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Blog entry by NBeener posted 06-19-2010 03:13 PM 1507 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m not going to spend TOO much time touting the skills, the talent, the successes, or the infectious personalities of these two gents, but ….

Yesterday, I spent a few hours with Eli Cleveland and Tommy MacDonald,, in their shop, not all that far from Boston.

From their respective websites—as you’ll now notice—I DID know they were a couple of talented woodworkers.

But what I didn’t know is this:


The people I really DID meet are America’s next Norm Abram, and the place in which I MET them was the next New Yankee Workshop.

Ya’ see …. Tommy has (‘struck’ isn’t the right word) made a deal. He’s done an amazing job of spending the time, getting next to the right people, and playing his cards just the right way, and has put together a new PBS series called ”Rough Cut—Woodworking With Tommy Mac.”

WGBH—Boston’s illustrious PBS station—is taking the lead, but the series (not show. Series) will air on almost all PBS stations, nationally … and … soon.

I learned all about THEIR concept—What it IS, compared to NYW and The Woodsmith Shop, and what it ISN’T. I think their concept is perfectly positioned to fill a void that most of us didn’t realize we were already dreaming about.

Tommy turned 44 years old, yesterday, and—from all appearances—is rolling sevens (craps analogy).

When I was there, they were a bit overwhelmed and overloaded.

Why ?

Because the series’ underwriter—Woodcraft—had just made it rain tools all over their shop.

All kinds of tools. Every tool they wanted, PLUS a few they really didn’t want :-)

I felt badly for these guys. So much plastic wrap, Cosmolene, and empty corrugated to deal with.

And the clamps. They’re swimming in clamps—Jorgensens, Besseys, Wood river screw clamps.

How could you NOT feel badly for them ?

I told them that my Subaru was parked in their lot, and that—if it would make their lives even the SLIGHTEST bit easier—I’d take … THAT one … and THAT one … and that one, off their hands ;-)

As to stationary machines—I won’t list all the stuff that showed up at their door. It just makes me sick thinking about these poor souls, and all they have to contend with. No commitment to any single brand, so … every color of the rainbow was represented, in there. Lots of green. Lots of mustard yellow.

Helix and shelix and Byrds, Oh My !

Tommy and Eli met through the North Bennet Street School—their woodworking alma mater.

After a couple of hours of gabbing, ogling, drooling, and soaking it all in, I left … with the feeling that my wardrobe had just turned a LITTLE bit plaid.


Cheers, Guys. Thanks SO much for your time. Great to meet you both !

I’d wish you both luck, but … luck is nothing more than the intersection of preparation and opportunity. You’re both WELL prepared, and you MADE your own opportunity.

Let the show begin !

-- -- Neil

13 comments so far

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2758 days

#1 posted 06-19-2010 03:23 PM

good to see you are making the most of your time there too , neil .

hows the sight therapy coming ?

and how much longer till you get back home ?

nice to hear some inside word on this new series ,
i’ll stay tuned .

bring some ‘birds eye’ maple home with you ,
if you get a chance ,
it’s always nice to have some around the shop .

stay cool ,
and think smart !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3716 days

#2 posted 06-19-2010 03:28 PM

Thanks for the info, Neil.

I’ll be looking forward to this new show.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Bothus's profile


439 posts in 2593 days

#3 posted 06-19-2010 03:42 PM

Dang. I want to be you.


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3944 posts in 2581 days

#4 posted 06-19-2010 04:59 PM

You suppose Neil will ever talk to me again?

You know, I think I have a plaid shirt or two. Maybe I could change my avatar and pose in the shop in plaid. Of course Rough Cut, that fits me to a tee. When I am not cutting rough….......I’m cutting up….....(-:

Do you suppose they’ll have Neil be a guest on the show? Of course then I know he’ll never speak to me again. I looked out the window and saw a glow in the east this morning, a little late for sunup (sun is always up this time of year here). Probably Neil’s glowing countenance….............. suppose he has a halo now?

So my friend has become a celebrity by proxy (is that possible?).........moved on…......left me behind… in the hinterlands. So I’ll struggle on, knowing that Neil has moved on to finer things, fame, and fortune.

But when I see that glow in the east, I’ll remember…......I once knew Neil as a friend…..........(-:

(trivia: If you go east north-east from here you end up in…..........not Greenland…......Boston)


Alaska Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#5 posted 06-19-2010 05:05 PM

Wow Neil it seems your following the PBS tour first the new yankee work shop and now a visit with Tommy an Eli .could you head south now and go see Charles Neil.

-- Custom furniture

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 2554 days

#6 posted 06-19-2010 06:02 PM

Can’t wait to see the series, thanks for the update and keep us posted.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View grizzman's profile


7780 posts in 2720 days

#7 posted 06-19-2010 08:07 PM

hey jim…yea i think were what is considered mush now…......seems i can see that sculped hunk of a colorodo guy headed east..and i can see the wave leaving me behind….....i knew he said he was going to see eli…and i had forgot that eli was part pf the tommy mac show…i can just imagine how wonderful it was being there…and seeing what will become the tools of the new pbs show…i cant wait to see it….....thanks neil for the inside look…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2532 days

#8 posted 06-19-2010 08:14 PM

thankĀ“s for the update Neil you lucky man (wish it was me that has those orportunitys)
I realy hope it will be possiple to see it podcasted on the net

take care

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 2400 days

#9 posted 06-19-2010 09:59 PM

NEIL;how do you rate hangin with the celebs? did they load you up on the discarded tools?
It’s great to be you!

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 3090 days

#10 posted 06-20-2010 12:05 AM

Thanks for the ifo, Neil.

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2751 days

#11 posted 06-20-2010 11:41 AM

It sounds like you are using your time well there Neil. Like Dennis, I wish there was someway we could see these programs on the net outside the U.S.A. I wish someone could make that happen, even on a subscription basis if necessary.

I hope your treatment works well for you. I can’t imagine how frustrating such an ailment must be. I wish you the best.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DYNO360's profile


151 posts in 2282 days

#12 posted 08-14-2010 01:13 AM

When are you going to build your version of the NBSS tool box? Eli and Tommy are great guys. Tommy sorta brags and Eli is too quiet, but he is very skilled too.

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2591 days

#13 posted 08-14-2010 01:53 AM

DYNO360: LOL !

Perfect characterization of the two of them :-)

I’d actually love to build a box like theirs. It’s on my (looooooong) list of “to-be-builts” !

-- -- Neil

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