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Tommy MacDonald is a great craftsman. He's also a great personality. Both will serve him well as the host of new woodworking show being produced by WGBH in Boston.
You might know Tommy MacDonald as T. Chisel, from his days hosting a series of web videos first at Bob Villa’s website and currently at his own website. Well, all of his hard work (and goofing around with Al) has paid off. Tommy and WGBH, the public television station in Boston, plan to make a new woodworking show. Evidently, a pilot episode has been shot and they are now looking for sponsors. You can watch the official announcement here.
I worked with Tommy shortly after I started at Fine Woodworking. I edited an article he wrote for us about buidling a Shaker step stool. I had a lot of fun with Tommy, and he did a great job. I know first hand that he is a great woodworker and his personality is well-suited for television (to say the least). I spoke with Tommy recently and one of the things we discussed is the new show. Here’s what he told me (What follows is meant to express Tommy’s vision for the show.)
Most importantly, the show woiuld be about the craft and not about Tommy. You might not even see him woodworking every week. Tommy is a great furniture maker, but he knows that there are others who are better than him, especially when it comes to speciality tasks like carving and marquetry. Tommy would like viewers to learn about the entire craft and if that means they learn it from someone other than Tommy, then so be it.
The show would be filmed in Tommy’s shop in Canton, Mass. (It’s a great space in an old industrial building, and it’s where we shot the photos for his article.) He’d like to have a live studio audience and expert woodworkers as guest. The idea is that the experts could explain techniques, discuss design, or exlpore the history of a particular style, technique, or design element. Tommy would also like to give audience members a chance to participate by inviting on screen to try their hands at the technique being taught.
But he also would like to take trips to musuems to take a look at and learn about historically signficant furniture. He mentioned that what he’d like to do is have other woodworkers come along with him to the museum and that they would get something like a behind-the-scenes look at the furniture and perhaps even get to meet with the curator or other expert to discuss a particular piece or a particular design aspect (like a ball and claw foot).
In terms of the type of furniture to be covered, Tommy says there are no limits. He is partial to period furniture, but would love to follow the history of American furniture from the colonial period right through the most avante-garde contermpary makers.
Tommy also said that in terms of the technique, he would cover both handtool and powertool based techniques. He added that like many woodworkers, he makes use of both in his work and believes that both have a place in the shop. He would also like to explore non-traditional techniques and tools, like CNC fabrication which is now being used creatively by small shops and individual furniture makers.
All in all, I’m excited by the prospect of having a woodworking show back on PBS. I never get enough. Let’s hope they find a sponsor and it all comes to pass.
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It makes me incredibly sad to read some of the comments that have been written. Tommy is an incredibly talented craftsman that has a passion for teaching and getting people involved in woodworking. As a group, we need more of that, not less. It's a shame that people can't get past the fact that he has a personality and a sense of humor.
I can't wait to see the show but more importantly I hope Tommy gets the time to find his legs.
Tommy took my woodworking to the next level. You cannot comment on this guy until you watch the entire Bombe series. The first 5-10 sessions are a little rough but hang with it. Norm who?
I’m looking forward to seeing a woodworking show come back. Norm’s show was great, but when he built a project that required tools that were out of my price or space range well that’s when my interest was lost. We need a woodworking show that shows how to do woodworking on small projects with tools that are in the reach of everyone. The type of woodworking that’s needed is the one that develops skills that can be used on those big projects when needed. Projects like sawhorses, tool storage cabinets, workbenches, router tables, and small book cases. Using tools like a jigsaw, hand planes, drills, circular saw, table saw, router, and chisels. Skills like sharpening tools, choosing the right wood, gluing, sanding and finishing. Woodworking, that’s what I want to watch.
OK I’m late to this thread, but I feel the need to add my 2 cents../.
I watched Norm when my woodworking was limited to home improvement activities. I did learn from watching Norm but at that time much of what he was teaching was probably lost on my lack of skill and understanding. A previous post said he was like a professor in his approach. I have never met him, but I wonder if that style was his personal style or was coached by the show’s directing staff. Either way….. I do miss seeing him build a project even if a brad nailer was used.
David Marks had some interesting projects but I felt like the show came and went so fast I can’t provide any comments.
I'm only a few years into furniture making as a hobby / stress relief. I travel a lot with my job and don't really get much shop time; however, I appreciate each minute. I came across Tommy MacDonald’s website and 207 Woodworking forum about a year ago. I emailed Tommy and told him I would be in his area on one of my work related trips and he invited me to stop by his shop. This man took 2 hours out of his day to show me various projects he was currently involved in. He also spent time with me showing and explaining some hand tool techniques that I was struggling with. On top of that he told me to take some wood and his tools back to the hotel so that I could practice more of what he showed me!
Perhaps it is a case of “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”, but for me his podcasts, videos (dvds) and forum have really “clicked” with me. I now know techniques that have allowed me to really elevate my skills and the quality of work I produce. I have nothing but good things to say about Tommy and the supporting members on the 207.
I’m hopeful that the production staff will infuse the success elements they had with Norm with the energy and passion of Tommy to create a long running show we can all enjoy.
Butch59 (AKA BladeRuiner)
I for one (and, an old one at that) hope the new show finds sponsors and is a success. I think it's misguided to attempt to compare the proposed show to New Yankee or any other show, simply because they share a basic topic. Although some older feathers may be ruffled by Tommy's youth and exuberance, those qualities may well appeal to a younger crowd and accomplish something similar to what Norm did in the past.
For me, ANY woodworking show is better than yet another 3-hour self-help marathon, or a ten-part mini-series on the history of the shovel.
