJ
MeganBob, you're in trouble.
Bob_in_NJNo, I'm in Whitehouse Station
MeganI would like for it to be in Killington, during ski season. Alas, it will not be.
Bill_HoughtonNo, no, let's have a WIA out on the West Coast. We have better wine up here north of San Francisco.
Bob_in_NJbut I prefer beer, Bill :)
StephenI agree Bill
mvflaim$5.00? are u single?
MeganOK...I thought for sure someone would ask me about Raney, due to Chris' inflamatory post. I lost.
Bill_HoughtonWe have lotsa microbreweries, too.
Meganmv - you know I am. I have lots of cats.
Bob_in_NJwell, Ok, I suppse I can settle for a microbrew
mvflaimhahaha.. hope that little guy found a good home
MeganOK - quick. Top names you'd like to see at WIA...then I gotta get to bed.
mvflaimDon Weber, David Marks,
Mike_DonaldsonPeter Follansbee
Mike_DonaldsonPeter Ross
Bill_HoughtonMike Donaldson: have you looked at the Stanley 20? The 113 seems to be the fashion of the day, but, in the past, the 20 was the preferred plane. They seem to run $60-100 on That Auction Place. Looks like I got here late, so g'night all.
Mike_DonaldsonI'll look. Thanks.
MeganOK - thanks all! I'll have to look into those folks...they sound famaliar ;-)
mvflaimMore articles on blacksmithing.. I just bought a forge and anvil and desperately looking to learn more about the craft
Meganmv - FIRE!!!! OK!
Mike_DonaldsonThanks for chatting with Emry, she enjoyed it.
Mike_DonaldsonGood night, all.
MeganI'd be happy to chat more with her. She can e-mail or call anytime. (Which is true for everyone, of course)
Bob_in_NJyes making hardware is a good subject, think enough ww are interested in that?
MeganI don't know – but the two (soon to be four) DVDs we have on blacksmithing are selling well, so maybe!
StephenI would like to thank Megan for the chat this evening
MeganOK...I have to toddle off to bed now. Thanks for having me!
Stephennight Megan and thanks again
Bill_HoughtonI can testify to how easy it is to reach Megan. Not sure how you find time for your day job, Megan, with your quick responses to e-mail. Good night to a great editor.
Bob_in_NJYes, Megan, thanks so much for being here, and for the good work at PWW, (the only ww mag I still subscribe to, by the way!).
MeganAw shucks.
MeganAnd this time I mean it - g'night!

About Megan Fitzpatrick:
    Megan Fitzpatrick is the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. She studied journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati and worked at two Cincinnati newspapers after graduating. Megan joined the Popular Woodworking team in 2005 as managing editor, became executive editor, and was promoted to her current position in late 2012. She is also a freelance editor for Lost Art Press, publishers of books about traditional woodworking techniques ("The Art of Joinery," "By Hand & Eye" and "The Anarchist's Tool Chest," among others). Megan enjoys building period furniture and doing trim carpentry around her Victorian house and prefers hand tools for most operations simply because theyıre quieter. (She admits to using machinery for stock prep, but will do it by hand on a dare.) Megan holds a master's degree in English literature and has completed coursework and exams in her quest for a Ph.D. in early modern drama.