Has Tommy lost his relevancy to the woodworker?
Saw a link here is a thread, regarding his new shop. Watched them all
to the end. Think Festool is expensive? You should see his shop.
Nice tools, second floor looks like he is planning on teaching.
Tools are so far out of mainstream it isn't funny, there is not much
you cannot make given what he now has. Yet the odd thing is, is that
he seems to be adverse to doing the work by himself. True to form on
everything he would work with someone to "show how it's done" then
turn it over to them fully to complete his project. Even the young
lady near the end of the shows spoke of how clean his hands were when
they were landscaping the shop.
I saw during the course of the shows that we would buy new tools for
carpentry, speak about the cool factor, lightweight and handy, but
then the tools disappeared and he ends up using like the nail gun the
carpenter had at the beginning of the framing. Sort of reminded me of
the tool talk here, about what was good, and the quality of the old
stuff, versus the flash in the pan latest tools built out of plastic.
Now there is a possibility that he had them on the show for tax
purposes, and then set aside to keep them in good shape? Dunno.
He had a "friend" operate his new power tools the first time on the
show, then he did use them later on (after training?) I have to say
they are some awesome tools, it would be nice to have him as a friend
when you needed to plane some wide and or lengthy stock. His "domino"
tool must weigh 2,000 lbs at least.
Well, you all have to see the shop, it is pretty awesome, but it would
be like Driving a Bugatti around town.
On Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 9:26:56 PM UTC-5, OFWW wrote:
IMO, I think not. The show will still be the same. It is instructional,
just like other shows. His mannerisms has nothing to do with the woodworki
ng jobs to be done.
He mentions his tools. He bought the metal tool cabinet. I think he bou
ght the other major tools, though he may have gotten a discount, of some ki
nd, since WoodCraft is "a major supporter" of RoughCut.
I don't think the show would broadcast a teaching venue, but it wouldn't su
rprise me if Tommy did some private teaching. "Teaching" is questionable,
though, as, if I were to pay to be taught, I would want some sort of degre
e or certificate of completing a course. I would think he is qualified to
teach, but whether he is authorized to award a degree/certificate is anothe
As to the second floor: He says it's a great place to work on and assemb
le projects. I'd hate to have to carry even a moderate size project down
the stairs, let alone a large one.... or even carry building supplies up th
e stairs. That kind of hauling stuff gets old, fast!
Well, yes. Almost all of the different shows have "advanced" tools and exp
ert(?) helpers. Even The WoodWrights Shop has tools that the average pers
on doesn't have (and/or can't afford) and guests, demonstrating them (and t
echniques). Tommy's comment, about upstairs cabinets, references small and
/or garage shops. That, to me, demonstrates he is aware of his having a c
ache of tools, different from what others have. When I don't have a large
enough tool, I can go to a commercial shop, that does have a dedicated too
l, and get the task done, otherwise, I can do it by hand... just takes long
er and lots of manual work. I understand his tool cache as being a demo of
the task needing to be done, not that a woodworker needs to have those too
ls. Probably, any woodworker that can afford big tools and has the space,
will likely have what he wants. You, often, don't need large tools to get
tasks done. Usually, only commercial operations need stuff done fast, whi
ch, to me, is a major consideration for having such tools.
He may use his shop for purposes of the TV program, but he'll also use it a
s his private shop.... and, likely, get paid (directly & indirectly) for bo
th purposes. All the better for him.
So his set-up, including the lawn/outdoors, has multiple functions, each to
a certain extent: Personal (hobby), commercial, man cave(?).
My adverse thoughts:
1) That wood storage addition needs to be bigger, with a automatic garage d
oor. *Next year's project will be to build a barn storage, on the lot.
2) RoughCut, to me, eludes to "direct from the tree". He needs a sawmill
and kiln, to fill out his tool chest. He has the lawn space for them.
Similarly, I would be happy with a shop like Roy Underhill's, but I don't d
o extensive demonstrations of old techniques.
