Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac

Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac

Woodcraft signs on to sponsor Tommy MacDonald's WGBH woodworking show

comments (31) May 26th, 2010 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, senior editor
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Its official: Woodworking is back on TV. WGBH Boston started filming a new series thats scheduled to launch on PBS stations this October. Read more in the blog post below. Matt Kenney shares details from his interview with executive producer Laurie Donnelly. For more read the official press release from WGBH Boston.
Read the official press release on the show from WGBH Boston.
Tommy MacDonald wrote about building this classic step stool in the Jan/Feb 2009 edition of our magazine (FW #203).
Its official: Woodworking is back on TV. WGBH Boston started filming a new series thats scheduled to launch on PBS stations this October. Read more in the blog post below. Matt Kenney shares details from his interview with executive producer Laurie Donnelly. For more read the official press release from WGBH Boston. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

It's official: Woodworking is back on TV. WGBH Boston started filming a new series that's scheduled to launch on PBS stations this October. Read more in the blog post below. Matt Kenney shares details from his interview with executive producer Laurie Donnelly. For more read the official press release from WGBH Boston.

Photo: Copyright WGBH Boston

UPDATE: 6/1/2010 13:39 EST: This just in... read the official press release  from WGBH Boston.

I recently spoke to Tommy MacDonald, who told me that Woodcraft has agreed to sponsor his new WGBH woodworking show. Shooting began this week. At the moment, that's all I can confirm, but I will speak with a WGBH representative next week and will post further details as I get them. See previous posts about the show here and here.

UPDATE (May 28)

Earlier today, I spoke with Laurie Donnelly, the executive producer of Tommy MacDonald's new woodworking show on PBS. The show has been named "Rough Cut: Woodworking with Tommy Mac."

October debut for new show... brought to you by Woodcraft
Woodcraft has signed on to be the show's sole sponsor for three years. Filming has already begun, and Donnelly said she is targeting October for a debut, with 13 episodes scheduled for the first season. One question many readers of my other posts about Tommy's show have asked is whether they'd be able to watch the show on their local PBS stations. I asked Donnelly that question and she told me that the show will be offered to every PBS station across the nation. She anticipates that a large percentage will air it.

Web videos too
So what if you live abroad or if the show isn't picked up by your PBS station... can you still watch? Donnelly said they will launch a show related website where you can watch the shows, see short "vodcasts", get additional information, and plans too.

Weekend project focus
I asked Donnelly what type of projects Tommy would be doing. According to her, "There will be a variety of projects you can do in a weekend's time. So the idea is that every show there will be a different project you can do. And a lot of what we're doing is working from rough cut lumber. We'll be doing a Shaker night stand, a trestle table, a flag box. We're thinking about doing a blanket chest."

That led me to ask whether the use of rough cut lumber presupposed a fairly high level of woodworking knowledge in the audience. Donnelly answered that they are using rough cut lumber because it's more interesting. They don't want to exclude anyone from the audience, and the basic philosophy of the show, she said, is that "people can use power tools or they can use hand tools. They can use expensive wood or inexpensive, accessible wood.

Projects for every pocketbook
The tone of the show is that there is something for every pocketbook. We really want to show people the variety of tools available, the variety of woods avaiable. Depending on your space and economic means, you pick what's best for you." That sounds interesting. Rather than show one way to do something, Tommy will show you the options and let you decide what best fits your skill and wallet.

Field trips too
Tommy will also take a field trip each episode, and whatever he learns in that trip will relate directly to the project being built that week. After he returns to the shop, he'll show you how to apply the technique.

Warts and all: mistakes are AOK
In his video blogs, Tommy was known for two things. First, Tommy is energetic, a bit goofy (in a great way, mind you), and a regular guy. Second, he didn't hide his mistakes. When he made them, he let the viewers know and discussed ways to get around them. Donnelly assured me that the Rough Cuts television would have both too. The show is about woodworking with Tommy, and they aren't going to try and hide his unique personality. And she thinks that showing Tommy's mistakes is right in line with the show's philosophy.

