Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac

Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac

Have you seen Tommy Mac's new woodworking show? Let us know what you think.

comments (76) October 4th, 2010 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
thumbs up 107 users recommend

The new show, Rough Cut Woodworking Tommy Mac, aired on some PBS stations around the country this past weekend. Did you see the show? What did you think? Miss it? Check your local listings to see if its playing on a station near you.
In episode one, MacDonald builds a walnut trestle table and visits a local sawyer.
The new show, Rough Cut Woodworking Tommy Mac, aired on some PBS stations around the country this past weekend. Did you see the show? What did you think? Miss it? Check your local listings to see if its playing on a station near you. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

The new show, Rough Cut Woodworking Tommy Mac, aired on some PBS stations around the country this past weekend. Did you see the show? What did you think? Miss it? Check your local listings to see if it's playing on a station near you.

Photo: Courtesy of WGBH

It's finally (already?!) October. With it comes the usual trappings of Fall: stacking fire wood, raking leaves, pulling winter coats from storage. But this year there is something new that you can do on the weekends. You can watch Rough Cuts: Woodworking with Tommy Mac. The first episode has already aired on some PBS channels around the country. I watched a preview copy of the show several weeks ago. I really liked the opening bit, when Tommy visits a local sawmill. It's always cool to see a big tree cut up into workable boards. I also liked the project: a simple, but elegant trestle table in walnut. And I like Tommy's personality. On the downside, I thought the pace of the show was too frantic, primarily because they tried to fit every single step of the build into the 30 minute long episode. As an experienced woodworker, I was able to follow along. However, there were a lot of mortise and tenon joints in the table (or variations thereof) and I would have explained the basics of the mortise and tenon in some detail up front and then quickly expained any variations in a few quick words when the time came.

But I am happy to see woodworking back on television. (And I would have caught the debut episode this past weekend if I hadn't been in the shop myself!) So, what do you think? Did you watch the first episode? Did you like it? Hate it? Feel indifferent? Let us know what you think.

On a TV near you?
Is the show playing on your PBS station? Check your local listings. Here in Connecticut, it doesn't look like it's playing on Connecticut Public Broadcasting but it is playing on the New York station WLIW. Looks like the first episode, on building a trestle table is playing at 10 a.m. on Saturday.  

For more reviews of the show, read comments from our forum Knots. Visit Tommy's Web site for an episode line-up.

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

Comments (76)

BigD1 BigD1 writes: Not a fan of the Tommy show. Not professional enough. Seems and tries to be straight forward, but just doesn't have the goods. So much of the programs we see today are on the lighter side. Tired of the usual format. It's hard to not remember Norm or Bob. Tommy can't believe his biceps, chest muscles, will make him more popular. Give it up just don't have the goods. BIGD1
Posted: 1:31 pm on August 2nd

ChrisMartino ChrisMartino writes: One word-HORRIBLE. Tommy's erratic presentation style is ridiculous. It feels more like you are watching an infomercial than a woodworking show. Part of the idea of a show on woodworking is to make you comfortable with the idea, but watching Tommy is anything but comforting.

Posted: 11:19 am on September 9th

h20maker h20maker writes: I tried to watch an episode, but it only took a few seconds to get turned off by Tommy Mac's obnoxious manner of speech. He was provided a very nicely equipped shop. It would be great to watch Norm in there or David Marks.
Posted: 4:32 pm on June 25th

trucker260 trucker260 writes: ok,but we need norm a bad way!
Posted: 6:25 pm on March 8th

workbench1 workbench1 writes:
I watched all of season one and made a comment on that. Now I've watched all of season two that have been shown. I see no improvement. Actually I think it may have taken a step back. As with all the others, I think Tommy should go on de-cafe. Too much "you guys" and to many friends in the shop. I for one liked, for over 20 years, the formatt that was used in New Yankee Workshop. I'm willing to accept change for the better, but I watch these shows to pick up tips and projects, not friendships with Tommy's pals. I like Eli and think maybe he should have the show. Steve is very knowledgeable, let him do the show. Niether of the two of them seem to be over caffineated. The road trip is another issue. "IF" you have to do a road trip, make it worth while. Tommy jumps in and out so fast, what's the point?
Overall, just simplify. I really believe Tommy is a great wooodworker, but the Rough Cut format that he had on his blog wasn't something I wanted to watch then and isn't something I want to watch now. Come up with good projects, show how HE would build them, show the steps not just jump over them and quit saying "You guys" so much.
One last point. I find it interestingly annoying that you pick up a new sponser like lathe tools and suddenly Tommy is doing lathe projects and grips the whole time about how he isn't a lathe guy.
That's my two cents.

Posted: 10:17 am on February 16th

workbench1 workbench1 writes:
Posted: 10:07 am on February 16th

MMDon MMDon writes: Great show! I own a cabinet company and haven't been disappointed with any episode I've seen. I like having a new set of eyes looking at projects in new ways. That's how we all learn!
Posted: 9:37 pm on December 17th

scarcehardwoods scarcehardwoods writes: Great Show. Tommy has the eye of an artist snd the soul of a craftsman. The pace of the show is fast and focused on the concepts that bring out Tommy's enthusiasm. I love Tommy's accent and speach mannerism's ( not everyone speaks like Tom Brokaw ).
Granted T.Mac is a virtuoso with a Plane, however I have no interest in watching hours of instrction on it's use. If I want that level of instruction, I'll pay a cabinetmaker to share his expertise. Every show contains invaluable tips ie: how to use a chisel to clean a mortise.
Posted: 11:56 am on December 7th

Craft_Man Craft_Man writes: I watched 15 minutes of the first show and that was enough for me,,,,NO,,,he is not a wood craftsman, he just goes through the motions, he is a work in progress meaning he will learn as he goes and that's called ""On The Job Training"", someone is paying a lot of money to PBS to have this Tommy Mac on the air.

