Tommy MacDonald came from a family with nine children and a father who knew how to handle his tools.
“My dad put a hammer in my hand,” he says. “He was always working around the house. I’ve been working with wood since the fifth or sixth grade.”
Now he’s got his own television show on WGBH in Boston, entering its fourth season nationwide. He started with a podcast, then pitched the idea to the station. For 13 weeks a year, he guides a million viewers through the process of working with wood to create functional items for the home.
“I’m the executive producer and the writer,” he says. “It’s my show.”
He says he wants to shine a new light on one of most popular hobbies in America today. “I’ll invite anybody to be a part of it,” he says. “It’s a woodworking club, like a guild, and the place to be if you like working with wood.”
With his guests, he’s built more than 50 items so far, ranging from bookcases to benches to lounge chairs. He works in bamboo, mahogany and maple, and with plywood, veneers and solid wood.
The biggest piece was an entertainment center for Jim Craig, goalie for the 1980 U.S.A. Olympic hockey team. The smallest was a memory box for the Boston police commissioner. When he built a box to hold a folded United States flag, he was nominated for an Emmy. The flag and box now rest on a shelf behind him, in plain view during every show.
“The color guard brought it to us, and a group of Army veterans in town taught us the proper way of folding it on the show,” he says. “It’s been there since 2010.”
He’s also renovating his own home, striving to make new sense out of a 1970s suburban split-level.
“I’m working with an architect now, with 50 videos following me along,” he says. “We’re turning it into a Greene and Greene craftsman home. I just love that style – I can’t stand plastic decking and vinyl.”
After all, he’s a member of the woodworkers’ guild.
For more, check your local listings for Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.
For more information, go here.
Photo Credit: Anthony Tieuli