Fine Woodworking Unlimited... Is it worth the price?

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Forum topic by DaDijionDon posted 02-20-2019 08:54 AM 5444 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 498 days

02-20-2019 08:54 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource plans advice

I almost subscribed to Fine Woodworking Unlimited a minute ago.. but my impulses were, for the moment, suppressed. It is quite tempting for me, even at the 99$ annual price tag. Does anyone have any first hand experience with this product?
Yea/Nay? Whadayasay?

-- Listen!.... Do you smell that?

17 replies so far

View bilyo's profile


1109 posts in 1869 days

#1 posted 02-20-2019 04:00 PM

I will be watching this thread with interest. I too have had misgivings about subscribing to “Unlimited”. I have been a subscriber to the magazine for many many years and have found that to be adequate. I have also received the digital newsletter for a few years and, so far, I have not seen anything there that stimulates me to get even more digital content. The few videos that you can watch without membership seem to be mostly a repeat of what is in the magazine. It will be interesting to hear from those who have the unlimited membership.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6149 posts in 3580 days

#2 posted 02-20-2019 04:14 PM

Whether it’s worth the price of admission is entirely up to you. I can say the content is excellent. What we know about marketing is that people need multiple levels of entry when signing up for a product or service. Previously they offered a digital subscription or a print subscription. Now they offer a print subscription or unlimited (print + digital + extra content). I really think they need to add a digital only option, otherwise subscriptions will plummet. I like Fine Woodworking and want to see them succeed.

I was quite happy with the digital only option I had enjoyed over the past couple years. Please bring back a digital only option for about the same price as the print subscription. Then you’ll have three points of entry for customers to buy in.

As the OP noted, he couldn’t pull the trigger at the asking price… so no sale. Compare that to a digital option at less than half the price, and he would have been a member. Once a member… you see all the online extras and may be tempted to upgrade at some point. But you had that initial “step” to get you there. That’s human nature when it comes to marketing.

Thanks for posting

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View tmspann's profile


1 post in 393 days

#3 posted 06-04-2019 10:15 PM

I was a sucker and bought the unlimited membership. What attracted me was the advertised “access to 700+ projects and plans.” I have yet to find a free plan so I contacted their customer support. They said, “There is over 700 + projects that are available without purchase. You will be able to view a PDF for free on those projects or the information on the project will be in the article. Once you are logged in, you will click on Projects and Plans. Any plans that say buy or take you to our will need to be purchased.” Well, these PDFs are simply pages from back issues of the magazine. They are not plans. This is false advertising to me. I can access these with just a digital magazine subscription. I’ve expressed my displeasure and will certainly not be renewing my limited “unlimited” membership and may even go ahead and cancel it.

View Pixxture's profile


40 posts in 838 days

#4 posted 06-04-2019 10:44 PM

I need as much woodworking help as i can get, so i subscribed. If i was to review it i would give it 3 stars. I found it has a lot of good content that i enjoyed and learned from. The web site is what i have issues with. When i use the site i use an ipad. With the ipad navigation around the site is awful. For instance if you do a search and it comes back with 120 pages of results there is no way to jump to jump ahead to any particular page. Luckily only the first 20 pages or so actually relate to your search.
If you want to read a magazine issue you have to turn the ipad sideways so you can jump to the page of interest, of course they don’t mention that anywhere. I had called tauton to cancel when they gave me that tidbit of info. I got bit on plans by woodsmith, ( “fill out the survey and get 3 free plans”) so tauton did not bite me on that one. Summary found info good, navigation very poor, search engine just below average. I was told by tauton that if i accessed on a windows pc navigation is better. I have no idea if that is true.

View Blindhog's profile


157 posts in 1815 days

#5 posted 06-05-2019 02:01 AM

When I purchased my print subscription, I received access to all the on-line content as well. Recently, I was up for renewal and the website (which I consider poor at best for navigation) was not able to take my revised CC information, so I called to renew over the phone. While I was setting this up, I inquired about any advantage the UNLIMITED subscription would give. Turns out…............ nothing more than what I get for my print subscription. After going back and forth with the rep on the, he pleaded that he doesn’t make the rules just service; understood.
I consider this a sleazy tactic to use on customers. It seems to be the current trend, Caveat Emptor. Sad to see the adage of treat your customers as if your business depends on it is slowly disappearing from the modern digital world.

-- Don't let perfection get in the way of plenty good enough

View zoro39's profile


34 posts in 407 days

#6 posted 06-05-2019 11:44 AM

I consider FWW the Bible of our craft.
I have all issues in a bookcase in ny shop built specifically for my FWW magazines.
Up until a year or 2, you could for $20 or $30 subscribe to the online access of past articles, search a subject, and then print out the entire article. That ended and the access to only a partial glimpse of the article is the only thing available. For those os us with all issues os FWW, we now need to locate and print out the full article we were looking for from the actual back issue magazine.
For those that don’t have the library of past issues, this new unlimited subscription becomes necessary.
Yes, necessary because you can learn from the masters.
Recently, I’ve been using the Christian Beeksvort Tried & True Danish Varnish finish on several pieces thanks to past FWW articles.
It is true that internet access might allow you to find the knowledge to solve your problem, but being the old man that I am, I’ll stick with FWW as my primary source for knowledge and inspiration.

John J

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3139 posts in 2261 days

#7 posted 06-05-2019 12:39 PM

Another option to buying the access to digital online magazine, is to buy the archive DVD/USB.
It’s also $99, and gives one year access to online library as well.

