Same job, different coast
Looking back over my twisting path, I can see how it all led to my uncommon career. Growing up poor, with no idea how to get to college, I decided to go to trade school instead of high school, to learn the machinist trade. Later I discovered financial aid (thanks, U.S. gov't) and was able to attend college, where I began as an engineer and finished as an English/journalism major. My right-brain/left-brain path was just starting.
After a short teaching career (first in the Peace Corps in West Africa then in the U.S. on the high-school and college levels), I took a job as a newspaper editor and never looked back. As soon as I could afford a house, I leaned on my technical know-how and started remodeling it and filling it with furniture. That began a serious woodworking hobby that has lasted 25 years now.
In 2000, I landed an editing job at Fine Woodworking magazine (published by The Taunton Press, in Newtown, CT), probably the best journal on any craft worldwide. That's where I began my current career, working to inspire and inform people who build things. As a staff editor, I recruited authors, edited and photographed their articles, wrote articles and blogs of my own, and appeared in a few dozen videos. I loved every bit of it.
I even got to meet celebrities, like Nick Offerman, who put me on an episode of Parks & Rec (more details about this crazy experience). I also shot a cool article at Nick's awesome LA workshop. For a quick tour with Nick and me, click here.
In 2006, I was honored to become the magazine's chief editor. My goal was to make the revered glossy more compelling and useful than ever, while helping our shiny new website reach its potential for inspiration and engagment.
During my tenure, our hard-working, passionate staff created 1,000 videos, attracted 50K paying web subscribers, and created a weekly e-newsletter read by 600K. We also launched an annual conference and a popular podcast. I'm really proud of what we accomplished during my time at FWW, and just as happy to hand over the reins in 2014--a little burned out and ready for a new adventure!
Today I live in Portland, Oregon, where I work as a freelancer--writing, editing, shooting, and building projects for a range of tool companies and magazines, including Fine Woodworking and Fine Homebuilding--while attempting to hike every old-growth forest, climb every mountain, ride every bike trail, and attend every Portland Timbers soccer match. So far, so good.
Yours truly on top of St. Helens, the first real mountain I climbed in the Northwest.
I was lucky enough to work at FWW for 15 years, where I learned a ton and made great connections. I took this cover shot.
I moved to Oregon with my family in 2015. That cross-country drive took us from the security of two salaries on one coast to no guarantees on the other, but we bet on ourselves and it all worked out.
In 2014, my new buddy Nick gave me a minute of fame on Parks & Rec, one of the craziest experiences of my life. We grabbed this pic during a quiet moment on the set.