I casually mentioned I was going to Iowa to Wood Magazine to a few people last week and the immediate response I got was “why?” because let’s face it… Iowa in the winter time is cold. It’s flat and when the wind blows there’s no where to hide from the chill. That is… unless you’re hiding out in Meredith Corp getting a VIP tour (the same one Chip and Joanna got) of the largest magazine company in the world.
You might recognize a few of their titles… Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated & People magazine. But my visit gave me a chance to see the operation and meet the folks behind Wood Magazine. So this week I’m going to take you out of my shop and see some behind the scenes at Wood Magazine and Meredith Corp.
Des Moines Bound
First off, the reason for the visit was to meet with our new partners for the IG Builder’s Challenge and plan out the upcoming season in 2019. If you follow us on social media you might notice that we’ve dropped the IG and we’re now “The Builder’s Challenge”. That’s not the only big change to come out of the visit, but you’ll have to stay tuned for those updates.
After a couple pulls of Pappy Van Winkle at dinner and then a few doughnuts to seal the deal at our planning sessions, we got the business side of things out of the way and it was time to take our tour of the facility. Grab your bib… the drooling is about to start.
Wood Magazine Wood Shop
In my day job I work in a corporate office building laid out with a labyrinth of cubicles. Meredith Corp is no different, but then… smack in the middle of the office space is a door with a neon sign with the words “wood shop” glowing brightly above it. No, Wood Magazine doesn’t hide their primary wood shop in the basement of the building, they put it smack in the middle of cubicle alley so it’s right there with their writers.
Have you ever walked into a room to the heralding of angels announcing you’ve just stepped into what some would deem a sacred space? I have. Although the sound of angels singing was actually the sounds of dust collectors and power tools running.With clamp collections on every wall and Saw Stops and Powermatics in every work space it’s easy to get distracted and not notice right away the quality of the half a dozen custom workbenches that steal the show. Anyone can be jealous of tools, but in all honesty, I had some serious workbench envy, from the vises, to the bench stops to even the workbench faced in spalted maple.
A Different Kind Of Showroom
In my office, we pile up busted desk chairs and miscellaneous computer components in empty cubicles. At Wood Magazine you’re going to find builds from past and upcoming issues on every shelf, cube, file cabinet and hallway in the office space. A few coffee tables, workbenches, beds and even wooden toys sit where you might find a ficus in a normal office.A few favorites get saved, but after these builds hit the newsstand, these high end pieces get donated to the community. Meanwhile, back in the shop, the fellas are churning out more and more content just like it.
Wood Magazine War Room
Want a sneak peek at what’s coming to Wood Magazine all the way through 2020? I’ve seen it! But I can’t share it. Plastered on the walls in the War Room you have a living Pinterest Board strung together with ideas and inspirations looking kind of like the raving obsessions of a disturbed person. In this case though, it’s all about things you can make out of wood. So it’s healthy… ish.
Print media is a funny beast so we were looking at builds and articles being finalized for issues for Spring of 2019. That’s right, while I write my posts less than 24 hours before publishing, these guys are months ahead. I don’t know what my post is for next week and Wood Magazine is already tackling trends, builds and tools that won’t hit the magazine until well after the new year.
The Tool Dungeon
But where do they hide the dirty little secrets? In the dungeon of course! After seeing the studio work shop that’s used for photography we went into the depths of the Meredith building to the tool locker. Rows and rows of power tools and woodworking machinery either waiting to be reviewed or put out to pasture waiting for another chance at a side by side comparison.
Band saws, drum sanders, impact drivers, track saws… you name it. Boxes from Milwaukee, Festool and the like are stacked floor to ceiling along with a few Saw Stops just waiting for their chance to come out into the light of day. As a fellow tool reviewer I saw a big kids Toys R Us (RIP). As a type A tool organizer I saw chaos… but loved it!
Rounding Out The Tour
With the tools and woodworking tour finished, we walked through the behind-the-scenes of what goes into producing major magazines. From made-to-order sets staged like a home with a warm fireplace to fully operable kitchens, the curtain got pulled away on what easily could pass for a Hollywood back lot. Need a white ship-lap wall with a tiled floor, windows and curtains, then a fully set dining room table with holiday decor? Drop in an order and watch it get assembled.Or how about you submitted a recipe to Food & Wine magazine or Every Day With Rachael Ray… the writers who publish those sit in cubicles too… but their cubicles also have built in gourmet kitchens attached… TO EACH DESK!
~ Lazy Guy
Like the peek behind the curtain and out of the shop? Check out my other visits like this one to Home Depot’s Headquarters!