Why would so many of you with such a love for craftsmanship and interest in woodworking have such negativity in your hearts toward a man that just wants to share his talents with you. Anyone that really knows Tommy ... can only laugh at comments of him having a big ego ... he deserves to have one - but does not. HE IS HUMBLE!!! On a personal note - here is a guy that is A VERY HONEST ... WILL NEVER TALK BAD ABOUT ANYONE ... DOES NOT WANT TO HEAR ANYONE TALKING BAD OF ANOTHER HUMAN ... GENEROUS MAN. That said ... yes, he is a little rough around the edges, and sometimes uses other than perfect english and some foul language - same for most of you if you read all the posts. Instead of waiting for him to fail - you should embrace the opportunity for something new and fresh. I did not see anything written that his show is going to mirror his podcasts ... in fact I believe they are to be quite different. The podcasts were to share his unique abilities and get your attention. Now that he has it he can move on. Everyone starts somewhere. Do many of you really feel you are more qualified to pick a host than the executives at WGBH? WOW I say the nay-sayers get together and make a trip to MA - go to Tommy's shop - meet him in person - and all your worries will disappear!
Like many of you out there, The New Yankee Workshop was one of the shows that we all have grown to love. We were disappointed that we no longer have Norm showing us how to teach or refine our woodworking skills, amazing lumber, and field trips for project furniture. This is a craft that we are all are passionate about. I do agree with one viewer, Norm is gone and lets move on. My passion for woodworking has not died because the New Yankee Workshop will not be shown with any new episodes (something I always looked forward to), but my passion has grown only stronger (I need some relief from my job as a police officer!).
When I first saw at this web site that they were looking into producing a new woodworking show, Great!!!! Lets fill in that void!!! I went to Tommy's podcast and viewed most of his listings. Let me say this, Tommy is an energetic guy, and seems to be a genunine nice guy, someone you can sit down with and have a beer with and have a bunch of laughs. The kind of guy you want at a party. How can you not like him?
By looking at Tommy's podcasts you can tell he is an amazing craftsman. Talent that I envy and would love to emulate. However, there is a night and day difference between Tommy and Norm.
Norm was patient and professor like when explaining techniques. While he did not exude the energy that Tommy has, Norm was a great teacher and I am sure a bulk of us would agree we learned a lot (I sure did). Tommy tends to jump around when trying to explain technique and has a hard time getting his point across.
So what does this mean? They are two different persons with diverse personalities that have amazing talent and have a lot to contribute to us who have a passion for the craft. I remember watching Norm first New Yankee Workshop episodes, you could tell he was nervous in those early episodes. But as the years passed, and Norms comfort zone in front of the camera expanded (along with tool collection!!), Norm became at ease filming project after project for PBS.
You are right Tommy is rough around the edges, but you know what he deserves a shot, Tommy just needs a scraper to take away those rough edges, he needs to slow down and be a little more patient, and I tell you what get ready for a great ride with Tommy!!! I fully support you buddy!!!
A recent participant to this site I too wanted to know who is Thomas J. MacDonald. I went to the website 207 and found projects that were not beyond my reach. I found someone interested in the project and having fun doing it. It was a podcast and is a different animal than a TV show. I watched all of the secretary podcasts in about 4 days. Even staying up til midnight doing so. Tom has provide a rare glimpse at the total process of find furniture making. The total package of emotions, redos, steps, hints, etc. I would have liked to read or hear how the critics viewed the secretary at RISD. I know I got inspired and that is a major point. I am reminded of how critical many were of Norm Abram but no one can deny his valuable contribution to the craft. I can overlook most of the English issues, TV will re-shoot language issues, I have faith in WGBH to produce a show worthy of its reputation. There is no doubt Tom has the talent and soul to do the task that he has chosen to take. I only hope my Public Television Station KPBS, will subscribe.
Hey Tommy, ok I am sorry for the rude comment I made, it was uncalled for and I should have not said that. Now let's move on, I said I would give you a try and I mean a fair try, so I ask for your forgiveness and now let's make sawdust! Thank you in advance for your kindness. I will say your furniture/projects look very good. :)
Man guys give him a brake, be happy WGBH stepped up and gave us all an woodworking fix. i could not do it, i can build it but not tell you how to do it, most of the words would be BEEPED out(what the @#$% i cut it at..... @#$ i cut it at 35 1/2 not 36 1/2 @#$% @@#$%&&*( $$%^%&** &&^^%*%#!!! come on guy you have done it two...
I’m sorry to double post here and I realize I’m off topic, but I’m on a roll so please forgive me. Lets look at the web content that is available right now. There are many websites out there right now that have great tips and detailed info to make us all better woodworkers. If you subscribed to each of these websites individually you could spend a small fortune. If all the lads or organizations I mentioned in my previous post could come together and form a consortium or network everyone would win! The economics of such a network wouldn’t be at all different from how cable networks operate right now. The upside is that with everyone joining together, advertising costs would be shared and each site would reach a larger audience than they ever could on their own. Consumers would benefit by getting the best and most diverse teaching possible. It is time that we forget the dinosaurs and focus on the future. I spent 30 years in the TV biz and a lot of that time was spent as the marketing director for one of the most successful cable networks in the country. That and a $1.00 will get you a cheap cup of coffee, but I do know that Tommy would be better off dropping the dinosaur and developing his own brand with a good producer and better production value. If you are happy with the way things are right now, I’m sorry I wasted your time. If you have a vision for something better, let people know! The future for woodworkers is nothing less than awesome!
Sorry for the rant and being off topic!
The truth is...broadcast TV is dead. There is so much content on the web why would you want to tune into a PBS program that will be pre-empted every time they go on their begging for dollars routine. I live in the DC area and every single time they go telethon the woodworking block disappears for a month. I would happily suppport them, but not when they consistently knock my shows off the air. Fine Woodworking should be the leader in starting an internet TV network dedicated to woodworkers. They are the go to folks and I happily subscribe to their online content. Someone is going to do it in the near future. It will be interesting to see who becomes the front leader. As someone who spent 30 years in the TV biz, this whole thing reminds me of the emergence of cable into the broadcast arena. Tommy would be better off doing a really good webcast like Mark Spagnola. Imagine an online network that had Mark Spagnola, David Marks, Tommy MacDonald, Charles Neil, Gary Rogowski, John White and any one else you could imagine all on demand for one subscription price. It will happen and it will be revolutionary! If anyone is interested in starting the ball rolling, I would love to be a part of history in the making!
