And the winner is…..

I once saw an episode of Star Trek where Scottie was confined to quarters, and to make it a real punishment he was not allowed access to his technical manuals. Like Scottie, I enjoy my technical manuals too, e.g. woodworking magazines, woodworking TV shows, and woodworking YouTube videos. While I am thinking about it. I want to set the record straight. I’m not a Trekkie or a Sci-fi guy or Gamer. When you have a job and own two businesses, you have no leisure time. I’m just a normal working stiff who is at synagogue at 5:30am every weekday morning learning Talmud, and who does not work on Shabbos (Saturdays), and likes to drink sake at night just like any other guy.

So by now, I am sure you are wondering what this blog is about, or wondering “what the h__l is guy is talking about.” I want to talk about two woodworking shows. Sunday, I saw another episode of “Rough Cut”, and was disappointed once again. For a show entitled “Rough Cut” our host really glosses over the rough cut process. I wish I could do a better job figuring out what really bothers me about this show. Thankfully, there wasn’t a sidekick which was a bonus. He seems to gloss over the parts of the job that really cause problems. I know plenty of guys who really don’t really know how to use a hand plane, so why does he skip over the fact that he has planed a surface where two grain patterns were perpendicular to each other. He shows how he picks out what wood he wants in a big rough cut board, but never really addresses how he releases the wood, and the problems that can occur with case hardening, or what can happen to the wood once all those external forces are released. I’m going to state once again, that I have nothing against Tommy Mac. He seems to be a great guy.

Now compare “Rough Cut” to “The American Woodshop” with Scott Phillips. Aside from the fact that I think he gets paid for every pocket screw he uses, his show seems to be a bit more focused on the skill level of the audience. I saw an episode this evening where he made a coffee table out of an old chestnut barn door. It wasn’t an overly complicated project, but Scott, and or the writers, seem to be able to pick out the right parts of the project to focus on. (Rats, I ended a sentence with preposition!) ….of the project to focus on, my fellow human beings.

This brings up another aspect of Rough Cut that has been gnawing on me. I have a really bad feeling that Woodcraft picked Tommy Mac because he is fresh face out of a good woodworking school and is a good looking guy with a nice smile. Oh please, oh please let that not be true. I am going to make a politically incorrect statement. Most woodworkers in the good ‘ol U.S. of A. are white males. And most of whom are middle aged and above like myself. (please send all hate mail to Blackwater Inc.) I would not care if the host of a show looked like Marty Feldman or Yoda for that matter. I just want him (or her) to be able to convey information with a good demeanor. That is why I am afraid they might have picked Tommy Mac to appeal to the female demographic which I truly believe is not really there. Hey, I have seen plenty of really good female woodworkers. One day, I hope one of my daughters will join my woodworking business. But let’s face facts, females make up a very small portion of the woodworking/wood turning demographic.

On to the next peeve. Why do these hosts own every woodworking tool known to man? Once again, on Rough Cut, he visits a master woodworker who shows him how well profile planes work, then goes to the shop and cranks up the router table? Why did he bother with the tour? What’s wrong with following what the master does? Why can’t we have a host that doesn’t have all the latest gadgets, and can show us how to do things the “old fashion” (yet timeless) way? Why can’t they get a real master to host a show? Why can’t they have episodes where they make something really complicated without using the latest and greatest tools? Well, perhaps such a show does partially exists.

After much thought, it has occurred to me that my real favorite woodworking show and host has become “The Wood Whisperer“, Marc Spagnuolo. It is not a show, but I really enjoy his videos. He approaches real problems and addresses them very well. He might not be a “master”, but he has an audience of thousands that keep him honest. Perhaps the networks should take a look at what he is doing. I can relate to Marc, and I know that he is not reaching for a politically correct demographic. He appeals to woodworkers (at least the ones who are connected to the Web).

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of this.


grumpy middle aged jewish guy…..

NOTE: 11/23/10 Please take the time to read subsequent posts about the show in the Woodworking TV Shows category.


About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in Woodworking TV Shows and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to And the winner is…..

  1. dunk2009 says:

    You are a artisan? great!
    I like your blog!

  2. yaakov says:

    I like to consider myself an artisan. You can see more of my work at:

    Thanks for reading!


  3. So my take home message from this is that I am not very good looking. lol Its ok, my wife loves me and that’s all that matters. 🙂

    Seriously though, I do appreciate the kind words about what we do. I haven’t seen more than one segment of Rough Cut so I can’t even comment on it. But I do know Tommy and I know the kind of work he used to put out on the web. Obviously, over 100 episodes dedicated to a single incredibly complicated project just won’t fly in TV Land. For many of us, all of this excellent web content has filled the void left by the absence of shows like New Yankee Workshop and Woodworks. Now we are learning directly from the people who are building the projects, and time limits are no longer a concern.
    So as woodworkers who have become accustomed to personal detail-oriented instruction, perhaps placing that expectation on a television show is a bit unfair? At least I think it is.
    Ultimately, any program about woodworking could inspire someone somewhere to pick up a plane and chisel. And that’s what we really need more of. Just as women are a small part of the woodworking demographic, woodworkers are a teeny tiny slice of the overall tv-viewing demographic. So I am just thankful that there are still woodworking shows available on TV at all! Regardless of the sexiness of the host or the amount of ads or even the amount of detail, we need someone at the front line bringing more people in. And when they are ready for the next level, they can take classes or seek out more detailed videos on the web.

