The Future of unpluggedshop.com

I would like to thank Luke Townsley for his kind words in the previous post and also for his invaluable help in migrating this website.

I think it is appropriate to offer some more explanation into why we were interested in taking over the running of unpluggedshop.com. The first, and most important, reason that we were interested in acquiring this site is preservation. When Luke posted back in January saying: “I have contemplated offering the site for sale to a hand tool retailer”…”but I’m really not sure I want to let go.” we were confident that Luke would do the right thing with the site but we were also concerned for the future of the site.

While we will probably use the site in the future for some promotions etc. we will always do this in a very clear and transparent way. In other words, there will always be a clear distinction between what is a promotion and the rest of the content.

We are dedicated to an unbiased approach to inclusion and presentation of the core content that you have all been coming back to the site for over the past four years. It has been, and will be, our aim to protect this.

My first addition to the list of woodworking blogs on this website is the Accidental Woodworker. Please let me know of any hand tool blogs that are not included that you think should be by contacting me. Also contact me if you have any concerns, questions or suggestions.

- Joseph Sellers

My last blog post on UnpluggedShop.com

It’s been four years and counting since I started UnpluggedShop.com as a hobby site.

I wanted to learn hand tool woodworking and figured I might as well share.

In both of those areas, the site has been a smashing success. I still have fond memories of those early days of the site when Chris SchwartzSteven ShepherdKari Hultman, and Gary Roberts, among others were some of the most prominent bloggers.

UnpluggedShop.com has grown enormously even though I have seldom given it the attention I thought it deserved and have ignored its upkeep for months at a time as life got in the way.

Even now, the site desperately needs an upgrade, and I just don’t have the time to do it without financial compensation.

I have thought long and hard about working to give UnpluggedShop.com a stable financial backing. I have been convinced that is the best way forward and have been able to come up with suitable business models, but none I personally wanted to pursue at this point in my life.

Selling the site is also a difficult proposition as I am emotionally attached to the site both for reasons of its history and its mission. Frankly, there are very few people I could think of I might sell the site to.

A while back, I was contacted by Paul and Joseph Sellers. They made it known they appreciated the mission of UnpluggedShop.com and might be interested in purchasing it in order to keep it going and improve it.

As they expressed their vision for the site, I realized it was precisely the direction I felt it should go, and that they are in a wonderful position to make it happen.

Even though I won’t be running UnpluggedShop.com, I plan to continue hand tool woodworking, lathe turning, and cutting lumber.

I’m setting up a new blog to talk about it from time to time at www.LukesWoodArt.com.

I know many of you are also in to gardening and homesteading. You can find me at www.GettingThingsGrowing.com

My thanks to all who have blogged, made suggestions, commented, contributed money, and otherwise participated in the site.

I trust you will continue to enjoy the site, send suggestions for new sites to track, checkout the new stuff as it appears, and recommend UnpluggedShop.com to your friends.

May your shavings be wispy and your tearout obscure,
Luke Townsley

How to do more with hand tools

How to do more with hand tools is the question this site seeks to answer.

For newbies, it means figuring out what all the excitement is and how to get set up.

For the more experienced, it means learning more advanced techniques and developing relationships with other hand tool workers.

My site here at UnpluggedShop.com offers hand tool updates from other sites and also forum updates from hand tool forums. If you follow those authors for a while, that is a good start towards getting into hand tools and has accounted for much of my education.

The downside to that method is that it takes a lot of time to sort through all the information. Keeping up with all of the posts is a bit like drinking out of a fire hose. It's very refreshing, but can be a bit much. There are also some great books and videos from Lost Art Press and other publishers, that offer really great in depth stuff.

Sometimes it's nice just to have a quick way to figure out what you need. To that end, I'm working on refining and expanding the Getting Started section of the site, developing a series of ebook guides, and some other things to get new woodworkers happily sliding down the slippery path of neanderthalism.

Since I started this site in 2007, I've felt like there should be a lot more people doing hand tool woodworking and adding hand tool techniques into their work. I still feel that way.

There is just something therapeutic about pushing a plane along a board and watching a shaving curl up; guiding a well tuned saw through a board as the sawdust drifts to the ground, checking a board or project by site and by feel, and the myriad of other tasks associated with hand tool work.

