New Yankee Workshop, The

New Yankee Workshop, The
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The Bermuda Bench/Table
Every time Norm does an outside project it is an instant hit. This will be no exception. It’s a useful all-weather convertible bench/table. He found it in an old house in Saint Georges, Bermuda and thought it would be perfect for a New Yankee Workshop project. Made of rot-resistant cypress, this will only get more beautiful with age.

The Ottoman
Encouraged by his success in building the upholstered cigar chair in Season 15, Norm partners once again with furniture guru Norman Coley to build an oversized ottoman. Norm visits the semi-annual world famous Chapel Hill, North Carolina furniture market to select the model he will build in the New Yankee Workshop. While he is at it, he adds a leather-covered footstool to go with his cigar chair.

Bermuda Chest
Bermudans call themselves "Onions" perhaps because of those succulent pungent bulbs they have grown for hundreds of years. But onions also appear as wooden buns, or feet, to keep their blanket chests off the damp floors of that seaside nation. Norm, on his trip to Bermuda, finds a historic example in the form of a well-proportioned solid mahogany chest which he is able to reproduce faithfully back at the shop.

Federal-Style Game Table
With no television and few newspapers to read, our ancestors had plenty of time for card games – thus, game tables were very popular. They often featured circular tops that were hinged and could be folded, designed to be stored against the wall when not in use. When needed, the top flipped down on a hinged gate leg and was suitable for four card players. Norm discovered an example in historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, which he used as inspiration for his piece.

Lathe 101
In Lathe 101, Norm tackles the wood lathe and shows the basic techniques necessary to learn spindle turning, showing several examples of lathes and the tools required to achieve professional results. A self-taught turner himself, Norm then turns a regulation sized baseball bat and even gets a member of the current Red Sox baseball team to try it out in Fenway Park.

Side Chair
Norm has said many times that chairs are the most challenging projects a woodworker can attempt. Not only do they have to be strong enough to support the heavy twisting action of a human body, they also have to be attractive enough to take their place at the table. Norm visits historic Deerfield in central Massachusetts where he discovers, amid the vast collection of antique furniture, a comfortable, handsome, American-built side chair of the early 1800’s. Norm makes a faithful reproduction back in the work-shop and upholsters it in a modern fabric that should stand up well to the rigors of time.

Tilt Top Table
One classic furniture form that Norm has long admired is the tilt top table. Graceful Chippendale feet support a central pedestal, which in turn supports the tilting mechanism and a glorious cherry top fashioned in a "handkerchief" outline. When stored in the "up" position it provides a dramatic backdrop, and when it is down it is a comfortable and useful table for four. Norm finds the original at the historic Harrison Gray house on Boston’s Beacon Hill.

Highboy (Part 1 of 2)
This bonnet-topped Queen Anne-legged tiger maple highboy is a classic in every sense of the word. Even the reproduction hardware is rare. Joining Norm in the search for a suitable highboy that Norm can reproduce are Leigh and Leslie Keno, respected furniture experts from FIND!. They take Norm to Leigh's gallery in New York City and show him a glorious original they believe was built in Wethersfield, Connecticut, in the early 19th century. It takes Norm two programs to complete the magnificent project, and those who have seen it say it is well worth his time and effort.

Highboy (Part 2 of 2)
This bonnet-topped Queen Anne-legged tiger maple highboy is a classic in every sense of the word. Even the reproduction hardware is rare. Joining Norm in the search for a suitable highboy that Norm can reproduce are Leigh and Leslie Keno, respected furniture experts from FIND!. They take Norm to Leigh's gallery in New York City and show him a glorious original they believe was built in Wethersfield, Connecticut, in the early 19th century. It takes Norm two programs to complete the magnificent project, and those who have seen it say it is well worth his time and effort.

Kitchen Island
Largely unknown in grandmother's time, kitchen islands have become indispensable in today's modern homes. Used to house sinks, cook tops, storage for pots and pans, recyclables and barstools, they often become the most valuable work surface in a busy kitchen. Norm builds one out of poplar and birch plywood for a painted finish and lines it with hard wearing factory-applied finishes intended to give this island a long career of heavy use. Along with the high-tech plywood, Norm uses state of the art drawer slides and period pulls to complete this useful project.

Carved Wooden Signs
In 1988, a small company in Lincoln, New Hampshire, created The New Yankee Workshop sign. In this program Norm finds out how a router, a sand blaster, a hand chisel, and a sophisticated computerized machine can be used to carve modern signs. Then he learns how the professionals design, hand-letter, paint, and gild these beauties. He returns to the New Yankee Workshop and applies the lessons he's learned to his own collection of shop-made signs.

