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It’s a strange kind of thing that happens when you watch Norm build a Tiger Maple washstand and think to yourself, “I bet I could build that.” It doesn’t occur to you at the time that there’s no reason for you to want one or that you didn’t know what it was until Mr. Abrams explained it to you 30 minutes earlier.

As usual, watching Norm is a mix of down-home building, super-sweet tools, stock you could only drool over, and advice from a master craftsman with more years of experience than you’ll ever have. To sum up, season 21 of New Yankee Workshop is in full swing and it’s as good as ever.

Even if you don’t plan to make a turkey table or hat rack, seeing this go down is worth your time. I’m stoked about the dresser he’s got coming later this year — it’s on my list of things to build anyway, and I’d like to see how the New England boys get it done.

Sidenote: His collection of flannel shirts is truly staggering.

New Yankee Workshop [Website]


15 Responses to New Season Of Norm

  1. Jim German says:

    Ohh good I’m not the only one who is amazed at the stock he uses for some of his projects. Like that outdoor bench that used like $1k worth of teak.

  2. gillsans says:

    Is it just me or have they been showing repeats from the 80s? Or did he start dying his beard?

  3. Tony Clifton says:

    All the “new” episodes this season are “encore” presentations.

    Personally, if they’re not going to do new episodes anymore, then they should just end the show, and finally allow cable networks to show full seasons of repeats.

  4. MikeGCNY says:

    I think this season is all repeats. If you notice, the tools he is using are much older. The “washstand” episode is from 1997.

    I hope they don’t end the show. I just found the workshop on Google Maps the other day.

    If Norm decided to retire I would be willing to host the show 🙂

  5. gillsans says:

    Yes, I did notice that the tools seemed old…back when he was the only person on the planet with tools with lasers…

  6. fred says:

    There is nothing inherently wrong with using well maintained older tools. My two commercial shops have an abundance of older stationary tools that still do good work.
    While our newer Shopfox sliding table saw has more features than our older Unisaws (one also equipped with a sliding table) – I can see no reason to replace the Unisaws anytime soon. The same is true for our big old Dewalt radial arm saw, our Powermatic shapers etc. In our pipe/metal fabrication shop – our old Armstrong Blum Marvel and Doall saws are quite old – but we consider them still aptly named.

    I sometimes think that it is only on TV or in the movies that shops are equipped with every new gadget and tool. That’s probably more the outcome of manufacturer’s wanting to “place” their new tools such that they can be seen by the viewing audience.

    None of this is meant to take away from Norm – who has introduced a new generation of potential crafts people to a rewarding vocation and/or hobby that they otherwise may never have undertaken. Since woodshops seem to have disappeared from high schools – we need more Norms and shows like his to help in this regard. I’m with others who hope that PBS can continue to produce new shows in this vein.

  7. MikeGCNY says:

    If anyone is interested here is a complete list of NYWS Episodes.


  8. PutnamEco says:

    Re: fred says:
    There is nothing inherently wrong with using well maintained older tools.
    I often prefer older tools, the quality of todays tools, is sometimes lacking.

  9. Steve W. says:

    I must be the only one on the planet that thinks Norm is like a soap opera, almost all entertainment and not much of anything really useful. I probably am not the only one, however, who doesn’t have access to nine plunge routers, 243 router bits, planer, jointer, shaper, drum sander, and another dozen of Russell Morash’s out of the ordinary tools. I’m not jealous, but when he shows something being done with a $1400.00 setup and doesn’t mention a thing about how someone like me might get it done some other way, then that’s not worth watching to me.

    It had to be done, sorry.

  10. Ken says:

    Why don’t we ever find out how much the tools in the workshop cost? Also,why are we never ever informed of the cost of materials? It is also nice to build everything without one teeny tiny mistake.

  11. Johnnyp says:

    I concur with Steve W. and fred. Both dad and granddad were furniture makers
    of high quality. I am in possession of many of their tools and can tell you about
    the only power tools were a table saw and a router, which granddad used infrequently, dad also had a belt sander. Most of their stuff was specialized or
    made by themselves. I will admit that there is a certain amount of skill required
    to use these tools
    Another thing I have noticed that is very rarely done, you never see a setup being done. I suppose its for good reason. Table saw is a Craftsman circa 1948
    which is still accurate and parts still available

  12. MikeGCNY says:

    I thought it would be a great idea if Norm spent an entire season just showing setups and general techniques, placing emphasis on alternative ways to get the same result. I would much rather Norm teach me woodworking techniques rather than how to build a project.

    If you take a look at all of his tools (Listed here http://www.normstools.com/normstools.shtml), it would be safe to assume that he has several hundred thousands of dollars worth. I think his Timesaver sander is about the most ridiculous tool he has (http://www.normstools.com/images/normstools/timesaver.htm). How many professional shops even have this tool?

    In this weeks episode (the Washstand), he pulled out his Hitachi “resaw”. How many of us have one of these?

  13. ChrisW says:

    If you want to watch a master craftsman make something with simple tools almost anyone can afford, check out Roy Underhill on The Woodwright’s Shop.

  14. Steve W. says:

    That’s the show I like to watch. Roy will be doing something with a mess all around and say something like “If you don’t have one of these things, you can do it with a something else, it’ll just take longer.” That’s the part I like.

    Magazines are Family Handyman and Fine Woodworking. FW has a lot of projects that are beyond my skill, but at least the articles are written by people with normal shops, a collection of good tools that an average person could acquire over time and fit in a two car garage or large basement. They also mention an alternative way to do some procedures if you don’t have what’s presented. The Workbench Book is another example of what is really the best way to present a project. In either FW or TWB there were plans for a simple sturdy bench to build with a thick laminated top, the top had to be planed and they suggested taking it to a custom cabinet shop or millwork and have them do it instead of using a hand plane. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but then maybe I’m not very bright.

  15. paganwonder says:

    Norm is a tool sales rep. He seems to have a lot of practice. He has what appears to be a really cool job. I think he does his job well, (even in re-run). I especially like catching one of the really early episodes- when he didn’t have 9 routers and a custom molder- the projects were more simple (possible for the commoner to build with common tools).

    I also think his ‘infomercials’ helped create consumer demand that mainstreamed tool availability.

    Watch his show for the entertainment/fantasy. Look elsewhere to learn mastery of woodworking (or just acceptable competence)

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