Best Woodworking Magazines for Beginners (Survey Results)

Which woodworking magazine is the best for beginners? I asked our readers, and I’m sharing the survey results so you can choose the best one for you!

Several woodworking magazines on a bookstore's rack

I’m a member of several Facebook woodworking groups. Recently a member asked, “What magazine subscription do you suggest for a new woodworker?” It was a great question, so I decided to survey Saws on Skates readers, asking them to rate which woodworking magazines are best for beginners.

In this article, we’ll look at the feedback from our reader survey and discuss the pros and cons of each magazine, so you can decide which is right for you.

Table of Contents

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Beginner Woodworking Magazines Survey

Of those who responded to the Saws on Skates survey, 82% said they have or currently subscribe to a woodworking magazine.

Next, I asked participants which woodworking magazine(s) they currently subscribe to or which they have subscribed to in the past. Here are the options they had to choose from in alphabetical order:

  • Family Handyman
  • Fine Woodworking
  • Popular Woodworking
  • Shopnotes
  • Wood Magazine
  • Woodsmith
  • Woodworker’s Journal

Then, respondents rated the magazines based on which was the best for:

  • Tool tutorials for beginners
  • Woodworking plans for beginners
  • Paint, stain, and finishing tips for beginners
  • Beginners to learn new woodworking techniques

Let’s look at each magazine and how it ranked in our survey.

Family Handyman Magazine

Family Handyman ranked second overall, with 56% of respondents saying they have or currently subscribe.

It was rated the best source for beginners to pick up tips about painting, staining, and finishing.

Family Handyman also scored highly with its plans and tool tutorials for those just getting started. However, it placed behind Wood and Woodsmith as a place for newbies to gain knowledge about new woodworking techniques.

Fine Woodworking Magazine

Fine Woodworking ranked sixth in overall subscription numbers, with 30% of respondents saying they were previous or current subscribers. It landed fourth place in recommended publications for newbies seeking advice on painting, staining, and finishing.

The survey results showed that Fine Woodworking received low marks for beginners looking to learn about tools or new woodworking techniques. Additionally, the survey showed participants felt Fine Woodworking’s plans were not beginner-friendly, placing the magazine last in this category.

Popular Woodworking ranked fifth among all magazines surveyed, with 34% of respondents saying they have or currently subscribe to it.

Popular Woodworking placed third, behind Wood and Family Handyman, for its painting, staining, and finishing tips. However, for the remaining categories, it hovered around the middle of the pack for its tool tutorials and plans and as a place for rookies to learn new woodworking techniques.

Shopnotes Magazine

Shopnotes placed last in readership, with only 28% of respondents saying they have or currently subscribe to this publication.

Shopnotes also lagged behind other more beginner-friendly magazines in this survey, placing fourth for its tool tutorials, fifth for new woodworking techniques, sixth for its plans, and last for its painting, staining, and finishing tips.

Hand holding a Shopnotes magazine

Wood Magazine

Wood took the top spot for readership, with an overwhelming 67% of respondents saying they have or currently subscribe to this publication.

Hand holding a Wood magazine in front of a magazine rack

Wood also earned high marks across the board, placing first for its tool tutorials, woodworking plans, and as a resource for learning new woodworking techniques. It placed second in the paint, stain, and finishing category, only falling short of Family Handyman.

Woodworking plan on the inside pages of Wood magazine

Woodsmith Magazine

Woodsmith took home a solid third place in the survey, with 45% of respondents indicating they have or currently subscribe to this magazine.

Woodsmith distinguished itself from the competition, emerging a close second after Wood as a place for rookies to learn new woodworking skills. Additionally, it ranked third for its tool tutorials and woodworking plans. However, respondents thought its painting, staining, and finishing tips fell short, tying it for fifth place with Woodworker’s Journal in this category.

Cover of Woodsmith magazine

Woodworker’s Journal Magazine

Woodworker’s Journal landed in fourth place on the survey, with 41% of participants saying they were past or current subscribers.

Woodworker’s Journal hovered near the bottom of the survey, placing fifth for its plans and second to last for its tool tutorials and painting/staining/finishing tips. It is also tied last with Fine Woodworking as a place for beginners to learn new woodworking techniques.

Woodworking Magazine Comparison Chart

The table below compares the magazines based on where they ranked in the survey.

& Finishes
Family Handyman2nd2nd2nd1st3rd
Fine Woodworking6th7th6th4th6th
Popular Woodworking5th4th4th3rd4th
Wood Magazine1st1st1st2nd1st
Woodworkers Journal4th5th5th5th6th

Which is the Best Magazine for Beginners?

Based on the survey results, Wood was the clear winner as the best woodworking magazine for beginners. It scored high marks in almost every category and came out ahead of Woodsmith as a resource to learn new woodworking techniques.

Family Handyman also received high scores, placing in the top position for its paint/stain/finish tips and earning high praise for its tool tutorials and beginner-friendly woodworking plans.

Popular Woodworking, Woodworker’s Journal, and Fine Woodworking all received mixed results, with their scores falling in the middle or near the end of the pack.

Overall, participants felt beginners should look to Wood as a top resource, with Family Handyman coming in a close second.

Where Do You Subscribe to Woodworking Magazines?

Now that you know the best woodworking magazines for beginners, where should you subscribe? I’ve included links below to subscribe to each publication:

Final Thoughts

Finding the woodworking magazine that best suits your needs can be overwhelming. However, this survey provides helpful insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each publication, making it easier for woodworkers of all skill levels to make an informed decision about which woodworking magazine is best for them.

Thank you for stopping by. If you enjoyed this tutorial, would you please take a moment and pin it to Pinterest? I’d really appreciate it!

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One Comment

  1. All the mags in your survey are, naturally, American, but over here in the UK although some are available here on subscription they are quite expensive. I have subscribed to Woodworking Crafts from issue one & its predecessor, and is great for beginners & more advanced woodworkers compared to other mags available here. Love


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