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…

Nearly a dozen years ago I was in my office reading a book called “The Accurate Router” by a fellow named Ian Kirby. I don’t recall why I was looking at the book, but I do remember truly appreciating Ian’s no-nonsense approach to the topic. It was top-notch information, delivered clearly and with authority. And, despite the fact that I have a rather high opinion of my personal woodworking knowledge, I could find no fault with the information as he presented it. (Sadly, this is rare in my experience — I often find woodworking-based content to be poorly communicated and sometimes, just wrong.)

Rob and IanI was so impressed that I called him that afternoon. I introduced myself, and that was the beginning of a successful professional relationship, which eventually grew into a friendship. Over the last dozen years, Ian and I have taken the Journal into places that other woodworking editors feared to tread. We were able to document in print the methodology that Ian has been teaching for over 40 years (derived from the workers of the British Arts & Crafts workshops) and which originally caught my eye in his book.

About five years ago, I got the idea that we needed to collect this information and organize it into a sort of uber reference work on woodworking. Everyone I talked to agreed that it was a great idea — but I could just not get the right business model together. Until last year. That’s when we decided to try to create a DVD series capturing Ian’s teaching and methodology, using LiLi Jackson as a co-host. All the stars were apparently aligned and to my surprise, we started production in July. Which is the reason why I ended up with nine people, two cameras, dozens of special lights and several substantial egos (consider yours truly as “Exhibit A”) all swirling around and occasionally colliding in my shop last summer and fall. (Does my hair look grayer to you?) In the end, I found it to be a great experience. At the time, I found it to be just a bit overwhelming. But the results, I think, will speak for themselves.

The Way to Woodwork DVD series is available for order now.

Rob Johnstone
Editor in Chief

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