TV woodworkers

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Posted

I have been reading the posts in several different forums. There seem to be some agreement that the TV guys do not show the required time and how too for set up of machines and jigs and fixtures. This gives the novice woodworker the idea that all things can be built in a very short time. Has anyone else had the idea that this is really hard to get across to the novice, wife or friend?

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This gives the novice woodworker the idea that all things can be built in a very short time. Has anyone else had the idea that this is really hard to get across to the novice, wife or friend?

Yyyyes .. and if I see another Home Depot add about how easy it is to do all this stuff .. I'm going to nail gun my TV screen! :angry::rolleyes:

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Posted

A lot of people do not understand the time it takes just to plan out a project before you even start on it. Sometimes I think it takes more time to plan out and set up then it is to do the project itself. I sometimes do a lot of practicing on scrap pieces before i attempt it on the real thing.

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Posted

I have been reading the posts in several different forums. There seem to be some agreement that the TV guys do not show the required time and how too for set up of machines and jigs and fixtures. This gives the novice woodworker the idea that all things can be built in a very short time. Has anyone else had the idea that this is really hard to get across to the novice, wife or friend?

Although I've never done a live TV spot, I've been exposed to some video production, and I understand exactly where you're coming from.

The crazy thing is, usually the filming/taping takes 3 to 4 times longer to make said item, than it actually takes me to make it if I were alone in my shop. So a table that takes me a day to make, will require 3 or 4 days of filming. Then during the editing process, it's of course condensed to fit within a certain time perameter. And during that process, it's also arranged for the intended market - For example, a how-to video with no commercials is formatted much differently than a tv show, intended to sell ad time.

My advice - Keep your tools well tuned, and check them frequently. The more you can keep them tuned, the better they will perform, and the more productive you'll be in your shop. But when estimating time to complete a project - do a reasonable estimate, and then double that time, and you should be in the ball park

Best,

Gregory

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Posted

Agreed.. They never show the whole story..

I was watching Norm in TNYW this morning. He was building the seven drawer chest on chest.

On camera, it looks beautiful, but one thing caught my attention. He glued and BRAD nailed everything together. Which leads me to think..

A ) They failed to show the steps in which he went back and filled all the brad head holes with putty before sanding and finishing.

B ) Since the brad head holes were smaller than the camera could resolve they just ignored them.

C ) Norm has magic brads that dissapear once set into mahogany plywood.

I do think they have to edit for time constraints, most of those shows are 30 minutes. But they could at least mention how long to plan for when building the projects.

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Posted

I think Norm's brads are kind of like dissolving stitches, right? They just absorb into the wood. :)

I just finished up the Chest of Drawers series for the Guild today. Now this project would normally take me a week or two at the most to build. But because I filmed it over the course of 12 videos, the actual time was about 2 months! On the web, I have the luxury of producing very long video presentations. On television, there are a whole host of reasons for condensing an entire build into a 30 minute time slot......its just the nature of the beast. So I would never use a TV show to gauge things like time because you'll always come away with the wrong impression. Video content on the web (and some DVDs), however, will give you a much better perspective for how long a project will take in the real world. As nice as a well-produced TV show can be to look at, I don't think they provide the best service to the viewer in terms of setting realistic expectations. But its a great format for inspiration and general tips.

MarkC likes this

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The few NYW shows I've seen try to indicate that each project can be accomplished in a full weekend. Norm talks about letting the glue dry overnight, or walks in and mentions that it's "another beautiful New England morning". And, it seems to me that if you had a nice big shop and all of his tools and the wood was already delivered, and you had no other obligations or distractions, you could do those projects in a weekend. Still,30 minute show inevitably leave the impression that you could do it in a few hours.

I guess there's always a trade-off between making the shows interesting by editting out the boring parts, and accurately showing all the things that can go wrong and how long it will really take. I really don't want to watch an hour of someone using an ROS.

As far as I'm concerned, the more screw-ups and fixes in the video, the better. It's encouraging to newbies, and knowing how to fix things is an important skill.

