Why I hate Norm Abrams

Page 1 of 7  
Well, I don't personally hate him. Don't even know the guy.
But that's the title of the latest piece by one of my favorite columnists in the /Berkeley Daily Planet/, Matt Cantor, local owner of a home-inspection business who writes a weekly column on home repair and maintenance.
Here's a sample:
I do genuinely hate these specific shows: "Hometime," "This Old House" and "The New Yankee Workshop." I hate them for one simple reason: they make most people feel like idiots. Even if a show only demonstrates how to build a basic chest of drawers, it does a lousy job of preparing the average Joe or Joan for the task. In the end, the show provides nothing more than boutique shopping and showing off. I suppose that would be a lot of fun if you only want to learn that youas a homeowner or stock broker or bank clerkknow nothing about houses or furniture or nails and that youll never stand a chance of doing more than hanging a picture on the wall.
On shows like these, the jobs are made to look so darned easy. All the materials are waiting for assembly and nothing is spoiled, the wrong type or missing. The air gun never misfires and the compressor never needs to be drained (yes, you have to drain compressors daily because they fill up with water and will rust out if you dont do so). Thats another thing I hate: in actuality, there are many small details that fill a contractors day (or your day when you play contractor) but theyre neatly edited out, just as they are in a cooking show. Just pop the raw one in the oven and Voila, the new freshly baked one comes right out of the other oven.
(See article at http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2009-08-20/article/33531 )
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, don't take this personally but for many of us the shows are equal to or shallower to our learning curve. Basically we get ideas or learn how to do a specific detail. We don't need to see the mistakes, we have that part covered. I feel that if the shows start with identifying the difference between a board and a screw that 99.9% of the viewers would get bored very soon. Take the "Router Workshop" for instance, same old routine over and over and over and over..... Then I get fixated on the "knot" on the old man's head and all I remember from that point is RRRRRRRRrrrrrrrr, bla bla bla, rrrrrrrr, bla bla bla...... I believe for our society to gain knowledge and advance intellectually that we should always challenge ourselves. I don't like the idea of dumbing down a class or instructional video to the lowest common dominator of it's students intelligence level. If the show seems a bit too advanced, take a look at the other 95% of what is showing on the DIY channel or watch a reality show.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"David Nebenzahl" wrote:
<snip>

Trying to lump the NYW with the rest of these DIY operations is like trying to compare a VW bug with a race car.
Personally I wouldn't consider building more than maybe 20% of Norm's projects; however, every one of his projects illustrates at least one new method to solve a problem that is unique.
The specialized fixtures, and some very interesting problem solutions using a lathe, are just a couple of things that come to mind.
Yes, that damn brad nailer drives me nuts, yes he is dangerous with a paint brush in his hand, but the shows are well written, the camera work is quite good and the plans I have purchased were complete and quite useful.
OTOH, most of the rest of these DIY shows are little more than shills for the remodeling industry or totally inept wood butchers.
Lew
Te
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't like the idea of dumbing it down too much either. There's plenty of shows that do that already ~ shows that with a budget of .69 cents and some decorative flair, anyone can drastically improve their home.
But, I do watch for two things. The first is the new idea, technique or tool that I haven't seen before. And the second reason I watch is to get an idea for building something. I'm certainly not the greatest woodworker out there, but if I see some project I like, I'm advanced enough that I can usually run with it and build my own modified version.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They are definately not woodworking for dummies shows but I get a lot of good ideas from them. Most of us know it is going to take all day to do one step in his .project that it takes 5 minutes to do on TV. That is just just the reality of DIY hobby woodworking. Hell it took me 4 months to build my wife a cedar chest. Now my daughter wants one and expects me to have it built over a weekend. Now thats the problem with those shows. I t gives unrealistic ideas to those who want you to use your woodworking skills for them.
Jimmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In wrote:

You probably can get it built over a weekend.
Just don't tell her which one. LOL
P D Q
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In

We got one on H&G.
It's called "Holmes on Homes".
He is always dumping on the previous "contractor" who either didn't finish of screwed up royally but still managed to make off with a ton of money.
P D Q
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Its a Show, you are to only get ideas from it, or do you think they should spend alot of their time scraping paint, taping, cutting etc, then it would be boring and off tv. I bet they make a very good living, and thats why they do it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

LOL......
You kid, but.... My late brother, a master carpenter, DID put a 16 box through the last 3 fingers of his hammer hand w/ a nail gun. Amazingly, missed all bones. He was hand hammer framing within a week.
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I think it was an episode of Blog Cabin on the DIY network last year where one of the twins nailed 3 fingers together with a nail gun.
He missed everything crucial, including crucial days of work, which was all the drama on the show. "How are we going to get this done now that we're a man down?"
Gimme a break - just hire 8 more of the workers that we never see on camera.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't know about that.

That's my bitch. Let's make a box. Here, we have my new nuclear powered, laser guided, atomic clock timed, whiz bang hand saw........ The last episode of This Old House I watched, in disgust, a huge crane and crew of 10 lowered pre-stressed concrete walls into the basement of the rustic cabin, which they had apparently completely dismantled and stored away in a climate controlled warehouse, somewheres. And Yankee Workshop. "Today we will show you how to construct and use this pre-Columbian horse drawn hand plane........"
That was the old PBS stuff. Today's DIY is much better. I tuned in for the much needed "deck" episode. "Here's the old deck. Sucks, doesn't it. Here's our crew of twenty. Look at'em go! Done. Tune in next week" WTF!
I get more info here, in a day, than I got from years of watching those useless shows.
What I've been looking for, and have only been teased, is a dead simple, dirt cheap, outdoor woodfired bread/pizza oven. Apparently the Ancients could build millions of them for centuries using only dirt, water, spit and elbow grease, but for some reason, now it's utterly impossible with anything short of $1500 worth of brick and mortar and another $129 for plans. Not sure if I need the whiz bang hand saw.
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

*I've seen at a couple of festivals in NJ a restored 1930's truck with a wood fired pizza oven mounted on back. The guy makes delicious fresh gourmet pizza. I can't remember the name of the company.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Have you seen this one?
<http://mha-net.org/docs/v8n2/wildac07b.htm
Lots more:
<http://mha-net.org/html/lyle/lyle01.htm
(no bricks!) <http://mha-net.org/html/lyle/lyle04.htm <http://www.geocities.com/mosesrocket/
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I can imagine the materials bill for either of them.

Now this is more like it. I'll definitely check out both sites, specially the masonary heater site. Thank you.
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

You think you can order the plans for the pizza cutter they were using? LOL
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
notbob wrote:

Mother Earth News has plans on how to do this.
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/2002-10-01/Build-Your-Own-Wood-Fired-Earth-Oven.aspx
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/2002-10-01/Build-Your-Own-Wood-Fired-Earth-Oven.aspx Excellent. Not as detailed as I could wish, but enough to give me solid ideas in right direction. Thank you.
Funny you should find it in MEN. I read that magazine for years after its first issue. Musta given away a few hundred copies. Glad that stuff is online.
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
notbob wrote:

I haven't built one but I plan to. I think the key to success is making sure you have enough sand in the mix to control shrinkage. Otherwise when it dries it will crack and it will fall apart possibly into what you are cooking.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My problem will be finding clay soil. Most my area is sandy porous.
nb
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
notbob wrote:

MEN has an archive CD available and it's only $60. It goes back to 1970...
http://www.motherearthnews.com/shopping/detail.aspx?itemnumber629
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.