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
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 you—as a homeowner or stock
broker or bank clerk—know nothing about houses or furniture or nails and
that you’ll never stand a chance of doing more than hanging a picture on
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 don’t do so). That’s
another thing I hate: in actuality, there are many small details that
fill a contractor’s day (or your day when you play contractor) but
they’re 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
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism
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
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
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
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
OTOH, most of the rest of these DIY shows are little more than shills
for the remodeling industry or totally inept wood butchers.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
Have you seen this one?
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.
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.
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