I'm new to woodworking and will watch anything to learn. I could see Sawstop, Lie-Nielson and a few others step up to market something like this. I can't wait for the new show and I hope it goes well.
Like most, I will give him a try, but after watching the podcast, I will compare him to starting out with a very rough piece of lumber, and working it until it is ready to use. I think he'll have to work with the producers to smooth his approach, lose the "T-Mac" "T-Chisels" handle, this isnt a rap video, and will have to try an appeal to a broader audience. I'm sure he won't make everyone happy, Norm never did, nor does Scott Phillips, I'm sure he will find his niche'. Sponsers? What about some of the larger HAND TOOL makers? If this guy finds the bleand of both, then I would think Lie-Nielson and Veritas , Stanley, would step up. My 0.25 cents
Tommy might be good but I don’t think I could stand to listen to his “Bass-tin” accent for more than about five minutes. No one will replace Norm!
I watched Tommy's webcast on the bombay chest and found it to be very painful. There is no question that he is a very talented artist, but seems to lack the skills to be a good teacher. When I watched it seemed like it was ADHD run-a-muck. He will need a very good producer and director to keep him on spot. He will need to dial back the Mass accent/colloquialisms and focus on giving his audience step-by step info so they won't be scratching their heads at the end of program. He can do it and if his show has the right chemistry and the right structure, it could be phenomenal!He needs a Russ Morash to pull this off. I hope he has one and I wish him the best. Lord knows we need someone to fill the void left by Norm.
Good for him,
i watched all the episodes where he made the bomb sec.... start to finish. He's got his own style and that just suits me fine. Whady'all want anyway?! Some corps who stands around and just reads his lines? urgh... enough of that. you don't like tommy doin' the show? then don't f*-ing watch it. now go cry me a river. sjeeeeees, some people.... .
I consider myself an average woodworker and like to watch anything to do with woodworking . When a show is done perfectly and without mistakes, it misses something.
A good woodworking show would have some mistakes and show fixes for them. Tommy is a breath of fresh air and i hope they dont polish the show to much.
TWO THUMBS UP FOR ALL WOOD SHOWS!!
Looking forward to a new woodworking show hope it can last. I won't watch if your comparison to Norm is what the show is going to be like. Woodwork with Mark Davis is the level of detail and craftsmanship that I like to see. Norm claimed to make "Fine furniture" but would use a nail gun to but molding on. Sorry that is not "Fine Wood Working"
I can't beleive all the negativity here....pretty freaking sad imo. Sure Tommy is louder, harsher and not Norm. So what...he's got great skills, love to share his knowledge and in my opinion a refreshing change for the airwaves.
He's a great beleiver in the power of the individual to push their limits beyond the safe zone and he proudly airs his screw ups and fixes when he gets over his head. A learning experience for us all.
Being critical of his podcasts and comparing them to the new Yankee workshop is unfair. I'd like to see others attempt their own podcast shows with nothing but a camera. No producers, editors, camera and lighting men etc and display yourself for the world to dump on you....not easy.
Give the guy a chance. Norm's early shows and techniques were questionable at best but people stuck with him, Tommy deserves the same chance.
Paul (OttawaP on other forums)
Let get ahold of the Pope and see if we can get Norm canonize for sainthood. I remember a few years back many readers of FWW were ready to hang the editors for have St. Norm even on the cover of their mag. How times have changed!
You don't think that Morash worked with Norm to clean-up his language and edit out his mistakes...come on get real. WGBH will do the same with Tommy. Tommy has been working hard over the last several years without any support from anyone and has not asked for anything from anyone. While you nay sayers are out there hammering this guy, stop and think for a minute how many free videos (podcast) has other NBSS or College of the Redwoods alumnus put out there with some real techniques. In addition, Tommy has had Steve Brown, one of class insturctors at NBSS, in different videos giving away techniques for free. (Again, where are anyone else trying to get other highly regard instructors in the field on videos.
Yeah, I agree Tommy is rough around the edges, sure he seems a little unprepared and forgets some names of tools while he is on camera. But remember this almost all of his video are being recorded by him operating a camera and showing a technique at the same time. You try that sometime and see how well you can do. I am look forward to Tommy and his show. We have too many hobbist who were either self taught or did a short six month apprentice with another self taught woodworker professing to be professionals trying to teach us woodworking.
I too will miss Norm. I have watched from his start. But I agree he is gone, so that is not the point. I tried to watch several of Tommy's podcasts or what ever they are called and just gave up. Several times he used foul lanquage (that is unacceptable). His English was also bad several times, some is ok, but I got the impression he didn't know beter. Most of the time it was two guys just talking and trying to be funny which they were not. Talented funny people are funny and untalented ones are not and they were not. Norm was organized and he was there to talk about woodworking, not these guys. I got the distinct impression they just showed up and decided to talk about something, they knew the subject but little else. His ability to show and explain a specific steps were awkward. In short the show had no class. I can't believe Morash would tolerate such a performance. If he is not responsible for this one ok, but face it he was a major part of Norms success. I'll give it a chance, but if it is anything like what I have seen, they will lose me soon.
I don't know if any one else has watched his podcasts or not but he is a joke. He doesn't know the dif. between a table saw throatplate his hand, or talking about parring a dovetail with a chisel and calls it a this and that? Common he doesn't come close to Norm,David or any of the other great woodworkers we have all grown to love and learn from. I am willing to give him a chance on a show but he is a greenhorn still cutting his baby teeth. Sorry but that is my honest opinion.
now that was funny... have you seen the bombe??... i usually don't like to argue but Tommy will make a great host for the new show. I've been to his shop a few times and he doesn't have tons of fancy equipment. He has the essentials and even though he may have a Sawstop or the big powermatics in the end he has a table saw, a bandsaw, router table, a planer, and jointer. the brand doesn't matter or the size of the tool I'd say that's pretty bare bones as far as tools goes. And he built the bombe with that.