No I don't watch it.
Posted: 2:09 am on July 31st

racam racam writes: Saw my first episode just this morning and it really rocks. It was the episode about veneering. Can't wait until the next installment. Fast moving show but lots of great info. I enjoy doing things the old, manual way. Good luck with the show.
Posted: 10:15 am on April 23rd

Jerryki Jerryki writes: I like the concept and having another woodworking show on PBS is great. I look forward to the coming maturity of Tommy and the show staff. Being from Oregon I find it sometimes hard to get past the Boston - Big Dig construction worker persona. I think I would be afraid to be a guest on this show, or wear padding. I remember some of Bob and norm's first episodes thinking ... jeeze ANYONE can get on TV. Keep it up, keep improving and taking the brutally honest feedback to heart and I'll stick with it.
Posted: 2:32 pm on April 14th

beaverpilot beaverpilot writes: I really miss David Marks a great woodworking show.
the new rough cut show although some good tips the guy
has to drink decafe he is to wound up and I find that
very anoying to watch him.

A 1 hour show with a much commer personality.

Personally I would like to see David Marks again he is
a craftsman,s craftsman.

Posted: 8:05 pm on April 13th

etools etools writes: I've started watching the show on two or three occasions. This guy doesn't seem focused, goes way too fast and doesn't teach. I've turned it off everry time and love watching good woodworking shows. Now, we just need one. Frankly, I'd rather watch Norm reruns.
Posted: 10:34 am on March 26th

macgyver64 macgyver64 writes: Watched you making a bread box and liked the fact that you showed a screw-up when the tail split off the other shows only show perfect scenes i know im not perfect just want to see how others fix or repairs such mistakes without wasting wood because i cant just run out and buy more i dont have a company buying my wood but tyvm for showing that i like the show keep it up.
Posted: 6:38 am on February 5th

borderdogs borderdogs writes: I have watched the show on & off when PBS has allowed it to air when not conflicting with fund raising efforts.

The very first show I watched I thought it should be named "A Rough Cut on the Hand". Everything seemed rushed with a hurry up "hey Guys" every now & then. Don't get me wrong I am glad there are still woodworking shows on the air & I think it shows that Tommy loves what he does. That alone will improve the show. The last few episodes I watched were better & toned down so my guess is it will get much better as he continues. Roy Underhill would cut himself & continue to work while bleeding and at times his show seemed rushed too. His personality & charmisa along with his talent made the show unique & IMO a sucess. Now it's Tommy's turn good luck & best wishes, will be watching!
Rob Drummond
Hillsboro, NH
Posted: 1:52 pm on February 1st

scottnelson scottnelson writes: All in all disappointing. Very little training, a lot of personality and attitude that is not entertaining. I flinch every time I hear "you guys"
Posted: 9:25 pm on December 20th

wv_bass_assassin wv_bass_assassin writes: SLOW DOWN, ok Al? Jeez.....
Posted: 1:20 pm on December 11th

peteram peteram writes: I watched the wood finishing episode last weekend and felt that the show has improved from the first episodes. This one was paced a bit slower and was quite informative. The other participant added to the content versus the first show that I saw with the "sidekick" approach. Getting better......
Posted: 3:16 pm on November 23rd

cdkollars cdkollars writes: I have to say that if you are expecting a top notch 1/32 inch cut by 1/32 inch cut wood working show on tv you are not going to find it. The point of these shows are to get the viewer some ideas and and skill building procedures. And since its on tv, yes be entertaining. I am fairly new to wood working and I am getting sick of always seeing guys that have grandkids being the only demigraphic put on tv to do wood working projects. If you guys want this hobby to move forward as I do you had better open your minds to letting a new generation get there start on tv, Norm started his New Yankee Workshop show in 1988. After 22 years of being on tv, ya a new face is good. Good job Tommy.
Posted: 10:10 pm on November 10th

tchisel tchisel writes: hi...thanks for all the feed back..i understand and hear what your saying ..i shot all 13 episodes this summer so its all "in the can" as they say ...the order they are playing is the order in which we shot..we shoot for 12hours a day and get ton of film to work with..but its wicked hard for the editors to put every step on the show...its rushed as it is without them and the show does get better week to that i have more time to get going on season two i am sure it will be better..i am still very proud of this show and my team and believe the content on the show is terrific even with all the short comings of a season one.. keep the opinions and comments coming..and dont worry about hurting my feelings...we want a great show just like you !! you know you can post comments at my site...its easier for me to keep up...oh and thanks for watching!! i am trying my best!! i will get it down thanks guys!!! guys guys ..guys.. ha! i do seem to say that ALLOT!!
Posted: 5:55 am on October 31st

cactusj cactusj writes: I've already weighed in on two episodes and watched the lazy susan episode last night, parts of it three times just to understand what is being said. I saw some helpful tips, an attractive project to try, but some awkward-looking tasks, e.g., controlling a heavy router to free-hand cut out for an inlay, and circle cutting on a table saw. Also, what was done to the other side of the wide board after the crown was planed off the convex side (seriously)? I don't think this is being critical, just offering feedback on something that I really love to see and spend my time doing. If I (and most other folks) didn't care, we wouldn't be spending time writing these comments, or watching the show. Would just like to see the show's production staff make improvements. Right guys? :)
Posted: 4:49 pm on October 29th

steve823 steve823 writes: I'm glad to see a new show like this. I wish there was more of them. I will have to agree with most commenters he does talk too fast. I'm older and my ears are slower. :-) I really liked the way dovetail joints was covered. I like more emphasis on the method rather than the product. I'm not exactly a beginner, but I can always learn from the way other people do things. I'm one who tends to take and idea from here and an idea from there and put them together to form a whole new idea.
Posted: 6:14 pm on October 28th

