That was shown on TV commercials and the channel locks were
used backwards. You could see metal being chewed off and the
resultant gnarled nut. Absolutely amazing. I laughed myself
into tears over that one the first time Searz showed it. It
was obviously made by an _entire_cast_and_crew_ who had never
used a single hand tool in their lives. (The cameraman should
have known but his laughter didn't shake the camera so he may
not have had a clue, either. Ditto the grips. No shaking
"i" before "e", except after "c", what a weird society.
http://diversify.com Dynamic Website Applications
I think Norm is a cool guy and his easy going personality is a pleasure
to absorb during his shows. Quite a difference between him and most of
the other celebrity woodworkers.
As far as what seems to elicit the most disapproval, I'd venture to say
it's his penchant for overusing his brad nailer. I'm not fond of nail
holes or filling them.
Most of the time I'm too busy to catch his shows, but when I do, I feel
bad for having missed so many of them. I admire the guy.
: I see that a lot of the fighting comes from the "purist" hand toolers
: vs. the Norm power toolers. Some people seem to be offended just by
: the fact that he uses power tools.
Mmmmm that's not what I've noticed. For example, I see lots of
handtoolers in awe of Frank Klauz. Klauz uses power tools. And hand
tools. In his videos, he shows many ways to accomplish the same
task (e.g. mortice and tenon joints).
Klauz takes the sensible approach that if all you have to do is a few
joints then hand tools are the way to go because you save setup time.
: Norm's first book, he mentions how he grew up using hand tools, and
: mentions the skills that his dad taught him. He says NYW is a
: departure for him from those teachings, and a chance to use power
: tools to build traditional furniture.
Klauz uses power tools.
: So, two questions from a ww newbie:
: How am I being harmed in my quest to make nice projects if I follow
: Norm's techniques? What are specific things he does that are "bad" and
: what are the "better" ways of doing them?
It isn't his tools so much as some mistakes he made in the past
concerning wood movement etc. He's gotten a lot better over time.
Then, too, there is this visceral dislike, in some of us (I'm one of
them) of the use of the pneumatic nailer to hold things together.
It's irrational but it's there.
My woodworking projects:
Replicas of 15th-19th century nautical navigational instruments:
Restoration of my 82 year old Herreshoff S-Boat sailboat:
Steambending FAQ with photos:
"Improvise, adapt, overcome."
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Phone: (617) 496-1558
On 9 Dec 2003 00:16:47 -0800, email@example.com (BJS) wrote:
There's nothing particularly bad about Norm, but let's face it, Norm
is a wood-basher, not a wood-worker. He goes for fast construction
and Tim Allen-esque "MORE POWER!". He shoots brads like they're going
out of style. If the power went out, he wouldn't know what to do with
That's not to say I don't like Norm, but he appeals to the weekend
woodworker who is making a few things around the house, not to the
craftsman who wants to make fine furniture or something that's really
going to last a lifetime and beyond.
This past August I spent most of a day with Norm at Old Sturbridge Village.
One of the day's events was a luncheon. At the luncheon Norm gave a
presentation comparing and contrasting 19th century furniture making
technologies with 21st century technologies. During this presentation Norm
discussed his evolution from carpenter, to TOH, to NYW and how the rolls
made significantly different demands of him. He also discussed how his
skills have evolved over time and how tools have evolved with him.
Two quick examples:
-He seldom uses a lathe duplicator now as his turning skills have gotten
much better and he can end up with a better product using gouges and skews.
-He doesn't use the molding head cutter in the table saw any longer. The
router table with "new" bit styles work better--cutting beads was his
This change over time also applies to the finishing techniques and
materials. He had a piece at OSV that will appear during the new season
(starts early '04). The finishing techniques he discussed were much
different than anything he did 10+ years ago and he felt that he needed more
experience to get it right. There was a thread running through the entire
presentation in that he is always moving forward... developing new skills
and a greater understanding of what makes a fine piece of furniture.
Norm's point was that he isn't the same guy as he was when NYW started. We,
however, are inundated with reruns that make the changes over time less
salient than they should be. I think it was a tactful way of saying that
much of the criticism is not thoughtful criticism as it ignores his skill
development over time. Even Maloof and Marks didn't come out of the womb
doing fine work! ;-)
It was a wonderful experience and I recommend it to anyone if Norm does it
It might be that we are all a little jealous of Norm....he makes a
very good living doing what we love to do and most of us do it for
very little money. We dream of the day that we could make a living
being a woodworker. Norm has done more to promote woodworking to the
masses than any other, for this I respect and thank Norm....keep
spreading the word.
