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THISisCarpentry: The Future

I am grateful for living at a spectacular time—a moment in human history when technology has dramatically transformed our lives. As a kid, black-and-white television was still new, the NBC color peacock was a few years away, and Disney’s Wide World of Color didn’t premier until 1961—I was old by then, somewhere between nine and ten.

Technology began to truly affect my life when I began working as a carpenter—nail guns, cordless drills, fast-acting adhesives, sealants that actually worked, bituthene…I could go on and on. I experienced the industry change dramatically each time a new “disruptive” product revolutionized the jobsite. 

The changes that most affected me personally were about communication.

Technology completely altered the way in which we communicated; not just the emergence of pagers and then cellular phones, but the lightning-fast transformation of photography. 

When I started writing for Fine Homebuilding, all photographs were shot with transparency and slide film—lighting had to be spot on, so we took six or eight photos for every shot, bracketing for insurance. And we took Polaroids to check the lighting, too! Each photograph required a minimum of fifteen minutes. And then there was the terrifying wait for the film development. Digital cameras cracked that task wide open, sped the process up exponentially, and completely eliminated fear.

Roe Osborn & Dean DellaVentura shooting Polaroids for Fine Homebuilding 2003. We had one strobe light outside the window, one behind the camera, and one high on camera left.

But it was the internet that truly opened a world of possibility for me. Driven by an insatiable desire to share the techniques I was learning and the jobs I worked on, for years I published articles in multiple magazines…but it was never enough! I tossed and turned with frustration, with more ideas than magazines could publish, frequently turned down by editorial committees for article subjects I was certain—in my own little world—were exceptional

Then, at the turn of the 21st century, Craig Savage introduced me to Joe Stoddard. At the time, Joe was the technology wizard behind JLC, their forums, their new web presence, and he built me a website, taught me how to use Adobe Dreamweaver, and even set up an online store for me to sell DVDs. Joe gave me the gift of freedom—freedom to write, photograph, and publish anything I wanted. But that wasn’t enough either! 

By then, I was doing Roadshows all over America, meeting talented carpenters at every event. I wanted to help those tradespeople experience the reward of sharing their techniques, their jobsites; establish and grow their own sense of confidence; feel the joy of helping folks in the industry—turn shame into self-esteem. 

The first issue of THISisCarpentry, an e-flip-book designed by David Luyendyk.

Craig Flynn, from WindsorONE, introduced me to an online flyfishing magazine: THISisFly.com. Once again, he nagged me: “You should start your own magazine, call it THISisCarpentry.” By now, you’ve probably figured out that I have never had an original idea! I owe so much to so many. 

Since the fall of 2008, I have had the honor of publishing a completely free online magazine devoted to craftsmen and craftsmanship, supporting the trades with a variety of articles—from techniques for apprentice carpenters to over-the-top jobs that I would never attempt myself—all written by an alphabet of experienced hands-on tradespeople, folks for whom I have deep respect. 

From the beginning I made it a practice to return every email and phone query by the next day—regardless of where in the country I happened to be. 

And since I made all decisions about what we would or would not publish, I was up front with every author, never dangling anyone in the wind. 

And when we published a story, we made every effort to use the author’s original words—to not alter their voice.

I couldn’t have published the magazine without the substantial help of my daughter Tristan—somehow, amidst her Katz Roadshow responsibilities, she managed to edit, layout, tweak photographs, handle publication, advertising, and promotion. 

And many of our articles, especially the complicated ones, wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless effort and precision of Todd Murdock, who piloted the art ‘department’ of TiC with the same attention to detail that he applies to a jet at 40,000 ft. 

Finally, there is one other behind-the-scenes man who, from the beginning, has been an enthusiastic supporter of TiC: David Luyendyk who owns and operates Yellow House Design and Marketing. David helped us develop the page-flipping format we used for our first few issues, and then he guided and mentored us toward a more user-friendly and less expensive WordPress-based model.

David Luyendyk and his Siberian Husky, Aspen

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a soft decline in readership—especially now that we can easily see—through analytics—the number and interest of our readers. And tradespeople no longer need the help to publish their work—social media has given each of us the freedom to publish. This also explains why readership is slightly down and video viewership is remarkably high. And that also explains why you should expect to see far more video-based articles in TiC, and far fewer text-dependent stories. 

And that brings me back to David Luyendyk. Every past and future TiC author and reader owes David a debt of gratitude for helping generate THISisCarpentry, and for lifting the responsibility from my shoulders as life leads me in new directions. 

