Profiles: Nick Offerman

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This article is from Issue 74 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Nick Offerman Humorist, Woodworker Los Angeles, CA

Nick Offerman gets serious about celebrating the community of woodworkers

Nick Offerman
Humorist, Woodworker
Los Angeles, CA

As a character on the popular sitcom Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman played a park director (Ron Swanson) with libertarian views, relationship issues, and a love for woodworking. If you’re a fan of this actor and comedian like I am, you know that in real life, Offerman’s woodworking connection is authentic. He’s been featured in woodworking magazines, and his woodworking business (The Offerman Woodshop) is staffed by fellow woodworkers who turn out everything from carved spoons and pinball tables to canoes and fine furniture. His new book is titled: GOOD CLEAN FUN: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop.

—Chad McClung

WM: Why write a woodworking book?

NO: I had written a couple other books and I don’t think it would be immodest to say there was a clamoring from my readership for a woodworking book. But my good fortune and showbiz work was really killing my shop time. I said, ‘You know what? I can steer this machine to my own advantage.’ So I announced to my people that I was ready to do book three and it’s gonna be about my shop. So I’m going to need to be in there for some months, working on the book and you can all go to hell. And it worked like a charm. I spent most of the first four months of the year in my shop working on the book.

WM: What do you want this book to achieve?

NO: I have an incredible amount of enthusiasm and passion not only for woodworking, but all handcrafting. And so how can I take that desire and turn it into this 350-page piece of propaganda to get people off of their smart phones and onto their sharpening stones?

WM: In Good Clean Fun, you feature many other woodworkers. Why share the spotlight?

NO: I think it’s just me being honest. I knew I was going to be spending a lot less time in the shop because of my job on Parks and Recreation. And it immediately became clear that I had a choice in front of me.

On one hand I could try to become a huge artist like Jeff Koons or somebody where I had a group of employees making ‘Nick Offerman’ pieces, slap my name on it and sell it more for the name than the piece. Or, I could embrace this group of woodworkers and encourage them to become fully realized on their own. None of this happens without all of these amazing collaborators.

WM: So the cliché about the woodworker alone in his shop doesn’t apply here.

NO: Woodworking can seem like such a solitary pursuit, and at times it is. When you fire up your sander, everyone clears out of the room. But I want to suggest to people that making things in general is so rewarding. Part of the lifestyle we’re trying to get back to is not just making your own furniture or making clothing or what have you, but it’s behaving as a community, a neighborhood, as a fellowship. The book is a very much a celebration of that idea. Maybe you can learn woodworking a lot better if you go in with three friends and you each buy two of the tools you need. Or if you look around and find an artist collective, there’s gonna be a woodworker, but there’s also going to be a stained-glass artist, and a knitter. And it’s so much more fun and productive to do these things together rather than on our lonesomes.

Thirsty for more?

If this tasty sip didn’t quench your thirst, drink down the full interview on our website. You can also find a review of Nick’s new book!


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