*My shop does have something they don't seem to have: A frig with beer and
I think for all of us that watched "Norm" that MacDonald can be a jarring e
xperience. Norm was quiet, solitary, thoughtful and soft spoken. His tool
s were the type of tools we might have in our own shops, some of them modif
ied to his own specs (like his famous miter saw table) and the only really
innovative tools I recall him having during his show was the powered mortis
er and a drum sander. When he visited our local Woodcraft (25?) years ago,
the manager at the time and I were friends. As is the custom, the manager
s and wives took out Norm for dinner and they said he was EXACTLY the way y
ou saw him on TV. He taught classes at a shop that was almost identical to
the set shop, and most of the finished pieces she showed up front so you c
ould see a finished product first were built in his 2nd shop where he also
taught. Watching Norm on Saturday was like sitting down on a comfortable so
fa to take a nap.
About 15 years ago, David Marks came to Woodcraft and spent a day here chat
ting with customers off and on. Woodcraft staff said he was an OK guy, pre
tty good with the public, pretty blunt when in private, and made no apologi
es for his "craft" being a business. I overheard him say that the TV and b
ooks were nice, but were part of the income puzzle. He said that without h
is own custom pieces and teaching classes he wouldn't make it on what he ma
de from PBS/cable.
And now "T'Mac".
To me, that's impressive as a background. A driven young guy that made thi
ngs happen. I like the story behind him and his show. I haven't seen him
make anything of note on his own, but as the piece above notes, he has had
a great deal of professional training. That's probably how he met and know
s a great deal of the folks that are on his show, including some of the tea
chers from the furniture schools he has on.
Everyone seems to have a good time on his show, him being the biggest kid t
here. I have no doubt that the new shop was folded into the show for a rea
son. Teaching and light manufacturing would be the obvious reason. Maybe
he is going to teach furniture building, and as one of his offerings teach
folks how to build and operate a production cabinet shop. Obviously a faci
lity of that type isn't for a home shop, or even a small cabinet shop. Good
for him to find a way to help pay for it by using it as a season long prop
. No doubt /somebody/ will get inspired to build a small shop or even an o
utbuilding of some sort, just without $200K of tools.
I feel like I should like that show, but I just don't. Not sure why. I ha
ven't even seen that TM brag (unlike some of the more famous craft people),
be self effacing for the camera's benefit, and he doesn't seem to try to b
e more than he is as he never hesitates to "call in an expert". I remember
that Norm had legions of detractors in his day, some downright hateful. T
here were quite a few here. That never bothered me, even though I thought
some of his detractors had their points.
Not sure why TM rubs me the wrong way, but he does. I don't even have his
show on for background noise anymore.
On Sat, 18 Mar 2017 12:25:02 -0700 (PDT), " firstname.lastname@example.org"
Thanks for the link, I heard references about something like that and
that there were problems he overcame, so it was interesting. From the
article I can see where he is heading, a furniture company, but he is
covering his bases. He has the land for a storage unit as someone else
suggested for his wood, I can see he is an entrepreneur from the
article which would explain his seeming lack of focus for a specialty,
and he does seem to be interested in a lot of the various facets of
wood working just not settled down yet. That might be the reason he
rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Too flighty, yet because of the
article link you posted he does seem to have a focus but for business.
I'll continue to watch him when there is no other WW shows on, just
because of his buds, people with real skills, tradesmen and craftsman.
They have a lot to offer and if it wasn't for him we might never see
them, they have a lot to offer.
And Sonny made some good points for him as well, I love to read you
guys keeping the doors open.
On Monday, March 20, 2017 at 12:10:15 AM UTC-5, OFWW wrote:
I agree. It seems to me that he is interested in everything going on in hi
s environment and I am glad he doesn't try to sell himself as the the next
Norm. I can relate to him more than I can Norm, as I started my career in
construction being taught how to do different tasks from experienced guys.
The learning curve was steep, but I had access to some very talented craft
smen from all walks of construction trades. My immediate boss was a trade
carpenter, and he taught me everything from setting concrete forms to build
ing job site cabinets in the 2 1/2 years I worked for him. It was up to me
to build my skills after learning the basics.