I'll really enjoy watching the show because he has some personality that he brings to the table and its a more interactive show. Norm started me in the craft and i admire him in every way shape and form but i always thought his show showed so little of the project that you never really got enough to go out and make it. Tommy presents the project in a way that you can understand it as Norm did and with the addition of hand tools i think his show will be a great success.
and for all you guys who say you didn't like his podcasts because they didn't show you the how as much. His podcasts are more just showing what's up and having some fun. For anyone who has his DVD's he is a great instructor and will do great on the show!
I like watching people use their hands for something other than pushing buttons and adjusting gauges. Best of luck to Tommy.
Norm was a great guy, but, he has gone now and we need another woodworking show Stat!! Lets give this new fellow a chance and see what he can do. So WGBH, get with it and find a sponsor. Dewalt/Delta/Porter Cable, are you listening?
I'm for change an all that, so send the next guy in.
As for Norm and all the old shows, why not put his shows into syndication? Jeez, like we haven't seen every Bob Newhart Show 19 times? If WGBH Boston doesn't seize the day by marketing a collection of all of his shows from day one on, they're wicked-stupid.
Cable has the most mindless, stupid programming on. All the house flipping, redecorating by blind people, and foo-foo rehashed DIY stuff, it makes me want to puke my bloody guts out. Even the gay guys I know say they are lame. So, like I have confirmed sources, eh?
Good luck to the kid.
Norms history guys, get over it. We all loved him because he was one of us. A normal guy who got a huge break and didn't change because if it. He was always 'Norm.'
Let's give this new guy a chance. It may work out. Don't be a bunch of curmudgeons!
To Tommy: Don't try to be bigger than your audience. Don't fill your shop full of tools that do all the work for you. Most of us out here (I'm a pro) don't have all this crap. If we have a process that requires a tool that we don't have, we build a jig to work with a machine we have. I believe most of your audience are folks like me. If you loose our interest, you're done. Good luck! I hope it floats!
Tommy is a great craftsman who carefully and methodically executes his craft with precision. This does not mean he is full of himself! I have watched his shows and read his comments in his forum and he is always trying to encourage others with less experience not to be intimidated by techniques using hand tools. Or by designs that look to hard to build. In his bombay series he made some dreadful mistakes that he could have easily cut out of the podcast but he chose to film them and show the whole painful experience.
Norm was great and an inspiration to us all. Tom is not trying to fill his shoes hes just going to offer a different approach.I am looking forward to seeing more of a hybrid woodworking show. One that emphasizes the importance of developing the skills of using hand tools and the level of craftsmanship that can be achieved.
So congratulations Tommy looking forward to your show!
Yes, don't fight it, there will never be another Norm. I don't want to bash Tommy but has anyone checked out Charles Neil.....I vote for him!
I agree with some of the previous comments, I just can't stand this guy. He is just so full of himself, it's not a woodworking show, it's Tommy show! Plus, he definitely lacks the educational and communication skills that Norm had.
I agree that there is a need for a TV woodworker to replace Norm but come on, there are so many high-quality folks out there that are way better suited than him.
Won't last more than a couple of seasons.. at best
Please, caption all the online videos for this new show. Many woodworkers, like myself, are deaf or hard of hearing and need the captions. PBS broadcast/cable programming is nearly always closed captioned, but the online presentations never are (whether they are online repeats of broadcast shows or original Web content). The technology does exist for captioning online streamed video; use it. Don't shut us out.
I discovered Dr. Bombe just a couple of months ago and watched all his podcasts for the Bombe Secretary and I was fascinated with his work and his personality. I recall thinking he ought to be on television and would be a great replacement for Norm. And now he is!
Tommy, if you are monitoring this and want advice from future viewers mine would be be yourself and keep interjecting the humor, get Al and Rachel on the show, focus on demonstrating different and new techniques for those of us wishing to advance their skills. Also focus on hand tool skills for sure as that is the ultimate in craftsmanship. I would also like to see more information on finishing as your podcasts focus on building furniture. You send your stuff out for finishing and that is not what us mere mortals can do. I also liked seeing you take your viewers through projects from start to finish.
Best of luck and I am sure you will be successful. Please consider posting something on lumberjocks when you start broadcasting. I am also going to urge companies like Lie Nielsen and Steel City to sponsor you.
Tommy, I am very much looking forward to the new show. Yes I was sorry to see Norm hang up his TV tool belt but after 38 years I've seen my share of change in business and wood working. Change is good, it keeps us fresh. Best wishes and hope the sponsers come around.
If I can give you some advice be the best tommy you can be give it 110% and you will do great, it got you this far. It will take you to the next level. I Watch you videos got you tool chest video and love your Tool kit the marking gauge is the best one I've used. It is nice to see a hard working young man get a break like this, make the best of it enjoy the journey as long as long as it will last hopefuly it be a long and Prosperous run. Looking forward too seeing your show. Make sure you get Charles Neil on your show
Two guys without an accent could not get any better.
Wish you the best
I thought it was me. I have spent hours trying to find where the show had been moved to. We need a new Norm. I don't know the new guy. I agree with some of the comments on spending more time on the thought process behind how a project is set up. Tell us why we need to do something, how long it takes, what mistakes were made and alternative ways to accomplish if we don't have the perfect tool.I would prefer 2 episodes to understand a project vs 1 show to see how someone else did it.
It's junny that no one ever mentions Roy Underhill and his brand of pre industrial revolution woodworking. I, for one, am most interested in the craft from this standpoint. Although the modern workshop has it's place, it would be nice to see a show that could combine a little of each.
I am a woodworker because of Norm, PERIOD. The man brought a hole gerneration of woodworkers into the craft.
I am very happy about this news. Tommy is going to represent us under 40, outspoken effers well. Woodworking needs to appeal to a younger crowd, and he is a great example of what you can achieve if you get into it early.
Guys like him, Marc Spagnolo, etc. are so great for all of us. It's the new blood. Accept it.
And hey, I love Norm, but maybe like Marc, we'll get to see what it is to screw something up like we ALL do.
I look forward to the new show, those of you carping about his personality are in all likelihood the same ones that vilified Norm a decade ago for being a glorified trim carpenter. Lets not forget this is supposed to be informative and/or instructional entertainment, not ultra serious instruction. It would be interesting to know how many current woodworkers were turned on to the craft by Norm. However we refer to him, Thomas, Tommy or T-Chisel he promises to enlighten and hopefully introduce a whole new generation to the art of woodworking. He obviously has the chops, just look at his work it speaks for itself.
Tommy asked for suggestions and here are some: For the most part keep projects so that most of us can handle them, not too elaborate and watch the use of expensive equipment, but keep in some of the exotic projects and machinery to round out the shows. Jigs are a good example as well as homemade shop equipment such as benches, tables, stands, cabinets, etc. Let us know where to get some of the lumber you will use as well as finish materials. And as a final thought, I wish you the best of luck and hope you are successful in obtaining sponsers and I will welcome a good woodworking show back on the air.
Looks like the same formula as Scott Phillips used on his show before he twisted the show and used it to build a mini mansion for himself. How many NYW episodes did the likes of Lonnie Bird appear in to show skills beyond that of the host? I think someone referred to him as Mr. Milktoast, but as a fine woodworker, he is far above Norm. Scott is a furniture builder, Norm is a finish carpenter. The distinction between furniture and carpentry is hard for many to see, but I think that may be who the greatest potential audience is, the great unwashed. Maybe Home Depot should be a sponsor in that case.
I understand that WGBH is located in Boston and so they want/need a local woodworker to host a show that they are producing. But if they want a knowledgible, approachable woodworker who isn't full of himself they should be hiring Marc Spagnuolo (AKA The Wood Whisperer).
I hope that Tommy will watch a number of Marc's videos and understand what we mean when we say that we are looking for a down-to-earth host, who admits mistakes, shares his design process, and encourages all of us take it to the next level.
has anyone else watched this guys podcasts? Oh my, I could not watch this guy at all, I watched an entire podcast and a little of the next just to give it a fair shot. He may make great furniture but he is no teacher, and his personality is meat head all the way.
I loved Norm, would be privileged to buy him a beer, but I think this comment made earlier is so important I'm going to make it again.
: I hope he will do some episodes on fixing (and making) mistakes in woodworking projects. Norm never made a mistake or at least we never saw one on screen. We all make mistakes; even the masters. Show how to fix them!
Maybe a 2 minute segment entitled "I screwed it when I should have glued it' We've all been there, and we've all done that.
Secondly,I don't think anyone is doing Tommy any favors by comparing him to Norm. Sad to say, but Norm is gone, get over it. You had Red Skelton, now you have Mash; no comparison, but both great shows.
This will be the new and different guy, not to be compared with the old guy, It's not being fair to him.
I know that all shows need underwriting but I hope that this new venture does not get "highjacked" by a particular brand name like some of the other shows did. Also home shops come in a variety of sizes and tool selection is a concern. I live in an over 55 retirement community that has a woodworking group but no dedicated facility so we all work in very compact spaces. Some dealings with space saving tools and equipment and stuff that people can realistically afford and use would be great.
I don't know if any one else has watched his podcasts or not but he is a joke. He doesn't know the dif. between a table saw throatplate his hand, or talking about parring a dovetail with a chisel and calls it a this and that? Common he doesn't come close to Norm,David or any of the other great woodworkers we have all grown to love and learn from. I am willing to give him a chance on a show but he is a greenhorn still cutting his baby teeth. Sorry but that is my honest opinion.
I have enjoyed the artistic ability and vision of Dave Marks and the practicality of Norm. I have watched everything on Tom that is on the internet. He is an excellent craftsman of period furniture.
Through the videos Tom has shown to be full of himself. People watched Norm and Crockett (First host of Victory Garden - Boy have they ruined that show)for their down to earth personality . It is about the shows content, not the host's entertainment value.
Tom is a good teacher and craftsman. That is what we want "Tom", not an entertainer, so cut out the self hype and you will be successful.
There have been several nuggets of gold in all these comments that, hopefully, Tommy and WGBH will consider as they build the show. In my mind, one idea sticks out: giving more visibility to hand tools. That does not mean eliminating power tools - even Tommy has stated in his podcasts that they have a place. It's more an issue of providing equal time for these tools and the demonstrating things you can do with them.
I also want to add another possible angle that should be included in the show: wood selection and laying out project pieces. If you've watched any of Tommy's podcasts, you've heard him say over and over again: "to me, this is the most important part of the craft". He admittedly spends hours laying pieces out to get proper grain direction and effect. And he's right. Often the only difference in two identical finished projects is grain selection and layout.
I'm looking forward to seeing the shows.
The NEW NORM? Well, a tough act to follow but I'll check it out. Best of luck to you. DAVID MARKS, by the way, is now doing a series of short videos for the web. Be sure to check out his web site and follow the links to some really good stuff. Some of his new work is beyond amazing!
I'm a fan of education and I love the videos that Fine Woodworking is doing.
Here are MacDonald's four (4) prerequisites for success:
1) Do NOT be anything like Bob Villa
2) Do the OPPOSITE of the PBS guy on "American Woodworker" and please, please, please don't be "milk toast" like this guy
3) Norm was very successful, so don't try to recreate the wheel so to speak. His show format worked though it lacked the following, leading to item 4:
4) Somewhat more detail of the woodworking process; and, can't we get some west coast, or at least broader based, type of projects? I am so sick of all the "period" crap! How about a lot of "current" stuff like craftsman and arts & crafts and maybe just some "original" things.
All I can say is if you can only take one of these points please don't be like "Mr. Milk Toast" on American Woodworker.
Oh yes, and how about using tools that most of us have and can afford - no ridiculous Saw Stop - you know, the one that might save a nick on your finger in 50 years of use and that eats 50 blades in about 10 years!
