The Hippo


Jun 4, 2020








Tom McLaughlin hosts Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking. Courtesy photo.

Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking
The show airs on NHPTV Channel 2 every Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The episodes can be viewed online after they air at For more information about Tom and his woodworking classes, visit

Building up
NH Furniture Master hosts fine woodworking TV series


 Tom McLaughlin never imagined that his home woodworking studio in Canterbury would be the set for a national television show, but when the producers of Rough Cut asked him to be the show’s new host, he went for it. 

“It was kind of surreal, because I feel like everything I’ve done has led me to this,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a dream job. I love teaching and love the idea of ‘passing it on.’” 
McLaughlin began his woodworking career in 1990 with an apprenticeship under master craftsman P.A. “Pug” Moore in North Carolina. After three years of apprenticing, he opened his first shop, where he built custom period-style furniture. In 1998, after moving to Canterbury, he started teaching furniture-making classes at Canterbury Shaker Village and was accepted as a member of the prestigious New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association. A few years later, he built the two-story, 3,600-square-foot woodworking studio on his home property and launched his business, McLaughlin Woods, designing and making custom high-end furniture. 
In 2011, McLaughlin caught the attention of his predecessor, Rough Cut host Tommy MacDonald, after a chair McLaughlin entered in a design competition at the Boston Home Show’s Wood Expo was named “Best in Show.” Over the next five years, he appeared as a special guest on Rough Cut for five episodes. When MacDonald announced that he was moving on from the show, the producers invited McLaughlin to take his place. 
Now in its eighth season, the show, formerly titled Rough Cut — Woodworking with Tommy Mac, is partnering with Fine Woodworking Magazine and airing under the new title Rough Cut with Fine Woodworking. The season premiered on April 7 on NHPTV Channel 2 and will continue every Saturday for 13 episodes. 
In each half-hour episode, McLaughlin offers step-by-step instruction for completing a fine woodworking project, such as a Shaker-style cherry hall table, an Adirondack-inspired cypress lawn chair, a walnut live-edge coffee table, a curly maple tilt-top round breakfast table and more. 
The projects chosen for the show capture the essence of McLaughlin’s work, which he said “blurs the line between art and furniture.” 
“A lot of what I do is very complex and high in style and takes a long time to make,” he said, “so what I’m trying to do for the show is distill the same techniques I use, but in a simple, more introductory way, so that anyone who watches can enjoy it and get something out of it and feel like they could make the project on their own.” 
McLaughlin said he hopes the show will shed a light on the artistic possibilities within the woodworking craft. 
“When you’re starting out, it’s all about the fundamentals and how things go together,” he said. “Then you realize, you actually have a lot of choices and freedom to make what you want to make. It’s a creative outlet, a way to say something beautiful without words … and there’s a never-ending, expansive world of design ideas that I don’t think you can ever get to the bottom of.” 
In some episodes, McLaughlin is joined by special guest woodworking experts, including Fine Woodworking editors and his fellow New Hampshire Furniture Masters, David Lamb and Terry Moore.  
“Collaborating and spending time with other artists that I respect and getting to see them work — it’s almost like two musicians getting together and having a jam session,” McLaughlin said. “It doesn’t feel like work.” 
Outside of the show, McLaughlin has retired from custom commissions to focus on his educational program, “Epic Woodworking, Crafting a Life Story,” for which he teaches online and onsite woodworking classes. 
“If someone has a spark of interest in making wood furniture, they have the potential to make something beautiful,” he said. “What I enjoy most is seeing people get inspired to tap into that potential and express themselves creatively.” 

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