Maybe we need the woodworking version of "24", where the project is done in real time. It shows 12 woodworkers working on 12 different projects. Jack leaves the lumberyard with a truck full of boards, and cut to Sharon printing out the full size drawings to tape to the blanks. Then quick cut to Jack on the road and then to Fred who is jointing his boards. Back to Sharon whose printer has just finished the last page then to Jack pulling up and starting to unload his truck. How exciting!

JayWC and sbarton22 like this

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Posted

At what point in the show does Jack shoot the project ???

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Posted

I think Norm's brads are kind of like dissolving stitches, right? They just absorb into the wood. :)

Ha!

I just finished up the Chest of Drawers series for the Guild today. Now this project would normally take me a week or two at the most to build. But because I filmed it over the course of 12 videos, the actual time was about 2 months!

How refreshing. 2 weeks huh? I don't think that I've ever thought that it would take 2 days for me (or Norm) to build the stuff on TNYW though I feel like that is the impression he usually gives on the show. "Tonight I'll finish up the rest of the cuts for the case, tomorrow I'll slap on some varnish."

I'm curious to know why there isn't a more "honest" description of the work required to actually complete a piece on TV. I understand the limitations associated with the time slots etc, but the fact that Marc mentioned it would take him 2 weeks to complete something means a lot. If it takes someone that does it for a living, as a complete noob shouldn't I expect to take 4x (8x?) that amount doing the same piece? Once there is a "real" timeframe put to the project even the most novice wordworker can begin to gauge the complexity. Honestly, that is just as meaningful when you are starting as how to cut that snug dovetail joint.

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Posted

Also keep in mind I have gotten quite a bit slower now that the furniture isn't actually paying the bills. :) I work at a much more relaxed pace now.

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Posted

I'm curious to know why there isn't a more "honest" description of the work required to actually complete a piece on TV. I understand the limitations associated with the time slots etc, but the fact that Marc mentioned it would take him 2 weeks to complete something means a lot. If it takes someone that does it for a living, as a complete noob shouldn't I expect to take 4x (8x?) that amount doing the same piece? Once there is a "real" timeframe put to the project even the most novice wordworker can begin to gauge the complexity. Honestly, that is just as meaningful when you are starting as how to cut that snug dovetail joint.

There's a few reasons, 1) It would get very repetitive, although I doubt people who sit around reading woodworking forums would mind much. :) However the general public doesn't want to watch someone sand with progressively finer grits for 3 hours. 2) Norm in particular, over his many years, has done many shows detailing how to accomplish specific cuts and tasks. So, on his show it became a "given" that you either know how to do them or at least will go reference those earlier shows to get further in depth info. When you look at NYW season 1 he's actually showing most of his cuts (even repetitive ones) and doing a lot more of the setup on camera. 3) While I'm not saying they aren't nice people, over a long enough time, TV hosts will no longer have any sense of reality. After you use $10,000 (my own rough estimate) in clamps to glue up a giant wooden flagpole, you are no longer making shows for normal hobbyists and have essentially lost touch with the people who actually want to build things.

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Posted

I think that the TV woodworkers also post a problem for us because the clients who will bother to watch this kind of program will think that to make something nice it takes no time. When they see the price we quote for an item, they think we are crazy or ripping them off.

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While I'm not saying they aren't nice people, over a long enough time, TV hosts will no longer have any sense of reality. After you use $10,000 (my own rough estimate) in clamps to glue up a giant wooden flagpole, you are no longer making shows for normal hobbyists and have essentially lost touch with the people who actually want to build things.

Boy you bring up a point that scares the crap out of me. I may not be on TV but I sure have my support from manufacturers when it comes to tools. Its a dream come true for a tool lover. But it does change your perspective on tool cost. That's why I am constantly reminding myself to show alternatives and not to get too carried away with the fancy tools, even if those would be the tools I would grab if the camera weren't on. The Domino is a good example. If it were 4 years ago and I had a stack of clients lined up, I would be using that Domino like nobody's business! But on the show, I think I have used it about 3 times since its release. Maybe that's why Festool doesn't sponsor us anymore? lol Most times I opt to make a traditional mortise and tenon using the tablesaw. Just doesn't feel right to go to the easy tool and really it doesn't do anyone any favors on the educational side of things.

