Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac

Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac

Watch the preview of Tommy Mac's new woodworking show

comments (56) July 21st, 2010 in blogs, videos

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
thumbs up 147 users recommend

Video Length: 2:37
Produced by: WGBH

I just watched a short preview of Tommy MacDonald's new WGBH series, Rough Cut. Take a look and let us know what you think. I like it. It looks good. Count me among those excited to see the show.

Look carefully and you'll see Phil Lowe in there a few times. He is a regular contributor to Fine Woodworking. It's also nice that Al and Eli will get to be in the show some. Al is just as much a character as Tommy and always livens things up. I also noticed that they showed one of Tommy's mistakes (and we all make them). It will be interesting to see him fess up to mistakes and explain how to correct them (something he did on this video blog).

Build MacDonald's classic step stool from issue #203

posted in: blogs, videos, WGBH, woodworking show, Rough Cuts, Tommy Mac

Comments (56)

brentnichols brentnichols writes: I heard norm is not making new shows because of lack of funding and sponsership. Did woodcraft try to talk with norm or did they just pick this guy?
Posted: 4:04 pm on November 30th

AJV AJV writes: My DVR is set. Looking forward to it.
Posted: 9:44 am on November 9th

vinman516 vinman516 writes: I liked the preview, and I'm excited about the fact that there will be a serious woodworking show now that Norm no longer will make new shows. Norm was a great teacher, I hope Tommy is as well. I also hope Tommy will use more hand tools since Norm had so many electric tools that worked great, but was too expensive for the average wood worker.Can't wait for October.
Posted: 2:34 pm on September 4th

Plute Plute writes: Hope the new show will be available on TV in Australia. We need a woodworking show down under. I never missed David Marks or Norm's shows.Good luck Tommy.
Posted: 4:25 am on August 29th

thorno96 thorno96 writes: I grew my skills by watching Norm Abram. I was upset when I learned he was retiring. I'm not going to compare Tommy with Norm as that would be unfair. I will watch Tommy and hopefully learn from him as I did Norm. Cheers Tommy, good luck and I hope to follow you as I did Norm. I'm looking forward to it.
Posted: 9:10 pm on August 28th

thorno96 thorno96 writes: I grew my skills by watching Norm Abram. I was upset when I learned he was retiring. I'm not going to compare Tommy with Norm as that would be unfair. I will watch Tommy and hopefully learn from him as I did Norm. Cheers Tommy, good luck and I hope to follow you as I did Norm. I'm looking forward to it.
Posted: 9:09 pm on August 28th

Richinsd52 Richinsd52 writes: Looks like a good show with potential. While everyone seems to focus on Norm's nail gun approach and I'm not knocking it by the way, I truly miss the David Marks Woodworks program. With less copying old designs, his unique creative designs and clean lines consistantly inspired me with new techniques and ideas. I'm hoping this show leans more in that direction of original design in fine woodworking. David, if you're following this blog, Thank You.
Posted: 1:03 pm on August 27th

denjaman denjaman writes: Can't wait to watch it. It looks like I'll have to make room on my DVR to get it. I hope this will be a weekly program.
Posted: 1:44 am on August 12th

nhieger nhieger writes: I am looking forward to the airing of this series, but I think wardrobe needs to find Tommy a plaid shirt.
Posted: 10:11 pm on August 9th

3FingerMike 3FingerMike writes: PS:
I hail from Texas and my age/attitude is "per-curmudgeon".
Posted: 4:10 pm on August 5th

3FingerMike 3FingerMike writes: I am happy to see Tommy MacDonald has this opportunity. I have been following his podcasts for years. If you question his ability based on years in woodworking, consider that commitment and training can accellerate results. Tommy has the credentials so consider when a "Boston Yankee" says he is good; he probably can back it up.

About Norm Abrams and then Tommy MacDonald: Norm brought us through the "plywood and nail gun phase" and I thank to him for that. Tommy is the next level, fine furniture techniques, doing hand work on carefully selected materials. (Assuming the new show reflects his podcasts)

As for "confidence", Tommy has the "Bah-ston" thing going full force, but he tempers it with his good nature. It is easy to see that his viewers are his priority. Regarding mistakes... he makes them and happily shows how we might avoid them.