Hand tool woodworking can be cheaper than getting a dog, atv, four wheel drive truck, fancy lawnmower, boat, season game tickets, and a host of other hobbies. Not only that, it is a hobby you can make to pay for itself if you so desire.

The stark contrast hand tool woodworking provides to our hyped up, fast paced, highly technical, extremely abstract, mile wide inch deep lives is striking. I used to use the tagline “Therapeutic woodworking” on this site. I think that says it about right.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to go make some shavings.

Luke Townsley
UnpluggedShop.com

About the donate button and the future of UnpluggedShop.com

I've gotten a lot out of UnpluggedShop.com over the years. I've learned more than I could have ever dreamed about traditional crafts. I've gotten to know some wonderful people in a virtual sort of way. And I'd like to think I've helped people find a hobby or even business that suits their situation and interests.

One of the things I haven't received has been cash. I doubt the site has made over $10 in revenue. I'm nearly positive it hasn't made more than $20. That works out to something like twenty-five cents a month.

Given that my financial situation right now is extremely tight, I've added a Donate button on the home page of UnpluggedShop.com near the top of the page. (It's through PayPal, but you don't have to have a PayPal account to donate.)

I have been blessed already to receive several times in donations what the site has made through advertising or affiliate links up until now.

Let me be clear. I'm not threatening to wallpaper the site with ads and affiliate links or shut it down if I don't make “enough” from donations. I just know there are some of you who would appreciate the opportunity to give back right now, and, frankly, I can really use it.

What I am considering as far as growing the site is along the lines of writing a guide to getting started in hand tools, a store to sell tools and or supplies, or other services that will complement the blog aggregator.

I have contemplated offering the site for sale to a hand tool retailer with some sort of support agreement that would let me keep working the site, but I'm really not sure I want to let go. It would have to be the right person or company with the right agreement.

The good news is that UnpluggedShop.com is now big enough that it really is time to think about taking it to the next level.

I really appreciate your encouragement and support. It has been a fun four years.

Luke Townsley
UnpluggedShop.com

How I use UnpluggedShop.com

I want to talk about how I use UnpluggedShop.com and discuss a possible upcoming change in how the links work.

For several years, I read or at least scanned nearly every article that came up on the aggregator. For me, that has become impractical now as there are so many blogs.

I still read it regularly, but now, I cherry pick based on the website and title. Some days, I read most of the articles, but more often, I will only read my favorites.

Typically, I will do a middle mouse button click on all of the links I think are interesting opening them in a new tab in my Firefox browser, and then start reading with the ones that are loaded while I am waiting for the others to load.

What are my favorites? That changes depending on what I am involved in at the time, but I read a lot of the articles from Wisdom of the hands, Paul Sellers, Lost Art Press, Full Chisel, Joel's blog at Tools for Working Wood, and others. There are blogs that I followed more in the past, but not as much now because of a change in focus of either myself or the blogger, or perhaps for other reasons.

I used to follow Chris Schwarz blog at Popular Woodworking, but detest the popup they use, so stopped reading as my personal form of protest. I still follow Chris at Lost Art Press.

Now, one of these days when I get a day free, I'm going to be doing a site upgrade. I don't expect it will change much, but I haven't got it all worked out yet.

In the meantime, I want to ask a few questions:
1. How do you use the site?
2. How would you like to use the site, or what changes would you like to see?
3. What about the outgoing links? I have had several people comment they would like for the links on the front page to open in a separate tab when they click on them. This is non-standard behavior, but seems to make sense for this site. What do you think?

Thanks for reading! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Luke Townsley

New blogs added

I have added a number of new blogs in the last few weeks to the aggregator on this site's home page. I have been pleasantly surprised lately to see how many new blogs are out there involving hand tool woodworking.

My front page news aggregator is following over 120 blogs and forums. That means there are a number of new blog articles every day that come up. It's better than reading the newspaper. It's more fun than shaving. It's more exciting than filling up your gas tank.

When I first built this site a few years ago, I felt like I found most of the blogs out there at the time. Now, I'm fairly certain I have missed a bunch of them. Probably on the order of 25 or 50. Maybe more.

How to get added? This isn't some sort of exclusive club. Granted, it is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy. But really, what I'm looking for is blogs that are 50% or more hand tools or of particular interest to hand tool users. Generally, if you have a traditional style workbench in your shop and a few planes and saws, I will add your blog. Of course, there are a lot of blogs that fall into the “special interest” category that don't meet that criteria. I also include commercial blogs that roughly meet these criteria.

