The New Yankee Workshop is a television program that is hosted by carpenter extraordinaire Norm Abram. It airs mainly on PBS and HGTV. This is wholely ironic, because it is produced by Morash Associates, Inc. and WGBH Boston. Neither station was stupid enough to bother putting Norm on the air.

Our good friend Norm has a rather large workshop, if you consider almost a thousand square feet large(it’s actually 936 ft2). Normie also has large quantities of electric tools that require lots and lots of power. It is a common misconception that he started the TV show to “teach and inspire people to make beautiful creations out of wood.” In reality, he only started his own TV show so he could sell the episodes on video for twenty dollars a pop to help pay for his electric bills. These videos are profitable because his projects are so hopelessly complex you need to watch it at least a thousand times in order to understand anything about it.

Through some fluke of the calculations, supposedly Norm has guided millions of viewers through the process of furniture making. This exceptionally high number could also be explained by the fact that he has somehow managed to stay on the air for fourteen years (1988-2002).

Post Script: a lovely little person told me that Norm has also infiltrated the United Kingdom. For all you Brits out there, tune into the Discovery Home and Leisure and check him out. Or don't, if you value an hour or so of the prime of your life.

I am not a woodworker. That said, I find The New Yankee Workshop to be fascinating, and I can't quite figure out why. Maybe it's the fact that host Norm Abram has more power tools than God, or that his workshop is bigger than my entire apartment. Maybe it's all the homemade jigs. It might be the frequent use of terms like "dadoes" and "biscuit joiner."

Produced by PBS station WGBH Boston (which also produces almost every other nationally-run PBS show, including This Old House, Nova, and Antiques Roadshow), The New Yankee Workshop is to woodworking and furniture making what This Old House is to massive home renovation. Norm, showing his master carpenter chops, makes even the most difficult project look approachable (I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing). When the show first started, Norm stuck to mostly Shaker-inspired pieces, but he has branched out in more recent seasons; projects from the 2002 season included a steamer trunk, a Chippendale-inspired four-drawer chest, and a shaving stand. Each episode of The New Yankee Workshop shows Norm in his workshop (which is indeed a whopping 936 square feet) as he goes through a project step-by-step. If you see Norm build something that you like, you can order a video of the episode, which comes with an incredibly detailed project plan, measured drawings, and a list telling you exactly what lumber, tools, and other materials you'll need - not bad for $25.

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