Misled by Ted

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Ever hear of “Ted’s Woodworking?” If you’ve searched for anything related to woodworking on the Internet, you probably have. News flash: It’s a scam targeting woodworkers.

It all sounds great. A package with 16,000(!) project plans for the price of … well, I can’t really say, as the price changes a lot, depending on how deeply into Ted’s pitch you go. Ted Mcgrath’s site features a slick video that prattles on and on. Although he states he can only keep the video up for 24 hours “…so you better act fast!” the video has been there forever.

I watched the whole video, and was amazed at his blatant claims: “I’ve spent over 36 years creating these plans.” “The biggest woodworking publishers in the world have tried to stop me from sharing all 16,000 plans.” “I don’t want these rats stealing my ideas.”

The fact is that Ted created nothing. Every one of the plans in Ted’s package is either illegally scanned and ripped off from current woodworking magazines, or are old plans that have been in the public domain for decades. Some aren’t even plans – like the poorly scanned assembly instructions for RTA furniture – while some are just random photos of furniture.

So, who is Ted? He claims to be a best selling author of “The Art of Woodworking” and “Wood Projects Made Easy,” but you won’t find these books anywhere. Google those titles along with “Ted Mcgrath” and the sites turned up are fake websites that pretend to review Ted’s 16,000 plans. On the other hand, Googling “Ted Mcgrath” by itself on Amazon turns up just one woodworking-related publication, a publish-it-yourself Kindle book called “Woodworking Projects and Ideas Images and Plans” for $1.99. Before putting this blog together I figured I’d buy a copy, but found that Amazon has pulled it – the listing is still there, but they won’t sell it anymore. Probably has to do with the 1-star rating from the sorry buyers complaining about it being a scam. The “book” is apparently nothing more than a tiny collection of photos, with a link to Ted’s site.

Try searching for info on the Tedster, and you’ll find sites and reviews singing his praises, but no genuine information about him. Interestingly, you’ll turn up dozens of sites pretending to be scam investigation sites, and all of them give fake rave reviews for Ted. (And a helpful link to buy his garbage.) Several of these “cleverly” incorporate the names of well-known publications into their website names, like “Popular Woodworking Projects” and “Fine Woodworking Plans.” You’ll also find video reviews on YouTube from both “woodworking experts” and ordinary people singing Ted’s praises. They’re all fake.

But how can this be? That smiling picture of Ted looks so friendly and honest. Guess what? The picture is just a stock photo from iStockphoto.com variously titled “Smiling man,” “Friendly man” and the like. Bottom line, there IS no “Ted.”

Even if you don’t fall for all this, you’re still affected. Just about any Google search you do for anything regarding woodworking will turn up links to this scam. Doesn’t much matter what it is, but chances are that good ol’ Ted is in the top few hits – doesn’t look like his site or have a name even hinting at it, but they all go to the same place. The reason is that Ted sells through affiliates – thousands of them. When you do a search your keyword results link through the affiliates and right back to Ted.

For an example, suppose you want to build a shed and you Google for shed plans. One of the top hits will be myshedplansplus.com. Guess what? It’s a shill site that, although it offers some extremely generic tips on sheds, doesn’t actually have any plans at all. Instead, it recommends that the best place to go for sheds is – ta da! – Ted’s Woodworking. At least it rhymes. And if you already know Ted’s a scam, you might be tempted to click on the second-best recommended site instead. If you do that it takes you to a clone of Ted’s site that’s nearly identical in every way, except it’s “Ryan” this time who offers a mere 12,000 plans instead of 16,000. Slacker.

The woodworking media is beginning to fight back. Recently, Dave Campbell of Wood Magazine did a great editorial on “Ted,” while Steve Ramsey of the Woodworking For Mere Mortals website has done an excellent (and thoroughly entertaining) continuing series on it. I’m a little late to the party, I suppose, but I couldn’t in good conscience go any longer without also warning you about this scam.

This is only one of probably thousands of Internet scams – some larger, some barely significant – but this one targets us. Apparently “Ted” thinks that because we swing hammers for a living we’re not too bright.

Let’s prove he’s wrong.

A.J.

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