I also have Nicole here to smack me in the head if I go off course so that's always nice. :)

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Posted

Also keep in mind I have gotten quite a bit slower now that the furniture isn't actually paying the bills. :) I work at a much more relaxed pace now.

Don't you dare let Sylvia hear you say that you could do it faster!! I get enough "that's all the farther you are?" Good God, Man!!!

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Posted

I think that the TV woodworkers also post a problem for us because the clients who will bother to watch this kind of program will think that to make something nice it takes no time. When they see the price we quote for an item, they think we are crazy or ripping them off.

Customers have a tendency to be over demanding and under appreciative to contractors regardless of the task. Talk to any independent IT contractor, auto mechanic or woodworker and you'll get hours of client horror stories. As a programmer my favorite is always, "We want you to design and code the site and then I'll tell you if we want to buy it." I like to call it the "Your-time-can't-possibly-be-worth-more-than-mine syndrome."

I'm of the opinion that whatever damage TV woodworkers may do by making things look too easy, they undo and then some by building interest and respect for handmade custom furniture and the hobby of woodworking. And without those there is no money to be made by anyone. Tools would become more expensive due to lack of volume, local hardwood lumber suppliers and stores like woodcraft become more scarce and people just continue buying particleboard that falls apart every few years. If a show teaches only 1 in 1,000 non-woodworkers who watch how awesome real furniture is it's a win; those other people would never have been a profitable client regardless.

Boy you bring up a point that scares the crap out of me. I may not be on TV but I sure have my support from manufacturers when it comes to tools. Its a dream come true for a tool lover. But it does change your perspective on tool cost. That's why I am constantly reminding myself to show alternatives and not to get too carried away with the fancy tools, even if those would be the tools I would grab if the camera weren't on. The Domino is a good example. If it were 4 years ago and I had a stack of clients lined up, I would be using that Domino like nobody's business! But on the show, I think I have used it about 3 times since its release. Maybe that's why Festool doesn't sponsor us anymore? lol Most times I opt to make a traditional mortise and tenon using the tablesaw. Just doesn't feel right to go to the easy tool and really it doesn't do anyone any favors on the educational side of things.

I also have Nicole here to smack me in the head if I go off course so that's always nice. :)

Your biggest advantage is the fact that you can directly reply to a community conversation. When a show like NYW is made, not only does the format not lead itself towards discussion but it's going to be months before it airs. Then, it's likely going to be next season before a commonly asked question can be answered publicly on air, which can only happen at the expense of new material due to the fixed format. While I certainly appreciate the resource, (I wasn't doing anything Saturday morning anyway) and I learned a lot from the likes of Norm, a fixed format static show is close to the worst media for teaching a skilled craft. Having an open format and being able to respond (even if it's just a picture and a quick explanation) is going to help people learn faster than any fixed format show could, regardless of budget.

Besides, thanks to the guild, your production goals differ from TV shows in an important way. They make more money when more people watch, regardless if the viewers are really interested in doing the things they are demonstrating. You actually make more money when you can convince people that you can teach them how to do new things or improve existing skills.

Besides, we all have the utmost faith in Nicole. :lol: (And yes I have every intention of joining the guild, right after the wife's bookshelves and the Christmas presents are done.)

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Posted

Honestly I must admit I am confused as to why this is an issue in the woodworking world I have seen posts about this subject on multiple forums and fail to see the point.

When people watch "Extreme make over" Do they think you can build an entire house in 1 hour? or if they watch a survival show like Man Vs Wild do they think you can travel great distances and reach rescue in an hour? or if you watch a cooking show that you can prepare a full course meal in less than 30 minutes?

I would hope the answer is no to the above questions so why does the "bar" suddenly change when it comes to a wood working show do people seriously think someone can build a full dining room set in a 1 hour period? I sure hope not.. as that lack of reality leads to some troubling issues way above wood working..

A Tv show no matter how you slice it or promote it is simply for "entertainment" so some put a spin on it with a "Infotainment" aspect but in reality there is so much mundane,repetitive tasks involved in wood working as with survival/cooking/house building that the idea of documenting every aspect in a time frame of a 1 to 1 ratio is frankly unproductive and really becomes a worthless venture.

