Looking Back at a 10-Year Journey

CWB revisits the companies featured as ‘success stories’ in its premiere issue.

By Helen Kuhl and Greg Landgraf



CWB Timeline: An eclectic look at milestones in the magazine's first 10 years ...

Spring 1991: CWB has its premier issue as a quarterly publication dedicated to serving the “overlooked” market of the custom woodworking shop. The issue includes a roundup of CNC equipment, “Field Tips” and a feature section on “Ten Success Stories” (nine of the 10 companies are still around — see accompanying story).

Fall 1991: The Design Portfolio department makes its debut “to highlight custom woodwork that utilizes unique designs in both unusual and practical applications.”

November 1991: CWB sponsors its first Conference and Expo, held in Atlanta. Subsequent seminar/exposition events are held in Chicago, Dallas and Milwaukee.

Winter 1992: The first annual Custom Woodworker’s Illustrated Buying Guide is published, with listings of more than 400 types of supplies, services and equipment from more than 1,400 manufacturers.

Spring 1992: The last “Field Tips” column appears, the end of a short-lived department that featured shop tips from readers — except nobody ever sent in any tips.

January/February 1993: CWB begins bimonthly publication, thanks to the positive response from readers who asked for greater frequency.

March/April 1993: The annual Design Portfolio Award competition begins with a call for entries of outstanding projects built by professional custom woodworkers. There are four categories — residential, architectural, commercial and specialty products. This issue also features the introduction of a new department, “Custom Case Goods” (with a name change in September/October 1993 to “Custom Cabinets”) to focus on the bread-and-butter market of many custom shops.

November/December 1993: The first Design Portfolio Awards winners are announced, including winners in each of the four categories and seven honorable mentions. Columnist Jon Elvrum makes his first appearance as author of a “Management Strategies” feature on quality manufacturing.

March/April 1994: Tony Noel writes his first “Management Strategies” column for CWB. With the exception of a six-month hiatus in mid-1998, Noel has written the regular column ever since.

July/August 1994: CWB tweaks its cover design by putting titles of main features inside a box at the bottom to make them easier to read.

November/December 1994: Winners of the second annual Design Portfolio Awards are announced, including a winner in a new category: kitchen cabinets. Also for the first time, an overall winner is named.

January 1996: WB reaches another milestone, going to monthly publication — thanks again to support from readers and advertisers.

April 1996: CWB celebrates its fifth-year birthday by revisiting the companies featured in the original “Ten Success Stories,” discovering that nine are still successful. The magazine also adopts a new look — changing the cover box to a shadow effect and introducing new department headers, type styles and graphic elements.

October 1996: CWB opens its Web site — iswonline.com — offering expanded coverage of news and articles featured in the magazine, plus “Breaking News” and the offbeat “Eclectic Woodworking Journalist.”

October 1997: CWB’s tradeshow sponsorship expands with its first expo and conference program in the Dallas area. It includes 17 seminars and exhibits by more than 175 companies.

March 1998: “Digital Shop,” a periodic department to present information about computers and software for a custom shop, makes its debut.

June 1999: Iswonline.com expands with the addition of the Virtual Trade Show and E-info. The Virtual Trade Show “opens” in conjunction with major industry trade shows, featuring new products and special show events. E-Info enables readers to use the Internet to request information on products or ads that appear in CWB.

August 1999: CWB breaks new ground by commissioning a comparative study of random orbit sanders, focusing exclusively on heavy-duty models designed for professionals.

December 1999: The Design Portfolio Awards competition has its first “Laminate Casework” winner, a category added in 1998 to recognize outstanding projects done in plastic laminates. The issue also features CWB’s second exclusive tool comparison on hand-held routers.

January 2000: CWB celebrates the new millennium with its biggest Buyer’s Guide to date, including a new “Web Locator” chapter listing suppliers’ Web site addresses.

November 2000: CWB and sister publication Wood & Wood Products debut “Portal,” the first Internet directory featuring more than 1,500 Web sites related to the woodworking industry.

December 2000: CWB turns 10!


CWB’s first issue a decade ago was highlighted by a special section: 10 Custom Woodworking Success Stories. That section featured 10 shops from around the country doing a variety of work. The message in those stories was one of inclusiveness, that the field of cust

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