If you read the blog regularly, you know I frequent selected woodworking forums. I also contribute from time to time. I find the forums to be invaluable resources, not only to interact with others who share my passion for woodworking, but also to learn from their experience.
The forums I visit most often are the following – I show their total membership as of this morning:
WoodNet: 30,532 members. Active membership is not given. From AugustHome Publishers, the people behind Woodsmith Magazine, ShopNotes Magazine, Workbench Magazine, Woodsmith TV, and WoodworkingOnline.com.
Saw Mill Creek: Members: 44,455, Active Members: 11,425. Independently owned.
Lumberjocks: Members: 9,716. Independently owned.
The recent newcomer is Woodworkers Zone: Members: 729. Independently owned.
If you do not visit these forums regularly, I encourage you to try them, get to know them, and pick one or two that you like most, and then join as a member. Eventually you might wish to participate by entering your own posts and questions, and even answering questions posted by other woodworkers; this is the reason you might want to join as a member.
A word of caution: Never give a credit card number to anyone requesting such information online – the woodworking forums do not require membership fees, but they do require you sign on as a member to be able to post. And always use your best judgment when you receive an answer from others. Although members are likely to contribute with best-practice intent, in some cases it may be their preference. If in doubt, ask your question again, and request clarification.
I find the woodworking forums a great way to interact with fellow woodworkers, and to contribute from time to time. But they are also a great way to gather information that complements our tool kit. I will use one example, to illustrate what I mean:
I have known John Fry for several years, mostly from his contribution on WoodNet. He is a terrific craftsman, and a wonderful human being. He has helped me with some veneering questions; his contributions are always welcome on the woodworking forums. I searched WoodNet for his posts, and found this bunch. Now, be prepared to read quite a bit, for John’s contributions are extensive, and always terrific. Unfortunately, WoodNet information older than one year is archived, and cannot be accessed online. As a result, the link will show John’s contributions only for the last year.
Thanks, John, for all your help, and contributions!
If you wish to read more about John Fry and his work, I invite you to look at his web site, Chisel and Bit. And, whatever you do, don’t miss his Gallery, for he has developed full tutorials for many of the pieces he has created.
What is my point?
I did the WoodNet search in a few seconds, while I wrote this post (I simply opened another tab in Firefox, went to the WoodNet web site, and conducted the search). While I am comfortable using the WoodNet Search function, others do not succeed all the time in finding relevant information on the woodworking forums. That is the main reason I suggest you select one or two forums, and get to know them well. They truly are a great source of information. And you will likely learn new techniques that will help you in your work in the shop – and I hope this will also contribute to keep you safe, whether amateur or professional.