So give him a chance and I promise you will be not regret it, unless you are a card carrying curmudgeon.
Posted: 4:01 pm on August 5th

ctlmd ctlmd writes: Woodworking is a wonderful thing. It's the most satisfying endeavor I have ever done. I started in my 50s. As a young woman, I did not get to take "Shop" but instead had to take a ridiculous sewing class. Luckily I had a very talented father.
Anything that brings woodworking to the general public is very important. If it's a young, goodlooking guy, maybe it will appeal to people who have not discovered woodworking.
I don't care what this guy's attitude is; if he helps me with my hand tool skills, I'll watch him because I love working wood.
Posted: 12:36 pm on August 5th

sredinbo sredinbo writes: Although I'm excited and can't wait to see a new woodworking show after almost 2 years without Norm, I'm not sold on Tommy just yet. After watching NYW for 20+ years, Norm made you feel like you were a personal friend. Although this show should be different in it's own right, I still think Tommy has some big shoes to fill after so many years with Norm Abram and the NYW.
Posted: 3:16 pm on August 4th

Stranded Stranded writes: Loved Norm for many years because I felt like he was my private tutor. He didn't use many hand tools, but you learned how to do things fast. I don't get the impression that Tommy will be using a 36" belt sander or overnighting any moulding knife patterns to his personal smitty in Connecticut. I do recommend that Tommy work on his diction - that Boston accent is a tough one for us Texans. I watched the video twice and still can't understand everything he said.
Posted: 10:06 am on August 4th

jerryb540 jerryb540 writes: The preview is fine, but I'll wait to see if this show gets down to the details or just glosses over the big picture like most woodworking shows. I want meat, not just fluff.
Posted: 11:16 pm on August 3rd

lpower lpower writes: looks very interesting. any hope of incorporating it into your newsletter so that we in the antipodes can get to see it?
Posted: 10:29 pm on August 3rd

lpower lpower writes: looks very interesting. any hope of incorporating it into your newsletter so that we in the antipodes can get to see it?
Posted: 10:29 pm on August 3rd

888mailman888 888mailman888 writes: I've been watching Tommy for awhile. You have to love his work as well as his attitude. I sure hope I'll find him on a station in my neighborhood.
Posted: 7:11 pm on August 3rd

eddo eddo writes: tommy seems like a great guy...very likable..cant wait for the show..hope he takes a field trip to berkshire products in sheffield ma,when trying to seek out some amazing woods..good luck will do great!!! ed domaney
Posted: 4:54 pm on August 3rd

gwoody gwoody writes: Right on target for my areas of interest. I plan to watch it.
Posted: 3:23 pm on August 3rd

gwoody gwoody writes: Right on target for my areas of interest. I plan to watch it.
Posted: 3:23 pm on August 3rd

AyeDoonie AyeDoonie writes: I sure hope they post episodes on the internet. I haven't watched TV in 5 years.
Posted: 3:03 pm on August 3rd

DBK51 DBK51 writes: I personally enjoyed the preview. I think only time will tell as to how successful the show is and how well it 'connects' with the viewers. I don't know much about Tommy but I'm willing to give him a chance. To expect the show to find the perfect balance in a few episodes is asking a lot. Confidence can sometimes be viewed as conceit and we've all grown accustomed to Norm's New England personality. I don't get the initial impression that Tommy is looking to shine the spotlight on himself, and hopefully I'm right. We're a tough audience in that we want to learn, we aspire to do fine furniture, but don't want to be talked down to in the process. If he shows he's human too, and makes mistakes, he'll be more readily accepted. If, however, he comes across as almost mistake-proof he'll alienate a segment of the viewers. I think part of the arrogance issue comes from a combination of his age and his acknowledgement that he's only been doing woodworking for 10 years. That, I'm sure, hits a number of people the wrong way.
Posted: 1:36 pm on August 3rd

4545 4545 writes: " unless they tone down the conceit and arrogance I won’t watch long." I agree completely, Philshel. I feel, as do so many others, that a greater emphasis on hand tool skills and less reliance on nails and putty will be great, but these guys are 180 degrees from Mr. Abram's appealing demeanor. And the "nails and putty" remark is not a put-down. That works, but it's not the way I'd prefer to do it myself.
Posted: 12:39 pm on August 3rd

napaman napaman writes: WOOT!!! GO TOMMY!!! I am really excited...I "met" Tommy a few years ago on the woodworking forum and he has always been good with his advice and tips...

I am rooting for you Tommy and I will watch!

My understanding is that there are now Twitter and Facebook accounts for the show...