David—Yellow House Design and Marketing—will be the new publisher of THISisCarpentry. You can expect to see a new website design, new names and contact information, but the same content that supports our trade. Frequency of publication may change some, but I’ll remain actively engaged as editor, and promise to continue responding thoughtfully to email and queries.

One final word of thanks to all the contributors who have helped make TiC what it is, and to all the readers who have supported the magazine. As I said before—and it’s worth repeating—I have been honored to work and know so many of you.

Comments/Discussion

41 Responses to “THISisCarpentry: The Future”

  1. Virgil R. Ramey

    gary thanks for all you’ve done for the trades. been in construction since 1976. from a hole in the ground to finish trim and built-ins. learned a few things about mitersaws and trim techniques from you thanks virgil

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Virgil,
      That makes us about the same age, brother! I’m glad the magazine has been helpful to you! I’ve sure had a great time editing articles from other carpenters, and meeting so many at Roadshows, too!

      Reply
  2. Ben Askren

    Gary – You’re the best! What a great article and I hope you’ll make the time to make an occasional appearance in the new format.

    Reply
    • Jim Fuller

      Ben, I have no place answering for Gary but I’m sure he will. I wonder if he will recognize your name and be able to appreciate how unpredictable ones journey can be. As your road led to his road which leads him to other things, I hope our paths cross again.

      Gary, thanks for all the learning experiences and safe travels to you. You have been one of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered.

      Reply
      • Gary Katz

        Jim,
        Thank you for your kind words and your passion for the craft and ‘our’ community magazine!
        I won’t be far.
        Gary

        Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Hey Ben!
      I’m all around. I’m not going anywhere. I just have a hunger for more…
      Gary

      Reply
  3. Sean G

    Gary, thanks for everything. I tell every young (and old!) carpenter I meet to heck out and read Thisiscarpentry. It’s been an invaluable resource to my carpentry education. I’ve found answers here that I just couldn’t find anywhere else. One day, I hope to contribute as well. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Sean,
      Thank you. But I gotta say, what’s with the ‘one day’ stuff? That’s like saying “maybe tomorrow or next week.” Carpenters should know that if you don’t do it today, it’ll NEVER GET DONE! Step on the gas, brother. :)
      Gart

      Reply
  4. Kreg mcmahon

    Gary,
    Thank you for all you have done for me. Since I first meet you in Pomona at your first class !! Back in 2000. I learned how to hang a door and many other things that day. I saw Your little door box and went home and made one which I still Use to this day . I have Learned from your DVD how to hang crown correctly and simple . You have also helped me write several articles for your magazine. I can Go on and on with all I have Learned from you over the years as it’s been a lot . You always made me believe yes I could Do it also !

    Then I was Pleased the day you told me that you actually learned something from me !!! And that was to loosen up on your videos !!!
    Thank you thank you thank you I appreciate Our friendship over the years !!!

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      My goodness…Kreg McMahon! Like hearing from an old girlfriend! I remember that show and that door-hanging clinic like it was yesterday. And I remember the impact, that small group of attendees, and how obvious it was that many of you were at that moment on the cusp of a big life-change. I’m so grateful to have known you, to have had an influence on your life and furthered your passion for the craft. Truly. It’s been an honor, sir.
      Gary

      Reply
  5. George

    Ditto, I always recommend this site, honestly there are very few sites like it.

    Reply
  6. Tim Raufer

    Thank you Gary! What a great resource you’ve provided! When I think about all the lessons you’ve taught through your writing, your website, videos, and TiC – it occurs to me that this move captures another one of your greatest lessons: that teaching, like carpentry, requires adapting new skills, methods, and mediums. Best of luck with your next endeavors!

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Tim,
      So true! We should alway be open to change, embrace it, encourage it, never fear it or avoid it or attempt to prevent it. It’s just like tackling a new project that involves techniques with which you have absolutely NO experience. Those are invariably the best and deepest learning experiences. Life is short. I’m stepping on the gas of change.
      Gary

      Reply
  7. Sal Donato

    Gary, I can honestly say you have taught me more then you know. I wish you nothing but happiness in any of your future endeavors. 👍🏼🤠👍🏼

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Sal,
      I can easily imagine that I’ve taught you more than I know because I don’t know that much, so I suspect a lot of the the stuff you’re blaming me for you really learned the hard way on your own because I definitely learning from YOU! Thank you for your note!
      Gary

      Reply
  8. Nate Cougill

    Phew! I was sitting here reading and panicking for a minute at the thought of TiC going offline! Thanks for putting in the countless hours that have gone into creating TiC. It’s an incredible resource for us finish guys.