  4. yaakov says:

    As I stated in a previous post about the show, all and all, I am very happy to see a new woodworking show on the air. It means that our craft is still alive!

  5. Let’s face it, we are all addicts to this craft and will watch the show regardless. I honestly think the show has gotten a little better over the first 3 episode. I agree that no sidekick was nice in the 3rd episode and maybe that is why I think it has gotten better. I will keep watching only because I will watch anything about woodworking. I like the road trip attempts and so far the projects have been good one. The step stool not so much but only because I saw the podcast and DVD already, but the other two are good approachable projects for all levels of woodworker so like Marc said it can only bring more people into our addiction. Great points here though and I know that the questions raised by Rough Cut can and will be answered by any of the blogs and podcasts on the magical interwebs

    • yaakov says:

      Good points Shannon. Just because the show could use some improvements, doesn’t mean I will stop watching it, and I agree that even over three episodes it has gotten better. Hopefully, Tommy Mac will become like another Norm. Norm inspired me to become a woodworker, so let’s hope that Tommy Mac and Scott Phillips and the Woodsmith TV show will inspire a new generation of woodworkers and craftsmen. And that was the main reason I started this blog. Hail to the Artisan’s of the world.

  6. Pingback: Tweets that mention And the winner is….. « Artisan's Call --

  7. Matt Kenney says:

    I would like to clarify how Tommy and Woodcraft both came to be involved in the show. He was not hand picked by Woodcraft. This show exists because Tommy had the gumption to knock on WGBH’s door. The idea was his and he had an agreement with WGBH before they had an underwriter. Woodcraft later agreed to be the underwriter of the show. Perhaps you could rewrite or correct that paragraph of you post. It’s not fair to Tommy to suggest that he was picked to do the show because of his looks.

  8. Rob Bois says:

    I live in the Boston area myself, and know first hand how involved Tommy has been in the local woodworking community in this area. He has built quite a network of incredible people in the industry, and part of the goal of the Rough Cut show is to go on the road and expose a lot of that expertise. The real problem, I think, is that the show is attempting to do that in addition to building an entire project in just a short 30 minutes. I think if the focus were on one or the other it might feel less rushed. But don’t think for a minute that Tommy isn’t qualified as an extremely talented woodworker, or an active participant in the New England woodworking community – both of which make him a great candidate for the show. That being said, I did notice almost all of the women in attendance at the recent Woodworking in America show wanted photos taken with him…

  9. Hubert Kunnemeyer says:

    I have say when I saw the Roughcut show I couldn’t stop laughing. The first episode was awful. I don’t know if it got any better because I don’t want to waste my time on that show. I can’t even believe that that show made it on the air at all. Now, I know I probably couldn’t do better but there are many woodworkers that can. I would agree that Marc Spagnolo is the best of the lot and should have been the next in line for a television show. What a mistake PBS made on choosing Tommy Mac. Even the name Tommy Mac doesn’t sound right when I’m thinking of woodworking. I’m happy with watching Marc and am a satisfied Guild member…

  10. Jimi says:

    As a member of the 207 forum (full disclosure), I have to say I think people are being a bit hard on Tommy. After watching every episode of the bombay podcast (twice, amazingly) I am forever a fan of his work. Yes, some of his mannerisms were off-putting at first, but it eventually grew on me. I know it’s impossible to squeeze every bit of content into a half hour format (how much did Norm gloss over every episode?), so really I’d love to see him focus more on techniques than full projects. I think doing a project over 2-3 episodes would be better, with lots of web content to fill in the gaps. Honestly, as somewhat of a novice I love all the woodworking shows – even Woodsmith Shop, a show Tommy surpassed in quality in one episode.

    So, all I’m saying is give him a chance, he may grow on you. After watching some of the early New Yankee episodes on the web, it’s easy to see Norm was pretty green at one time too.

  11. Steve Ramsey says:

    I actually like the show but think that it needs to work out some kinks: it’s in its infancy right now. I think you are expecting too much from TV. No TV show can really take the time to explain in detail how to make furniture. We can turn to the internet for that…Marc’s stuff being a great example, of course.

    TV woodworking should be fast-paced and give the viewer a taste of what they might be able to try in the shop. I mean, let’s face it, most shows on PBS are really dull. Tommy is taking a good approach. Inspiration more than anything.


  12. Bruce Somers says:

    Yaakov, I appreciate your receptiveness to the feedback on your comments regarding the Rough Cut Show. I happen to know both Marc S and Tommy Mac and visit both of their websites often. They are both good men and each desire to bring woodworking to the masses. Give Tommy a chance. He worked hard to get the show and I know he will work even harder to make it better. As witnessed by his woodworking, he strives to be the best at what he does and will listen to the critics who offer reasoned advice. Keep up your work here.

    • yaakov says:

      Thanks for the comments. I think you need to read my later reviews of the show. FYI, I never said one “bad” thing about Tommy, I have continually stated that I think he is a good guy.

      Look under Topics and look for the catagory called, Woodworking TV Shows. Read the next two posts about the show in the order in which they were written. I guess I should have asked if you have read them already. Have you read them already?

      If you do / or have read them, then you know how I feel about Tommy and his show. I think you will be suprised.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog.

      Be well,


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