John_Como John_Como writes: I'm with KMACK. I have the DVR set to record the series. I've already learned a few new things. I don't recall Norm or David Marks ever devote a show on dovetails.
Posted: 5:02 pm on October 28th

domjdmba domjdmba writes: I don't like that there is another person helping with the projects, or the constant "OK, guys?". They should change that for the next season. The show to me seems more like a way to showcase the host's personality than a show about how a particular project is made.

Like it or not, shows like New Yankee Workshop and Wood Works set the bar for instructional woodworking show like Rough Cuts. Those two shows did an excellent job of providing informative and interesting content. I don't want to watch a show about some guy making a project; I want a show that details how that project is made. More project-focused and less host-focused. I am an experienced woodworker who has no trouble following along with the fast pace of the show, so my dissatisfaction with the show does not stem from confusion over what is going on but rather that the show lacks a certain attention to detail. Woodworking is a meticulous and detail-driven hobby, and this show demonstrates neither.
Posted: 10:05 pm on October 27th

kmack kmack writes: Hold on just a minute hear.Take a look back at Norm's first episodes and you will see the same hurried approach. This show is a work in progress, and Tommy is beholden to many outside forces to 'get the show in the can'. Like any show it may need to work some kinks out, but this show is far and away a giant leap in quality over what Norm was doing. Tommy is an Amazing woodworker and he is one of the most determined human beings I have ever met. O.K. Yes I know Tommy as well as Eli, We are all Graduates of the North Bennet St School In Boston Ma. This is the oldest trade school in America, and the only school to be given the Cartouche award by the Society of American period Furniture Makers. We have paid thousands of dollars to learn the ins and outs of Fine Furniture, and Tommy is giving it to the masses for a 1/2 hr. of your time. It is very easy to tear a guy down, but you have to hand it to the guy he wants to up the ante on what has been offered in the past.

If you stay tuned you will see the show and Tommy get better, and the projects build on each other to a cohesive whole. Rome was not built in a day, this show will not be perfect in one or two episodes.

I cannot apologize for the Boston dialect, mine is just as bad, But lest we forget that Boston is where America began. Every other region in the country has the accent,not us. Defensive? a bit.

Tommy is filling a void that is severly underserved in the woodworking community. Give the guy a shot, he listen's, he wants to produce the best show he can. He is not an Actor, he is a regular guy who has made this show happen almost single handedly. has he been helped, yes. Has a little Irish Luck been on his side,yes. Has he worked his butt off, Absolutely.

Your comments are being read and I am sure Tommy is working this very moment on slowing his speach down and we have already spoken about toning down the Bahston Accent, but put yourself in his shoes. I would be so excited and nervous at this very rare opportunity, I would barely be able to contain myself much less spit out anything that made sense.

Patience is a virtue, and I am willing to give the guy his due.Its easy to point out what is wrong in this life, much harder to praise what is good. At last we have a show that speaks to US,lets support one of are own.
Posted: 8:26 am on October 27th

Jim D. Jim D. writes: a little light on woodworking and very rough on the teaching aspect, something Norm became quite good at.

It seemed as though the show was moving along at 100 MPH so you never got the feeling you were learning anything in detail. Kind of like window shopping from a moving automobile. Right Ely? (Heard that about 6 times)

The trestle table was not a difficult build and I think I walked away with the feeling that I just got a 5 min explanation on how the build went rather than participated in the building. Whenever I finished watching an episode of NYW I always felt that I had enough understanding of the project to go out and attempt it myself. I'm afraid Tommy just left me wondering "what happened"?

I'll continue to watch in hope that it will improve.

Posted: 12:04 pm on October 25th

kscott45 kscott45 writes: While I am happy to see WWing back on TV, I'm having a hard time with this show. Too much non-WW material and he talks too fast. Slow down, show more WW and it will be better.
Posted: 10:00 pm on October 24th

billsturley billsturley writes: I stumbled across episode one (trestle table) while channel surfing and saw episode two (step stool) a couple of days ago. What appealed to me most are the attempts to show set up procedures, layouts and details on tools use. I'm not particularly interested in watching a table saw blade make its cut - but I am very interested in tips and techniques to set up up the saw for an accurate cut. Tommy shows some of this type detail and I hope there is more of this. If the show is for woodworkers the layouts, setups, and tool use tips are important. I agree Tommy talks a bit fast and has a few little unnerving speech habits ("hey guys" every other sentence is a bit distracting) but he's a wood worker, not an actor. I'm sure he'll smooth out his presentations and refine his personal speech quirks as he gains experience. The show has great potential. Tommy reminds me a bit of Roy Underwood trying to do every step live, on camera in less than 30 minutes. I guess that's why Roy always sports bandages on his fingers.
Posted: 8:28 am on October 24th

finewoodmag finewoodmag writes: missed episode one but saw the one about the stepstool, I think it will be a great show, it does seem a little rushed, but I hope the emphasis stays on hand tools, something Norm didnt show very often, even though we dont have norm anymore I say a hearty welcome to Tommy.
Posted: 6:57 pm on October 20th