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Nate,
      NO WAY would Todd Murdock allow THAT to happen. With David Luyendyk’s help and all the folks at Yellow House Design now behind the magazine…well, it’s gonna be better than ever. Trust me!
      Gary

      Reply
  9. Dan Burke

    Gary, I appreciate all you have done for our craft and wish you the best in the next stage of your journey! Thanks again for all the knowledge

    Reply
  10. Joe Adams

    Gary,

    Thank you for all you have done over many, many years to foster and elevate the craft of carpentry.

    You are a shining example of selfless and steadfast dedication to a noble trade. Your mentor-ship from Fine Homebuilding to JLC to Roadshows to TiC has touched thousands of lives.

    I have always looked up to you and know that much of my success is the direct result of your shared knowledge and experience.

    Thank you, my friend. For everything.

    Joe

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Hello Joe and I’m so relieved that your in good health. Quite a scare you gave us! Don’t do that again! Thank you for your note and for years of friendship,
      Gary

      Reply
  11. Kirby

    Gary, thanks for your help in starting my trim business. I’ll never forget that Worcester building show and your smooth easy explanation of going In to Vegas long and coming out short to explain miter cuts. Been an immense pleasure to work with you on the road. Thanks for showing Tyler how’s it really done. You’re a true renaissance man. Best of luck on your future mischief!

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Hey Kirby (and Tyler!),
      Thank you for your note but even more, thank you for years of friendship. I’m sure we’ll see more of each other in the future! One of my first van trips will be to…visit Jed Dixon. :)
      Gary

      Reply
  12. Richard L. Kocher

    Gary,I have always appreciated your enthusiasm for the craft and the trade. The idea of doing something in a new or improved way keeps all of us on our toes and up to date. (i can remember a fist full of shims to set a pre framed door) You have made the work not only easier but with better craftsmanship. That little edge that produces quality. I can’t thank you enough for all your work and effort you put in to TiC. Hope you return for cameo once and again. Wishing you great success in where ever you do or go next.
    God Bless

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Hey Richard!
      I’m not going very far! I’ll be around editing articles and posting videos on our TiC Youtube channel. Carpenters was never really a career for me…it’s a life.
      Gary

      Reply
  13. Dean Freeman

    Thank you Gary for all of your years of dedicated hard work and willingness and fortitude to teach others. I wouldn’t be the carpentry am today without you. I am curious about the existing archive of TIC will it remain in perpetuity? I hope this all means you get to spend even more time fishing and enjoying life. Peace.

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Dean,
      Thanks for your note. I’m grateful to have been of any influence at all. That is definitely the reward.
      Gary

      Reply
  14. Jim Blank

    Hi Gary,
    I wish you all the best in the future. I have been a carpenter for
    43 years, had my own business for 30. I have enjoyed reading
    your articles for many years. It always is good to read how
    someone else does things, to learn a different way. I too am not far
    from calling it a career, and I would be willing to share some
    knowledge with your readers. Have your people contact me
    if you are interested.
    Take a well deserved rest my friend, and best of luck to the crew
    who follow in your footsteps.

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Thank you Jim! I’m definitely not calling it a career! I’ll continue to work on my home and in my shop for as long as I can walk and hang on to a tool, but I hear the call of other sirens, too.
      Gary

      Reply
  15. Joe Stoddard

    Gary – thanks for the shout-out but you give me too much credit. Carl Hagstrom, Craig Savage, Steve Bliss…and of course Mike Reitz.. everyone was heavily involved with JLConline 1.0. Those times were exciting as everyone was trying to figure out what the WWW and mobile technology was all about. One thing I think all of us realized is that it was going to change *everything* We just didn’t anticipate exactly what the new “everything” was goingt to look like. I was thinking about what is now called “social media” as a way for pros to communicate globally… not with 2 billion mini-reality TV shows (and reality TV is another rotting stench-pit) daily with what everyone’s toddler had for lunch contributing to the monetization of an ad stream, or politicians throwing bombs over the wall at each other on Twitter… or a 9-yr old earning $46M opening toys on YouTube. We were naive as hell – should have been following the money a little more closely we would have realized what would ultimately be at stake. I’m still looking forward to getting your thoughts about the whole YouTube/”Maker” video space and its impact on actual professional trades. Ron Paulk, Rob Robillard, Matt Risinger and a handful of others are producing excellent content on YouTube.. but can they sustain it financially with a niche audience? I know exactly how much time/effort is required to put together something worth watching and it’s daunting…but if I see one more sponsor-provided 4×8 CNC rig or an industrial dust collection system crammed into some guy’s 1-car garage I’m gonna….. well I’m probably gonna watch it, “subscribe and ring the bell..” LOL. But it’s still pretty ridiculous. Anyway it’s been a wild ride… look forward to catching up!