I mean honestly how many people want to watch Marc spend an hour if not more planning and then rough cutting lumber or the (if like me) 2hours in the lumber store trying to find those perfect boards for the project?

In reality forums are like a bottle neck effect in action it weeds out a big majority of a demographic down to the few in the great number of demographic such as wood workers much the same as TV viewers of wood working shows, If Marc or Norm for examples made a 36 hour series on every minute detail of a project build from start to finish in this gold fish attention span of a society we live in today out of a 100 random wood workers (not just the small groups that have been bottle necked on forums) I bet they would be lucky if 2 or 3 out of a 100 would actually sit there and watch the entire thing most would use the skip/FF button to the assembly section where all the materials are ready to be glued together.

So unfortunately as much as the few of us who would be quite happy to sit and watch all 20-30+ hours of every aspect of a building process there will be 100-1 against it and at the end of the day shows are not famous for pandering to the minority its all about keeping the majority of distracted goldfish happy.

Thankfully with Marcs control over the shows he is able to keep his content to a "instructional" format but I am sure he knows as well as me that it will only be popular with a percent of wood workers its the nature of beast the old saying, You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

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There's a few reasons, 1) It would get very repetitive, although I doubt people who sit around reading woodworking forums would mind much. :) However the general public doesn't want to watch someone sand with progressively finer grits for 3 hours. 2) Norm in particular, over his many years, has done many shows detailing how to accomplish specific cuts and tasks. So, on his show it became a "given" that you either know how to do them or at least will go reference those earlier shows to get further in depth info. When you look at NYW season 1 he's actually showing most of his cuts (even repetitive ones) and doing a lot more of the setup on camera. 3) While I'm not saying they aren't nice people, over a long enough time, TV hosts will no longer have any sense of reality. After you use $10,000 (my own rough estimate) in clamps to glue up a giant wooden flagpole, you are no longer making shows for normal hobbyists and have essentially lost touch with the people who actually want to build things.

I guess I didn't make my real question very clear. I certainly don't want to watch Norm sanding for longer than 5 seconds, or varnish dry at all. I just want TV to be honest about how long it actually takes. TNYW isn't doing me any favors by hiding the fact that the 2 minutes showed actually took 4 hours of setup and work. By all means, don't show it to me, but tell me that it took a while.

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"I'm Norm Abrams. This week we'll be making this lovely Shaker library table. This is a good project for a long weekend, maybe three or four days not counting the time to acquire the lumber. We'll use a table saw sled and a router table, so if you haven't already built those, you'll need to plan more time."

Something like that?

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Posted

Don't you dare let Sylvia hear you say that you could do it faster!! I get enough "that's all the farther you are?" Good God, Man!!!

All right, that's it! No more TV woodworking shows for Sylvia! :lol:

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Last year we decided to do an addition to our house and I wanted to do a lot of the finish work. So I suggested to my spouse that we take a beginning wood working class together at the local community college, partly to advance my skills and partly to give a sense of what we we're taking on. We did and I've never had problems with expectations since. Once you actually try to build something it gives an appreciation for so much of what we take for granted. Watching our contractor work so hard on the addition helped as well.

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I think Norm's brads are kind of like dissolving stitches, right? They just absorb into the wood. :)

I just finished up the Chest of Drawers series for the Guild today. Now this project would normally take me a week or two at the most to build. But because I filmed it over the course of 12 videos, the actual time was about 2 months! On the web, I have the luxury of producing very long video presentations. On television, there are a whole host of reasons for condensing an entire build into a 30 minute time slot......its just the nature of the beast. So I would never use a TV show to gauge things like time because you'll always come away with the wrong impression. Video content on the web (and some DVDs), however, will give you a much better perspective for how long a project will take in the real world. As nice as a well-produced TV show can be to look at, I don't think they provide the best service to the viewer in terms of setting realistic expectations. But its a great format for inspiration and general tips.

