Review of Magazines With "Instructables" Type Tips


Introduction: Review of Magazines With "Instructables" Type Tips

About: I'm a retired mechanical engineer, woodworker, boater, and inventor. Now I'm getting into wood turning, and have found that all my wood projects need not be flat and square.

I have read comments on this site that magazines such as Popular Mechanics no longer feature "How To" articles and tips from readers. So true. Also boating magazines, which used to provide reader's input, no longer do so.

However, there still are magazines that regularly include tips from readers. These tips are the print equivalent to the Instructables website: "Share What You Make". I love this site, but am of the generation that traditionally got most of our information in print.

I still read a lot of magazines, and have had several of my creations published in U.S. woodworking magazines. So, for those of us who would like to supplement our Instructables learning with the old fashioned print method, following is some information that should be of value.

Woodworking Magazines:

The first photo shows covers of the eight U.S. woodworking magazines that are regularly published. All of these include a "Reader's Tips" feature. Like Instructables, these tips range from simple to complex, but there is usually a useful idea or two.

Fine Woodworking's Methods of Work feature emphasizes furniture making tips, since fine furniture is the prime focus of the magazine.
Woodworker's Journal
likes to print the simple tips all workers can use.
Shop Notes and Woodsmith are published by the same company, and are the only magazines that have no advertising. Somehow these two magazines can make plywood look beautiful. Shop Tips publishes some of the more elaborate tips.
Popular Woodworking, American Woodworker, and Woodcraft feature a wide variety of shop tips.

Other publications:

The second photo shows other good sources of tips and ideas

Fine Homebuilding focuses on construction, so their tips most often concern home building, but also have general interest value.
Family Handyman contains a surprising amount of worthwhile input from other readers. Their contributions involve just about anything that you can fix or build in a house, garage, shop, or car.

Make Magazine's content is heavily reader submitted. You will find plenty of electronics and robots here. Arduino is common.

Of course, you will also find compilations of tips and ideas in the special interest publications. The bible here is Percy Blandfords 1001Tips for Woodworkers.

I'm not neccessarily advocating buying these magazines. Often I will leaf through several at the library and make copies of the articles and tips that interest me.



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    Some of the old magazines are available on the internet, if you do a search for Popular Mechanics(X) or Popular Science, there are archives of these and similar magazines for free.

    I use them all the time for some great old articles on model building and metal working.

    As another retired mechanical engineer i find them a lot of fun.

    1 reply

    I'm trying to stay retired, but projects pop up and I can't say no.

    I had a Popular Mechanics magazine from the late 40's that announced what became the ball point pen. But all they said was that a new writing device had been invented that could write under water.

    When I was little kid, my father buy some popular mechanics "en español!". And I still retain some of the "how-to-do" articles stapled with other articles of french and italian magazines.

    does any one remember Bill DOTY? he had a one page project called "Wordless Workshop". it was on the last page in pop mechanics, i think.

    no words, just simple drawings... the project was usually to do something for the wife.

    i think he was around a few years ago. hope he's okay.

    1 reply

    Yes, he has ben posting his "Wordless Workshop" in MAKE magazine.

    Have not read the last few issues of MAKE, but subscribed for a year and he was in all the issues I saw.

    Frankly, the reader,s tips function has been, pretty much, relegated to the internet. The various forums, blogs etc generally have such content. Some better than others of course. That said, I still think there's nothing better than going through a stack of old books and magazines or even reprints of such.

    1 reply

    Yes, all the woodworking magazines have a website with tips. I have had a lot of my woodworking tips published in these magazines, it makes me happy to see my name in print and get a check in the mail.

    One magazine I once subscribed to, MAKE magazine, has content very similar to this Instructables site. I wonder how long they can survive with this great site (Instructables) providing virtually the same information.

    Thanks Blkhawk -

    I visited their website, looks like the kind of stuff I need.


    I agree with Phil B. Here there was the magazine Hobby when I was a child, in the pleistocene. After was a little comic and howto magazine, Lúpin (the main character was an aviator named so for "looping"). It had interesting aeromodel projects and plans, electronics, tips, etc. But some years ago it closed. Today it is an expensive collection item.

    Thank you for this. When I wanted to learn how to use power tools and do cabinetmaking operations forty years ago, there were very few woodworking books or magazines in print. I had to depend on Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. A few years ago I wanted to read about electronics for hobbyists. Popular Electronics was a great resource. But, demand faltered and it is no longer published. I hope woodworking remains popular enough among enough people that the magazines you listed continue.