New blogs by newbies are especially welcome since they tend to cover things that new woodworkers struggle with.

If you want to get your blog added, there is no charge. You don't even have to link to this site if you don't want to. You can keep your firstborn, all your digits, and your right arm. What I do need, is to know your blog exists. Send me an email or add a comment somewhere on my site like on this page.

And while we are on the subject, there were some comments I inadvertently deleted a while back suggesting some new blogs. I don't know if they got added or not, but I'm pretty sure I missed at least one of them, so please don't be offended if it was you who suggested them, just drop me another note, and I will check into it.

Luke

Review of The Anarchist’s Tool Chest

For hand tool and mixed shop woodworkers, there are two books I'm suggesting are “must” reading. One is Schwarz' Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use and the other is The Anarchist's Tool Chest by the same PG rated wordsmith.

Until now, I have been unable to find a discussion on building traditional tool chests that was sufficiently detailed so one could actually adapt it for personal use. Chris Schwarz' book does just that. And that is really, really important.

Every hand tool shop needs a workbench and a tool chest. If you could see my current tool chest, you would agree that I definitely need a proper tool chest. And I'm planning on building one following Schwarz' suggestions. I'm also taking into account his tool recommendations as I build my tool kit.

As for a complete review of the book, I'm going to cheat. I'm going to do something book reviewers don't and can't ever do. I'm going to suggest you do something that is generally as practical as a two headed hammer.

I'm suggesting you go read the publisher's description of the book. It is useful and accurate. No, this isn't another lame attempt at humor. It really is a good description.

Perhaps the only hand tool using woodworkers who don't absolutely have to buy this book are the ones who don't do casework such as drawers, boxes, frames, and so forth- and even most of them will appreciate it.

Happy woodworking.

Luke

Aggregator troubles

Regular visitors to the site will have noticed that there has been some trouble with the latest news entries where I aggregate blog headlines from around the blogosphere.

My apologies for the inconvenience. I never really took the time to get totally to the bottom of it, but I changed and updated some feeds and settings, and it seems to be working fine now.

I do hope the aggregator serves to introduce people to more of the great blogs and resources that are out there, and that it will help some newbies find their way more quickly through the hand tool universe.

Also, I wish to thank those hard working bloggers who each contribute in their own way to our education and inspiration. For those who haven't posted in a while, there is no time like the present!

Score: 55 to 2

There is good news and more good news in this post. First the good news.

I just counted the number of blogs tracked by my blog aggregator. By my latest count, we are now up to 57 blogs that I am tracking here on this site dealing with hand tool woodworking. Nice.

Now the other good news. There is a great opportunity here for women woodworking bloggers. Of the 57 blogs tracked, I can think of only two that are run by ladies. One of them, The Village Carpenter, is my second favorite woodworking blog and is a particularly good example of how to keep a blog.

Now I understand there are more men working wood than women. A lot more. Don't get me wrong, I am really happy that a lot of guys are doing blogs and podcasts. I would just like to see more women bringing their unique viewpoint into the discussion.

How many are we?

The question has come to my mind lately as to how many woodworkers there are who are focused on using hand tools eschewing the use of power tools.

Defined in the strictest sense and including only those who do so by choice as a hobby and have a reasonable collection of tools (eliminating kids with pen knives and third world carpenters working with a single rusty plane or brace, but not Windsor chair makers or instrument makers), I would guess that we are indeed few in number- possibly numbering fewer than 1,000 worldwide.

This blog gets well over 100 visitors on a daily basis, but I don't think that the majority of my visitors fit the hand tool woodworker description in the strictest sense.

I am now tracking over 50 blogs on this site, but relatively few are dedicated entirely to hand tool woodworking.

The neaderthal forum at sawmillcreek.org is quite active, but there is a lot of activity from neo-neaderthals, or those those who favor hand tools, but would never give up their bandsaws, planers, drill press, etc.

If we include all those who have mixed shops, but favor hand tools, the count would grow dramatically. For many, that is the sweet spot. Even more have power shops and use an occasional hand tool.

What do you think? How many are we, and are modern neaderthals going the way of the ancient neaderthal man?