The Library System
"Is there a homeowner out there who doesn't yearn for more shelf space for his books and display items," says Norm at the beginning of The Library System program. Recognizing the need for a good bookcase design that can be used in any suitable room and added to as needed to fill out a wall of books leads Norm to design a modular system that can be adjusted to go around existing windows or doors. It looks like expensive "custom" built-ins, yet the elements are actually built in the shop where cutting and routing large pieces of plywood and dealing with the resulting dust is easy.

The Colonial Mantel
After tackling more pressing projects, Norm finally gets around to building a mantelpiece for the master bedroom in his new home: a beautiful Colonial piece that frames the master bedroom's fireplace. The project involves the production of several router table moldings, the creation of flat panels made from m.d.f., some precise work with the mitre saw and installation of the completed mantelpiece to the existing fireplace. As always, Norm makes this complicated project seem within reach of most average woodworkers.

Plantation Shutters
Anyone who's priced plantation shutters lately knows how expensive they can be, costing several hundred dollars per opening. Not surprisingly, Yankee ingenuity and thrift prevail and Norm creates some stunning shutters in the workshop. He first builds a collection of jigs, which are necessary to drill holes, set staples and mortise hinges; then he shapes the individual basswood slats, mounts them on a control rod and positions the whole assembly into a frame of poplar that's then spray painted.

Workshop Helpers
Everybody knows Norm likes to work alone. Sometimes, that's not easy, so Norm has decided to enlist the help of workers who never show up late, never get tired and are willing to work until the job is done: the adjustable roller stand, the stock cart and the work stand. The adjustable roller stand is a sturdy, height adjustable, rugged stand for use as an out feed appliance for the table saw, the band saw or the drill press. It even comes to work with its own self-storing crank. The stock cart is a lightweight, strong wheeled wagon that comes with four shelves to organize the parts needed to complete a project and travels from machine to machine carrying the parts as needed. The work stand is a shop-built table to support bench top tools like planers, small saws and jointers that, combined with a mobile base, can add versatility and convenience to any shop.

The Poker Table
Poker is the game to be playing right now and Norm has a special project in mind for its legions of fans. He creates his eight-sided table of mahogany and mahogany veneer plywood, and places it on a sturdy pedestal. Instead of the traditional felt covering typically used on these tables, Norm chooses a state-of-the-art synthetic fabric that offers a much-improved covering. He even finds brass cup holders, which are recessed into the top for holding beverages.

The Shop Clock
Over the years, Norm has created several clocks for THE NEW YANKEE WORKSHOP, most notably the tall case oak clock with an imported eight-day movement. Now his interest turns to a shorter cased clock with a key wind spring movement that is housed in a walnut case. The big difference is the painted glass panel that adorns the clock face and the clockworks below. Norm asks his project partner, the Klockit Company of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to create a facsimile of the famous New Yankee logo, which will be painted on the glass and through which the clock pendulum can be seen.

Router 101 - Part 1
Ever since the ubiquitous power tools were invented many years ago, craftsmen like Norm have been devising ways to use routers for a wide variety of useful tasks. Norm begins this special two-part program with a demonstration of both the standard base and the plunge type router. He also shows some of his favorite bits for creating both simple and complex edges on his projects. Then, Norm turns to the task of making perfect mortises for hinges by creating a jig that allows even a novice to achieve perfect results every time. Next, he uses the router and builds another home-built jig to form precise dadoes in shelf standards, elements he might build for a bookcase project.

Router 101 - Part 2
In part two of this router special, Norm begins with a demonstration of commercial router tables and moves on to show his version of a router station, which so many of his fans have copied for their own workshops. Norm shows the step-by-step procedure for making raised-panel cabinet doors. Next, he uses a homemade circle-cutting jig to form perfect circles of various diameters with a router. Included are instructions and a demonstration of inlays using a router.

The Corner Table
Norm paddles a canoe over some rapids in search of unusual white oak that's been submerged there for nearly 150 years. The oak was used in a dam on Virginia's mighty Rappahannock River. Today it's a pile of salvage on the river's edge. Norm engages Bill Jewel, a local sawyer of historical trees, to prepare this timber for making a drop-leaved corner table. After Norm gets the wood to his shop, he expends considerable effort turning it into suitable pieces needed to make a copy of the original table -- which Norm found at Kenmore House, a noted Fredericksburg mansion that was once owned by George Washington's sister -- including the challenging turned legs that add so much style to this particular piece.

Greek Revival Bookcases
At a designer show-house, Norm discovers a handsome collection of bookcases built in the Greek Revival tradition. Although they're made of plywood, every detail gives the appearance of solid tablets of white stone. The shelves resemble slabs of marble, and the cornice on the tall case might have been carved from stone in the manner of a Greek temple. Glass doors enclose the lower bookcase element and swing on concealed European hinges.