She noted, "One of the things that was really important in the philosphy of the program, the same way we want to show hand tool and power tools, inexpensive and expensive pieces of wood, we want to make woodworking even more accessible than it already it because we really think of it as a hobby for most people and as with any hobby you make mistakes. Things go wrong. One of things that will be interesting for people is as he is going along making any given project that he talks about 'Hey man if this happens to you, here's what you do to fix that.' As opposed to making people feel like everything has to be perfect." She later added, "We want to keep the fun in woodworking and let people really know it's okay to make mistakes and learn from each other. We want people to feel that it's okay and what to do if something happens."

What do you think?
There are a wide variety of opinions about Tommy. I think he's a good guy. And I know he's a great furniture maker who's heart truly is in helping others learn the craft. I'm excited to see the show. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.



posted in: blogs, woodworking, WGBH, Tommy MacDonald, Woodcraft, show, television


Comments (31)

Rocket1945 Rocket1945 writes: Hi all. Probably just my ignorance but after multiple attempts to find out when and where Rough Cuts is playing in my area I have found nothing that matches up with my local PBS station WGBH Boston. I have googled "when and where to watch Rough Cuts" and similar requests many times and tho there is lots of info being dispatched there I have found nothing about when I can see it. My cable carrier (Charter) shows nothing in the guide at the times when the program was supposed to air or at any other time. I looked at every program on the guide for an entire week and no listing of Rough Cuts. Help please. Thanks in advance. Marc.
Posted: 6:31 am on November 30th

Franky5 Franky5 writes: I just watched my first show featuring Tommy MacDonald building a lazy susan. It is a good show and he covers a lot of good detail. I would like to suggest one thing. He talks very fast and at times it is difficult to understand some of the things he saying. Good speakers clearly separate each word.

Keep up the good work and programs. Doug K.
Posted: 12:53 pm on November 13th

lpower lpower writes: very interested, especially in the prospect that we in the antipodes will be able to see it on the web. no doubt you will keep us informed. regards laurie power
Posted: 8:54 pm on June 2nd

towel towel writes: Looking forward Tommy Mac's show...
Posted: 12:59 pm on June 2nd

kingmanson kingmanson writes: I like Tommy MacDonald. I have subscribed to and watched his not so regular video podcast. He got interested in woodworking, went the North Benet Street school and now turns out incredible work, at least as far as I can tell on the podcast. Although they say that he will be himself, I suspect that they will tone down his surfer boy style a bit. His delivery really needs to be polished up a bit for a TV show. Unlike, Norm who was a carpenter turned furniture maker, Tommy is trained as a furniture maker and has hand tool, as well as, power tool skills so I think this can be a very good show. As for PBS, please don't pay lip service to the online aspects of this show. Incorporate the website into the show and by all means make content available on the website. There is a business model for online content, don't fight it and try to make it fit into an out-dated business model like NYW did with the old videos. They are available online, but only for a week at a time, the business model of a weekly TV show not an online show.
Posted: 6:22 pm on June 1st

kingmanson kingmanson writes: I like Tommy MacDonald. I have subscribed to and watched his not so regular video podcast. He got interested in woodworking, went the North Benet Street school and now turns out incredible work, at least as far as I can tell on the podcast. Although they say that he will be himself, I suspect that they will tone down his surfer boy style a bit. His delivery really needs to be polished up a bit for a TV show. Unlike, Norm who was a carpenter turned furniture maker, Tommy is trained as a furniture maker and has hand tool, as well as, power tool skills so I think this can be a very good show. As for PBS, please don't pay lip service to the online aspects of this show. Incorporate the website into the show and by all means make content available on the website. There is a business model for online content, don't fight it and try to make it fit into an out-dated business model like NYW did with the old videos. They are available online, but only for a week at a time, the business model of a weekly TV show not an online show.
Posted: 6:21 pm on June 1st

tadorcas tadorcas writes: Consider what you really want out of a woodworking show. For me I want someone to teach and inspire me to continue in my craft. First and foremost, Tommy is an excellent craftsman -- look at any of the work that he does. Secondly he conveys a mentality that says, "You can do it!" and then proceeds to show you how.

I am really looking forward to his show. Personally, the more the merrier.

Tim
Posted: 5:40 pm on June 1st

JohnM42 JohnM42 writes: The last Norm show I watched, very briefly, showed him doing a resaw on a band-saw with a 3 inch blade. I simply got up and left at that point.

