Chris Schwarz's Blog

Norm Abram Closes Up Shop

After 21 seasons, “The New Yankee Workshop” is closing its doors, and its much-beloved host, Norm Abram, is going to focus on his personal projects and PBS’s “This Old House,” according to Russ Morash, executive producer and director of “The New Yankee Workshop.”

“Norm has done this for 20 years, and he thought it time to step back and do a little less,” Morash said in a phone interview. “And because the show was so tied to him, we didn’t want to replace him.”

There has been lots of speculation among fans of the show and the woodworking press that the show was looking for someone to take the reins when Abram left. But Morash said he didn’t think that would be a good idea.

“Comparisons would be inevitable (between Abram and a new host),” Morash said.

The decision to stop production of new episodes of “The New Yankee Workshop” was a mutual decision between Morash Associates Inc. and WGBH Boston, Morash said. But that doesn’t mean that “The New Yankee Workshop” is gone forever.

A spokesman from WGBH declined on Tuesday to comment on the matter.

The show’s web site, newyankee.com, will continue to operate. And Morash foresees putting shows or segments from the show on the Internet in a “You Tube-like situation” so future generations could enjoy and learn from Abram.

Morash also noted that Abram may some day change his mind and want to crank up “The New Yankee Workshop” again.

“Who can predict the future?” Morash said. “He may want to do this again.”

In the meantime, Abram will continue to work on “This Old House,” and his own personal projects, both building furniture and improving his house.

When asked why Abram chose to stop working on “The New Yankee Workshop” instead of “This Old House,” Morash laughed.

“‘This Old House’ is a much easier deal,” he said. “Norm actually had to work on ‘The New Yankee Workshop.’ It was a lot of work. And I certainly respect his decision to step back.”

With the loss of new woodworking programming from “The New Yankee Workshop,” many bloggers and woodworking writers are wondering if the craft itself is on the decline or if TV woodworking shows are no longer viable.

“My own view is that broadcast is dead,” Morash said. “That’s my personal take on it. Newspapers are dead. And print is dying. The only hope is the Internet. And it’s my hope that you’ll see lots  of Norm on the Internet in the future.”

And what about the craft itself? Is that swirling around the drain?

“No. There is a fundamental human need to build,” Morash said. “People will always want to polish their craftsmanship.”

The other question is what’s going to happen to the shop itself, which is stocked with all manner of machines and hand tools. Morash said he’s personally looking forward to some free time so he can build a few things in the shop. As for the long-term plans for the shop, Morash suggested that the shop could be put on display at the Smithsonian.

“It could be like Julia Child’s kitchen,” Morash said, “which I’m told is one of the most popular exhibits there. Who wouldn’t want to visit Norm’s shop?”

– Christopher Schwarz

102 thoughts on “Norm Abram Closes Up Shop

  1. Jack Hauser

    I built a work bench that Norm had on his show 20 years ago and still use it in my shop. Norm has made me and millions of others better woodworkers. He was a master of his trade and he wanted to pass it along to all that would watch and listen. He will be missed my millions! I disagree that "Broadcast is dead". If Norm had a show on HGTV that had advertisers and promoted products it would be a great success. So long old friend from someone who has become a great woodworker because of you.

    I hope that after being away form New Yankee Workshop for a while he will miss it and be back for all to enjoy.

  2. Jim Davis

    I worked in broadcasting for 45 years, most of it in TV, and was always impressed at the quality of the NYWS production: Morash is a fine producer. But I disagree when he says TV is dead. I still am always delighted to see a Norm show; I learned a lot from you, Norm, and I have great respect for you. I hope to see lots more of you on This Old House. You did a lot for so many of us by encouraging us that yes, we can! I hope to meet you some day, and wish you happiness in whatever you do
    – a fan of Norm’s

  3. patrick mcnulty

    Norm thanks for getting a lot of us started and keeping us interested in woodworking. this is a sad day for all of us and im hoping we will see you in some other woodworking venture again soon-pj

  4. Ronald Noble

    As I can see from the replies there are many of us who will miss Norm. It is one of the few DIY shows that has never wandered away from its original format as shows like Victory Garden and Gardening by the yard have.
    I disagree that shows like this are losing ground, with more and more "baby boomers" reaching retirement age, and having more free time, I believe there will be a larger market for them than ever.

  5. me.yahoo.com/a/8k8th1oM2Nyie8RaLufXmUd9M2N0vI8-

    It is a sad day to see Norm leave The New Yankee Workshop but a Happy day to see Norm striking out in new directions that are more pleasing and perhaps challenging to him. Twenty-one years . . . most people look to retire from their job and start something new. Norm is only changing direction, going where he will be happy.

    Change is inevitable. At least I/we will be seeing Norm on This Old House and possibly some future "specials" yet to be determined.

    For now, I am thankful for all I have learned from watching Norm every Saturday morning. While I am not someone who is always in the shop, when I do get there it is lessons I learned from Norm that help me complete the project.

    Thank you Norm.

    May God Bless and keep you and your family.

    Best wishes in the future.

    Bob Blubaugh
    Danville, IN

  6. Bob Helm

    I just wanted to say "Thank-you, Norm!" for all the knowledge and inspiration. Norm is one of the few celebrities I would go out of my way to meet, he is a special guy.