Oh am I gonna get some criticism!
I am already missing Norm and David Marks has been gone for a while from my viewing area. I have been woodworking for a while but like most woodworkers, I picked up something new from every episode. There have been several really bad WW shows on TV but you know, I always learned something if I watched close enough. I have a really deep down desire for knowledge and would welcome Mr. MacDonald with his wisdom and skills just hoping he will stick to woodworking and not get off on another plateau. I enjoyed visiting the museums with Norm and I would welcome skilled guest on the show. I don't know all the different aspects of woodworking and don't expect MacDonald to either. I had a guy before his passing do my carvings for me. That's just the way it goes. As far as sponsors go, I would think there are a plethora of sponsors out there that would jump on this opportunity. In this economy, what better way to advertise. My shop is filled with tools that Norm used such as something as simple as an Osborne Miter Gauge. I hope some good sponsors step up to the plate. I wish Mr. MacDonald all the good fortune on his new endeavor and look forward to seeing him on PBS.
Oh great, now my wife will insist on watching ...
I'm a big fan of David Marks and his show as well as Norm's. Although I have most of Davis's saved on dvr, I miss having new content. I'm 60 but I've watched all of Tom's video podcasts when they were on and really came to enjoy his work and personality. I'm still kind of an old noconformist so I enjoy out of the box kind of personalities. If you haven't seen them, try to find them and check them out. I'm sure you'll enjoy them. I hope this comes to ppassass
I'm retired and learning woodworking in a very small shop. I initially thought that Norm's power tools were an unfordable prerequisite to wood working, but now I know better. I've discovered that one's tools are an important aspect of woodworking. The care, tuning, and use of hand tools is very important to the craft. How to make, not 'how' they are commercially made, things like wooden molding planes, shooting boards and their use, furniture carving tools, compass planes, rasps, etc. are an important aspect of the craft.
Another aspect deserving attention is the wood we use in our craft. Understanding wood, it varieties, importance of its grain, project suitability, etc. wold be very interesting too.
Just my $0.02.
There certainly is a void since New Yankee has resorted to nothing but reruns. Most of the woodworkers that I talk to were shocked to find Norm was going to go on to other ventures.
I'm not familiar with Tommy since I am in the Cincinnati area. I am looking forward to seeing a new program and wish Tommy all the best. Looking forward to seeing the first program.
Who is the target audience?
1. Folks who own a shop full of tools and already do some amazing stuff?
2. Folks who own a shop full of tools and need someone to give them a kick?
3. Folks who want to live vicariously?
4. Folks who want to get an idea of what fru-fru to put into their house and why something might be cool and wow their guests?
5. Folks we all want to invite and encourage in this wonderful activity?
If it tries to be for everyone it will be a rather boring failure.
I remember back in the '50s '60s and '70s, in fly over country, when it was hard to find a quality chisel or hand saw, forget hand planes larger than a block, and I was the only person I knew who loved working with wood to make useful things. When Fred Gross, Manager, Educational Department for Stanley Tools edited "How To Work With Tools and Wood" (1952) (I still have my 35 cent pocket book edition that I bought in Toronto in '62 on a summer vacation with my family.) It was that book that was my invitation to this wonderful obsession.
Luckily I had older brothers who, obsessed with knives, taught me how to sharpen a knife. I was able to transfer this knowledge to sharpening tools, and that is the most fundamental skill necessary to enjoy this craft. I practiced it outside, on the kitchen table when mother wasn't there, and in the attic when it was 100 degrees outside.
I saved "Green Stamps" and "Yellow Stamps" to get my first power tools: a jig saw and a belt sander.
Everyone thought I was nuts-- and stupid--for wanting to work with wood.
My point is this--if a new show is designed to attract me as a viewer, it probably won't do what we need, and that is attract others into the endeavor. My children, now grown, know about workshops, tools, safety, and all sorts of techniques. They built things--with and without me--and are rather accomplished at turning. Unfortunately, they think you need a complete shop (or at least a lathe, accessories, a band saw, etc.) to be able to do anything, so off on their own they do nothing.
If Mr. MacDonald can inspire them and their generation, then it is great with me. I wish him much success--even if it is another show from Boston. :)
Tommy is a great woodworker and his own comments demonstrate wisdom and sensitivity. He won't be another Norm; he'll be Tommy. If PBS pulls this off, most of us will adapt, and while some may find his show is not for them, Tommy should attract new people with a fresh approach. I expect Tommy will adapt to TV; some of the folksiness which has drawn comments works for him now but might not translate to TV. He'd have people work with him. I relish having something new and fresh, and I like Tommy, although I will also miss Norm.
PBS: the biggest turn-off is your constant messing with the schedule for pledge drives. We don't donate anymore - I can't watch my shows. If you want to ask for pledges around this show, great, but I want to watch Norm or Tommy(and This Old House, or other woodworking or gardening shows) when I can watch them, NOT, and I speak as a baby-boomer, another aging boomer concert. In the words of American philosopher Bugs Bunny, "Now cut that out!"
Obviously I made a typo, I meant he 'does not expect to eclipse them'.
I'd like to congratulate Tommy on his success as a woodworker, online personality, and his future success as a television show host. Tommy has worked harder than most people can understand to make this happen. He's continuing to pursue sponsorship for the show with his very Tommy-esque excitement and dedication.
For those of you who don't know Tommy personally, let me tell you a few things. Tommy is:
- capable of bringing you quality content that will inspire you no matter your current skill level
- going to challenge you
- going to make you laugh
- grateful for the opportunity to bring you weekly woodworking programming
- not someone who downplays the level of difficulty of any task
- someone who believes 'you can do this', and if you don't believe it, he'll show you how
- more than anything, humble. He knows that there are many many other woodworking masters out there that know more than he does, have achieved more, and are much more well known. He does expect to eclipse them, but to honor them.
For the skeptics, please give Tommy a chance to deliver you a show we all think you will grow to love.
Good luck Tommy!
