“Good Clean Fun — Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop” by Nick Offerman (Dutton, 344 pages, $35).
The actor Nick Offerman will always be identified in this reviewer’s mind for his signature role as Ron Swanson in the TV series “Parks and Recreation.” When remembering the Ron Swanson character we might recall his conservative values, libertarian philosophy, dry humor, his flowing moustache, or his enduring passion for woodworking.
Offerman’s previous books “Gumption” and “Paddle Your Own Canoe” revealed that Offerman can be just as amusing in print. The latest Offerman offering is ‘Good Clean Fun — Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop.”
In his introduction readers will instantly recognize the author’s trademark humor. Appropriate hilarity will range from slight chuckles to full-blown guffaws. Perhaps you are wondering if Nick Offerman’s skills with a hammer and saw are authentic? After you read this book you’ll surely be convinced that he is indeed the real deal.
Don’t misunderstand, this is not a joke book. The book opens with the section “Setting Up Your Shop.” In this section the author explains all the things that you’ll need to set up a basic woodworking shop. He describes each machine and tool. Of course there’s plenty of humor, wit, and crucial safety tips.
Offerman explains the importance of an essential invention, the SawStop: “in the Marvel Universe, the demigod Galactus is known as the ‘Eater of Planets,’ but in the woodshop it is the mighty table saw that reigns as the most fearsome of creatures, or the ‘Eater of Fingers.’ This invaluable tool is by far the one that must command the greatest respect in use, but I cannot speak on this topic without trumpeting a recent innovation that has changed the game drastically when it comes to reducing membership in the nine-fingered woodworkers club…”
His essay “On Wood” features the author at his best: “since the time that we humanoids lashed a rock to a stick to protect ourselves from our vicious sisters, wood has played an imperative part in our lives as civilized mammals. Across the globe, the number of ways in which wood has been positively employed in the service of mankind is almost too great to tally. I mean … baseball bats. Three-masted ships. Clarinets. Tree Houses. Toothpicks. Everything.”
There are many useful illustrations and photographs throughout. The bulk of the book is composed of chapters devoted to specific woodworking projects. Offerman has assembled a number of guest carpenters to help lead us through each project to completion. The first project is rather basic. We learn to transform a piece of wood and a nail into a pop top bottle opener.
As we move along the projects get more elaborate. Here are the other things you can learn to make in the Offerman Toolshop: a pencil holder, a kazoo, whisky coasters, a berry stool, a jupiter side table, a beaver tail paddle, a scrappy birdhouse, a craftsman lamp, a slab cribbage board, a claro walnut slab table, a slingshot dining chair, and a slumber jack bed.
This book is sure to provide lots of good clean constructive fun.
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Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.