Garrett French is at it again over at the ToolCrib.com blog. He’s compiled a list of the “5 Most Influential Woodworkers” based on input from folks at a couple of forums, including the WoodNet forum. Like any list, it may be more interesting for who was left off, than who was included. I’d like to mention a couple of people who weren’t on the list, but in my opinion, should be placed right near the top.
Don Peschke and Paul Roman.
If those two names aren’t so familiar to you, it’s because they’ve both worked more behind the scenes as the pioneering editors and publishers of Woodsmith and Fine Woodworking magazines, respectively. Each has probably influenced more people to get into the shop and actually build something than just about anyone else on Garrett’s list.
Neither Don nor Paul’s name is as familiar perhaps as Norm Abram, but to me their magazines were groundbreaking. Woodsmith, published by August Home Publishing (they also put out ShopNotes, Workbench, Garden Gate, and Cuisine at home), is unique in that it doesn’t just show you a pretty project, it helps you build the project with detailed step-by-step instructions and clear, concise drawings and photos. I remember the first time I picked up Woodsmith magazine, my very first thought was “I can do that!”
(As you may know, Don owns the company I work for, so this is not a completely unbiased post! But the fact is, I’ve been an editor for Woodsmith for 7 years, but I’ve been reading the magazine for over twenty-five years.)
Paul Roman, and his wife Jan, started Fine Woodworking in 1975 and it eventually expanded into a publishing empire that includes magazines for woodworking, home building, cooking, and gardening. Paul’s goal was to have a woodworking magazine that not only informed, but also inspired its readers. There’s no arguing with that, it’s an awesome magazine.
I suppose we’ll always be more influenced by TV personalities. And this is not a knock on Norm, but I’d rather read about woodworking and then go do it myself, than watch it being done on TV anyday.
If you’d like to subscribe to Woodsmith to find out exactly what I mean, click here.