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Chapter 7: 1951-1960 -- 7:2. Magazines and Newspapers With Woodworking Content; Woodworker's Manuals

under construction -- 8-25-08

Magazines with woodworking content


Tucked into a supplemental part of volume 18, 1949, of Deltagram is the image below. As well as getting ideas for woodworking projects from Deltagram itself, 15 additional magazines published in the late '40s are cited by Deltagram editors as potential sources for projects.

While these magazines were still showing vigor in the late '40s, their continued success became more questionalble in the the light of shifting economic conditions.

For example, American Magazine -- a periodical directed toward a general audience -- published a series of articles on furniture making and home-building. The link below leads to an example:

Document 33: Walt Durbahn: "Make a Hit With Your Handyman" 1954 

Click here for an account of Durbahn. (With his Chicago-based half hour weekly television program, Durbahn pioneered popularizing woodworking to homeowners with room for creating shops in their homes.) under construction -- 8-25-08

Popular Woodworking

info coming - 9-10-08

Shopsmith Shavings

When Shopsmith Shavings was launched as Shopsmith's house organ in 1948, its title initially was ShopNotes.

In 1948 (and probably into 1949) three issues were published. Thanks to Skip Campbell, I own two of the first three issues of Shopsmith Shavings. The first combines "issues 1, 2, 3, and 4", while the second is "Issue no 5". The contents of SSare dedicated exclusively to matters of setting up and operating the 10E and 10ER; no attention is given to projects that Shopsmith owners can build.

According to Skip Campbell, the machines pictured were SS 10E's in the first two issues and an SS 10ER in the third.

Then the name ShopNotes changed to Shopsmith Shavings.

[what follows is a temporary fix, with info furnished by Skip Campbell] I don't have the individual issue numbers 1, 2, and 3 so I have no
dates. I do have a combined issue of 1, 2, and 3 which is dated

Issue 4 was 05/51.

Issue 5 was Jan, 52'.

Issue 6 was Oct., 52.
Issue 7, 09/53.

Issue 8 was Feb. 1954 and the front page of it introduces the new Mark V to debut at the end of March.

Issue 9 was Mark V era Feb., 1955.

Issue 10 was later in 1955 and
not dated.

In addition to presenting the jointer, jigsaw, belt sander, bandsaw and aircompressor/paint rig, it announces the new publication name change for the September issue will be SHOPMAG. SHOPMAG was slow off the press, with the first issue, Fall, 1956. Short-lived, the magazine lasted only three issues, with a Winter 1956/1957, and, finally, a Spring 1957 issue.

Shopmag's editorial director was Perry Githens, a consultant to Magna Engineeringfor many years. The technical editor was R. J. DeCristoforo.

After Folkerth revived Shopsmith, Inc., ca 1971, ) Shopsmith Shavings was revived as an every-second-month edition. The -- April/May -- first issue Shavings from Shopsmith. In the July/August issue the name was
shortened to just Shavings. (This info was supplied by Skip Campbell.)

Home Craftsman

home craftsman DIY series 1950s

Home Craftsman, initiated in the 1930s as an organ for Walker-Turner home power tools, continued its monthly publication schedule, with circulation hitting 225,000 in the 1950s.

Beginning with issues in 1951, Home Craftsman's new features included pages dedicated to listing -- with images -- new woodworking products coming on the market. Publishers of books on woodworking began advertising in Home Craftsman's pages.

(During the Depression and World War II, before a network of bookstores covered the larger ceners of the nation -- especially for specialized subjects like woodworking -- Home Craftsman had always acted as a mail-order bookseller, both for its in-house books, and for books by other publishers on woodworking topics, as well as books on home construction and improvement.

On the left is a jpg of a dust jacket blurb, showing titles published by Home Craftsman for both the "amateur and professional craftsmen".

After examining several, you have to conclude that many titles on the list on the left are reprintings of articles orginally published in Home Craftsman.

For many wannabe woodworkers -- especailly those distant from accessible bookstores -- such a discovery -- that the contents of these woodworker's manuals are reprints of articles originally published in Home Craftsman does not detract from the value of these books. (Today's woodworker's magazines follow this practice.) Even with a circulation of over 200,000 -- as noted above -- the penetration of Home Craftsman was only a to a fraction of potential woodworker purchasers.

Tuning in on the "Do-It-Yourself" movement, magazines targeting popular audiences also included articles on woodworking -- check the article in American Magazine -- click here-- by the Chicago-based woodworking instructor and TV broadcaster, Walt Durbahn -- and comments below

(Title changes: Popular Homecraft became in March/April, 1950, Popular homecraft and home repairs, but according to Worldcat database, the subtitle varies. eg, March-April, 1950, "America's first home workshop magazine")

The Deltagram

Beginning volume 7, no. 1, October, 1937, The Deltagram featured a column called, first, "That's What I think{, later, volume 9, no. 1 October, 1939, "Flying Chips". By January 1962 the magazine was retitled Deltagram/Flying Chips, and evern later, in 1963, the magazine's title became Flying Chips/The Deltagram. This title was used until the late 1960s, when the title was finally changed to Flying Chips.