The local comm college has a very nice Laguna that we use for resaw. It has a 1.5 inch blade; ditto for the machine room at the local Woodcraft. Both are saws that run into the multi-thousand dollar range.

Norm and his tools were simply ridiculous. That issue has come up in threads on so many sites, and it never seemed to make a difference. So, I concluded that whatever he was doing, it didn't relate to woodworking for most of the rest of us.
Posted: 4:18 pm on June 1st

Pookey Pookey writes: The thing I worry about is Tommy trying to be a host instead of being himself. He's really at his best when he has a foil (like Al in his Bombe videos). Also, I hope WGBH will let him use his native language (so to speak) and bleep out the unacceptable stuff. The videos were great for this (and for the effects they created; for example, turning Tommy's head into a teakettle when he got ticked at Al-red face, steam coming out of his ears, tea kettle sound effects). It's just that kind of playfulness that makes the videos fun to watch. If he's unrelentingly serious, this could be a disaster. Tommy's at his best when he's loose. Hope he stays loose.
Posted: 4:00 pm on June 1st

DabblerBabbler DabblerBabbler writes: This is great news! I agree with mstrrrktek that it would be great if the show occasionally explored West Coast (and Asian-influenced, for that matter) styles outside the comfort zone of the Yankee workshop. And to exeter, of the UK, perchance the show's producers will offer DVDs of the episodes for sale the way Norm did on his website.

Frank Spencer-Molloy
Simsbury, Connecticut
Posted: 2:50 pm on June 1st

sparksrick sparksrick writes: I'm impressed, no I mean I'm really really impressed. I've found with everything I can think of, learning the basic process is only a part of completing a task. Learning what to do when things go wrong is a huge part of everything we do. Now if only I could get past the part where I keep finding new things to go wrong......
Posted: 2:40 pm on June 1st

GEide GEide writes: Good point exeter: "How about reaching ALL of us via the internet" We did ask about that. Here's what Laurie Donnelly said about the online presence: "There will be a show related website where you can watch the shows, see short vodcasts, get resource information, and get access to plans that we've done." So, hopefully everyone in the world with an Web connection can access this stuff. I updated the post above with this additional information. -Gina, FineWoodworking.com
Posted: 2:23 pm on June 1st

BruceCM BruceCM writes: I have thoroughly enjoyed Norm and his projects over the years. The only complaint is that some of the tools Norm used were often beyond the means of the average hobbiest. Also, we never got to know Norm beyond his explanation of what he was going to do. It would be nice to get to know him, kind of like we do our neighbors.

But change is inevitable, so look forward to the new series.
Posted: 1:36 pm on June 1st

exeter exeter writes: Clearly, shedloads of people in the US want to see Tommy's programmes. Please spare a thought for the rest of us who live elsewhere, like the UK! - How about reaching ALL of us via the internet -by the FW site for instance?
Posted: 12:50 pm on June 1st

Sabo Sabo writes: Thank you Woodcraft!, I was hoping this show would find a sponsor, and a 3 year commitment is great. I read the first article FWW did and looked forward to having a new Woodworking show on the air. I am an intermediate woodworker and enjoy making furniture and cabinets and yes, mistakes are always part of the deal. It would be nice to reduce my frustration. I started looking up Tommy after the initial FWW article and I really like his style. Hey! WNJN in New Jersey, Please carry this show!
Posted: 11:39 am on June 1st

Bookbins Bookbins writes: The blue fingernails Norm occasionally sported were evidence even he made mistakes. A New Yankee Workshop episode featuring out-takes of mistakes would have been interesting, but there's more to be learned from seeing things done right. I hope the new Tommy MacDonald show won't follow the current building-show fad which emphasizes the interpersonal relationships of too-cute people doing amateurish work using tools they've clearly never heard of before. One cannot pass on what one does not have.
Posted: 11:21 am on June 1st

SelenaW SelenaW writes: Please tell me this show will be an hour long. Only 30 minutes for The Woodright's Shop makes everything so rushed. Glad there will be a new show out there - hope it gets selected by our Reno PBS station! And a big 'Thank You' to Woodcraft for stepping up with sponsorship.
Posted: 10:34 am on June 1st

mstrrktek mstrrktek writes: This sounds great - better than the current "Mr. Milktoast" they have on now.