Phil VK Phil VK writes: I have read a few of the comments on the new 'Rough Cuts' show, and I have to agree with the majority of them. Tommy does talk a bit fast and work even faster. He does have some sayings that he repeats on a regular basis, which could be changed. But I think we all have to remember one thing, this is the ONLY show of its kind available to many people in their living room. I am a highschool wooodworking teacher and love the fact that my students can watch a show at home that is educational and might spark an interest in woodworking. We should all step up and teach people this wonderful trade, lets not leave it only to Tommy. Let the show spark an interest, and the community of skilled woodworkers can teach the rest. Keep doing what you are doing Tommy, plant that seed, the best way you can.
Posted: 5:14 pm on October 20th

Deetles Deetles writes: Show is okay but like the other 3 thousand four hundred and ninety five people I've talked to, he needs to SLOW DOWN.
Every forum I've been on the people all say the same thing, too fast. If the producers can't take a hint I'm afraid the show won't be that popular. Just MHO.
Posted: 2:47 pm on October 20th

DonzoB DonzoB writes: Sad to relate, here in the hinterlands, our local PBS station reports that they have "just begun recording" Rough Cuts, whatever that means.
Tentative start date is December.
Posted: 2:41 pm on October 20th

cactusj cactusj writes: Enjoyed the wall cabinet show better than the stool project, especially how modernday moldings evolved and seeing Phil Lowe hand cut molding. Segment on Boston Church was really rushed, and the rapid-fire speech pattern throughout some of the show feels like editing speedup or too much adrenaline. Wall cabinet project looks like a good one to try DIY hand-cut moldings. Saw some safety concerns with the table saw ... no slitter with the zero-clearance insert, and no clamping jig to secure small frame pieces while cutting dado slots. Showing how to get refined router cuts with multiple passes would have been good for beginners. Not sure how the cabinet back piece that is anchored with a screw on each edge is allowed to move like its mate. I really enjoy woodworking and will continue to watch and learn.
Posted: 11:37 am on October 20th

workbench1 workbench1 writes: Having seen the new Rough Cuts this past weekend I personally think some adjustments are in order. I believe one reason Norm appealed to me and others over these many years is the ability to show what he was doing. Even if you were unfamiliar with woodworking terms or processes his show let you know how to do things. I am now and experience woodworker and had no poblem following Tommy but thinking of how it was back when, I'm not sure I would be watching the show. I love the idea of visiting other craftsmen's shops but not in the same show. It rushes things too much. If we are going to viist, let's do it and see what they build or do. But, when Tommy does a project, do it, show it, explain it and use the whole twenty some minutes for that. I have been aware of Tommy and his work on line for several years and if he slows down, talks a little less like everyone knows what he is doing and teaches, I think he will do fine.

A.W. in Ohio
Posted: 10:58 am on October 19th

drllucas drllucas writes: By the way, his new website is outstanding with good videos and great video tips.
Posted: 10:01 pm on October 18th

drllucas drllucas writes: I like Tommy Mac, but would encourage him to slow down the speech pattern and give a little more time to detailing/displaying the skills. His older video blog is better about teaching the skills. That is what will set his contribution apart. He is highly skilled. If he can encourage us to attempt those same skill-sets by actually teaching it will be a worthwhile production.
Posted: 10:00 pm on October 18th

BA3 BA3 writes: I thought episode #2, broadcast over the weekend, was a definite improvement from the first episode. It was still fast paced, crammed with a lot of information but it had more detail of the whys and hows behind a technique. As someone who takes a long time to lay out and hand cut a dovetail joint, seeing a professional do it with less exactness was something of an inspiration -- it was almost permission to not have to have every detail precise. It was also interesting that there was a good tip for fixing poor joints after the end of the show proper (in the spot where many shows put in comical outtakes from the show).
Posted: 5:01 pm on October 18th

d2810kgc d2810kgc writes: as a beginer in woodworking i found the show to fast to follow and one should be able to send for a copy of project.otherwise i think it's grait that a new woodworking show is on to fill the void of not having norm.thanks and good luck.
Posted: 2:16 pm on October 18th

garyprott garyprott writes: Maybe we can all give this show a bit of time to mature. I seem to remember some of the responces when Norm use the "biscuit" or,,,,,OMG the 'brad nailer". We all learned to love Norm. Tommy has a way to go, but maybe he needs out support. So I will wait a while and watch what happens. Hope he can make the changes and make the show a success.
Posted: 9:26 pm on October 17th

DavidWI DavidWI writes: I hope he succeeds; but this will take openness to learning and quickly evolving the show's approach--mostly by those managing/filming the show.

Downshift from presto to andante, eliminate/reduce some of the repeated phrases, incorporate his associates in a more meaningful & interactive way or cut them out.

Learn from Norm A. without imitating him. Tommy's personality needs to come through but in a more deliberate, easy-paced, conversational manner.