Posted: 12:28 pm on August 3rd

philshel philshel writes: I don’t know, perhaps I’ll be in the minority but I’m no fan of MacDonald's. I’ve watched several of his video blogs and while I cannot dispute his talent his “surfer dude”, “look at what a stud I am” attitude is not to my liking. Maybe it’s a Boston thing but I don’t like any of the personalities that are observed in his blogs. I’ll give the new show a try, but unless they tone down the conceit and arrogance I won’t watch long.
Posted: 11:53 am on August 3rd

pastorjonward pastorjonward writes: I am eagerly awaiting the airing of this new series. Excited about fine woodworking that shows the authenticity of mistakes and hopefully a pace that allows the viewer to follow the project step by step without falling asleep.
On the preview, I thought the soft lighting and calm music was overdone...felt like an introduction to a romance where the leading character was a "young, attractive woodworker" who was soon to fall in love with a "distracted young female", etc. I much prefer the intro. to Ask This Old House.
As to NYW. Hats off to Norm for building a base of passionately interested woodworkers for Tommy to take to the next level of craftsmanship. It's not an either/or but a both/and. Without NYW there might not be enough of a woodworking base to make Tommy's show viable economically. I loved NYW, and hope to love Tommy's show as well.
In Christ,
Posted: 10:57 am on August 3rd

B.L. Zeebub B.L. Zeebub writes: WGBH is to be commended for filling the void left by Norm and Co. Can't wait to crank up the Tivo for the new show.
Posted: 10:08 am on August 3rd

swenson swenson writes: Looks good. If the production of the show is as good as the preview we are in for a treat. If they can resist the use of snap zooms and stupid transitions in the promo I feel confident that the editing will be clean in the show too, something I expect from WGBH anyway. I don't know this guy but I like him already. Just 2 cents worth from a guy who likes straight cuts in film as well as in wood.
Posted: 9:37 am on August 3rd

cstar cstar writes: I confess I grew to love Norm and his show. I loved his research of his projects but was sometimes frustrated with the build. I'm sure a lot of us could build great furniture if we had all of Norm's power tools. I also was sometimes disappointed over the years to see Norm burn lumber with his table saw and never acknowledge it and give us insight as to the problem and the best way to address it. That said....Norm and his show will be hard to replace.

I'm keeping an open mind with this new show and am happy he seems to embrace hand tools more than Norm did. I look forward to see how this new show goes and if over time I can embrace it and enjoy it as much as I have Norm.

Posted: 9:35 am on August 3rd

Trav_Wilson Trav_Wilson writes: I will miss Norm as well. However, I'm pleased that McDonald will have a focus on hand tools (something that Norm seemed place less emphasis on).
Posted: 9:22 am on August 3rd

dmj2005 dmj2005 writes: I'm looking forward to the new show. I use mostly rough lumber in my furniture, and hope to see many tips & tricks.
Looks good
Posted: 9:09 am on August 3rd

4545 4545 writes: There seems to be no lack of self-confidence. I always felt the NYW shows were about the project, not about Mr. Abram. This kid isn't connecting with me.
Posted: 8:57 am on August 3rd

Jimmartjr Jimmartjr writes: Okay, I was skeptical when I learned this young guy was to fill a slot left vacant by our hero, Norm. After reviewing the preview video, I think Tommy has a lot to offer and I'm hoping I can watch the show. Unfortunately, I currently live & work in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Any chance I can view the episodes online?
Posted: 8:12 am on August 3rd

tcoffey tcoffey writes: Looks to be a down to earth guy.I like what he had to say about making the projects.I hope that the projects are made with the tools that every aspiring woodworker has in his shop and not the big machines the we can't afford. Maybe we can learn some basic technics with the tools that we have to use
Posted: 8:06 am on August 3rd

scooter45 scooter45 writes: I, along with most will miss the familiar weekends with Norm in The New Yankee Workshop, I'm looking forward to Tommy Macs new show and learning new skills to add to what I've learned over the years.

I've noticed the trend toward more hand tool use and getting away from relying on all power tool use, getting back to more traditional woodworking, and skill building, and it looks like this show will focus on these skills. Can't wait to watch and learn!
Posted: 8:00 am on August 3rd

loveww loveww writes: I was surprisingly intrigued by the on-line video.

After enjoying Norm for all those years, I'll give this guy a chance.

IMO it would be way cool if Norm was an early and perhaps recurring guest!

Yet quoting Bob Vila diminishes his reputation.

Even so, let's see what Tommy Mac has got to show!
Posted: 6:52 am on August 3rd

scarman2 scarman2 writes: I think that what is missing is a recognition that Norm is both a carpenter and a fine woodworker. He moved from one to the other and blended the two at times. For the fine woodworker, Norm explored antiques on occasion and replicated museum quality works with a New England roll up your sleeves attitude and a countryside charm. He never wore a mask and his weezing shows it. His desire seemed not to be for newer artsy ideas in furniture but classic older pieces that have a functional utility as well as a beautiful form and feel.

