New Yankee Workshop - the early years

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Blog entry by richgreer posted 02-17-2010 11:12 PM 2515 reads 0 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

If you go to the New Yankee Workshop website ( you can see an early episode of the show. The episode changes every week and they do not allow you to see the pervious episodes that were available so you have to go there each week to see the next offering. You can download and save.

I just watched episode 107 (the 7th one made). Some things have changed over the years. In this early episode I noted the following – -

- Norm uses a ShopSmith as his drill press.
- He does not have a mortising machine and he makes his mortises with the drill press and chisels.
- He never mentions the importance of safety.
- He does not have a dust collector hooked up to any machines (and he produces a lot shavings with his thickness planer).
- He uses the radial arm saw a lot – primarily with a dado blade.
- He uses a molder cutting head in his table saw
- He did not use a random orbital sander in a situation where I am sure he would use one today.

It’s interesting how things have changed in the last 20 years.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

26 comments so far

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3039 days

#1 posted 02-17-2010 11:59 PM

So True, No grey 20 years ago, Some Today, Oh same for you? Hah :)

Hail to the chief! Norm’s Gone:( I watched every week.

No more important safety rule than these safety glasses.

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3073 days

#2 posted 02-18-2010 12:53 AM

I have a lot of respect and appreciation for Norm. He really got me excited about woodworking. However, there has been a transition in my life. Years ago I accepted everything that Norm said as the absolute gospel truth about the best way to do something. Today, I agree with him at least 95% of the time but, every once in a while I think, “No Norm – I wouldn’t do it that way”. Still, the bottom line remains, he has been very good for woodworking.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3987 days

#3 posted 02-18-2010 12:56 AM

Some of the old shows used to say “the guards were removed just for filming” also.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3576 days

#4 posted 02-18-2010 01:05 AM

I’ve seen that a little while ago ,It looks like he’s using and old Craftsman table saw too.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#5 posted 02-18-2010 01:06 AM

So true, I think he using an old Rockwell Unisaw.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3760 days

#6 posted 02-18-2010 02:21 AM

He also used a Shopsmith band saw. In later years manufacturers couldn’t push new tools at him fast enough.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Tony Z's profile

Tony Z

205 posts in 3789 days

#7 posted 02-18-2010 03:07 AM

I just got done watching that episode. I forgot what a bare-bones set-up he had (relatively speaking). Also noted:
-no drywall on ceiling
-some walls were uncovered
-Pipe clamps?
-he was really excited about his new glue roller!

-- Tony, Ohio

View deeman's profile


379 posts in 3080 days

#8 posted 02-18-2010 04:57 AM

I bought my Shopsmith bandsaw after watching Norm use one. I miss norm on Saturday mornings…...Although I don’t think my wife and kids do

-- Dennis Trenton Ohio And life is worth the living just because He lives!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3073 days

#9 posted 02-18-2010 05:49 AM

I fear I have made an inaccurate statement. I thought I had downloaded one of these episodes. After I thought I had downloaded it seemed to work fine. Now I realize is that all I did was download the website address. Sorry ‘bout misleading.

Tony Z. – Norm still likes his glue roller. He says good things about it every time he uses it. He also likes that special apparatus for putting glue in the biscuit joints.

I still buy stuff based on what Norm uses. I bought the Osborne miter gauge because that is what Norm uses and I love it.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Rediron's profile


24 posts in 3022 days

#10 posted 02-18-2010 07:40 AM

I’m new here help!!!!!!

-- JUST DO IT !!!

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3753 days

#11 posted 02-18-2010 07:59 AM

Holy MoJolly Batman! He is using a wobble dado!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View WoodSparky's profile


200 posts in 3101 days

#12 posted 02-18-2010 08:18 AM

Funny, His shop then looks like my shop now. I guess I have 20 years to catch up.


-- So Many tools, So little time

View DaveMiller's profile


8 posts in 3741 days

#13 posted 02-18-2010 03:06 PM

I don’t think I have ever seen any of these old shows. How refreshing to see him make do without all the latest and greatest tools and gadgets. Really makes you think “I can do that”.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1599 posts in 3557 days

#14 posted 02-18-2010 05:39 PM

I’ve seen every episode over the years, and here are some things that I’ve noticed along the way:

-Use of the radial arm saw has diminished. I miss mine. I had to get rid of it ten years ago on moving day.

-Used biscuits on every table top glue up, now says the glue is stronger than the wood. Biscuits have caused me more problems than they solve, so I don’t use them anymore. My new dining table top is almost perfectly flat.

-Aniline dye was dissolved in alcohol. Now they tell me it’s susceptible to fading, so use distilled water. My entire bedroom set was done with alcohol. Luckily, it’s dark in the bedroom.

I’ve always felt that having all those fancy tools made woodworking seem expensive and unattainable. As much as I respect Norm, there has been several instances where I would’ve done some process another way. For example, using a router to do a rabbet or dado instead of the table saw or vice versa. My biggest problem with NYW is that I’ve never really cared for the country style furniture that makes up the vast majority of their catalog. I’m an Arts & Crafts guy, and he only made a few pieces in that style over the years.

I will definitely give Norm kudos for teaching me the basics that got me started. A lot of episodes are available on torrent sites if you are willing to download them. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a NYW-style sign for the shop. I like Norm’s personality more than David Marks’. I miss not having a woodworking show to watch every week.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Joe Watson's profile

Joe Watson

316 posts in 3545 days

#15 posted 02-18-2010 06:05 PM

the shop smith was the first thing i noticed. In a couple of episodes think he used its other functions as well. lathe maybe.

-- Got Wood?

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