Posted: 8:26 am on October 17th

peteram peteram writes: Watched my first episode (building a step stool) this morning.
While I found the hand tool instruction interesting, it was far too rushed. The use of a "sidekick" and their banter is somewhat irritating and really (in my opinion)does not add anything. I also had the feeling that the host is pushing his personality a bit too hard. I really would like to see this succeed and be around as long as The New Yankee Workshop was and hope that it gets better as time goes on.
Posted: 4:41 pm on October 16th

BruceSomers BruceSomers writes: I find it difficult to understand how watching and not appreciating one show of the many that are broadcast by PBS would drive one to never watch another show aired by that broadcaster. Perhaps vowing to never watch that show would make more sense.

I've not yet seen the Rough Cut Woodworking With Tommy Mac show. However, I have seen the teasers and I've seen Tommy's other podcasts. I eagerly await viewing the Rough Cut show when its hits the airwaves here this December. As R W Young implied, the show is not designed to hold your hand and teach you every nuance of the techniques demonstrated, but rather to inspire woodworkers to get out into their shops and build something.

Having said that, I ask those inclined to criticize the show to provide PBS and WGBH (the producer) with constructive advice on what they feel would make the show better.

Posted: 5:53 pm on October 15th

hubiedoo517 hubiedoo517 writes: I'm sorry but I think the show was a joke. It was God awful. How can any self respecting woodworker say that they enjoyed that piece of crap. If that show gets picked up for another season I'll never watch PBS again...
Posted: 5:25 pm on October 14th

rwyoung rwyoung writes: Unless I've missed something, this show does exist to "teach" by holding your hand. It exists inspire. As far as learning the mechanics of a technique, no one who is an armchair woodworker will ever get anywhere.

Watch the show, make a few notes, turn off the TV, get up off behind and go make chips. It is that simple (or easy-shmeezy).
Posted: 3:09 pm on October 14th

BigD1 BigD1 writes: Yes, I heard it said, "I'm not Norm, won't be like Norm, won't do it like Norm, don't want to be like Norm."

I guess I'm just from the old school....give me Norm. The show was okay, it will improve with time. If it doesn't, it won't be on for any length of time. For Tom...may it last forever. I just won't be one of those watching. Good luck.
Posted: 1:02 pm on October 14th

Jay111 Jay111 writes: I will add my 2 cents. I liked the show, and have to agree it seamed rushed. Either they were trying to get too much information in one show, or they were providing too much detail on a specific topic. I had seen some negative comments on some of Tommy's saying, but they did not bother me. Finally, the New Yankee Workshop has us trained as to what a woodworking show like this should be. When Rough Cuts does thinks in a different style than Norm, it appears to be wrong. As time goes on us views will change our viewing perceptions, and the program will change its style. I think this show can have a good 5 years if not more.
Posted: 10:34 pm on October 13th

BA3 BA3 writes: I too saw the first episode this weekend and agree with many of the comments already posted. I enjoyed it, thought it had a lot of good ideas but was very fast paced and skipped over many details.

A perfect example of a missed opportunity for more detail or instruction came when Tommy "felt" the grain (for planing) but never explained what it was he was trying to determine and why -- a novice would never know if the intent was to work with or against the grain.
Posted: 11:40 am on October 11th

myopic myopic writes: I saw the show for the first time this weekend and pretty much agree with what has been said so far. In my previous life I was a film director focusing on national t.v. commercials and have a couple thoughts to offer. The show was shot and edited very well for the small budget they probably have. Tommy's handlers (producer and assistant director) clearly need to work on eliminating his favorite annoying expressions without making him camera shy. He has an enthusiastic personality which comes across on camera and needs to be emphasized. However the audience missed so many of the details of how the process worked. The episode I saw showed a "sweet" walnut trestle table. The trip to the sawmill should have been saved for an entire episode rather than cramming it into the making of the table, leaving too little time to explain the fabrication process and details. And if Tommy slows down a bit in his explanation and says goodbye to his unneeded trusty sidekick, I think the show has a very good chance of success. This kind of programming always takes a season to work out the kinks. Certainly I will watch again. Easy sleazy.

Posted: 9:16 am on October 11th

garyprott garyprott writes: I too enjoyed the show. Ok, its a bit fast. Maybe Tommy needs to have a longer show or break it down in a couple of weeks. Give the guy a chance. We do need to support our craft.
Posted: 5:25 pm on October 10th

arts1955 arts1955 writes: Way to fast and with no fine details. Flet like i was in a race for time slow it down man.
Posted: 10:13 am on October 10th

JeffB JeffB writes: BTW, I did like the hand tool segments.
Posted: 6:23 pm on October 9th

JeffB JeffB writes: I just saw the show. When Tommy says "Look it" you better do as he says because if not you will miss a lot. I don't at all mind what Tommy says and how he talks to Eli, but this show needs to sloooowwww way down and feature more of the steps in the process to complete a project. Case in point: cutting the table feet on the bandsaw, I wanted to see Tommy's process of removing saw marks - nothing. The breadboard ends to the table top are discussed, I wanted to see how Tommy planed the breadboards flush with the table top - nothing. The very next thing we see is the final steps of the finish being applied. Whole steps in the process are skipped. It could be a much better show.

Since I had already read many of the comments on this post, I viewed the show knowing I would comment here. I hoped it would be a better critique. But, the Rough Cut team needs to improve the show for it to last like Norm's did.
Posted: 5:45 pm on October 9th

BruceSomers BruceSomers writes: I'm glad many of you are chiming in to support Tommy and the new show. Although my local PBS station will not air Rough Cut Woodworking With Tommy Mac until December, I am keeping up with what's going on by following the Rough Cut Facebook Page and even more information on Tommy's website. By the way, I've met Tommy too. He was very approachable, answered my questions (and even asked a few of his own) and he showed a genuine interest in helping me become a better woodworker. Really, what more could a we ask for?