BUT ...... aren't there any woodworkers on the West Coast?!!!!
Just a thought.
Seems like we are always seeing the "Shaker" this, or the Victorian stuff, etc., etc. Wood be nice (pun intended) to see some west coast arts and crafts / craftsman stuff, contemporary, etc. And yes, I know arts and crafts started back east; Illinois actually.

Just my two splinters worth of comments.

Posted: 10:24 am on June 1st

JoeAlpeza JoeAlpeza writes: I am looking forward to this show even though I don't know a lot about Tommy. I think Norm did a great job but it is time for new blood.
Posted: 10:23 am on June 1st

tunicasteve100 tunicasteve100 writes: This sounds great I am a novice woodworker and although I really like Norm I often thought that his skill level was so high and he never made any mistakes I was a pipe dream to think I could do some of the projects. I think Tom's approach will be welcome by many I just hope my PBS station picks up the show.
Posted: 10:02 am on June 1st

allan102 allan102 writes: looking forward to this. Watched Norm from show 1. Also get a kick out of Woodwright. Roy is definitely a character.
Posted: 9:52 am on June 1st

rtjny99 rtjny99 writes: Another thumbs up from a long time subscriber. Thanks also to Woodcraft. Now I just hope that the Rochester,NY PBS station WXXI will carry it. They have cut back on most of their craft and DIY shows over the last few years.
rtjny99
Posted: 9:35 am on June 1st

bubbadovetail bubbadovetail writes: I am happy that PBS is adding a new woodworking show and keeping our hobby and a big part of our national heritage. However I am not that familiar with Tommy with the exception of what I have read on Fine Woodworking. But I and my Son's wish him the best of luck and many seasons on PBS and we also think that it is great that Woodcraft has sponsored the show, at least we will get a little dividend on all that money we spent with them on tools and supplies. JB, NB Michigan
Posted: 9:12 am on June 1st

pinecutter pinecutter writes: I am looking forward to watching his show, I have seen his videos on his blog and found them very interesting and educational. His workmanship is up there with the very best and i like his style of instruction. I will be looking for every episode this fall and winter. Jim
Posted: 8:16 am on June 1st

veggiefahmah123 veggiefahmah123 writes: Hope they don't make him lose his great Boston accent.
Posted: 7:55 am on June 1st

pxp pxp writes: The show sounds great to me. I'm still a novice, and I get a lot out of shows that can teach as well as entertain. Good Luck!
Posted: 7:50 am on June 1st

JohnRyan JohnRyan writes: Awesome, I can't wait for this series. Being pretty new to woodworking I'm always looking for ideas and tips to help me along...and frankly, although I like the morning fishing shows, I'd really rather be watching this. :-)
Posted: 7:02 am on June 1st

etanf etanf writes: I believe that Tommy's decision to show his mistakes, as well as his solution to correct the problem, will go a long way in making his show a success. Just maybe we will finally have a program that shows the human side of woodworking. We all seek perfection but to watch a show that only displays perfection in every aspect of the project is just too much. I wish him well in his new endeavor.
Posted: 6:33 am on June 1st

Wrongsyde Wrongsyde writes: I got a giggle from the discussion about making mistakes, and how that relates to hobby woodworkers. As a pro, though with limited experience, I can say that mistakes are not limited to hobbyists!! I've learned that the main difference between skill levels of woodworking doesn't have as much to do with the number of mistakes as it does with the cleverness of the fix! Sadly, often perfection must be balanced with speed. Time equals money! In any case, the true question is the enjoyment and pride one takes in the challenge, regardless of the project or situation.

Congrats to Tommy. I admit a bit of envy, and wish him the best of luck.
Posted: 4:28 am on June 1st

Aroonstock Aroonstock writes: I can't wait for the show air. I enjoy Tommy's videos tons and being able to DVR them would be a blessing in my less than totally connected house.
Posted: 10:59 pm on May 28th

BirchHillWoodcrafts BirchHillWoodcrafts writes: Congrats Tommy. Can't wait to see the show. Hope there is a way for us to get this in Alaska
Posted: 8:46 pm on May 28th

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Don't miss the latest online chatter about woodworking TV including the craft's newest TV personality Tommy MacDonald. He stars in the new PBS show Rough Cut.

Check your local PBS listings to see if the show's playing on a station near you.