Norm Abram

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Norm Abram
Born Norman L. Abram
(1949-10-03) October 3, 1949 (age 66)
Woonsocket, Rhode Island
Spouse(s) Elise Hauenstein[1]
Children 2

Norman L. "Norm" Abram (born October 3, 1949) 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".[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Abram was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island[3] and raised in Milford, Massachusetts. He attended high school in Milford.[4][5] and studied mechanical engineering and business administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst,[5] where he became a brother of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.


Early career[edit]

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.

This Old House[edit]

In 1979, Abram took a construction 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 the first This Old House project with host Bob Vila. Morash then approached Abram with the idea of Norm the carpenter appearing as a regular on the This Old House series, and Norm has been a fixture on the show ever since.

The New Yankee Workshop[edit]

In 1988, Russell Morash planned to launch a spinoff of This Old House called The New Yankee Workshop, and he needed a convenient place to videotape so they used the shop in the small barn that Abram built in 1979 in Morash's backyard. The shop's layout and equipment were mostly Abram's preferences. The New Yankee Workshop first aired in 1989 with Abram as the host.[4] The New Yankee Workshop showcased furniture or other projects over the course of one or more episodes, and emphasized the use of power tools and equipment.[4] The show aired for 21 seasons on PBS.[6]

Other projects[edit]

Norm 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."[5]

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.[5]

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". He also appeared in 2010 on an episode of the Food Network show "Ace of Cakes" titled "Indy, Ice and Improv".

Awards and recognition[edit]

The American Academy of Ophthalmology awarded Norm Abram its first ever EyeSmart Distinguished Service Award on April 23, 2009. The award was presented for "his steadfast commitment to safety and the prevention of eye injuries".[7][8]


Abram lives with his wife, Elise, in a custom modified-classic two-story Colonial, timber-framed, home that he built in Carlisle, Massachusetts. They enjoy cooking and entertaining, visiting art galleries and museums, as well as boating, fishing, and kayaking. Norm enjoys listening to music of various genres ranging from Jazz to Blues, and appreciates the works of various artists, such as Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney. Norm enjoys following the Boston Red Sox, and occasionally catches a couple home games per year at New England's beloved Fenway Park. His fondness of plaid shirts is well-known and at times parodied,[4][5] a prime example being the character Al Borland from the 1991-'99 ABC sitcom Home Improvement.


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.]
(occasionally added) "And also hearing protection when necessary."


  1. ^ "The Straight-Up Story From Norm". February 26, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Is Norm Abram a Master Carpenter?". February 15, 2008. 
  3. ^ Smith, Andy. "Building a reputation: TV woodworking guru Norm Abram visits R.I. for a This Old House segment". The Providence Journal. 
  4. ^ a b c d Boesel, Jim (March–April 1993). "Norm Abram: Carpenter Turned Furnituremaker". Fine Woodworking 99: 46–51. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Norm Abram, Master Carpenter". This Old House Biographies. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  6. ^ "New Yankee Workshop Series Ends". October 17, 2009. 
  7. ^ "American Academy of Ophthalmology Honors PBS Master Carpenter Norm Abram for His Commitment to Eye Safety". May 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Video of the AAO Eyesmart Distinguished Service Award Ceremony". May 19, 2011. 

External links[edit]