It's also ridiculous to think we won't compare Norm to other woodworkers, not for the purpose of criticizing either one of them but for defining where we are as viewers and where we will be going as self taught (by woodworking shows) craftsman. Not all of us can afford to learn from personal contact with the best craftsman in the industry so Norm was there for us. There is a place for Norm in FWW and not just in carpentry. Due respect for a fine craftsman that also helped to keep my house in good repair is my choice. I will miss Norm and look forward to learning something new.
Posted: 6:07 am on August 3rd

Woodtwister Woodtwister writes: I am a very long time viewer of the New Yankee Workshop and This Old House and, while I have enjoyed both, I look forward to a little more detail and hand work.
Posted: 3:16 pm on August 2nd

BStev BStev writes: I don't get why people feel the need to compare Tommy to Norm, what's the point, they are different people teaching in different environments at different times in the world of woodworking. Yes, Norm did a great job promoting woodworking to the general public but his show is over, when will we be able to move on and not compare everything that comes next to Norm?

That said, Tommys skills are good but no better than many self taught professional woodworkers or any other graduate of either North Bennett Street, College of the Redwoods, etc. It's just woodworking folks and not brain surgery lets not make him out to be some super hero.
Posted: 9:24 pm on July 28th

fishingwoodworker1 fishingwoodworker1 writes: I think Norm did a fantastic job, he did what he did and didn,t try to be someone he's not. I hope Tommy can teach as well as Norm did and all I hear makes me think he will.
Posted: 1:52 pm on July 28th

woodenhead woodenhead writes: I will miss Norm he brought thousands of people to appreciate woodworking and carpentry. As to his woodworking skills he has the ability to accomplish any project no matter how challenge it might be,but the purpose of his show was to attract individuals who had no woodworking experience or very limited experience and he has accomplished that task a million times over. Good luck Norm hope you get an invite on Tommy's new show.
Posted: 9:10 am on July 28th

drllucas drllucas writes: Regarding the comments about Norm being a carpenter: while true, his skill levels vastly improved over the various seasons of New Yankee Workshop. Regarding the statement about Tommy being a true craftsman and not a carpenter -- that is only partially true. Tommy also began as a carpenter. The difference in emphasis is that Tommy had the benefit of the fine training at the North Bennett Street School. If you watched Tommy's old self-made videos of the Secretary he built for the Rhode Island Museum of Design the differences become obvious vis-a-vis that New Yankee Workshop attempted to do. Tommy's skill level is off the chart -- but they are skills anyone can learn. That is what is going to be great about this new series. Norm introduced thousands of people to woodworking, including myself. I suspect Tommy will introduce thousands of people to fine woodworking. Loved David Marx also, but guys, Tommy is on an entirely different skill level. We are going to learn the things that he learned at the North Bennett Street School. Can anyone say, "Free tuition!" I hope Rough Cut is aired in the Dallas/Fort Worth market.
Posted: 1:26 pm on July 27th

johnmcm johnmcm writes: Hope we can watch it online
Posted: 12:36 pm on July 27th

krob krob writes:
It looks like this could be a really great top level show. Norm was OK, but as commented earlier, Norm is a carpenter and the projects mirrored that. The show I really miss was Woodworks with David Marks on DIY. That was truly high level woodworking and the projects were beautiful. You can still see some of the shows on DIYNET.COM. Some of these projects also have a "Plan" series and I have successfully used this to make his Mahogany Dresser which is and amazingly beautiful project. I hope Tommy can come up to and maybe exceed this level.
Posted: 9:48 am on July 25th

WWinCCFL WWinCCFL writes: I also enjoyed Norm's show. FWIW, to respond to a prior comment, several projects in FWW had made use of biscuits. I happen to think of biscuits as a variation of the loose tenon joint, used several times in FWW projects. So I have no trouble with Norm's use of biscuits in his projects. A serious hobbyist for only the last five years, I'm not sure if Norm had ever used card or cabinet scrapers in lieu of the RO sanders I have so often seen him use. In any case, I have used both power sanders and scrapers and found I really like the looks of scraped over sanded wood, especially when I use my Sealcoat and varnish finish. I find with sanders you really do have to know when to clean or replace the paper (and it's not after you beat the bejeepers out of the grain). Thus, I think I'm becoming a bit more of a blended woodworker than Norm, who I think was quite heavy on using power tools. As for the use of nails and brads, several birds in the air told me that nails were used in 18th Century joinery as well as in attaching mouldings to the basic forms of the work at hand. I myself don't use a nail / brad gun simply because I inherited most of my power tools and a nail gun was not part of Dad's inventory of tools. My father used a hammer; I use a hammer, albeit a tack hammer for brads and fine nails. A piece of shop wisdom passed on to me: there's more than one way to skin a cat. So I don't begrudge Norm for his use of power tools the way he did.

