About Rob Johnstone

Rob Johnstone has been part of Woodworker's Journal's since 1997, becoming editor of the print magazine in 1998 and editor in chief in 2007. He began woodworking at age 13 in his family-owned cabinet shop and, as an adult, trained to become an accomplished luthier. He eventually opened his own cabinetry and custom fine woodworking business. Rob has brought many of the most well-known authors in woodworking to the Journal's pages and introduced Woodworker's Journal Online Survey. When, in his free time, Rob isn't woodworking, he enjoys hunting for sharp-tailed grouse with his bird dog, playing music and/or listening to his son's rock band and cooking on his high-tech stove.

Veneer on Video

Have you ever wondered how hardwood veneer is made? Yeah, me, too!

One of my woodworking friends sent this link to me — and it does a really great job of showing the process. Even though I’ve been around the industry for a long time, and have even seen veneer being made firsthand, I thought this video was great. Check it out!

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

From Our Woodworking Colleagues


Our colleagues at The Taunton Press sent out this message regarding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and we feel moved to pass it along to our readers.  Taunton, and specifically the folks at Fine Woodworking Magazine, are competitors but this initiative is the sort of thing that far transcends any sense of business competition.

We at the Journal offer our condolences to the staff at Taunton and the wider Newtown community. And if it is in your heart to help out with a donation (see link below), we offer our thanks to you for your kindhearted generosity.

Larry Stoiaken (publisher),  Rob Johnstone (editor in chief) and the staff at Woodworker’s Journal magazine

A message from The Taunton Press
Taunton Press Logo
Dear Friends,
Last Friday’s tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, shocked the nation. Here at The Taunton Press, the events of December 14 were all too close. Newtown is not just a place on the news for us. It is our home.
The Taunton Press is a family-owned company located in Newtown since its start in 1975. We have deep roots here. Our founders, Paul and Jan Roman, raised their family in Newtown and live here along with two of their five children. Five of their grandchildren attend Newtown schools. Many of our 230 employees are Newtown residents; we have long been closely involved with our community as individuals and as a company.
Many of you have reached out to us, knowing our connection to the town, offering condolences and prayers to the community. We thank you for your concern in these dark days.
People across the nation are asking how they can help in the wake of this tragedy. The community is receiving generous help with immediate needs. But we also know the community will need help long after the news coverage has faded, so we want to focus on what comes next.
We have established a fund with the Fairfield County Community Foundation* with a clear purpose of helping with the ongoing needs of the Newtown community. The fund is called “The Taunton Press Newtown Children and Families Fund.” It is, in part, a memorial to the victims; it is also an affirmation of the importance of families in Newtown and the surrounding area.
The Roman family and The Taunton Press have made giftsto establish this fund. The fund will have an advisory committee that will consist of family, company, and community representatives, who will direct support where it will have the most lasting impact.
If you’d like to demonstrate your support for the Newtown community, you can make a tax-deductible donation by visiting here, or simply click the link below.Click Here to DonateIf you would prefer to send a donation by mail,
please mail to:
Fairfield County Community Foundation
383 Main Ave.Norwalk, CT 06851
Attn: The Taunton Press Fund
On behalf of the entire Roman family, the employees of The Taunton Press, and our Newtown friends and neighbors, thank you for your support.
Sincerely,Tim Rahr
Sandy Hook Flag Painting
*The Fairfield County Community Foundation is one of over 700 community foundations throughout the country, which promote responsible and effective philanthropy. FCCF is a federally recognized public charity with over $150 million of permanent assets under its care and it is able to handle gifts other than cash, such as publicly traded securities. Please call them at (203) 750 3200, if you have questions.

Bullets and Black Walnut

Walnut With BulletsLast winter I was visiting a friend in Mississippi near Vicksburg. The farm at which I was staying is located on a road that leads directly to that city’s famous battlefield. In fact, the Confederate army marched down that very road to get to the fight. While I was talking to my host about the battle of Vicksburg and the national park that is located at the battlefield, he mentioned a tree. Apparently, this tree had the unlucky fate of being located directly between significant numbers of soldiers of the two opposing armies. When the bullets started to fly, and then continued flying for a long, long time — the tree was one of the early casualties of the battle. According to my host, so many bullets hit the tree that it eventually fell over from the weight of the lead embedded in its wood fibers.