    Reply
  16. lance barker

    Thank you so very much for all I have learned from you, reading your articles for years in Fine and JLC and here! As a now retired electrician , and probably like many here I do ALL my own carpentry work at home, your article here on installing prehung door was an absolute life changer for me.

    Reply
  17. Connor Malloy

    Your dedication to the building and remodeling community is admirable. As a professor at a trade school in Canada, finding relevant resources for students that offer long format opinions and best practices (without a product sales pitch) is rare. I’d like to thank you and the TiC team for all of the knowledge you have shared throughout the years. Looking forward to seeing what you do next, and following the increased video content from TiC.

    Best,
    Connor
    Prof. Building & Renovation at George Brown College

    Reply
  18. Frank carpenterone3

    I’m happy to see you get more time to do other things Gary but I’m going to miss the cool Gary stuff on this website, I know you hear it all the time but I really am a huge fan and I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t be where I’m at without your teachings. I’ve been reading your articles since I started out and modeled all my set ups after yours. Bosch 12” slider and Bosch 4100 no brainer Gary had one, so I needed one, Gary Katz tool tote, 100% needed to make that, I remember 10 year ago making a “door hook” because I thought that was such a cool way to scribe a door solo.
    The worlds changing quickly and the game is ever involving but you have no idea how much YOU changed it for the better for the carpenters now #Legend

    Reply
  19. Kirby Dolak

    Gary thanks for helping me start my trim business. Meeting you at that Worcester building show was the luckiest thing for me. I’ll never forget your simple mnemonic of going in to Vegas long and coming out short for cutting miters. Enjoyed working on your roadshows. You always had the craft and your customers needs first. Thanks for showing Tyler the right way to do things. Best of luck in whatever mischief finds you next.

    Reply
  20. wayne E king

    Gary I too have learned a bunch from this site. And I tell everyone that will listen in the trades about this site. Well I used to cause I’m retired now. Keep on keeping on.

    Reply
  21. Jack Rogan

    When I first started as a finish carpenter in 2015, I borrowed your DVD’s from my boss to learn the basics. That laid the foundation for a future of consuming and digesting carpentry content from every available resource, including digging into the archives of TiC and FineHomebuilding magazine. I’ve since discovered Instagram and YouTube as incredible resources for sharing information and technique, but I still love sitting down with a detailed article to marinate in the ideas of the gurus like Gary. Thanks for adapting to the times so well and brining your “old school” wisdom to future generations.

    Reply
  22. Raymond Valois

    Gary, I can still remember sitting down at one your “How to” clinics at the Finehomebuilding show in Worcester MA,. It was how to install a new door in an existing jamb. I was very new to the trade at that time and watched you perform that task with such ease and certainty. I soon realized that I had a long journey ahead to learn as much as I could as fast as I could to become craftsman. Now 20 years later , plenty of mistakes, plenty of how how clinics at JLCLIVE and plenty of Fine home building articles and an endless collection of books on my shelves I can say That your enthusiasm, craftsmanship and willingness to pass along your passion has truly been a gift and an inspiration to many of us and I wish you the best in your future endeavors and also wish to thank you so much for all that you have done for myself and the carpentry community.

    Reply
  23. Kyle Bass

    Gary, I love this site and your videos. During this strange time when we all seem to have more free time than ever before, I went back to rewatch your DVD’s I bought a few years ago. Then I realized I no longer have a DVD player or a computer with a disk drive. Is there any plan to digitize your videos for streaming or download? I’d be happy to pay for them again.

    Reply
    • Gary Katz

      Kyle,
      I’m sorry but we looked into streaming the videos and the quality was terribly poor–because the original technology wasn’t nearly as good as video today. So we kind of gave up on the project. Instead, I’ll be re-shooting some of those techniques once I finish converting my Sprinter to a camper (especially if I can’t get out on the road with the Sprinter!).

      Reply
  24. Al Perkins

    WOW, Surprising announcement but I understand the points of technology evolution. (Was in tech business for 30+ years.)
    My regret at this point is that I have just discovered (2 days ago) your site after 6 years of retirement, via a link from Ron Paulk as part of a new adventure into Crown Molding. :)
    Great stuff and very educational. Many Thanks.

    Alp @Wasaga Beach, Ontario.

    Reply

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