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Listen to Norm Abram's Interview on the Design Milk Podcast

TOH master carpenter Norm Abram discusses plaid shirts, carpentry, and the Pinewood Derby 

Photo by Carl Tremblay
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June 16, 2017

Ever wondered how Norm’s scrap pile stays so small? Or if his closet is just racks and racks of plaid shirts? Earlier this spring over at Clever, the podcast by Design Milk, Norm talked carpentry and joining This Old House.

Among other trade secrets, he gave away the criteria for a “Norm-caliber plaid shirt”: “It’s usually got to be bright and warm, and a little worn; you don’t want it to be looking brand new.” He also talked about installing hardwood oak floors with his dad (without, of course, the privilege of a pneumonic nailer), and just how influential his father was in his pursuit of carpentry.

He spent one Christmas Eve going to a job site with his dad for the first time, and they continued to work together over the years. When he was a kid, they even made his Pinewood Derby car together. But it was after his dad’s retirement and before his death in 1995 that the two really became close, Norm said.

“It was really good for me in the long run because it was not too long after that that I lost my dad, but at least I had had the time to spend with him,” Norm said on the podcast. “I mean sometimes he would show up at my house and we wouldn’t get anything done for hours because he’d want to talk, and tell me more about his life that I didn’t know. And that even really gave me the opportunity to know him better than I had ever known him before. That was the greatest part of the relationship.”

And now, 22 years later, he still has reminders of his father in the work they did together.

“The other great thing about that fact that he helped with building my house is that I can look around this house and look at the work that he did,” Norm said. “So, there’s always a piece of him here. That really means more to me than anything else.”

June 16, 2017

Ever wondered how Norm’s scrap pile stays so small? Or if his closet is just racks and racks of plaid shirts? Earlier this spring over at Clever, the podcast by Design Milk, Norm talked carpentry and joining This Old House.

Among other trade secrets, he gave away the criteria for a “Norm-caliber plaid shirt”: “It’s usually got to be bright and warm, and a little worn; you don’t want it to be looking brand new.” He also talked about installing hardwood oak floors with his dad (without, of course, the privilege of a pneumonic nailer), and just how influential his father was in his pursuit of carpentry.

He spent one Christmas Eve going to a job site with his dad for the first time, and they continued to work together over the years. When he was a kid, they even made his Pinewood Derby car together. But it was after his dad’s retirement and before his death in 1995 that the two really became close, Norm said.

“It was really good for me in the long run because it was not too long after that that I lost my dad, but at least I had had the time to spend with him,” Norm said on the podcast. “I mean sometimes he would show up at my house and we wouldn’t get anything done for hours because he’d want to talk, and tell me more about his life that I didn’t know. And that even really gave me the opportunity to know him better than I had ever known him before. That was the greatest part of the relationship.”

And now, 22 years later, he still has reminders of his father in the work they did together.

“The other great thing about that fact that he helped with building my house is that I can look around this house and look at the work that he did,” Norm said. “So, there’s always a piece of him here. That really means more to me than anything else.”

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