Nor do I begrudge Tommy Mac his training at North Street School in Boston. I will say I live in Florida and because of my wife visited the Philippines, and there are many, many influences from Michigan (my native state), Florida, and the Philippines - just as the Greene brothers brought a lot of California and Asian flavors to their Arts and Crafts body of work. I do hope no one begrudges me my self-instruction - indeed as a self-trained tax pro and former company accountant out of business school, once you get that diploma, you're on your own in your vocational development.

I learned from Norm; I know I'll learn from Tommy.
Posted: 8:31 pm on July 24th

BA3 BA3 writes: From the preview, the show has real promise! Count me among those who will forever miss Norm (altho there are always reruns to catch) but this looks like a real opportunity to extend the genre very positively. Seeing a mistake here or there makes it all the more human and allows us all to relate (I do remember Norm on a couple of projects interjecting a "pray for me" as he tackled something unusual or unusually challenging). Trips outside the workshop for inspiration are another plus -- and an element Norm used very effectively. I'm definitely looking forward to the season's start.
Posted: 4:12 pm on July 24th

coonsy coonsy writes: Oh man, I think I died and went to heaven. Thank God there is one show on TV that covers my passion. Hat's off to the guys who are making this possible. I hope comcast picks it up. Otherwise I'll have to buy the CD.
Posted: 5:21 pm on July 22nd

budd budd writes: Best of luck to T Chisel.Tommy is a true fine furniture maker with a great personality.Enjoyed the 207 shows this new show should be great.And in true t chisel fashion [WHATEVER].....
Posted: 11:59 am on July 22nd

aaronpetersen aaronpetersen writes: As much as I'm going to miss Norm (just look at the avatar), this looks great and maybe even better than NYW. Norm made some interesting stuff, but he was never a fine furniture maker. He was a carpenter and he made no excuses for it. He never hesitated to use screws, biscuits, and nails. While I think these have there place in woodworking, this show is so much more in line with FWW.

I agree with the concerns that the projects will be too limited to east coast or period work. I guess that's what happens when you live in Boston and train at North Bennett Street. There's a lot to learn from this kind of work that can be applied to other styles, but I do hope he branches out. I guess only time will tell.

Do we know when this will start airing? I have to set the DVR.

Posted: 10:34 am on July 22nd

NikonD80 NikonD80 writes: You guys are so lucky to have shows like this. It looks like it's going to be a great show. There is nothing (and I mean nothing) like this in the UK. Actually, now I come to think of it, unless you're into Gardening I can't think of a single show that covers hobbies. Lots of good drama but other than that its 'How to sell your House', 'Soaps' or 'How to make a fool of yourself on reality TV'.

I'm so jealous of you.
Posted: 8:12 am on July 22nd

DiscusThrower DiscusThrower writes: Super excited. Can't wait to learn something different. I only hope I'll be able to watch this in Canada.
Posted: 9:40 pm on July 21st

GrenadaBarefoot GrenadaBarefoot writes: The preview was great. I have seen Tommy on Villa's old show and he was terrific. I am looking forward to his series but I will miss Norm.
Posted: 9:03 pm on July 21st

Woodsmithy Woodsmithy writes: I am really encourage by the preview, and anxious to see the entire series. I noticed that he had Philip C. Lowe in some of the shots; hopefully we'll get some insight from him and other experts too.

My concern is that he may focus only on traditional East Coast furniture and not diversify episodes/projects. I hoping that he will have plans and videos available too.
Posted: 1:10 pm on July 21st

hneher hneher writes: I really did enjoy the preview of Tommy Mac's woodworking show.Now is there going to be more of it or is it going tobe like all the other ones in the past and keep rerunning the same thing.
Posted: 11:55 am on July 21st

jm080150 jm080150 writes: Now that Norm is gone, I was worried we'd be stuck with the remaining amateur woodworking shows. But Tommy has talent, smooth delivery, and a super personality to boot. Can't wait to watch the rest of his shows.
Posted: 11:30 am on July 21st

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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.