A Woodwright Considers the Axe

When Popular Woodworking and Woodworking Magazine
held their “Woodworking in America” workshop in November 2008 they called upon the one man who all woodworkers could admire and appreciate to deliver the keynote address: star of PBS’s The Woodwright’s Shop and author of our series of “Woodwrights” books, Roy Underhill.

For the uninitiated, Roy Underhill is the modern-day woodworking guru for latter-day tools. With his motto, “Just say no to power tools!” his approach to woodworking may be slower, but in many ways it is a finer, more detail-oriented approach. Not only does Underhill carry on the traditions of generations of woodworkers before him, but he understands the intricacies of wood and his tools in a way a more modern-day woodworker may struggle to do.

Roy’s keynote address features his energetic and entertaining personality (ably assisted by some Red Bull from earlier in the day) and touches on a number of different topics. One of these is his own personal history with that simple and yet profound tool, the axe.

Popular Woodworking has posted videos of the axe segment of Underhill’s keynote address as well as a bit where he weaves together the French woodworker Andre Roubo, Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.

If you’ve never seen Roy in action, these segments will give you a clear understanding of why he’s one of our favorite, um, characters.

— tom