There is no more important rule than to wear these ... Safety Glasses
June 15, 2021 7:36 PM   Subscribe

The New Yankee Workshop site has 153 episodes of the show (with more to come) available for free viewing. Via.
posted by Mitheral (29 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
The interface is annoying, but this is quite an amazing resource! Thanks for posing!
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on June 15

Back when This Old House was still good (the 90s), NYW annoyed me as a luddite rope-and-chisels show. Since then, I've come around to woodworking-the-craft and would gladly choose this show over the contemporary TOH. Can't wait to dig in!
posted by rhizome at 8:41 PM on June 15

Luddite rope and chisel show? Norm has always been criticized for using every machine tool possible and essentially never reaching for a hand plane or chisel. And I say that as someone who has seen them all many times and loved watching them.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:06 PM on June 15 [15 favorites]

One of my favorite Norm things I've ever watched is resizing an old door.
posted by hippybear at 9:15 PM on June 15 [6 favorites]

Rhizome is possibly thinking of Roy Underhill.
posted by zamboni at 9:22 PM on June 15 [17 favorites]

The New Yankee Workshop was so delightful to me when I was younger. While I've never been much for woodworking, it gave me a solid background in how things go together and the basics of using a bunch of different power tools.

Sadly, that background has in recent years mostly been used to wonder why the hell someone is doing a thing that way rather than the easier way Norm showed us. Why oh why wouldn't you just use the router, silly YouTube person?

It is nice to have enough knowledge and a bit of healthy fear to use most power tools with some modicum of safety. It served me well.

Similarly, TOH gave me a basic understanding of how houses are put together and how the mechanical systems work, which was very useful back when I lived with people who owned their house.

The Woodwright's Shop was also very pleasing, but less practically useful.
posted by wierdo at 9:29 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]

The only Michael Winslow-esque sound effect I can make with my mouth is the sound of an air nailer, from years of watching NYW with my dad.

Every time Norm would put a nail in a front-facing finish surface, dad would yell “Come on!”
posted by hwyengr at 9:41 PM on June 15 [8 favorites]

Growing up, this show was a weekly ritual for my dad and me. We had a pretty decent garage cabinet shop and built numerous Norm-inspired pieces. As an adult living in a large city on a different continent I've come to appreciate the Roy Underhill approach, which requires less space, makes less noise, and is plenty efficient for hobby woodworking. Both have their places.
posted by St. Oops at 10:08 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

Both have their places.

Some, like The Wood Whisperer advocate for a hybrid approach. And even old-school "woodworking as craft" guru Paul Sellers uses a few power tools to quickly dimension lumber. In case you feel bad for not being a purist one way or the other...
posted by Harald74 at 11:33 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]

Having Norm be my first exposure to fine woodworking was tough. I want to get into it more, but I find myself saying a lot, “Oh if only I had a better table saw” or “I really need a mortiser to attempt X” or “Well, can’t do that without a jointer, planer, and router table”. (My dad got a lot further in the hobby than I did, had all those things, and still got stuck on lacking various tools.) I think for instruction, someone with a heavier focus on hand tools, or buying inexpensive where possible, is a lot better.

If I just want meditative higher-end cabinetmaking porn I go for channels like Square Rule that are a lot better at it (and still use hand tools so much more than Norm).
posted by supercres at 11:37 PM on June 15 [4 favorites]

One of my favorite Norm things I've ever watched is resizing an old door

Check out the coffee table he makes out of used pallets. You need a planer and a joiner.
posted by mikelieman at 12:05 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]

There is no more important rule than to wear these ... Safety Glasses

Was there any specific reason this disclaimer was added? When the show first came on, I remember my dad joking about how unsafe Norm was, and after an albeit cursory check I can confirm that it doesn't seem to appear in early episodes but was added in season 2.

I used to watch The New Yankee Workshop religiously as a kid, but these days I get my woodworking fix from Under Dunn which has just the right amount of self-deprecating I'm-terrible-at-this-but-I'm-going-to-try-and-think-it-through-anyway humor for me to feel comfortable about my own (lack) of woodworking skills. Also, it was adorable watching him incorporate a radial arm saw into his workbench for making dados only to learn that radial arm saws are crap.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:16 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

Was there any specific reason this disclaimer was added?

I can't answer for Mitheral, but I will say that having grown up watching NYW not-infrequently, one of my clearest memories of the show is the weekly reminder to use safety equipment.

The other clear memory is his laser-guided saw. At the time, having what is essentially a laser pointer seemed an incredible luxury.
posted by timdiggerm at 5:32 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]

When I got a little older and more cynical, I started watching Furniture to Go on TLC which was like the polar opposite of New Yankee Workshop. There's even a cold open where "Norm" and "Steve" [Thomas] get fed up with their own respective PBS shows and drink a laboratory potion to turn Mr. Hyde-like into Ed and Joe.

New Yankee Workshop was many things, but it never did an extended furniture-related riff on Waiting for Godot.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:42 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]

Years ago, I had to explain this show to someone, and summed it up as "Norm Abrams is the Bob Ross of Wood."
posted by radwolf76 at 6:47 AM on June 16 [6 favorites]

We couldn't put on an episode of this growing up without my dad complaining that about the absolutely sterile shop without a spec of sawdust. I'm breaking this out for a binge on my next visit.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:28 AM on June 16

I would watch with my kid, waiting for the moment when it was time to get out the glue and biscuits
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]

Norm is one of the reasons I got into construction in my twenties and why I’m studying to be an industrial tech teacher now. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of TNYW and TOH — mostly centered around their extravagant budgets (for tools on TNYW and, well, everything on TOH) — but truthfully, they were the first and every similar show that came after is judged against them for a reason. They simply are the best at what they do.

