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Tommy Silva...What are you Thinking?

Davo304's picture

Hi Y'all.

Watched an episode of "ASK THIS OLD HOUSE" the other day. The episode involved a homeowner who wanted to cut through an existing wall and frame in a "Pass -thru."  Well, TOH sent Mr. Tom Silva to deal with the problem.

Show started out well, but then, IMHO Tom Silva "glossed" over some troubling which infact is  definately a National  Electrical Code violation.

First troubling incident was that homeowner wanted the wall opening to have a radiussed header instead of a flat (square) opening. Silva demonstrated his "trick" which simply involved tacking a nail at each end of the proposed header opening, and tacking a 3rd nail so many inches up in the center...he took a piece of thin wood lath, pushed it up until it touched all 3 nails, then drew his arc. This became his pattern for cutting out the radius.

Nothing really too wrong with that idea, except he had better check his glasses, the arch was clearly not centered properly...resembled more of a salt box look; which he then proceeded to cut out anyhow...Homeowner exclaims" Gee, how nice..." or something to that effect. 

Second incident involved the discovery of romex buried inside the wall cavity after Tom removed the drywall. Tom tells the homeowner that this is a problem seeing how the wiring leads to 2 receptacles on one side of this wall and it runs to another receptacle on the other side as well. Tom's great solution...He tells the owner he will simply cut off the wiring and that the homeowner can call out an electrician who will simply take the cut wiring and stuff it all inside a new junction box that will be buried inside the wall atop the new arch (header) opening! C'mon Tom...what kind of cop-out is that? You can't bury a junction box inside a wall. There has to access to it...this is clearly a code violation. I was so surprised to hear him say that. Not only that, but what a cop-out to say basically, I'll just frame this passage wall in place and after I leave, you the homeowner can deal with the electrical  aftermath. I do what he didi on that show, and I'd be out of business in a heart beat.

Lastly, Tom demonstrated how to make a plunge cut with a recipricating saw into the wall and make a clean cut through a 2X4 stud without cutting through the drywall on the "back side" of the stud wall. He didi this manuever very nicely. Then Tom let the homeowner have a go at it. Well lo and behold the homeowner botched the job...he actually cut clear through the other side where he was not supposed to cut. This "boo-boo" resulted in marring in 2 places a section of pre-painted (factory) beadboard style wainscoting complete with chair rail. The chair rail is not damamged, but the vertical lined bead board has two (2)  inch and half long horizontal gouges right through it plain as day. Homeowner says, "What can we do about this Tom?" Tom casually remarks offhandedly, "Oh, that aint so bad, put a little wood filler on it and some paint and no one will ever notice." 

YEAH RIGHT! That baby will stick out like a sore thumb forever with using that advice!

IMHO, these pros are getting sloppy and resting on their laurels.


(post #63299, reply #8 of 43)

I have to second the call for Paige Davis. At least when she asks dumb questions she is pretty to look at. I have forced myself through many an episode just to catch a glimpse of PD.

(post #63299, reply #9 of 43)

I can't stand Kevin.  Whatever happened to Steve Thomas?  One day he was gone, from the magazine, and from the show.  No explantion given.

Les Barrett Quality Construction


(post #63299, reply #12 of 43)

Whatever happened to Steve Thomas?

He went back to sailing or something; may have just gotten tire of all of the travel, and production schedule, and it's pressure.  Any shot where they flip from one person to the other is actually shot twice.  So, if something "interesting" happens, it gets to happen three times.

They actually found banker Kevin on an ATOH segment where they replastered a wall over a staircase.  The episode runs in repeats on either DIY or HGTV every so often, kind of odd to see ST & KO on the same segment.

Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)
I may not be able to help you Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)

(post #63299, reply #13 of 43)

Thomas went back to his true love, sailing.

I could not find anything which mentions that he was going back to sailing, but it was mentioned at the time.

Anyway here is his bio at TOH and it mentions a lot of sailing.,16528,420214,00.html

And this is about his sailing.

. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #63299, reply #16 of 43)

Now I like bob Vila for pure enertainment.

It makes a good game to count how many brand names that he can get in one sentence and another one is how many mistakes he makes in a show.

"Hi, I am Bob Vila, in my Hager slack from Sears and I checking my Timex Watch I see that it is time to start the show. He is Dave Smith, from ABC construction coming out the Pella front door, carrying a Crafstman hammer and walking across the Trex Deck."

And "I see that you are install in Whyerhouse i-joist around because it is rot resistant. No, this a an LVL rim joist. It is being installed over the PT mud sill."

. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #63299, reply #38 of 43)

  When I bought my new Stilleto titanium at JLC live, the guy putting on the no slip grip commented on how they got Bob Villa to debut their grip and it's easy installation on the today show, and how he totaly blew it. A company like that rarely gets endorsment time on national t.v. and Bob blows it. I commented that they should have known that he was a putz, and couldn't be trusted. Look at the other crapola he endorses.

Who Dares Wins.




(post #63299, reply #40 of 43)

I just can't believe the stuff that he (Vila) says on the show. Stuff that 99% of the general population would know is wrong.

The other week we was watching a glass company install some mirros in an alcove with glass shelves across it.

He ask "you cut and beveled the glass, yes?" And the guy replied no the edges are polished. Which was clear even from the TV.

. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #63299, reply #41 of 43)

Notice the show's sponsers by the tools they use; TOH [Craftsmen], HomeTime[Dewalt]. My fav of Old House, Villa was doing a concrete slab for Tim Allen [tool-time].After Villa shows how to properly screed the slab, Tim walks right through it. Villa's face,priceless!


If it were easy....a caveman could do it.

(post #63299, reply #42 of 43)

Tim Allen always used Benfield tools. The only one I could find is a Benfield bender.


Finish carpenters needed to install wainscoating in a tunnel to be constructed in the vicinity of Aldersburg concentration camp.

(post #63299, reply #43 of 43)


Who Dares Wins.




(post #63299, reply #15 of 43)


I saw Steve Thomas hosting a Habitat for Humanity program.  He's still in the building/host biz.

(post #63299, reply #21 of 43)

Thanks for the input from you, Bill, and Capn.

I have wondered about this for so long and haven't really watched the series since he left because of a subtle change in quality and direction, and because Kevin just doesn't fit, in my opinion.  At least Norm is still around.

Les Barrett Quality Construction


(post #63299, reply #7 of 43)

Well, I remember an episode some years back when Norm was demonstrating how easy it was to put together this stairway with notched stringers. He inserted a tread, went to "tap" it into place, and ended up hammering the bejesus out of it because, clearly, there was something somewhere that wasn't fitting right. He kept going, though, as is nothing was wrong.

At least on Hometime they occasionally show you their FUs. On TOH they only show you homeowner FUs.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville