Remembering A Classic Colleague

Don Wood, editor of Automatic Machining magazine, was one of these rare amalgams. Don passed away on May 13 and according to his son, Wayne, worked on the magazine until a few weeks before his death. He was 87. To me, taking it to the wire is fitting for a man who spent 50 years preparing issue after issue for a readership that truly looked forward to each issue.

 

Every profession has its iconic members. We metalworking editors are no different. Some become iconic based on a body of work over a long period of time, others based on the quality and depth of understanding and breadth of influence they bring to the job, while very few editors are amalgams of all these traits and more.

Don Wood, editor of Automatic Machining magazine, was one of these rare amalgams. Don passed away on May 13 and according to his son, Wayne, worked on the magazine until a few weeks before his death. He was 87. To me, taking it to the wire is fitting for a man who spent 50 years preparing issue after issue for a readership that truly looked forward to each issue.

I first met Don back in 1992. As a new editor for Modern Machine Shop, I had been assigned the screw machine beat for the magazine. Part of that beat included covering the National Screw Machine Products Association (NSMPA) technical conference. Of course, the NSMPA is now PMPA (Precision Machined Products Association), reflective of industry changes that Don and I were to discuss in earnest a few years later.

I remember sitting at one of the layout sessions with a group of machinists when Don came into the room. The guys at my table, in hushed voices, said, “That’s Don Wood. He’s the guy with Automatic Machining.” Their tone was reverential. As I got to know Don as a colleague, and acquainted myself with his work as an editor, I understood his standing in this metalworking segment.

In 2001, as we were laying the groundwork for Production Machining, Don was one of the first people I spoke to about the idea of starting a magazine that covered the precision machined parts industry with editorial focus on the use of advanced production automation and CNC-based technology. At the time, the idea was confidential, and Don never violated that confidence. He was a pro.

He was also unselfishly devoted to an industry where he grew up as a screw machine operator and shift leader. In the shop, Don walked the walk, and after a stint in World War II, he found journalism and began to talk the talk. Since starting with Automatic Machining in 1957, through his writings he has had a lot to talk about.

As I laid out the plans for PM, Don listened and agreed that there was a need for more focused coverage about the impending technological changes on the horizon for the industry. In that discussion, we talked in depth about the state of the screw machine products industry, which was in recession at the time. Don knew the industry that survived that bad recession was, by necessity, going to be a different one than existed before.

This meeting and Don’s response to it was, for me, ultimate testimony to his passion for the manufacture of precision machined parts. He knew that our plans for PM were potentially good for the industry that he cared deeply about. We agreed that my editorial focus for PM would compliment rather than compete with his well-established focus for Automatic Machining. Moreover, the net result for the industry would be better trade press coverage of more diverse topics than one magazine alone could deliver.

In the 7 years since that meeting, the precision machined parts industry has changed dramatically. In that time, I’d see Don at press events, trade shows and conferences. It was always a joy for me to see him, and the shop talk we engaged in was always interesting and often inspiring for me.

On behalf of Production Machining and Gardner Publications, I extend my deepest condolences to the Wood family and to the metalworking family that Don touched for so long. He’ll be missed.