Mike from American Sycamore Woodworkers' Retreat
Thanks, John, for your response, and to those from everyone else.
I saw your discussion of your meeting with Norm at OSV in a previous
thread. Sounds like it was an enjoyable experience.
I think your comments about Norm progressing as a woodworker are
accurate from what I can tell. I've noticed how his techniques have
changed from the earlier shows to the later shows. I've seen a lot of
changes in how he handles cross-grain situations and in accounting for
In one of his earliest shows he builds a a Shaker bedside table. It
has a small top with breadboard edges. In the show he uses glue to
secure the the entire length of the t&g that attach the breadboard
edge to the end grain of the top. He also secures the top to the rest
of the assembly by using a cleat on either end to which the top is
fastened with drywall screws.
Now he would never attach a top like that. He'd attach the breadboard
edge with an inch or two of glue at either end of the t&g. The top
would then be fastened to the rest of the assembly with wooden clips.
The clips would be screwed to the top have a small tenon that fits
into a grove, holding the top to the assembly whil still allowing the
clip to float in the grove with any movement in the top.
I like Norm. And I want to learn what I can from him while still
realizing that there are others out there (including those on this NG)
that I can also learn from. I just wanted to make sure that there
wasn't anything "fatal" that Norm does that I should ensure that I
Also, it is about experience as well. The first project I built was a
Norm bookshelf. And I used by brad nailer like crazy. Well, I hadn't
though about the fact that I would have to fill all those holes! Now,
I know. In the future, I will be more likely to rely less on nails and
more on other techniques.
Maybe biscuits or pocket screw jointery. ;)
Thanks, again, to everyone who responded.
Reminds me of the "table" my five year old has been making for the past few
months... in 10 minute or so sessions. He's pounded a gazillion 4D finish
and common nails into it, screwed in a bunch of drywall screws, gobs of
glue, and had me drill holes on each centering-X he drew on it. As my father
puts it "he's developing skills."
I have him work on structured projects too. The last thing we made was step
stools for the bathroom to replace the plastic store bought ones. His glue
spreading and nailing under controlled conditions was quite good. I had him
use a batter board (for lack of a better term) so that there were no stray
hammer dents in the stool. After filling the nail holes I showed him how to
properly hand sand with the grain. He primed the piece with a brush and gave
it a light sanding to smooth the primer. I sprayed on his favorite color...
The "table" will have about a 1/2 ton of iron in it by the time he's done
but he really has learned from doing it. Especially the notion of centering
Don't know how this one slipped past my Norm/NYWS filters (note, the filter
is to having to receive endless and completely useless posts on the subject,
not because I have anything against Norm) but it did so.................
99.8% of the Norm bashing is done by people with more time in front of the
TV then in the shop. It's done so they can feel like they are playing with
the big boys and it is safe. It is hardly likely that they will be faced
with confronting Norm on the various woodworking issues so, regardless of
how inane the post, they get to spout off sounding like they know what they
are talking about and need not be bothered with facts.
Now to recheck those filters.
Sure, a lot of Nahm-bashing is done by arm-chair woodworkers.
Heck, this is Usenet, so most of what goes on here is done by
arm-chair [insert name of hobby here]. :-} (To say nothing of the
But there are legit gripes about Nahm. I know that many have
credited him with bringing ww'ing to the masses, and I can't argue
that. I know any number of folks here on the wreck who credit him for
their interest. But for every one of those, it's possible that you
could find someone who was totally put off by the appearance that it
is necessary to own all sorts of power tools in order to make
anything. I know I used to watch Nahm before I ever raised a plane in
anger :-), and I sincerely thought it was way beyond my
Other personal gripes I have are his finishing techniques (poly
isn't really the best finish for everything), his bradnailer fixation,
his apparent lack of knowledge about wood-movement issues (though I
hear he's getting better about that), and his penchant for smearing
insane amounts of galoo all over the place.
We may disagree on some of the above, but they are certainly worth
discussing when they are being presented on teevee on a regular basis
by someone who is looked to as an authority on woodworking matters.
As for the guy himself ... I like Nahm. He seems like a regular
guy who'd be fun to share a couple beers with.
Just say (tmPL) But first, a few words about shop safety ...
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