Woodworkers Against the PBS show "American Woodshop"

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Forum topic by Mark D. posted 07-07-2009 05:46 AM 105373 views 2 times favorited 344 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark D.

155 posts in 5052 days

07-07-2009 05:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question rant pbs american woodshop

Is it just me, or are there other woodworkers out there who are tired of the “American Woodshop” garbage they show on PBS these days? I’ve never seen anyone rush through important steps, overlook glaringly obvious mistakes in what he’s demonstrating, along with demonstrating ridiculously unsafe shop practices… I think more “New Yankee” would be a far better expenditure of public television funds. For that matter, I’d rather see the likes of Marc Spagnuolo “The Wood Whisperer” on PBS… The crude humor and outstanding craftsmanship of Thomas J. MacDonald from “Rough Cut” is higher quality programming than “American Woodshop.” At least the aforementioned have some real talent and a knack for showing the important details of true fine craftsmanship, along with stopping to talk about how to safely and accurately accomplish tricky processes…

I just watched the “American Woodshop” guy butcher a beautiful black walnut slab to create a horribly crafted and poorly designed hall table, on which he sloppily brushed on a horribly inconsistent and Picasso like coat of poly… (seriously, he left about a two inch diameter dry spot on the top, while leaving pools in other areas.)

Come on PBS, if you want public support, you’ve got to deliver quality programming, and PorterCable/Delta, I’m ashamed of you for providing “promotional consideration” for programming of such poor quality….

:: End of Rant ::

P.S. I think the “American Woodshop” guy would benefit from watching a few episodes of Teenage Woodworker as well…

:: End of End of Rant…. Seriously this time ::

-- Looking for free wood working plans? Visit us at

344 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4861 days

#1 posted 07-07-2009 06:00 AM

Hey Mark
That’s being pretty tough on that show and PBS, Good for you I have watched 1/2 half of one show and could not believe they would put this guy on the air. The episode I saw he was making a medicine cabinet with butt joints for the cabinet and pocket screws for the door with terrible miters. I would suggest any of the people you have suggested plus Charles Neil and any of a dozen LJ members that would qualify also.


View jerryz's profile


164 posts in 4562 days

#2 posted 07-07-2009 06:38 AM

Well, I agree 2000% with the both of you, it is an unfortunate waste of time, I did watch a couple of episodes and frankly I don’t know what is it that we learn with this guy, most of the “techniques” he demonstrates are done very sloppily.
I will not watch it again.

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Don K.

1075 posts in 4610 days

#3 posted 07-07-2009 07:07 AM

Ditto to all said…I watched this show a couple of times when it first came out. The first time I just thought it was “New show Jitters” after a few shows I realized my 14 yr old daughter had better woodworking skills than him.

And to think Norm used to be on HGTV AND PBS…now he is off of HGTV and we get a whole year of reruns on PBS…I sure hope they are not phasing him out or that he is not retiring (If he does I hope they replace him with a GOOD quality woodworker). When HGTV first started it had tons of good woodworking shows….now it is nothing more than another lady’s TV network that shows how to decorate their homes.

-- Don S.E. OK

View jerryz's profile


164 posts in 4562 days

#4 posted 07-07-2009 08:04 AM

Just a quick note on saturday the PBS create channel ran a non stop grilling program I mean c’mon non stop.
A bit much if you ask me

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22815 posts in 4960 days

#5 posted 07-07-2009 08:05 AM

I haven’t seen it in teh Seattle area for a long time. I thought it was a bit below standards when I did.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Mely5862's profile


22 posts in 4566 days

#6 posted 07-07-2009 08:42 AM

More than the show, I didn’t care for his video demonstration of the new Delta Unisaw on Delta’s website. Such a wonderfull machine with thousands of hours of research and development reduced to that? A bunch of soundbites and in the field interviews from guys who though sincere and enthusiastic didn’t say much.
Unfortunate. It was an opportunity to hook a new demographic (the internet crew) to their loyal customer base. Missed the mark in my humble opinion.

-- “Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.” John Candy, Blues Brothers

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Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5398 days

#7 posted 07-07-2009 09:24 PM

I liked the American Woodshop in it’s early days. I lost interest when he spent most of a season showing them build his new shop. Then it seemed like it was one bandsaw box after another! I watched an episode recently and barely made it through the show. The show really needs a makeover, to compete with what you can find on the internet.

