Why even try to compare Norm and Mark? They both approach woodworking
from a different point of view.
Norm is carpenter in terms of building construction as well as a finish
carpenter. Additionally, he's a cabinet maker. His joinery is as
traditionl as Marks.
They both get to the same place by a different route. And I'm not at all
convinced that Marks gets a better finish than Norm on everything,
especially since he uses basically one finish, Tung Oil. I'm not against
Tung Oil since I use it as well. But I can get a far better repairable
finish on antiques and furntinure with Flecto Varithane Natural Oil with
the way I apply it. Norm seems to use Poly, Oil and other finishes to
show the viewer what options there are.
Last I have a great appreciation for both. I think Norm has a knowledge
of things that Marks can't touch when it comes to homes, built-in's and
some of the more difficult repairs that one can encounter in a home.
David Marks is more what I'd call a "fine-art" woodworker. He makes his
projects as much "Fine Art" as they are a cabinet or woodworking
So I'd have to say it's not exactly a level comparison. A difficult one
at best. But, you can take the best of what each does and learn from it
and bring that to your efforts and projects. That's what these shows are
about. If I were to guess, I'd bet they have quite a respect for each
I figure I can learn something from them both and just have more
knowledge and things in my bag of tricks.
I had to replace what turned out to be a "Housed" newel post on my
staircase. If I hadn't watched Norm, I don't think I'd of had as ease a
time doing this as I might have otherwise. Unlike the builder, I used
quartered oak and make a lovely newel.
just my .02
"The measure of a man is what he will do
Norm is usually a stain and poly guy. That's OK. I've gone that route for
some pieces, when it was appropriate. I just think it's appropriate a lot
less often than Norm does. The thing that bothers me is that Norm seems to
have regressed. I TIVO all the NYW shows, and on a lot of the old reruns,
Norm was a lot more respectful of the wood and the appropriate finish for
the type of project he's doing. Now he seems more likely to stain, poly and
call it done.
The finish Marks uses is not pure tung oil. On the show, he uses a product
by General Finishes called Seal-A-Cell, and when he wants a protective
finish, he uses a topcoat of Arm-R-Seal. I've used these on one project and
they are a fantastic finish. They are both oil based, but a blend of oils,
not just tung. Of course, this finish is one he regularly would use anyway,
but he does use a lot of different finishing techniques.
He demonstrated ammonia fuming on one show, though I disagree with his
contention that household ammonia doesn't work. It's just slower. I know,
because I've done it. I'm not sure how well household ammonia would work on
a big piece, but it is just fine on small ones.
He's also used Potassium DiChromate on numerous shows. He talked a little
about that in his lecture, as well as using the stuff safely.
He also discussed using shellac and french polishing.
When would that be? And when is it inappropriate? I'm really
interested in learning all the *rules* about finishing so I don't
appear an ignorant dolt.
Respectful of the wood? That sounds like Charles Grodin's line from
The Heartbreak Kid: "there's no deceit in the mashed potatoes." How
does the wood care whether you put tung oil, polyurethane, shellac, or
lacquer on it?
Sounds good to me. Is there a problem with that approach?
And this matters how?
Are you sure these are *appropriate* finishes?
Ahh, well, then...
Uh, how can he "use a *lot* of different finishing techniques" yet
have one that he "regularly would use?"
Yet, even though you TIVO, you neglect to mention that Norm also
demonstrated fuming on one show.
Is that one of the *appropriate* ones? Is that one he "regularly would
Since you TIVO, you are aware that Norm has also done that.
When I took up woodworking (longer ago than many of you have been
alive) I did it because the process was what made me happy. Because of
that I like to see wood cut, fitted, assembled, and secured. Norm does
all that. Marks does, too, but to a lesser degree because it's
necessary to accommodate all the ads for DIY, their website, and the
reminders of what's been done so far. So from standpoint of process,
they both make me happy. And they expose a lot of people to
woodworking, which also makes me happy.
What makes me unhappy is the few finishing snobs and fastening snobs
who try to impose their narrow (and often misguided) belief system on
people who probably need more help with getting parts properly
prepared and fitted than selecting a finish that "respects the wood."
And for those of us who can get our parts together, how about you use
your finish and I'll use mine. And if you don't agree with my (or
anyone else's) selection, just move on; don't regard us as hacks or
"disrespectful of the wood" for the choices WE made for OUR work.
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
The best wooddorker that I've ever met (I've never properly met Mike
Hide but he's prolly in this fellas league) has a shop about two miles
from my place.
It has a big-ass tablesaw (Wadkin), a big-ass bandsaw (there's not one
thing on it that indicates who made it), 30 inch planer of unknown
parentage, and a Delta Cabinet Shop Shaper (The Ultimate Router
There's some other crap around there, a twelve inch jointer and some
other old-big iron, including a lathe that will turn something as long
as twenty feet - but I don't know why and neither does he.
I don't believe that any of these machines are newer than the 1930's.
The shopowner won't say. He says that they've always just been there.
The stuff that this man turns out is amazing. He mostly does
historical reproductions but does some "historical re-imaginings" that
are flat out priceless (that ain't quite true - the last one that I
saw was a cherry highboy that went for almost twelve grand).
I once asked him if he'd ever considered having a TV show come in and
do a segment on him.
Damned near got me kicked out of the shop.
"I take two hundred hours to make a piece and them TV knuckleheads
would turn it into fifteen minutes of bullshit !"
I just kinda helped sweep up for a little bit - he was better after I
got him some coffee.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
(Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet)
Bring back the notion of the "apprentice", I say!
My dream is to squirrel away enough money so I can hang around shops like
this when I retire. I'd gladly sweep/go-fer coffee just to watch craftsmen
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