The significance of the title change had more to do with Rockwell's wanting to drop the Delta name than anything else though a column called "Delta Citations", honoring a different woodworker each month, remained up into the 1970's.

In the '60's the magazine began to play down the industrial quality tools in favor of the bottom feeding Homecraft and Compact-a-tool lines. Historically this was the low water mark for woodworking machines. It wasn't until the 1980's that the course reversed itself, and the hobbyist woodworker became aware of better tools.

Woodworker's Manuals 1951-1960

For an extensive treatment of woodworker's manuals of the decade, click here

For statistics on numbers of woodworker's manuals published, decade by decade, see manuals access page. 

More and more frequently, copies of woodworker's manuals are being digitized and uploaded to the Internet by Google Books. I try to keep up with these events, and indicate appropriately the titles of woodworker's manuals that can be read on the Web, but it is a large job, so I ask that readers inform me if they encounter web-based manuals.)

In the Spirit of the Expansive Mood of the 1950s, Both Popular Science and Popular Mechanics Publish 12-Volume Encyclopedia Sets

popular mechanics DIY encyclopedia 1955

Almost from their beginning, both Popular Mechanics and Popular Science cotained articles targeted toward home-owners about tools and/or projects for amateur woodworkers. (And, beginning around 1900 until 1930, PSM issued annually Shop Notes, with each issue dedicated substantially to woodworking.)

Saturation Promotion: Full Page Ads in Newspapers, Distribution in Supermarkets

do-it_yourself_encyclopedia_1955However, in the fulsome spirit of the post-World War II era, both PM and PS published multivolume encyclopedias on "do-it-yourself" topics.

These 12-volume  sets included articles by recognized authorities in their respective fields -- for example, R J Decristoforo -- [signed articles? but more on this later 8-26-08].

Both sets were marketed in a variety of ways, including at discounted prices, a successive volume each week, in grovery supermarkets, as illustrated on the left.

As I'll show in 7:6 [link needed], Do-It-Yourself became a vigorous social and economic movement in the 1950s, and which, basically, continues today, as exhibited by the so-called "big box-stores", Home Depot and Lowe's Inc., which cover the nation.

Authoritvely Written, the Contents Still Stand Up Today

Likewise, manufacturers of building materials, hardware, and portable and stationary woodworking tools, used the occasion to promote their products.

Publicity --
information kits prepared in advance by their respective associations  -- was distributed broadly newspapers and radio stations --  see the example of promotional materials that was published in the Charleston (WV) Gazette April 8, 1956 below:

'How To' Facts Found Readily

The current surge of do-it-yourself activity, which has worked miracles in improving homes from coast to coast, has given rise to a tremendous demand for "how-to" instructions, plans and information. 

Newspapers have done much to meet this demand with popular do-it-yourself and home decoration features, as have many magazines.

Families who plan home-improvement projects have countless sources for the necessary information. The Douglas Fir Plywood Assn., of Tacoma, Wash,. for example, sells complete plans for plywood boats, furniture and built-ins through retail lumber dealers.

Many lumber dealers also carry Easi-Bild patterns, which guide the craftsman in making everything from simple plywood benches to entire houses.

United States Plywood Corp., world's largest plywood organization, makes available booklets on many do-it-yourself subjects. For beginners, "Do-It-Yourself with Weldwood" discusses tools, materials and suggested projects. "Building Better with Weldwood" covers techniques for the more experienced craftsman. Each costs 25c, and orders should be sent to the company's New York office (55 West 44th Street, New York, NY)

"Handy Man's Indoor and Outdoor Plywood Projects," a Fawcett book by Robert Hertzberg, gives valuable tips for purchasing plywood and explains more than 30 projects for making the home more comfortable and beautiful. (75c)

Even a fully illustrated, 12-volume encyclopedia is devoted to the home handyman. The Popular Science Do-It-Yourself encyclopedia, prepared by Harold Highland, is sold at many supermarkets throughout the country. ($1 per volume)

Source: Charleston (WV) Gazette April 8, 1956 page 53

Link content

Commissioned Woodworker's Manuals

Early in the decade, several woodworker's manuals are commissioned:

First, in 1953, for Shopsmith, a youthful R J DeCristoforo is commissioned to write a manual for the Shopsmith 10ER. In the following year, DeCristoforo updated the orignal manual to reflect the changes to the Shopsmith in the Mark IV model. Details of these activities are all given, delightfully, in the account by DeCristororo's wife, Mary Cristy. Chapter 18, "Power Tool Woodworking for Everyone", of Cristy's book, Chicken Tonight -- Feathers Tomorrow gives many of the details. (I will have more to say about DeCristoforo's Shopsmith manuals later, but in the meantime, click here for a brief account of DeCristoforo's career as a freelance author of articles and books on woodworking.)

Second, American Machine and Foundry (AMF), new owners of  DeWalt Power Shop, commissioned the professional woodworker, Robert Scharff, to write a woodworker's manual for the DeWalt radial arm saw: Easy Ways to Expert Woodworking.

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