Posted: 5:32 pm on October 7th

FineWoodworkingEditors FineWoodworkingEditors writes: Hi Tommy, Thanks for weighing in.

Do you know if full episodes will be broadcast online? I'm sure that people outside the U.S. will want to tune in too (and those who can't get it on their local station). In an interview with Matt Kenney, I think that Laurie Donnelly mentioned this would be possible.

Good luck with the show, Gina, FW
Posted: 1:43 pm on October 7th

tchisel tchisel writes: Hi guys,I really appreciate all the feed back!! I am really proud of the work my team was able to do this year and I am already working on next years show.Please feel free to head over to our site and let us know who and what you want to see. Again,Thanks for all the feed back and I promise to work even harder to make the show better in the future.For all of you looking for some deeper material,i just posted over 25 videos on the tool box dvd i made last check it out...its pretty sweeeeet!! :)

Posted: 12:16 pm on October 7th

Tartan30308 Tartan30308 writes: I haven't caught his show, but I look forward to it. My interest in this show is to improving my skills and procedures; if he's not about teaching, I'm unlikely to become a loyal viewer. I'm particularly eager to learn about high-end artisan work, especially de-mystifying and achieving accuracy with hand tools.
Posted: 10:49 am on October 7th

chaim chaim writes: Wow you guys/gals sure are a rough crowd!
Boy, am I glad I’m not the one in the hot seat. You have to realize Tommy is a terrific artisan and the show is produced by people selling a product (producers).
Tommy isn’t a teacher (per say) and he isn’t a TV personality (yet) he’s a great wood worker who is stepping up to bat at the plate. He is a patriot and he’s filling a void in TV land just to entertain you.
You need two or three seasons to develop your TV presence and personality.
Only one show aired so far! You guys are so critical of it! If you think the show is too rushed ask for a forty five minute or an hour long show. Make it a partnership with Tommy, e-mail suggestions to him, write your providers to include the show in their lineup. Make a difference don’t just criticize.
I thought it was great!
Keep up the good work Tommy!!!

Posted: 9:52 am on October 7th

ctsooner ctsooner writes: I live in Berlin, CT (center of the state) and can't get the LI station off my antenna. I'll try again,but it doesn't seem to work. Is there somewhere online where you can view the shows? Matt, do you ever show off your workshop? I take courses with Bob VanDyke in Manchester and am putting together my first ever shop. I'm 50 and have MS, but I find that I can take my time and really enjoy working with my hands again. Thanks.
Posted: 9:45 am on October 7th

Tom93311 Tom93311 writes: In my neck of the woods (or desert) woodworking is a dying hobby. If it was more popular, we would not be making such a big deal about this new show. The secret is how to make a dollar for the TV people so they will agree to produce more shows and branch out to fit in the finer woodworking categories us veterans wish to see. So let's not knitpick anything and be supportive at this point. When we have more than one show to choose from then we should make public our preferences. For now, let's stand united. Criticizing the show just gives more reason to pull the plug. Let's support our craft.
Posted: 6:01 pm on October 6th

Ckenney Ckenney writes: I followed Tommy Mac on his podcasts; and it was great stuff for woodworking. Lots of details and tips. After seeing the first segment at WIA, I don't know if his delivery will fly for a general audience. Its a little fast paced. (I don't mind the accent, I grew up in Mass. (Accent? What accent?))

I haven't seen the full episode, tho. Despite having 3 different PBS feed on my satellite, I checked the listings and NONE of them are carrying it!!?!??!!!??!?!!??!

@*&$)!*&$(&!$&^*!$)!*&!$#*&%)*&%$!($^#(&^@$* &! !
Posted: 11:21 am on October 6th

bwood bwood writes: As a beginning woodworker I lucked upon meeting Tommy, Eli and Al a couple of years ago. Tommy's work is really spectacular as is Eli's and Al did my cherry kitchen which is beautiful. There is no acting on this show and the expressions/accent etc. is all genuine on and off camera. Keep up the good work. Everyone is looking for something different out of the show and you can't please everyone. Constructive criticism is great and I'm sure welcomed. The rest- come on just let it go.
Posted: 10:27 am on October 6th

Bowis Bowis writes: I have only seen a 10 minute preview of the first show, so I don't feel I can comment on the quality of the program just yet. However, I do know Tommy's work and have met him several times. The key thing to understand here is that the comparisons with Norm are really like comparing apples to oranges. Tommy is one of the most accomplished fine woodworkers out there, while Norm is a carpenter that did a show on fine woodworking. The Tommy you see on the show is pretty much the real Tommy (minus a few explicit words here and there). I feel to some extent PBS is trying to white wash his personality a bit, and frankly doesn't set Tommy up as the accomplished fine woodworker that he is. I fear a lot of people got the impression he's just a "pretty face" PBS is putting out there to get a younger audience, but Tommy is indeed the real deal. I'll give the show a chance, in hopes that some of his real talent comes across and I learn some things along the way.
Posted: 9:49 am on October 6th