The Storage Shed
Taking his cue from a pool house on Nantucket, Norm creates a relatively simple, multipurpose structure so coveted by today's homeowners. It could be a garden shed, a place to store the outdoor furniture for the winter, a pool house or home for the family bicycles and yard machines. This 96-square-foot building is the perfect size for many backyards and features low maintenance materials expected to retain paint and resist weather. Best of all, it's attractive and relatively easy to build.

Wall Hung Console
No more than a shelf really, this functional and beautiful console is fastened to the wall with massive decorative brackets. It's perfect for the display of vases, candles, lamps and other objects in a narrow space. Norm builds his of mahogany.

Corner Chair
Corner chairs go far back in the history of furniture. Some say their early popularity had to do with their convenience for those wearing swords -- they could sit comfortably on such a chair. During a visit to Historic New England, a preservation society, Norm sees a number of variations on this classic form. He builds his chair of cherry.

Wall Paneling
Norm demonstrates how easy it is to panel a wall. He begins by showing examples of wall paneling in a home restored by THIS OLD HOUSE several years ago. At one end of the spectrum, Norm takes hardwood veneer plywood to create rail and stile panels. Then he shows how simple painted moldings alone can achieve an elegant paneled look. Finally, he shows how medium density fiberboard, made to look like old-time bead board, can be used to achieve a beautiful period look.

Giltwood Mirror
One of the most challenging projects ever attempted on THE NEW YANKEE WORKSHOP comes when Norm tries his hand at reproducing a Federal-style giltwood mirror. It isn't the woodworking that is particularly difficult. Norm makes that part seem easy. It's trying to gild the mirror with gold leaf and make the frame appear as solid gold that takes time, patience and lots of skill. Norm picks up the history of giltwood and sees some remarkable examples when antiques expert Gary Sullivan discusses his collection. Then, Norm visits Linda Abrams, a gilder and reverse painter, for an understanding of what it takes to turn wood into gold.

Entrance Door
It would be hard to think of a more important element of a home's appeal than its entranceway. But all too often, modern doors are an unremarkable (yet necessary) feature quickly forgotten by those who pass through them. Not so with this custom-made mahogany beauty that Norm creates in the workshop. He designs and builds it from scratch for an old house that cries out for a new door. Along the way, he's able to find a pair of antique looking "bull's eye" glass inserts and a handsome brass knob and lock to set off this masterpiece.

Old Pine Dry Sink
Arlington House sits high above the National Cemetery in Virginia as an imposing witness to historic events. Once the home of Robert E. Lee, it survives today under the watchful care of the National Park Service and is brimming with antiques of the Civil War era. Historic records prove that, at one time, the estate was worked by 63 slaves, some of whom worked in the kitchen. Many of the tools and everyday objects they would have used still take up residence in the house, including a painted old pine dry sink. Norm notices it immediately and decides to build one himself out of recycled pine. However, the only water Norm's dry sink will ever see is from tending the houseplants he intends to display on its copper top.

Martha's Candlestand
To see Martha Washington's bedroom, you'll have to talk to the Ladies of Mount Vernon, who look after the first president's mansion near the Potomac River. Although not officially on the tour of Mount Vernon, the ladies agree to take Norm to parts of the old house that the public rarely sees. In one such room, the third floor bedroom that Martha took after George died, Norm comes across a handsome cherry candlestand that sits near the bed. Upon further inspection, he discovers that it is a diminutive, well-crafted stand complete with a wooden "birdcage" element that allows the tabletop to rotate and flip up for storage. Before he leaves Mount Vernon, Norm works with a sawyer of historic wood, William Jewell, to attain some cherry (what else?) harvested from one of the estate's fallen trees.

Dominy Clock
Without dispute, one of the greatest collections of American antiques resides at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. One of the museum's most popular displays, the original workshops of the Dominy family, quickly draws Norm's attention. The Dominys were clock and cabinetmakers who worked in eastern Long Island from the 1730s to the 1830s, creating high-quality clocks and furniture. Norm visits the exhibit and selects a clock, circa 1821, from the Dominy collection to reproduce back in the workshop. Norm builds his simple tall case clock out of poplar and paints it to resemble the original.

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Norm Abram is arguably one of the most recognized craftsmen of our time. During his 17 years in The New Yankee Workshop, Norm has created more than 200 projects, and this season, he continues to challenge himself by taking on his most complex project ever – a bonnet-topped tiger-maple highboy. This master craftsman’s work of art, and 10 additional projects are showcased in these episodes of The New Yankee Workshop.

Distributed by: The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

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