|The Life And Times Of Norm Abram|
David: Norman L. Abram, or Norm Abram, (born 1950) is an American carpenter known for his work on the PBS television programs This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop. He is referred to on these shows as a "Master carpenter".
Early life and education
Abram was born in Rhode Island and raised in Massachusetts. He attended high school in Milford, Massachusetts. During high school and college vacations, he learned construction from his father Jim Wilson of Hamersville, Ohio, who was also a carpenter and a Carpentry teacher at Southern Hills Vocational School in Georgetown, Ohio.
Abram studied mechanical engineering and business administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he became a brother of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.
After college, Abram worked for three years as a site supervisor for a multimillion-dollar New England-based construction firm. In 1976, Abram then went into business for himself founding the general contracting firm Integrated Structures Inc. The main focus of the company was house renovations and additions, with the occasional new home or commercial project. After the start of This Old House, Abram kept up with his company finally attracting the up-scale jobs he'd hoped for. As the success of the show grew, so did demands on his time. He operated Integrated Structures until 1989.
In 1979, Abram took a job building a small barn in the backyard of the television producer Russell Morash (the creator of public television's This Old House). Impressed by Abram's small scrap pile and efficient work habits, Morash invited Abram to help with the renovation of a rundown Victorian house in Boston's historic Dorchester section, with a WGBH camera crew recording the process for a series. Morash then approached Abram with the idea of Norm the carpenter appearing on This Old House and talking about restoration. This Old House is a popular program about renovating and improving old houses. Abram was initially paired with host Bob Vila. His laid-back style contrasted well with Vila's outgoing personality. When Bob Vila left the show, he was replaced by host Steve Thomas for the tenth season in 1989. Kevin O'Connor subsequently replaced Steve Thomas with Abram still serving as the show's Master Carpenter.
In 1988, with Morash planning to launch a spinoff of This Old House called The New Yankee Workshop, he needed a convenient place to videotape. So he had Abram design and build an addition to his backyard barn (the same barn Abram built in 1979). The shop's layout and equipment were mostly Abram's preferences. The New Yankee Workshop first aired in 1989 with Abram as the host.
Abram currently appears on the television shows This Old House where he is the Master Carpenter and The New Yankee Workshop where he is the host. According to Russell Morash's comments on the first episode of the Carlisle Project 25th anniversary season, Abram was originally hired as a carpenter on the first season of This Old House and within a few weeks he was given a microphone and became the head carpenter on the project.
Abram has authored eight books about carpentry: Ask Norm, The New Yankee Workshop, Classics From The New Yankee Workshop, Mostly Shaker From The New Yankee Workshop, Outdoor Projects From The New Yankee Workshop, Norm Abram's New House, Measure Twice, Cut Once, and The New Yankee Workshop Kids' Stuff. He has also contributed to Complete Remodeling and Complete Landscaping, both published in 2004 by This Old House Books in conjunction with Sunset Books. Abram also serves on the editorial board of This Old House magazine, published by This Old House Ventures, Inc., also authoring the popular column, "Norm's Notebook."
Abram is also on the board of trustees of Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and delivered the 2001 commencement speech at The North Bennet Street School in Boston, which is renowned for its commitment to teaching craftsmanship.
In a playful turn with his celebrity, Abram voiced the character of himself in the Freakazoid! episode "Normadeus". He had also appeared on Between the Lions and twice on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (two WGBH programs); and starred in a series of Foot Locker commercials titled "House of Hoops". Norm also was on Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman on the episode This Old... Lemonade Stand.
Abram lives with his wife in a classic two-story Colonial/timber-framed home that he built in Massachusetts. They enjoy cooking and entertaining, visiting art galleries and museums, as well as boating, fishing, and kayaking.
Near the beginning of each episode of The New Yankee Workshop, Abram recites a standard monologue about safety. The exact wording has varied over the years, but most of the time it is substantially as follows:
"Before we use any power tools, let's take a moment to talk about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these ? safety glasses." [He points at his aviator-style prescription glasses.]
The term "Normite", usually found in online woodworking forums, refers to woodworkers who make frequent or exclusive use of power tools. See Galoot.
Abram was featured in the (currently) last episode of Freakazoid (episode 11, season 2).
The character of Al Borland from Disney's 1991-1999 television sitcom Home Improvement has a few notable similarities to Norm: he is bearded, always wears plaid flannel shirts, gives safety warnings before starting a project, and is referred to as a "master plumber" when introduced as Tim Taylor's assistant on the first episode of Tool Time.