I opened a carpentry company and over a period of a couple of years I learn
ed how to starve to death. I was either covered up with work or staring at
the walls. So I had to become a businessman and diversify, or live on a c
arpenter's or cabinet maker's wages the rest of my life. (Really relating
to Tom here...) I had to learn to build a business, keep momentum, cultivat
e clients, and most of all, drop the crap about being a prideful craftsman
that didn't do repair work ("I don't fix other people's mistakes") or work
I thought was beneath me. I had to find a way to get some kind of continui
ty of income for rent, truck payments and all the other stuff that comes al
I got into repairs by mistake. When I was framing tract and semi custom hou
ses I was paid to repair mistakes or deficiencies left by other framers. I
noticed that I made more money in two solid days of repair than I made all
week with employees working. While my cabinet making friends were working
a few months a year making production type cabinets, I refocused and went a
fter anything that had wood in the equation, then in leaner years (think of
our recessions), anything that would pay the bills. I think TM must be sm
arter, more experienced, or receiving better advice that most.
My fellow craftsmen from the last 35 years I have been in business that ret
ained their personal image (and false pride) of being the grizzled woodwork
er that marches to his own tune, does things his own way, only takes a cert
ain kind of job, marches to his own drummer... you know, all that crap... a
re all out of business. Some have lost all they own, some have lost their
marriages, some have done all that twice, and most have gone back to work f
or another company. I may not like his show, but I think he has the right i
dea about things IF he is diversifying and branching out.
I hadn't thought of that, but that is a really good point. May have to tun
e him back in and see who he has on before I toss out the baby with the bat
To first set things straight - David Marks was never, ever on PBS. His show
was on the DIY Network. Also David had an agreement with Woodcraft for awh
ile and spent time giving classes in Woodcraft stores. It wasn't until he h
ired his wife to manage his business that he realized he wasn't making his
numbers. That's about when he decided to teach classes at his studio.
Tommy's new shop, was discussed in an earlier posting I made several weeks
ago. It's clear from the linked article, he may be moving away from being t
he furniture build guy on PBS. But who knows. It's a bit hard to relate to
someone who has several hundred thousand dollars of tools when all one has
is a circular saw and a drill. However, there is so much more on the Intern
et these days that show mostly men using a simple set of tools to make furn
iture. Some of it is not quite the quality that either Norm or Tommy have d
one, but usable.
Aso to Tommy's using guests. If you knew what it takes to build a somewhat
complicated piece of furniture and show it in various stages of completion
during a 30 minute show, I'd doubt many of us would be up for the challeng
e. I have no qualm in Tommy's guests and often they are their to help him d
o specific tasks while he's off doing something else.
The biggest difference between Norm and Tommy is that Tommy doesn't not nec
essarily show all the steps that it takes to build something. He will talk
about it, then pull out the completed part. Norm at least try to show you w
hat it takes to build things. That said I think it's great that we have som
eone like Tommy on TV.
I work as a teacher's aide in a high school wood shop and lots of the stude
nts coming in are not really interested in doing furniture building for a l
iving. But the skills that they are acquiring hopefully will plant the seed
that later on in their life they might come back to it. We owe it to the n
ext generation to keep the craft going. And it's shows like "Rough Cut" tha
t hopefully keep the ideals of craftsmanship going.
I totally recommend another PBS show "Craftsman Legacy" with Eric Georges.
Eric build motorcycles and goes around "mostly" Michigan to interview diffe
rent crafts people - woodworkers, sculptors, shoemakers, watch makers, etc.
He's gets these people to open up about how they got started and works wit
h them on building something in their studio. A very good series on some PB
S shows if you enjoy watching people build stuff. More info here: http://ww
Yeah, when I get my shop show, I'll diversify. Robert, Leon, Jeff and oth
ers will be in the background sawing and hammering (and sweeping), and in t
he foreground, I'll have some cooks, whipping-up some dishes. With all th
e cooking shows, I suppose there's a couple-a those cooks that might like a
little more air time. They'd be a-whipping up some fricassees, soups and
of course fried chickens and such... and boudin, too. As I taste test, I
can just walk around and look over Derby's shoulder, to see how it's going
.... you know, stuff like that!
Sounds like a plan, to me. Oughtta be a hit.
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