Woodworking in Tough Times

Despite a bearish economy, great woodworking products are all around us—and many new products are right around the corner.

Despite a bearish economy, great woodworking products are all around us—and many new offerings are right around the corner.

These days, it feels like the “Great Recession” is never going to end, doesn’t it? Jobless rates are up, banks are on the ropes and home values are still falling through the floor. Tough times all around.

But, despite some huge potholes on this road to recovery, the woodworking industry is still forging ahead. Lots of new Lithium-Ion tools are in the pipeline. Better and safer table saws are already here. High-quality hardware and supplies are perpetually coming to market from names you trust. And, of course, there’s lots of good lumber on the rack at your local supplier. Rob Johnstone has called the past 10 years or so the “Golden Age” of woodworking, and I think he’s still right about that, even now.

So, I can’t help but wonder, how is the recession impacting your woodworking? Are you putting off a large tool purchase this year, or are you taking the plunge anyway to grab the best new features—or an incredible sale price? How about lumber decisions? Are you still buying hardwood this summer, or are you bringing more pine and plywood home instead? Maybe you’ve found other creative solutions to keep the lumber rack full—portable sawmills, home kiln-drying, and that sort of thing. Some woodworkers band together and buy a bunch of lumber to get a volume price, then split up the cost. I know I’m digging deeper into the scrap bin than I used to and throwing less onto my burn pile. It just makes sense.

By in large, I think we woodworkers are a pretty frugal bunch. We don’t make hasty decisions, and we know quality when we see it. But we also realize that quality costs money, and we’re not afraid to pull out the checkbook for a good thing. A sensible tool investment will continue to pay dividends to your woodworking, regardless of what the Dow does next week.

At the Journal, we’re busy planning our issues deep into 2010 and beyond, but I’d sure appreciate your thoughts on what you’d like to see more of in our magazine. Tool reviews focusing on big machines or benchtop stuff? Better ways to use scraps? More on turning? Would you like to see big, involved projects or smaller stuff you can knock out in a weekend?

Hopefully, you’ll post your thoughts. I’d truly like to know what you think and where you’re at in your woodworking these days. It’ll help us make a better magazine, and that’s always our goal.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

One thought on “Woodworking in Tough Times

  1. A few years before the current slow-motion crash, I found bound copies of the Delta, ‘Deltagram’ from the era of that other big event. They make fascinating reading, not simply to illustrate the perpetual magazine problem of finding something new to say after you’ve essentially said it all.
    There is a great emphasis on recycling scrap, making ‘salable’ toys and gizmos, presumably for survival, and generally making do. Nearly every article starts with its own economic motivation. Other than very casual promotion of the Delta products, there is almost no mention of power tools, fancy woods, giant home shops (except for the mass production of aforesaid toys and gizmos).
    The Great Depression turned people’s expectations around rather quickly, and ordinary shop skills suddenly bubbled up as important fall-backs for diminished circumstances. I’d recommend reading through issues from 1930 onward; they might offer some answers to your question.

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