MKenney MKenney writes: I wanted to chime in again and point out a few things. An earlier person suggested that PBS is more interested in compelling on-screen personalities--and might look past a lack of skill--in their hosts. I don't know about that, but I can say from personal experience that Tommy is an excellent craftsman. I have seen his work in person, touched it, opened the drawers, looked at the dovetails, the carvings, etc. And it is all great work. Second, I know Tommy has a big personality and that some might see him as arrogant, but that's not my experience. He is a genuine guy and he really cares about woodworking and helping others learn. Finally, I didn't say this in my blog, but I'm looking forward to the rest of season one and the next two seasons. Sure I see room for improvement, but that's not a bad thing. And I'm patient enough to give Tommy and his crew a chance to learn and improve the show.
Posted: 9:29 am on October 6th

Shawn_Nystrom Shawn_Nystrom writes: Hey guys,
I am really surprised at the intollerence and impatience exhibited here. I met Tommy at the woodworking in America event last week in Ky. He seemed like a really great guy; outgoing and passionate about woodworking. It might take a few shows to get in the groove but I think he has the talent and determination. Remember the beautiful tiger maple desk Norm built one season ? It looked great on the outside until you opened one of the small drawers revealing plywood sides and back. Norm was a carpenter, Tommy is a woodworker ! Give him a chance. If he can smooth things out we will have a much better foundation for fine craftsmanship. I enjoyed Norm for many years and was sometimes inspired by him. We woodworkers have a habit of being snooty and aloof at times. Take a deep breath and cross your fingers and I'll bet Tommy will win out in the end.
Shawn Nystrom
Suffolk, Va.
Proud member: Tidewater woodworkers guild, Society of period furniture makers.
Posted: 9:00 am on October 6th

Anji12305 Anji12305 writes: It's a tough slog, following an icon.

With a falling viewer share, I believe PBS directs production companies to develop telegenic talent. This may not put the most capable in front of the camera.

I like the fact that in this setting, hand planes are at least mentioned, if not featured as tools.

FWIW - I get more from reading these pages (shooting boards) than any shuck and jive with pretty lighting.

wpt, ma
Posted: 7:46 am on October 6th

gabzachuck gabzachuck writes: After Norm left, my wife & I had to content ourselves with Scott Phillips. Really nice man, but sometimes I looked askance at what he was creating at times. In this new show the "instructor" seems so enamored with himself over the craft and his poor patronized assistant, that the presentation suffered as a result. The beauty of Norm's shows was that he was a regular guy & could be just like a friend you used to know down the street. If young Tommy Mac can't get control over his narcissistic behavior and get his act together he sure won't have me as a viewer much longer.
Posted: 1:58 am on October 6th

BigRoofer BigRoofer writes: I'm sure it takes awhile for these guys to get a rhythm. He has good energy and I like the fact he has a non-goofball assistant. However, I sure miss Norm and don't understand why they just didn't re-sign him. I also miss David Marks. The best videos I've seen in the Norm-Marks style and quality is Mark Spagnoulo. Mark is a natural teacher and a natural on camera. I think his observations of the whole David Marks thing convinced him to stick to the web, however.

I'll watch anything about woodworking, but these shows aren't really for the avid woodworker. Best wishes and good luck to Tommy & Co.
Posted: 1:10 am on October 6th

Avispex Avispex writes: I recorded this show by mistake thinking it was an episode of "New Yankee Workshop." I also recorded it at a very high resoultion by mistake; the 30 minute show was over 3 gb of memory on my hard drive. This is not to say I did not want to watch it, I would have recorded it deliberately if I had known it was going to be on last Saturday afternoon, but my program listings were incorrect.

I watched it last night and my first thought was, "this man does not have teaching experience." Now, maybe that is correct, maybe not, but the show was not presented or crafted to be an educational tool. It was more of a demonstration mixed with entertainment. I think we are used to watching these shows as video instruction manuals for specific projects or techniques. This Rough Cut show was more of a fast placed blitz intro to Tommy's personality and style than it was a step by step project tutorial.

Also, none of the comments in this thread or in the other thread in the Knots section indicate that people who watched this Rough Cut premiere had ever watched Tommy's various podcasts. This new sponsored version maintains many stylistic conventions of the podcasts, which Tommy has been making for years, in many cases, shooting them himself while goofing around in his shop with his girlfriend, pals, cronies, etc. I thought he did a remarkably good job of maintaining the feel of the podcasts in his new show, although this may not be the ideal style for a larger PBS audience. Already I am getting the sense that people consider his quaint sayings to be moer annoying than charismatic. One other aspect is that in his podcast he would spend multiple episodes on a single project. A specific episode may focus on just one step or detail in a long process. Doing an entire project in one 22 minute segment may strain his ability to convey his strengths while moving through all of the construction steps in any detail. However, both the informal nature of the podcasts and Tommy's ability to show whatever steps he wanted in as much length as he wanted allowed him to share what he was doing without the frenzied pacing that the time limit of the "Rough Cut" show demanded. Also, we expect more systematic and deliberate dialog in TV shows on PBS than the meandering and silly coments Tommy would make while working in his shop on his podcasts.

