Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The New Yankee Workshop is no more...

Friends,

As I'm sure you've heard, The New Yankee Workshop is ceasing production after 21 seasons. Russell Morash, the creator and producer of TNYW, has said it was a mutual decision between himself, WGBH Boston and the star Norm Abram. While I can't say that I'm surprised, given the repeat season we were shown this year and the rumors that have been circulating, I can say that I'm troubled. While I didn't always agree with Norm's methods (for example I don't own, and never will own, a pneumatic brad nailer or a massive wide belt sander), I do respect his craftsmanship and his drive to bring our chosen craft to the masses. I also appreciate his willingness to occasionally use hand tools in his project and the reverence that he showed for tools that were owned and used by his father Louis.

I sincerely hope that the end of TNYW doesn't spell the end for how-to woodworking on television. I don't believe that the Internet can replace Norm and others as a gateway into the craft. It is very easy to turn on the television on a Saturday afternoon and stumble across Norm or Roy building something beautiful. There is less opportunity for this type of exposure on the Internet. You have to know what you are looking for to find it. Many people don't know they are interested in woodworking until they see it and this is the role that Norm has filled so ably for the last 20 years.

Many woodworkers can say that it was Norm who first exposed them to the craft. For that, we all owe Norm a debt of gratitude, a hearty handshake, and an exuberant "job well done".

Zach