|I have learned a lot from a lot of teachers over the years but the single most important lesson that got me started was a visit by Roy Underhill back in the early 1980's.|
I was always looking for TV shows on woodworking and while I liked "This Old House" I didn't really connect with the endless installations of windows, landscaping, and other home remodeling. Then one day I turned on my TV and there was this woodwright guy with an axe over his shoulder making stuff. And it didn't look hard when he did it. My own woodworking at the time had reached a plateau where I could do really small model making properly but actually doing joinery seems totally, for reasons I didn't understand, impossible. Roy in those days was a weekly visitor to my house, and 1/2 hour at a time, except during pledge week, I saw what you could do with wood and the tools I had read about in Eric Sloane's "Museum of Woodworking Tools". But I could not get my tools to work right. Then in one episode I saw him grind a chisel, then hone it in a few seconds, and then do a razor sharp cut. A lightbulb went off in my head. My tools were simply not sharp. I owe it to Roy's infectious enthusiasm and ability to explain things in ways that register to get me off my butt and make me realize that if I wanted to build anything I needed to learn the basics. This is what started me on my trek to where I am today.
That was the first visit. In the past years as I have become involved in the woodworking industry I had the pleasure of getting to know Roy personally, and just a week or so ago he decided to take a short vacation with his wife Jane and visit the Big Apple. This of course was our opportunity to show him our town. In the first picture Roy is standing next to what we call an "urban tree". in the next picture Roy teaches by example and shows Tim and Ben what a clean shop looks like and explains that a clean shop is a happy shop. In the third photo Roy explains how he should never be allowed near post colonial metalworking machines.
I should also mention that during his visit a customer dropped in the store and needed advice on turning tools. As I am a mediocre turner I asked Roy for his advice. Patiently he explained to the customer, who had never done any turning, which tools made the most sense to buy first, and how each tool was used. The customer was happy and just watching I once again learned a lot from Roy.
Roy, it was a pleasure seeing you again. We were all thrilled at your visit. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip and thanks for everything.
By the way (if you don't know this you should). Roy Underhill has opened a woodworking school that has been getting rave reviews - check it out here!
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