Now, here is what recording this program in high definition digital did get me. One of the things I most enjoyed about the old Tommy Mac podcasts was his focus on the aesthetic qualities of the wood iteslf. He would spend whole episodes just picking his boards for a certain project or laying out his cuts on the rough stock to produce the optimal end result. This was something that I never saw in a Norm Abrams show. It seemed more like something Krenov would discuss. Tommy would speak at length not just about grain, but about considering where milled boards would align on the final project as a factor in where to place which cuts in the first stage of milling rough stock. Similarly, some of the shots of the wood in the "Rough Cut" premiere were close ups of grain patterns in his boards and in the table project. He was trying to draw attention to subtle textural details that were both tactile and visual. At one point they tried to show the exact effect of using a handplane on a board and the extremely crisp edge that resulted. In another shot they presented a close up view of the inside of a mortise while being cut with a chisel. These aesthetic elements represent a rarified component of woodworking that is separate from simply finishing a project in a step by step lesson plan. They also represent an aesthetic sensitivity that seems oddly juxtaposed with Tommy's verbal goofiness, "Okey dokey, hokey pokey."

However, the enduring charm of the podcasts is the mixture of Tommy's humble and goofy personality mixed with his love of the craft and his fanatical attention to the details that bring out the beauty of the wood he uses in his finished projects. I hope he finds a way to bring these strengths and perspectives to the larger PBS audience in future shows.
Posted: 5:32 pm on October 5th

MacGregorWoodWorks MacGregorWoodWorks writes: I must say I was not impressed with the opener, but I will give it a chance. After all there are no other quality woodworking shows on TV now. I was really hoping for another David Marks style show and projects, but I think that is too much to ask. Give Tommy Mac a chance and maybe he will surprise us. Its better than watching the weekend political talk shows.
Posted: 3:37 pm on October 5th

nailhead49 nailhead49 writes: I thought the show was more suited for the DIY Network or HGTV. Not even close to the teacher Norm was.
Posted: 2:47 pm on October 5th

JoeAlpeza JoeAlpeza writes: If I hear "sweeeeeet!" or "easy-schmeasy" one more time I'm going to puke.

I was not impressed by anything else.
Posted: 11:40 am on October 5th

Chitonblue Chitonblue writes: Unsatisfactory, disappointing experience: ROUGH CUTS refers to the unpolished, rapid-fire, meaningless dialog, overly rapid pace, skipped steps and condescending references toward woodworking assistance. An experienced woodworker could follow the show by extrapolating what is not shown or described. Of course, an experienced woodworker is unlikely to view this show with such a basic level of woodworking project. The intermediate and beginner will be soon lost because there are many essential intervening parts that are missing. The project, walnut table, really was not attractive with its disproportinately thin top. Ugh goes to some of the techniques shown. Some techniques (incompletely shown, explained or given a rationale for) are not appropriate for beginners and will lead to disappointment in results or product failure.
Posted: 10:51 am on October 5th

jumanji jumanji writes: I watched the first show and will try a few more. Overall, unsatisfactory! Too cute, too fast and the banter he directed at his assistant seemed as though he was talking down to him. At the end of the show, like magic he had completed a trestle table. He ran through the project and like magic he was finished. I did not think the viewers even got a close up look at the finished results.
Posted: 10:30 am on October 5th

swenson swenson writes: Home › Forums › Fine Woodworking Knots › General Discussion.Rough Cuts with Tommy Mac
ViewEdit.Rough Cuts with Tommy Mac
swenson on Sat, 10/02/2010 - 16:54 in General Discussion


First impressions, first show In this area. I have never seen or heard of this guy before the controversy about the title Rough Cuts, when FWW started using the same name a few months ago. So I have no axe to grind. The first show shown here in the DC/MD/VA area was on building a trestle table, on Maryland Public TV.

On the plus side: Interesting little road trip to get wood and see a log being flitch cut with a big sideways bandsaw mill. Good production values in the film making without a lot of fancy transitions and effects. Good editing. Fast paced.

On the minus side: Fast paced... maybe too fast p[aced. More on that later. I watched this episode with my wife, no stranger to woodworking because of me, but not a woodworker herself. While I followed everything because I had experience with this particular project, she got lost early on. She didn't realize that the pre made parts were being used as patterns for the layout of the chalked ruff cuts, he talked too fast and everything was "all right guys, listen up guys, guys this guys that 'till it started to get to me as well. Also annoying was the "Easy sneezy, easy breezy" expressions, it got a bit much.

Other problems: Spring joints... I know they are controversial, he advocates them. Breadboard ends... needed because this is a trestle table with a big overhang but he did not make floating tenons, nor did he peg them with elongated holes. He didn't peg them at all as far as I could see, it looked like they were all glued in. The segment on finishing was hurried and I got next to nothing out of it.

Overall impression: Not enough time to cover everything they wanted to put in the show. He raced thru everything, talking faster and faster 'till I got out of breath just watching. If you are going to go at that pace you have to have periods that go a bit slower every once in a while to let the audience catch its breath.

All that said, I did enjoy the show, we are set up to record it every week, and I do look forward to watching more episodes and wish them success.

Posted: 1:38 am on October 5th

swenson swenson writes: There is a much longer thread going on in FWW "Knots" under the General Discussion forum, including comments from a FWW producer and a review by a network television editor with almost 50 years in the business, the last 28 of which were as an editor/producer for ABC News Nightline. This has been going on for several days now.
Posted: 1:05 am on October 5th

Dave Worsencroft Dave Worsencroft writes: I enjoyed the show and I saved it to review again. This is exactly what I have done when I take on a project. The pace is rapid on the show and I think the hints on using the hand chisel were practical. I see that there are 6 episodes that are listed and 7 that are not listed yet. More emphasis on teaching manual techniques will enhance the program.
Posted: 9:04 pm on October 4th

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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.