Occasionally find it on sale too:

I own the 2012 version of the archive. It is same as what they post online. The only difference is I am missing anything since it was released in 2012.
Do I need the latest articles? IDK.
The new tool reviews are good, the projects and current generation of master wood workers are wonderful to read about, the ads are mostly same with only changes to names/colors;
This might sound callus so I’m sorry upfront;
been reading woodworking magazines for 40 years, and they keep rehashing the same things over and over. :(
FWW is recycling tips from 50’s-80;s with minor edits to fit the current supplies available in market place. There is not much ‘new’ in wood working methods that hasn’t been around for decades.
Seriously, there are only so many ways to make a wood object, or slice a tree in to lumber? Once you have seen the different methods, it becomes annoying to spend money seeing them over and over again.

Since I got the archive, the only time I buy a magazine is when I see latest tools reviewed, or really cool project for some day. That said: It’s about time to get the new one I think? Thanks for reminder. :)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View pottz's profile


9813 posts in 1751 days

#8 posted 06-05-2019 02:00 PM

ive looked at it myself and never pulled the plug,kinda glad after hearing what has been said.i think ill just stick with the printed magazine for now.thanks for asking ddd.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Lazyman's profile


5374 posts in 2154 days

#9 posted 06-05-2019 02:34 PM

It might be cheaper to buy the archive each year and sell the old one to someone for half price to recoup some of your money. I bought one from Highland a couple of years ago for about $75 when they had it on sale and I’ve seen it on sale at least once a year since then. I assume that they mark it down when the new version with the prior year is about to come out. Of course, I still haven’t read all of the most recent issues in the archive anyway so I have not found a reason to get a new version. There have been a couple of instances where a web search has led me to something I don’t have access to because I am not a online member but I can almost always find it in the archive unless of course it is a more recent issue.

BTW, If you buy the Woodsmith archive and subscribe to the magazine, I think you will have access to all online issues you were subscribed to for life. I also bought their archive for the now defunct Shopnotes magazine and I can still access all of their back issues online. Personally, I find the Woodsmith and Shopnotes archives to be a better reference than the FWW archives, especially for new woodworkers, though I do enjoy reading FWW. They are definitely easier to search than the FWW archive. I think that you can search them here and here for free to sort of preview the back issues to see if it is something you might find useful.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View BlasterStumps's profile


1675 posts in 1206 days

#10 posted 06-05-2019 08:58 PM

I would bet Michael Pekovich at FWW would be interested in comments good and bad. Not sure if he is responsible for the content on the “unlimited” program but if not, I’m thinking he could steer you to whoever has the say there.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View CWWoodworking's profile


772 posts in 946 days

#11 posted 06-06-2019 12:02 AM

Are they still publishing the same thing over and over again? If so, I’ll pass. I don’t need another Stickley inspired bookcase article or “what you need to know about French polish”.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3139 posts in 2261 days

#12 posted 06-06-2019 12:59 AM

Are they still publishing the same thing over and over again? If so, I’ll pass. I don’t need another Stickley inspired bookcase article or “what you need to know about French polish”.

- CWWoodworking

It’s not plagiarism of old materials. It’s old information applied by new author in a slightly different way to make something similar; that works ‘better’ for ways of ‘modern’ wood worker. It’s how marketing works. What is old, is now new. When you become a grumpy old man, you will understand? HaHa

TBH – If haven’t read the magazine for decades and/or had access to archive to find really old stuff, you might not even know it wasn’t something new and cool?

Making things even more confusing, as many common wood working methods/tips are republished every 5-10 years. Bet you could find 3-4 articles on ‘Stickley inspired bookcase’ if you searched for it?
Additionally, due the poor quality of pictures in ancient magazines, the newer articles can be really useful updates; especially for the current visually stimulated ‘Youtube’ generation that doesn’t understand how to read a mechanical drawing. :) Have digressed enough, you get point.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


5732 posts in 1341 days

#13 posted 06-06-2019 05:10 AM

I agree the library on DVD is a better deal, it’s all the articles, from the beginning. I can take that out to the shop with an old laptop, and spin up whatever I want to see. Otherwise I have no connection in the shop, so direct online is out.

I have recently gone with offers to have Wood, and Woodworkers Journal . Much lower in price, but what you get is a look at the past, no downloads, no way to save the files. So for me without a connection out there, they are of zero use.

The only other point is on most of that type of deal, they automatically re-subscribe you when your year is up. You have to go to undo, what they auto do. = Huge PIA.

-- Think safe, be safe

View DaDijionDon's profile


21 posts in 498 days

#14 posted 06-06-2019 07:48 AM

I don’t doubt that Michael and most everybody over there have nothing but the best intentions. I’m the OP, I impluse purchased unlimited the same day I posted. After two days trying to make it be something I so clearly isn’t , i canceled in anger. It is such a joke I put it on par with Ted’s woodworking. I mean, actually, I bet it’s easier to find projects to do with “ted”. It couldn’t have been more frustrating at FWW to navigate back issues. Whomever designed that website is scamming someone, either us, the customers.. or they could be scamming the old timers over there at FWW, and we are just incidental casualties.

I’d love to own the anthology in a few hardcover books, maybe a decade per book?! I would pay more for that… But I will never. Ever. Waste my time trusting thier was basically when I started doing this “finer” woodworking 14 months ago that I had the Epiphany that my time matters. wasting my time is about the most callous arrogant douche move there is. This is my life ffs.

-- Listen!.... Do you smell that?

View Pixxture's profile


40 posts in 838 days

#15 posted 06-06-2019 12:45 PM


You summed it up beautifully when you said

” …Whomever designed that website is scamming someone, either us, the customers.. or they could be scamming the old timers over there at FWW, and we are just incidental casualties.””…”.

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