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Abram returns for ‘New Yankee Workshop’

Norm Abram will host the 21st season of “The New Yankee Workshop,” set to premier Jan. 3 on PBS. Each of the season’s 26 episodes will feature a popular project from a past season, with new introductions from Abram. The projects have been carefully selected for craftsmen of all skill levels, including a quarter-sawn oak roll top desk and portable miter saw station.

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Though the case could be made that these are really reruns, Abram says he’s hoping to reach a new generation of woodworkers.

“We’ve got 20 years of programs out there and a lot of new viewers. It seems like every year we gain new viewers, particularly young viewers, which is interesting to me because they’re the future of woodworking.”

Abram says that when he attends a woodworking trade show, such as IWF in Atlanta, he comes into contact with many young people who say they’ve missed out on the early years of the show.

“Looking back at the earlier years of the show, even way back at the beginning, it’s fun to see what the shop was like back then and the projects we were doing at that time. Being that the shows are not really available to new viewers, it made a lot of sense to bring back programs that we felt would be of interest to those viewers.”

One show will feature one of Abram’s favorite projects: a mesquite bookcase he discovered while in Tucson, Ariz., for a “This Old House” project.

“We were searching around at some Western-style shops and found this mesquite bookcase, which looks like a Greene and Greene design. I also went out in the desert to seek out some mesquite. It’s such a beautiful wood.”

Abram says the bookcase requires some advanced woodworking skills. Mesquite is notoriously challenging to work with because the trees do not grow very large and usually have many defects that can ultimately be used to a maker’s advantage when accentuated in the project.

Simpler projects will also be featured, such as serving trays made out of cherry and reclaimed pine.

“There’s a little bit of complexity in the corners where the dovetails are put together, but the serving trays are a good weekend project where you’re not going to have to expand over into your shop time.”

The show’s Web site ( provides project plans and videos, a resource directory, and The New Yankee Workshop Web Camera, which shows images of the filming of the show.

This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue.

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