Not so long ago, I was reminded of that story as I built a table that would be featured in the print magazine. (Woodworker’s Journal, October, 2012 … Walnut Game Table) As I was preparing the stock for the table, I noticed a couple of voids in the wood. Walnut Game TableThinking it was insect damage, I continued to plane the stock to thickness. Then I noticed that the bug holes were shiny.

Turning off the machine, I took a close look and found that the wood was full of bullet holes … and bullets. There were too many slugs to be found in these chunks of wood to be a random shot … my guess is that someone had hung a target up on a black walnut tree. (Unless, perhaps, it was in some less well-known battle!) Now, I’ve found bullets in boards before. It is not too uncommon and, if you surface a lot of wood, you’ll run into some sooner or later. But I have never before found so many bullets in such a small stash of wood. It was an odd but enjoyable event in my shop … and one that I thought you might get a kick out of.

Rob Johnstone

Editor in Chief


Wood on the Lathe

flat turned bubinga bowlI am an expert woodworker … I just am. I have a natural talent for the craft, and I have dedicated myself to it for over 40 years. It is exacting work about which I am serious, and while I do get satisfaction from a well-made project, I would not describe making furniture as a good time. On the other hand, I do woodturning for fun. I am decidedly not an expert turner, as the letters I get from real turning experts demonstrate every time there is a picture of me at the lathe in the print magazine. (“Rob, your form is really terrible!” “Rob, it just hurt to see you using that scraper when you should be using a so-and-so gouge.” All of those comments are appreciated, have come to be expected and are taken to heart.)

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If at First …

As print readers of the Woodworker’s Journal know, we design a good number of the projects that are featured in our pages. And that is especially true of our shop projects. For example, in the April 2012 issue of the Woodworker’s Journal (on newsstands soon), we present a downdraft sanding cart. If I must say so myself, it is a very nice and truly functional project. How do I know that? Well, because I’ve tried it, of course. But, you might ask, how did we know it would work properly before we built it? Good question. How can we be sure our projects, specifically ones like this, whose primary feature must be functionality, are all we want them to be? It is a short answer, really: we build prototypes. We test out the ideas that we have with knocked-together mock-ups made from MDF, plywood or whatever we have lying around the shop.

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Maggie Lu’s Little Dresser

dresser fullAs our eZine readers are likely aware, I recently made a youth-sized dresser for my first grandchild. I got into the project late in the pregnancy, because our large extended family had been searching yard sales and antique stores for an appropriate vintage dresser. We felt certain that the perfect piece would come along at the right price, but in this we were mistaken.

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Be Careful What You Wish For…

Rob Goes CrazyLast summer and fall I found myself orchestrating the filming of a series of DVDs. I consider the resulting videos to be truly significant in terms of teaching woodworking in a manner that is unsurpassed — they are comprehensive, cohesive, consistent and entertaining. In addition, they have supporting content on the internet, all of which blends together to create an interactive product that has been unavailable until now. I also nearly had a nervous breakdown. How did this happen, you ask? It’s a bit of a long story…

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Life is a Progression

planting cartHave you ever noticed how simple tasks can quickly become complicated far beyond what you would consider possible? For example – the other day I decided to start some seeds for my garden. Up here on the frozen tundra, that means planting them inside, because apparently seeds do not germinate well in the permafrost.

So, having procured said seeds and potting soil and containers of varying sizes and styles in which to plant my future bounty, I ran into a small problem. The folding tables that I was planning on using for this project were missing. (Borrowed by my progeny …)

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Sharing the Shop

Oak Stool“Hey, Rob, do you think I could make some stools from these?” was the question posed to me last November while I stood next to the young man’s pickup truck in the church parking lot. A University of Minnesota student and family friend, Levi, was showing me a pile of 4-inch thick disks that he had sliced off an 18-inch diameter oak tree earlier in the week. (Levi was more than comfortable with a chain saw, as he had grown up working in his family’s apple orchard in Wisconsin.)

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