Do you like to watch woodworking shows on your television?
How about on your computer?
Now you can do both. And I’m not talking about the “the Green Button.” I’m talking about internet television at the “The Woodworking Channel,” an online web site billing itself as The World’s Workshop.
Currently featuring shows that we’re all familiar with, like Scott Phillips’, “The American Woodshop” and the Rosendahl’s “Router Workshop,” the Woodworking Channel has a regular schedule, just like broadcast television. But what makes it different is that it’s all woodworking, all the time. Other current program listings include: “The Great British Workshop,” “Woodworking at Home” magazine, “American Association of Woodturners,” “The Woodworkers Edge with Glenn Huey,” “Turning Point Studios: A Woodworking Experience with Sam Maloof,” and “Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Inc.”
A quick look through the program guide shows a new program typically starting every half-hour. And since most programs produced for commercial television are actually only 22 minutes long (to allow for commercials), they fill out the half hour with short snippets of video from other sources. A few of the shows though are longer than 1/2 hour.
According to the folks at the Woodworking Channel, that’s what’s so great about having a channel on the internet. They’re able to focus on the process rather than the payoff when it comes to new production. Another great thing about internet television is how quickly they can develop new shows. Instead of waiting for the next season to produce a new show, they claim they‘re able to shoot, edit, and get it playing on the channel immediately.
As you may have guessed, only a couple of the Woodworking Channel’s online content is derived from an actual TV show. Most of the programming is high quality, especially a short program about Gary Lacey, a bamboo fly rod builder, but some of it looks pretty fuzzy. Several of the short segments used as filler between shows are video snippets taken at a turning convention. It’s not well lit, the focus is bad, and it’s kind of irritating the way they cut to and away from these segments without any warning.
All in all, if you like the woodworking shows you see on television, you’ll like those found on the Woodworking Channel. I do have a few complaints though. First of all, you need high-speed internet access to take full advantage of the streaming video. Which is fine. I understand the limitations and can live with them. But there are a lot of us who have dial-up at home and DSL at work. I don’t know about you, but my bosses probably would frown on me watching TV while I’m supposed to be working!
Another drawback is the viewer used to show the streaming video. Since they don’t have commercials per se, the Woodworking Channel depends on sponsorship and flash ads that run next to the viewer. Again, I understand the reasoning for this and can live with it, except that it limits the convenience of using it. I tried to resize the viewer and ended up with a rather large rectangular screen that included the ads. And as far as I could tell, there is no way to create a default setting so that the viewer is “always on top.” This would make it possible to drag the viewer to a corner of the desktop, allowing me to work on other programs while watching if I wanted to. Plus, there are forward, reverse, and stop or pause toggles below the viewer that don’t seem to control anything, so I’m not sure why they’re there.
The site does include a separate navigation toolbar that actually allows you to surf other web sites while watching if you want to. Finally, if you’re able to visit the Woodworking Channel, and have a broadband or DSL connection, make sure you start your viewer several minutes before the program starts, because it does take a while to fully buffer the feed and avoid video streaming stoppages.