If you're a longtime reader of Tools of the Trade, you have probably noticed some differences in the way we look. Like you, we had to do some belt-tightening after the economy tanked in 2008 – the magazine got thinner and went from six issues per year to four. When I became editor late last year we decided it was a good time to make some other changes as well, and we're rolling them out in this issue.
The most obvious change is that we dropped the CuttingEdge news department in favor of more tool reviews. We've moved industry-news coverage to our website (www.toolsofthetrade.net) and put the pages we saved into our new Tools Up Close department. Tools Up Close is similar to the old First Test section but with a broader focus: In addition to testing brand-new models, we'll occasionally look at tools that have been out for a while but aren't well-known. We've also beefed up our new-product coverage by enlarging the Product Watch column.
One of the changes we're most excited about isn't obvious at first glance but should have a big impact on the stories you read: There will be fewer articles by staff editors and more by professional tradespeople. In this issue, for instance, you'll be hearing about framing nailers from Tim McNamara, a framing contractor in Rochester, N.Y.; and about HEPA vacuums from Chris Kennel, a remodeler in Denver. The issue also contains a review of the SawGear – an automatic length-measuring system for miter saws – by Jesse Wright, a finish carpenter in Pleasant Hill, Calif.; and a review of Paslode's new gas-powered roofing gun by Scott Dornbusch, a GC in North Branch, Minn. Doug Mahoney, a carpenter in Harvard, Mass., covers an oldie-but-goodie, the Kett Vacuum Saw.
Something else you may notice is that our photography looks different. We're cutting down on our use of professional photographers because we believe the best way to show how tools are used on job sites is by getting our contractor authors to take their own shots. This may make our pages a little less pretty, but it'll also make them more real.
Not everything about our coverage will change. Each issue will continue to have two or more full-length features that compare various models or provide in-depth analysis of a particular tool category.
Earlier I mentioned that our industry-news coverage would move to our website. I encourage you to visit toolsofthetrade.net because it contains content you won't find in the print edition of the magazine: breaking news, surveys, blogs, and selected tool reviews from our sister publication, JLC. We are in the process of adding a rating system to the site so that readers can rate tools they've used. If the copy of TOTT you're holding right now isn't yours, you can go to the website and sign up for a subscription of your own (the subscription links are in the left column). You can also sign up for our e-newsletter, which will be delivered to your inbox every other week with links to the latest content on our site.
Finally, I invite you to comment on our tool coverage and make suggestions about how we can better meet your needs. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.