As a woodworker, I am looking forward to a new direction. I am not that familiar with Mr. T.(Chisel) McDonald, but we need to restart somewhere. My only worry is that the show will either be too simple, or too complicated. The focus needs to be on a skill level appropriate for all viewers.
Tom is blessed with an opportunity here to make an impact on his viewing audience, to help secure the interest of the next generation of woodworkers.
I too am tired of the paint and paper shows, the MDF express furniture remodeling and the constant bathroom remodeling. It is time for another good woodworking show. Good luck Tom, I hope it all comes together.
I agree with the previous two posters. I certainly hope that this show doesn't fall into the "Woodworking with drama" classification. Please don't focus on the personality of the host. The focal point of all Norm's shows was design and execution. It might not appeal to the masses but "woodworking with drama" won't appeal to the readers of Fine Woodworking.
So the best part about Norm was he was real. Real meaning he didn't put on an act in front of the camera; when you watch his show you know that if you drank a beer with that dude, he would still be the same guy on set. There were moments when you would see him sweat and grunt (see the Dream Kitchen install), and they didn't bother editing out the reality of the situation.
I have watched T. Chisel a few times, and while perhaps his personality doesn't seem to mesh with mine, I atleast appreciate the "realness" he posses. He doesn't seem to be afraid to be himself at all. Moving to a TV show, I can only hope that he can keep that quality.
I guess I am just getting at all of this because if the only woodworking replacement is WoodSmith shop, then all hope is lost. That show is awfully scripted and thus filled with dumb, tame banter that doesn't engage anyone. Which is really what it comes down to: viewer engagement.
I really hate to be a party pooper however since Norm has left we have a new (not really new he has been on the air for over 15 years) and thoroughly enjoy his show and another that airs an hour before that we just love. If Tommy's show would air during the half hour between these two or just before of after than go for it but really don't want to loose these enough loss already with the departure of Norm.
It would be great to have a good show on woodworking, one which did not talk down to us as much as some do. But I am definitely turned off by the "he is a personality" message. I have quit listening to what was my favorite classical music station because they decided their program hosts needed to "be" personalities: They already had great personalities, but now the move is to make them central rather than the content. If the cute name "T Chisel" is any indication, I will be turning this off also.
But in any case there is little chance I would get to watch it! My local PBS station, part of the Wisconsin Public Televison system, has removed almost all real do-it-yourself programming from their main channel, and even on their Create subchannel most of what they carry is cutesy stuff amounting to going to a craft shop, getting something pre-made, spray painting it and saying you have made something.
If you can tame Tommy's ego, I think he will make a great host. I think that aspect of Tommy's personality is a bit off putting to many woodworkers. Who are mostly a humble lot.
Focus on the nitty gritty of woodworking without skipping all the details. Woodworkers want to follow along and "live vicariously" in order to build confidence and motivation. See The WoodWisperer for a solid format.
I don't know if they have the pocketbook for something like this. But I think this is a great opportunity for Woodcraft or Rockler because they can represent all of the tool manufacturers instead of just one mega manufacturer. This will eliminate the need to tailor the projects to showcase any particular manufacturers machines.
I look forward to the show but I am skeptical. The underlying attraction to Norm was a project that, when done, the viewer could say, "I could do that...I think!?". The new show looks more like it will feature..."Wow, I could never do that, that's amazing!", in which case, they'll lose me. Less 'wow', more 'how' and lots of working info...beauty and design will take care of itself. Less is more.
hi guys..i appreciate all your comments about our attempts at a show for pbs...i want to clear..there will never be another Norm ..EVER..i only hope to provide a new outlet for our craft ..i have no intentions of being norm..it will never happen..i watched him as a kid and his shows inspired me to go to a voc tech high school,become a carpenter,get my contractors license and pursue my goals in the construction field,i always thought i would one day have a shop..you know...for retirement,i just didn't know my retirement would start at 34.. i have been blessed with opportunities like going to NBSS,meeting bob vila,getting on his tv show and website..being invited to museums and other historical places for inspiration to build way outside my comfort zone..and now trying to fill the space (just a little bit) from the huge hole left by Norm since his retirement..all i am looking for is a shot at the job..and i promise if i succeed i will never forget who's shoulders i am standing on ..from the first guys who made a dovetail 5,000 years ago right up to the present day craftsmen..i see a new kind of woodworking show that puts the light on you and your work..who really cares about me and mine...right :)
I agree that these companies need to pony up some sponsorship. If it weren't for Norm, I wouldn't be subscribing to FWW or have thousands of dollars worth of tools in my workshop. Of course, the real problem is how often the show will get preempted by the semi-monthly begathons PBS does when all they show are music concerts and self help "gurus".
Please do whatever you can to get this show on! We have plenty of cooking and fru fru remodel, but I love the woodworking shows and now that Norm is off we need more! Ideas.... Love to see guys workshops, small and large. Show us projects made with the simple tools most of us can afford, yet don't be afraid to challenge us with tough projects. Love when we saw how to improve our own workshops with homemade jigs, workbenches, storage ideas. How about a short segment on best tools deals! Hoping for your show to be on the air soon!
This is exciting news--that WGBH will float a woodworking show to follow Norm's big footsteps. A long-time fan of NYW (I did meet Norm once and he was as gracious in person as he is talented on TV)and my shop's gear pretty much resembles his --except for that fantastic wide-belt sander. I'm sure the show will attract a sponsor as no doubt a one-minute shot of woodworking machine in action sold untold numbers across the nation. I'm not much on show titles but I do agree that the show should feature other woodworkers around the country--pros and amateurs. There are numerous hobbyists clubs and among them there are some tremendous unheralded talents. My own woodturning club in RI has a member who just stepped down as national president of The American Association of Woodturners. He is not only talented but a great teacher as well. There are many accomplished amateurs who are also skilled in giving demonstrations and would make interesting --and low-cost-- material for the new WBGH venture. Good luck. I am looking forward to the debut.