The issue of unrealistic time compression for shop projects is something that I have written about before. But I come at it from the point of my concern for shop safety. I am often frustrated by the amount of time that it takes for me to do some of the most basic shop operations. My main frame of reference (at least in my head) is the visualization of Norm (and others), zipping through the most demanding of operations ... and all in 27-minutes. On a rational basis, I know that Norm is using staff, video production pasting, etc. ... not to mention that he is always showing us the one that he builds the "second time" (remember, he always first builds the "prototype").

Even with this awareness of the un-reality of the "visualization of TV furniture building," the "zip-zip-zip" of the flow of these videos affects my expectations in my own shop. I am always telling myself to "slow down, you are not on TV!" I hope that I will keep saying that to myself ... and that I will keep listening. Still have all my digits and hoping to keep 'em!

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Maybe I grew up around construction/basic woodworking and watching Norm and St. Roy with my dad that I never really thought abut this topic. There are very few shows I know of that show the real pace of creating anything. If you think about cooking shows, the happy tree painting guy on PBS, travel shows and so forth it is always condensed. The viewer should understand that and realize the show is pointing out the key parts of the building. That is one big plus I see in the Woodsmithshop program. They usually take time to explain the jigs they are using and how to make it.

Now I do get jealous of Norm when he magically swaps out dado blades faster than I can change socks :)

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Maybe I grew up around construction/basic woodworking and watching Norm and St. Roy with my dad that I never really thought abut this topic. There are very few shows I know of that show the real pace of creating anything. If you think about cooking shows, the happy tree painting guy on PBS, travel shows and so forth it is always condensed. The viewer should understand that and realize the show is pointing out the key parts of the building. That is one big plus I see in the Woodsmithshop program. They usually take time to explain the jigs they are using and how to make it.

Now I do get jealous of Norm when he magically swaps out dado blades faster than I can change socks :)

... and Norm is always telling you "well, that's it for today. Tomorrow, when I come back, I will finish this and this and this." Then when he continues the show (supposedly the next day) he tells you that before he "left last night" he did an additional eleven things! We all love Norm but sometimes ... we love to hate him :lol:!

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The funny thing about this topic is that I've been kicking around the idea of creating a podcast of my own entitled "The 5 minute woodworker." Basically, projects that can be completed in 5 minutes, or portions of projects that only take 5 minutes to do. So that all of us who have ADD (woodworking or otherwise) can focus on a task, and those of us who are starting out and have no realization that tables cannot be completed in 26 minutes (including finishing and drying time) can believe they can actually accomplish something when setting foot in their shop.

The biggest reason I haven't set up this podcast idea, is I have looked to see how much effort Marc puts into his videos (at least on the free side. Hopefully, come February, I'll see how much he puts into the guild side.) I'm a realist; I'm too lazy to put that much effort into even one video, let alone 100+.

But I agree that the initial impression from many TV woodworkers is "quick and easy." Think about it from the producer's side, though. If they didn't make it appear simple and quick, would they still be able to get massive sponsorship and viewership? On the makeover shows, you do know that the majority of the people doing basic home renovations (not gut the walls and rebuild, but tweak the room and add paint) tends to be an average home-owner (or the wife of one) with a basic set of tools? (This courtesy of a marketing professional I know. yes, the data is a few years old, but the trends have not changed.)

Now, here's good old Norm showing that a cowboy-themed table can be done fairly simply, and in just 30 minutes you travel from original inspiration to prototype to Norm's completed project. This gets added to the "honey-do" list, and the show can keep on truckin'. Never mind that the project needs to sit for 4 weeks while the finish fully cures, or that the lumber needs to sit for 4 to 52 weeks to acclimate to the shop, or that the credit card needs 2 or 3 years to cool down from all the tool purchases to get enough lacquer or shellac to cover the project. If the producer didn't make it "appetizing" enough to make you want to go tackle it, they couldn't get more beginners to start on this path.

Wow, it's late. I can tell from my rambling and profuse writing. I'm going to get off the soapbox now, and hopefully get some sleep before I add another sentence. FWIW, I'm grateful that the TV shows are out there, because I never would have followed my father out into the workshop, nor thought I could make some of the pieces I've seen done on TV.

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AJ -

Your posts are very entertaining. I look forward to seeing more ... :)

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