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TM reader Ned writes: “The Woodwright’s Shop was the original woodworking TV show on PBS, and now they’ve posted streaming video of season 26 on their website. If any Toolmongers don’t know who Roy Underhill is, then by all means watch a couple episodes and you’ll be hooked. Then call, email, and fax your PBS station and ask for them to add The Woodwright’s Shop to their lineup since it’s rare to find it broadcast anywhere in the major media markets. It beats reruns of Router Workshop any day — just take a look at episode 2612!”

Episode 2612 is indeed a treat, featuring a New York shop that still uses 19th century belt-driven power tools.  And you thought you need that $3,500 table saw to make fine furniture.

The Woodwright’s Shop, Season 26 (Free!) [PBS.org]


20 Responses to Free TV From PBS: The Woodwright’s Shop

  1. Jake says:

    Other than the excellent use of old hand tools, the other thing I remember about Roy Underhill is that he’d manage to nick himself and with the physical excursion that some of the tools took (like a treadle lathe), he’d be actively bleeding and they’d keep on taping.

  2. Michael says:

    Roy Underhill is real treasure, I have copies of his first shows from the late 70’s (he’s been on 26 yrs!!) and he cut himself on the 3rd show, making a shaving horse and bled all over the project. His 20th anniversary show from 2000 featured the many and various times he’s cut himself onair. the show is filmed in one take with no edits.

  3. Blaise Pascal says:

    The show is essentially filmed live in one take. That’s why he doesn’t stop when he nicks himself. It’s also why his pace is so frantic at times. But it also means you never get “We’ll just run these 15 boards through the router” sequences, or the interminal “before we get started, let’s have a word about shop safety…” lectures. But then, the nicks, bruised thumbs, etc, he gets are excellent words about shop safety.

  4. TL says:

    Never really been a fan of his show. I appreciate the skills, history, and craftsmanship required to do everything he does with hand tools, but believe power tools are popular for a reason. I can achieve similar results faster, with far less practice, and MUCH less bleading.

  5. Steve Thompson says:

    So funny you should mention the nicks and cuts. It’s the first thing I thought about when I saw this article. I always thought Roy would make a good Saturday Night Live parody – similar to Dan Akroyd’s famous Julia Child sketch. So funny.

  6. nrChris says:

    Did anyone else watch the episode on the antique power tools? Check it out–about halfway through there is the scariest machine I have ever seen–a dovetail machine. It basically requires the operator to reach over two spinning saw blades to guide the stock, and the last step entails going backwards against one of the blades used in an earlier cut. (That particular blade may be straight tipped, but it was scary nonetheless.)

  7. Perry Jones says:

    I saw the episode with the old power tools. It made me wonder just how many fingers were lost in that shop when it was originally running. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but there must have been at least four finger-severings a year. More if they were training newbies.

    It really makes me appreciate tools with safety guards and deadman switches.

  8. Evan N. says:

    I remember this show–I didn’t know they still made new episodes! I assumed I was watching re-runs all along. I remember when he did an episode where he sharpened a chisel and ax on a wheel and instructed us on all the stages of proper sharpening, from wire edges to final stropping. I don’t remember seeing him bleed though.

  9. ned.ludd says:

    The thing I love about this show? It’s almost as old as I am. I remember watching it as a kid when it was broadcast in Los Angeles, of all places. Take a minute to compare Underhill’s on-screen presence with our other favorite woodbutcher on PBS. Dry and monotone aren’t words I’d use to describe Roy’s presentation style, and it’s truly refreshing to see some DIY content from PBS that hasn’t been perverted by Russell Morash.

    I took a minute to send a “Thank you!” note using their feedback form, and actually got a polite and appreciative human being to respond on the other end. Good luck trying to get anything like that from WGBH.

    Right now I’m just hoping they’ll get around to posting older seasons on The WWS site. I’ve only got about 15 years of catching up to do…

  10. Tim says:

    I’ve been watching Roy since I was a kid, we used to get PBS from Bangor, ME in Nova Scotia and my Saturday mornings included TOH, Motorweek and the Woodwrights shop. If you watch the opening they haven’t changed it in all those years, look at some of the cars on the city street.

  11. Jim D says:

    Don’t have a TV so don’t see this kind of show too often. Enjoyed the old belt driven tools in the window and sash shop though. Reminded me of a show some years ago about a fellow who has a wood shop run by an old (18??) cast iron waterwheel. Horizontal drill press and all.
    Really enjoyed the last Woodwright segment about dovetails. Sure would like to know how they cut the rising dovetail and the puzzle mallet. Great show, bookmarked it immediately.
    Thanks so much for the info.

  12. Teacher says:

    Never miss TWS. The fact that Roy cuts himself and sometimes he has to fix problems make the show more realistic to me. I prefer it to New Yankee Workshop just because I found out that Norm makes 3 or 4 of each thing before he does the one on tv. Plus I don’t have a belt sander the size of an aircraft carrier deck or any of the other $$$$$$ power tools he has and never will.

    Someone mentioned Russ Morash. Our local paper had an article last year that stated the shop Norm uses in NYW and the barn from Ask This Old House both belong to Morash. In fact, Morash’s office is upstairs in the NYW. It also stated that Norm has a small shop at home, but almost all his work is done at the NYW site.

  13. Big Z says:

    I saw an episode the other week and I’m now hooked. Unfortunately my local PBS station doesn’t seem to run the shows on a regular basis and to make things worse I can’t find any videos for sale on the PBS website. Does anyone know where I can find some videos? Do you have any copies you want to sell?
    Thanks for any help you can give.

  14. william schug says:

    Enjoy the show very much, and learn a lot about how to work with wood. Would like to find out how to get plans for the candle box with the hidden drawer? Great piece of work, and a good program. > bill

  15. Big Z says:

    To Mr. Schug,

    I don’t know for sure and you may have already thought to look, but you may be able to find plans in one of Roy’s books.

  16. Spycat says:

    Glad I found other fans of WWS with my Yahoo search. I also have watched Roy since I was “young”. Kudos for WNIT of South Bend, IN for showing WWS. Now that I have cable DVR, WWS is set-up so I don’t miss it. I am truly impressed by the show’s format of “one take, no-edit” which is rare for today’s TV. I hope Roy never stops, he’s a national treasure. I believe he has influenced my own style as an instructor.
    My wife & I really enjoyed Episode 2607; we are practicing yogi’s, and Roy even made her laugh! Thanks again for the PBS link, Mongers.

  17. Festus says:

    Hey guys, just came across this blog. Have been a Woodwright watcher for a few years now and a friend of mine in Indiana and I are trying to locate videos of the old episodes. He has actually talked with Roy and Roy told him that back in the eraly dyas tape was so precious that they woul dtape over the used ones, thereby losing old episodes for later archiving. If anyone would be willing to share, we are trying to put together a collection of the shows for posterity and education. Let me know if you have any of the shows archived. Especially saw Michael’s log of about ayear ago that he said he had copies of shows in the 70’s. Let me know, spread the word.


  18. Kyle says:

    Hey what would you call that tool that you made dial rods with

  19. Meri Doxie says:

    Nice Post, better still I’m able to view it on my new iPhone.

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