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.