    Bob Helm

  7. Lance Frank

    The worst part about losing NYW is the void it will leave in the woodworking show market.Roy is still there for the "purists" and the Woodmith show is there for the beginners.Norm did diffcult projects using every tool under the sun (many in ways not always apparent at first glance)I would never have considered doing curved pieces were it not for Norms highboy.And if I hadn’t considered that I never would have made my oldest Daughters piano.Thanks Norm enjoy your freetime and new projects!Maybe you could do a blog so we can see what your up to?

  8. John D. Babcock

    I was given a router a long time ago. It laid around for several years, I was scared to death of the thing. I had a lot of other power tools but Norm gave me the courage to use it. Once I started I couldn’t stop MY saw horses (from his show ) has Ogee sides on them. I even made an address sign for my ex-wife. I’m glad I TiVo’d the show for the last couple of years . I’ll burn them to disk and store them alongside the Godfather.

    Thank You Norm You Will Allways Be Welcome Here Or On My TV.
    John Babcock MI.

  9. Kurt Schmitz

    Rats. Norm was my inspiration for a dedicated morticer and a joining with biscuits. That the cutting and assembly went by so maddeningly fast made me laugh at times, cry at others. But as the years have gone by I know that I’ve become capable of building (most?) Norm projects because my skills improved with his motivation.

    Sorry to see you go, Norm.

  10. me.yahoo.com/a/2ivlXSg92crYGvBRULH2c1M9WkgYvORIBCoqj36ApeDGqczX

    I hate to see Norm go but I am a member of the Alabama Woodworkers Guild in Birmingham AL and we have a shop that is called "The Woodworking Center" We hold classes in woodworking from beginners to advanced. This week I wlkl begin a series for "Building a Dulcimer" 16 members have signed up for this class series. I hope we can continue to fill the need in our area for woodworking promotion.
    Paul W. Owen
    AWG Birmingham, AL

  11. DWBeeks

    Sorry to see you go Norm. I wish you a long and healthy retirement. I’m not sure if I would have ever really gotten into woodworking to the degree I have without your influence. I learned a lot from your shows and I’ll miss seeing new ones.

    God bless you and your family.

    DWBeeks
    Peoria, AZ

  12. Brady

    This is a sad day indeed; Norm was been one of my personal heros, and a huge influence on my life. His show is also the last great woodworking show on tv(at least in my area).Let’s all hope he has a change of heart! Please Norm, come back!

  13. Art Surges

    My best to you Norm on your retirement. I leave you my thanks for the inspiration to start woodworking, which has been a passion of mine for many years.

    My shop is a tenth of Norms, and I still don’t have all the power tools he does, but I enjoy what I can do.

    With Norm retiring all that’s left on PBS is Woodsmith show. Scott Phillip’s show is in reruns on Create with Norm and the Router Table is gone. What other wood shows have come and gone?

    Hometime and This Old House have been around for 25 and 30 years, who will retire next? Time changes all.
    Norm, enjoy your retirement!

  14. Kathy Langan

    Fortunately or unfortunately for me my son watched many of Norm’s shows and was inspired to get started. My son has quadriplegia so guess who gets to do all the work. Scared to death at first, but I haven’t lost any body parts yet. Most importantly I always where "these" safety glasses; this is the big joke at our house. Do you suppose I can have his now?

    Thanks Norm; you’re great!

  15. Gary Hagaman

    It’s a sad thing to think of woodworking without Norm. I personally think that Norm did more for the woodworking industry in the last 20 years than any other. He took the mystery out of woodworking and showed us that it can be done (maybe not in 2 days though).

    Thank You Norm!
    Gary Hagaman
    Waterford, MI

  16. Brian McCoog

    "Watching Norm" is how we refer to the show in our family. My Dad and I started watching the show when I was just kid when it first aired. "Watching Norm" inspired us both to get involved in the craft and more important gave us a shared hobby and lots of quality father-son time either working on projects or talking about them.

    "Watching Norm" is now something I share with my own sons. And they like to talk about the projects with their PopPop. So thank you Norm from 3 generations of our family. We wish you success and happiness in your future endeavors.

  17. me.yahoo.com/a/7yShRCIB0tz8nQ4yxI8qj4IUBVlDww--

    Somehow I knew this was coming. It seems that truly our greatest sadness comes in threes..Maloof, Krenov and now The New Yankee Workshop. We morn passing of the men in the first two instances, but we morn the passing of an experience from the latter. Who among us has not spent happy joyous hours watching the workmanship of Norm Abrahm. Perhaps Albert Schweitzer said it best:

    "I always think that we live, spiritually, by what others have given us in the significant hours of our life. These significant hours do not announce themselves as coming, but arrive unexpected. Nor do they make a great show of themselves, they pass almost unperceived. Often, indeed, their significance comes home to us first as we look back, just as the beauty of a piece of music or of a landscape often strikes us first in our recollection ot it. Much that has become our own in gentleness, modesty, kindness, willingness to forgive, in veracity, loyalty, resignation under suffering, we owe to people in whom we have seen or experienced virtues at work, sometimes in a great matter, sometimes in a small. A thought which had become an act sprang into us like a spark and lighted a new flame within us."

    Norm Abrahm has not left us. Let us be thankfull for that.

  18. Francisco Castro

    I have only been enjoying the New Yankee Workshop for 10 years now. I have only just recently ventured into woodworking, in large part from the inspiration Norm’s show has given me. I will miss watching the NYW, but will surely enjoy catching him on This Old House. Good luck in all your future endeavors, Norm.
    Thank you very much.

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