I have watched Norm faithfully for many years and learned quite allot from him. I even ignored my snooty woodworker guild members who laughed at him and called him a "carpenter". There is no question that he was a tallented person who loved the craft. The prospect of this new show with its tallented host should certainly raise the bar of woodworking shows. Other than David Marks there has not been a quality show dedicated to the "Fine Woodworking" techniques many of us have come to love and appreciate. Norm was great and had his place but lets step it up a notch ! As far as sponsors... where is steel city, Powermatic, and Saw Stop ? I own tens of thousands of dollars of your product..... lets get going !
Woodworking is about all sorts of people, all sorts of shops all sorts of projects. I hope the "new Norm" will takes us around the country to visit other woodworkers, their shops much more like a HOST than another woodworker, however talented he may be. That was one of the most interesting aspect of previous shows, visiting various shops, and various companies to see how products were made...tools, different materials, stairs, beams,...etc. Woodworkers like to show off their shops and brag about their work, some more reluctantly than others. That's also very cool.
I hope he will do some episodes on fixing (and making) mistakes in woodworking projects. Norm never made a mistake or at least we never saw one on screen. We all make mistakes; even the masters. Show how to fix them!
It certainly is important to see the continuation of a woodworking show on television. These type of shows need to be promoted, not because we need to buy more tools, but because of the necessity of not loosing the skills developed throughout the centuries from the master woodworkers. Hands on skills such as woodworking give all of us, whether company executives or bus drivers, a needed relief from the day's long hours. Being involved in watching a 60 minute woodworking show and getting our minds involved in skill developing ideas, can definitely work for us all. Best of luck with getting a sponsor.
I think woodworkers in general owe a large debt of gratitude to Norm and Russ for continuing NYW for as long as they did. The body of work was prodigious and the quality of Norm's craftsmanship improved over the years to a point where even top tier woodworkers quit complaining about it. NYW was the impetus of many of us today. We have hobbies and in some cases businesses that started with Norm. That said I think WGBH has a winner of an idea here and Tommy seems like a guy that can continue to inspire newbie woodworkers as well as please the more experienced of us. We, as a woodworking community, need these video examples of our craft. Magazines are great but to see a piece of woodwork being created has no equal. 1000 words and all that. More power to them. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing the first episode.
I'll gladly give this craftsman a chance. His work is outstanding. While he's not norm working on big barns and the like or with Tommy doing new foundations and house work. I think he will come around. Those are pretty big shoes to fit. Norm is one of a kind. And so will Tommy MacDonald be. His cabnets are very nicely done. Gotta give him credit. He's good. Maybe Delta, Porter Cable, and Jet will step up. Or whoever Tommy likes and want's to work with. He may have favorites of his own.
This comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed Tommy's career and viewed his podcasts.
I like the fact that TM has a background in real, non-compromised, furniture making and is comfortable with hand tools as well as power tools in furniture making. Perhaps now we will get beyond power tool mania on TV and get a more rational balance.
I look forward to seeing what the new program develops into.
Oh and as to sponsors,wow how that has changed. Years ago, many companies owned and manufactured tools used in the woodworking trades, Today Black & Decker own DELTA, PORTER CABLE and DEWALT. WMH Tool Group (a privatley held Swiss company) owns JET, PERFORMAX and POWERMATIC. So today there are really only two companies to sponsor a show featuring just about anything that a weekend woodworker could possibly want when starting out.!
As for me, no one can EVER replace Norm!
I mean c'mon, the guy has a beard, flannel shirts and jeans and he works with all kinds of cool wood in a dream shop full of every tool imaginable. Does that nail the mental image of a weekend woodworker or what?
Go back and look at Norm's FIRST season to see how he struggled like the rest of us mortals. The kicker for Norm was when he got that TIMSESAVER sander. Good thing they didn't show him with a two head or three head version of that machine -- well over $100K!
For my taste, this guy looks too pretty and he has a crooked nose skewed to the right. I can't help but looking at this guy and thinking he got the nod because he tested well with WOMEN. Which somehow is just not going to be your sustaining audience for Norm's successor.
I didn't particularly like the CRAFT IN AMERICA series. And if that's the type of show that's going to be on each weekend with this guy talking about "woodworkers", I'll likely pass it by.
But that's just another woodworker's opinion.
I REALLY ENJOY HIS PROGRAM AS IT IS TODAY>>>BUT MY WORRY IS THAT MY LOCAL PUBLIC STATION IN PITTSBURGH WILL NOT CARRY HIS NEW SHOW>>>>THE RESULT I WILL NO LONGER BE EDUCATED LOSS TO THOSE WHO WILL NO LONGER HAVE ACESS!!!!!!!!!TO HIS WOODWORKING KNOWLEGE...........!!!HE DESERVES THE NEW SHOW $.
I can't wait, now that football season is over there is nothing to watch and why even have a dvr at this point.
Looking forward to information about cnc woodworking.
This simply can not be ignored anymore.
Not just delta here, we need to see all of these majorly known companies step up to the plate. Because they will all of them benefit from the show. Each one of us have our budget se at different amounts. So from the most expensive to the cheapest tools will be sold.
When shows like this come along and inspire new woodworkers to come into the craft, these folks go out and spend tons of money on new tools and equipment. The Rockler's, Woodcraft's, Delta's, Lie-Nielsen's and others of the world need to serious step up and underwrite this program because it is they who stand to profit from an influx of new woodworkers. PBS is in dire need of new woodworking content since Norm went into retirement, actually, all woodworkers are in dire need of new programming. Someone has to step in and fill the void left by Norm.
Now somebody needs to foot the bill. Hey, Delta, man up!!
How a chunk of red oak forced me to rethink the details of a cabinet
Make something fun while learning new skills
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
In this video Michael finishes the first of the three boxes. Gluing-up, planing, sanding and finishing bring a new piece of art to the world.
In this video Michael starts work on the second box, a carved and painted Saddle lid box.
Michael begins carving the saddle lid box with his ripple pattern along the top. Then turns to his 5/30 gouge to texture the sides of the box. This isn't work…
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