Say it Ain’t So, Norm

Norm1As many of you have likely heard, the New Yankee Workshop has just announced that the current season will be their last.  I have to say, that is sad news to me.  Norm Abram, the Yankee at the center of the workshop, has been such a positive influence on woodworking, for so many years, that his absence will be significant.  (He will be continuing with the This Old House show.)  I am confident that there are a good number of folks out there who are making sawdust and enjoying the craft due primarily to the influence of Norm and the NYW.

Although the power of the television media is surely one of the reasons that Norm has become a household name, it is the man behind the persona that I feel made the difference.  While Norm and I are not good buddies, I have talked to him often enough to know that what you see is what you get. I had the good fortune one day to interview him for the Journal, and in the middle of some serious questions, I teased him by asking him if there were any woodworking projects at home that his wife was waiting for him to complete.  There was laughter throughout the workshop, Norm got a good chuckle out of it and then answered the question, straight up. (Not currently, but there had been a couple …)

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A Better Way to Brush Poly

There's no cheaper brush for poly than an old tee shirt and a binder clip.

Theres no cheaper brush for poly than an old tee shirt and a binder clip.

Leave it to Norm Abram to come up with a better way to apply polyurethane. Have you seen him use a big binder clip and a piece of old tee-shirt? If that doesn’t show Yankee frugality, I don’t know what does. But, you know what, it’s an amazingly good applicator. In fact, it’s become my favorite way to apply poly (wiping it on is my next).

If you haven’t seen him use the clip method, here’s how it works: Cut a strip of cotton tee shirt about 3″ wide and maybe 10” to 12” long. There’s no absolute here…just cut an ample-sized piece. Colored or white both work fine, as long as the shirt is well worn. Fold the long ragged edges in, then fold the whole thing up on itself lengthwise several times to create a pad that’s about 2” x 2”. Clamp the open side of the pad into a 2” office binder clip. That’s it. You’ve got a bristle-less brush in about a minute flat.

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