There are tons of woodworking creators on YouTube, but I am very picky about what I watch. Too many of the creators follow the Tim Allen school of woodworking, which I find very off putting.

Under Dunn as mentioned above is very good. The host has an engaging style and honesty with his approach that I find very refreshing. Woodworking is a discipline that requires both a knowledge of How To Do Things and an ability to think clearly and critically about what you want to accomplish. Also, I think it’s important to show and embrace when things don’t quite go to plan.

The YouTube creator whose videos strike me the most like Norm is Third Coast Craftsman. He has a bit more of a hand tool focus, which some of you might like. Overall, his videos are straightforward and without any dude-bro posturing.

Probably my favorite is Tamar Hannah (3x3Custom). She does very nice work with a modest selection of tools and her presenting style is very welcoming and approachable. I think because she is largely self-taught, she doesn’t assume the viewer will know certain details and therefore her videos are very clearly put together. Her projects are simple enough for a beginner while still being challenging enough to keep the interest of a more seasoned woodworker.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:47 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]

Man, I miss my dad.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:49 AM on June 16 [13 favorites]

Seems like a perfect binge for Father's Day weekend.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:08 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]

Count me among the mefites who grew up watching this on Saturday afternoon PBS with my father. Before my parents divorced, my mother had intensely strong feelings about Children Should Not Have Access To Pop Culture, so this was one of the very few things she'd allow me share with my dad. That's probably an AskMe to which the answer is "therapy," but it also probably gives TNYW/TOH an extra layer of.. something.. but I do have fond memories.

I actually had a tiny intern role in the post-production of latter-season TOH one summer when I was in college. That was post-Steve Thomas, and not so good, though.

If we're doing inspirational woodworking Youtube channels: Ishitani Furniture. I want his shop, and I want his design sensibility! (The dog's nice too!)
posted by Alterscape at 8:14 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]

If you like TOH please check out the Essential Craftsman on youtube. He's got a playlist about building a spec house from site survey to completion that is just . Very accessible, very friendly.
posted by tayknight at 8:15 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]

My ex-husband loved this show and watched it on repeat over and over. He could tell you exactly how to make a dovetail or biscuit joint, he could recite the mantra about shop safety and he could talk with great authority on how to build a settle from scratch.

Plot twist: he couldn't knock a nail in straight.
posted by essexjan at 8:20 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]

Growing up, my father was not that handy. I generally fixed the small things and Mom paid for handyman services. My father once told me, "Jews like us don't use tools especially power tools." I sort of believed him. Then, I was watching NYW and I kept saying to my dad, "I thought you said Jews don't use tools. Look at Norm." "Son, there is always at least one exception to the rule."

To this day, I love woodworking shows and car/motor fabrication shows.
posted by AugustWest at 10:27 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]

The thing I could never get past was watching Norm, using every power tool in existence (though I’m well aware that he’s quite skilled at using hand tools), make some beautiful piece of furniture, possibly inspired by an antique shaker original, from really nice wood and then simply slapping a coat of poly on it at the end. I understand that polyurethane can be extrememly practical, especially if you’re making something like a kitchen table, but his end result often had the dull, lifeless sheen of mass-produced furniture.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 11:43 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]

I think that was just the style of the time. Both my grandfather and my dad always used poly because they had both been brought up applying dozens of coats of varnish to everything and a quick coat of poly was certainly easier and more practical than that.

Oh gosh. This NYW discussion has reminded me of how I used to hold glue sticks in various orientations to mimic power tools. Sometimes I'd put the glue stick dead center standing upright on my desk and I'd drag the paper over it, other times I'd hold it stationary above the desk pointing down to dab like a drill press or I'd keep it parallel to the surface of the desk for a little router table mimicry.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 12:28 PM on June 16 [5 favorites]

Man, I miss my dad.
posted by Don.Kinsayder

Came here to say exactly this. *sniff* Man all this sawdust in here....
posted by nevercalm at 4:00 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]

I watched NYW and used it as an inspiration to get into the hobby.
There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of the show.
One is that Norm is not a cabinet maker - he's a carpenter. There's definitely overlap, but in some of his early shows some of his joinery was egregious and included things like cross-grain gluing, something that he fixed later on.
Tool porn? Yup. But at the same time, he frequently showed how to do the same cut using multiple machines/techniques, which is great if you don't have his set up.

But he taught technique fairly well and I learned a lot from him. Using his plans and watching the show, the first project I made was his blanket chest (S1). It has a number of egregious mistakes, but has been in use in my house for 25 years and has outlived much Ikea furniture. My second was a shaker bedside table (also S1). I went on to use the techniques that he demonstrated to design a dresser from scratch. Some of the real fun was making changes - for the table I used maple and instead of a breadboard top (to hide the end-grain of the pine that he used), I made it one piece with a nice routed pattern on the edges.

In the past decade, I haven't had as much time to do woodworking, but this past year, I made a sewing box and two clocks from plans in Woodsmith.

So yeah, Norm got me into this hobby and I'm happy with that.
posted by plinth at 7:42 AM on June 17 [3 favorites]

Rhizome is possibly thinking of Roy Underhill.

Yes! "The Woodwright's Shop." His skill with a bit and brace is to be admired.

I've now watched a video. This is the good Norm! From the 90s!

And I should add that this was the show that made me think of woodworking as my "retirement job," if in fact I ever retire.
posted by rhizome at 1:12 PM on June 17

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