Woodworking, without all the work

Online information is great for woodworkers who want to learn more. But for nonwoodworkers who don’t want to invest the time to really learn? Not so much.

One of my many freelance writing/editing jobs is editing articles for a major provider of online content. These articles come in every conceivable topic, but naturally I gravitate toward articles on tools, woodworking, home improvement and the like when I choose articles to edit. I’ve been doing this for a while, and because I choose articles on similar topics it’s not surprising that I’m bumping into a couple of writers quite often.

One of these guys is great. A former contractor and carpenter, he knows his stuff. Not a fantastic writer, but he takes his time with articles and they’re always a delight to edit: factual, on-topic, relevant and highly informative. The other guy is a better writer but he’s, simply put, a hack. He knows almost nothing about tools and carpentry, and I can only assume he picks these topics because he thinks they’re easy to crank out.

This clown’s idea of addressing a topic like “How to Charge a Cordless Tool” is to Google one cordless tool manual, skim it for key phrases, conclude that every single cordless tool on the planet operates the same way, and then toss those key phrases into an article. With no hands-on knowledge he makes gross assumptions like, “When the green light starts flashing, the battery is charged, so unplug it immediately before it gets too full.”

Of course, you and I know that not all battery chargers have green lights, and not all of them flash. (The cordless drill/driver battery I plugged in before sitting down to write this blog uses a steady red light to indicate charging is complete.) But this nonwoodworker doesn’t know that, and didn’t bother to check more than one source for information about cordless tools. I wonder how many others learn about woodworking – as well as other topics – this way.

The bottom line is that random Google searches can’t teach you woodworking or anything else. It requires effort and hands-on time with tools and materials, and a lot more than just skimming one tool manual. Sadly, with shop classes disappearing from schools at an increasing rate, Google searching has come to replace traditional woodworking education for many. This thought will probably depress me all weekend.

Excuse me, but I have to go unplug that battery before it gets too full.

Till next time,



  • Bobby Craven says:

    I would think when it comes to searching on the internet for how to charge a battery, one would go to the website of the manufacturer and download the manual if necessary.

    I hope no one is doing a Google search to learn how to use a jointer or table saw. Picking up a few safety pointers, perhaps, but not how to operate the things. They can hurt you in a heartbeat.

  • Benoit Bissonnette says:

    Hahahaha, this is so true. Despite the fact that you are absolutely 100% right, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of people can’t care less and the beginners reading this information online can’t tell if it’s far-fetched or not. Of course, the publisher gets his content written at a cheaper cost than if he’d hired an experienced professional. In fact, it’s probably all he cares for at the end.

    The quality in the press in general is on the decline and now that anyone can run a blog or an online magazine, I do not expect the situation to improve anytime soon. Sorry for being pessimistic but I do see two advantages: Either I’m right or I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I’m prove wrong.

    Bye now, I also have to go unplug my Li-ion battery before it’s too full… Hahahaha!

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