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4932 days

#8 posted 07-07-2009 09:39 PM

it’s time like these that I’m glad I don’t have a TV… I think there’s plenty of good content online as mentioned already. and if anyone wants to be on TV they need to step it up, or people will go elsewhere.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5028 days

#9 posted 07-07-2009 10:30 PM

I don’t get the program, or have ever seen it. You seem to have a majority in agreement with you, so now just forward your letter to the offending television station, so they know, and maybe something will be done. I doubt anyone at PBS is a Lumber Jock.

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5598 days

#10 posted 07-07-2009 10:56 PM

I move that “American Woodshop” get replaced by “American Craftsman” staring our brother Todd!

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


605 posts in 5468 days

#11 posted 07-07-2009 11:00 PM

Thanks for the mention guys. I really appreciate it.

I have a food for thought question. At what point do we stop looking toward TV for our quality niche content? For years now, woodworking programming has taken a backseat to what I like to call the “least common denominator shows”. Each year the options are fewer and fewer and if any shows are aired at all, they are in very specific markets, so most of us can’t even see them.

With the growth of the internet woodworking community over the past 3-4 years, I am having less and less of a need or desire for woodworking programming on my television. I am even having trouble deciding what advantages it might offer me. Its less flexible and I have to watch what they want to show me. Ok, so the picture is really big…. lol. But there are many ways to get your favorite web videos onto your television for viewing. More and more though, I find myself watching all my videos right at the computer or on my iPhone. Ain’t technology great?

So why watch the chosen few that PBS deems worthy of being on television (with all due respect to Scott Phillips and Norm), when I can watch guys like Charles Neal, Tommy, Todd, Matt V, Shannon, Denis, and numerous other “real” LumberJocks doing real projects, fixing real mistakes. Add to that the option to actually speak with these people about their craft in real time, and you’ve got TV beat hands down.

So I may be a little biased in my opinions, for obvious reasons. But I am a consumer of this stuff just like you guys. And in my house, the TV is for watching movies and cooking shows ( I love BBQ shows! lol). Everything else is on the computer or a portable media device. The whole thing became a lot less frustrating when I stopped expecting the TV to give me something it clearly wasn’t interested in providing. :)

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 5052 days

#12 posted 07-07-2009 11:01 PM

ive watched one or two of them on the woodworking channel and i have to agree. i dont like to beat down on people but when he showed the workbench being build he just glued all the pieces together and then “flattened” it with a belt sander and Ros…. thats not flat at all. then all of the biscuits and but joints and i havent watched a show since.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4554 days

#13 posted 07-07-2009 11:07 PM

Luckily, I don’t have time to pay attention to much on tv.

Like you guys though, I think it is criminal when they put on a show that is poorly researched or the technical information is not up to par. Shame on them for using public money to make a show that is so “inaccurate.” I usually support such channels as I would rather see the arts, sciences or a good “how to show” then some inane weekly serio-comic mush with poor writing and more commercials then content. I think my time is better spent in my shop or on the internet…frankly….tv sucks! My oldpa used to say that tv junk kills your imagination and causes brain damage….I think this may show why he said it!!

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 5398 days

#14 posted 07-08-2009 11:33 PM


I think you have good point, and think more people are looking to get their information where and when they want it. As for TV there really is only 1 woodworking show I still watch and that’s Roy Underhill. Even Roy’s show suffers from the TV format. You just can’t squeeze enough good information into a 20 window.

I really get the vast amount of my woodworking information/entertainment from the Internet. My RSS reader is so full of sites, it’s hard to even keep up. I guess that is a good problem to have. I watch/listen to my favorite Podcasts during my commute. Luckily I ride a bus, so I have no problem watching videos :).

I think video/audio programs delivered over the Internet is the wave of the future. The format allows the “host” to totally explore a topic, without the limitations of the TV format. Imagine if Tommy approached his Bombay Secretary series in the “traditional” TV format. It would have been butchered up into something not even recognizable. This New Media revolution has so many possibilities, I look forward to what is coming over the next couple of years. It should be earth shattering!

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4869 days

#15 posted 07-08-2009 11:55 PM

We used to get Norm plus another couple of no-users here in the UK.I liked Norm but they stopped it seemingly he wanted too much money for his half hour show spread out with ads ads and more long ads 6 or seven minutes at a time.Then we got about four years of repeats then it stopped, so we have rubbish and nothing take your pick. I would like to see Norm come back in the UK with some new stuff sorry I can talk for those I don’t know. Best of LOve your brother Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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