Not Yet Converts

M&T: You’ve long talked about this idea of “subversive woodworking.” What does it mean?

RU: Subversive woodworking is about getting people to question their dependence on the glow of the power company. It is partly a Thoreauvian idea of trying to help folks gain personal self-reliance. My ideal image of a woodworking school envisioned an old downtown location with a big glass window in the front. Passers-by could look in and see what was going on, see work done at workbenches with handsaws and planes. The students inside are already converted, but the people outside have maybe never thought of this way of working before. They’re looking in the window, thinking, “What the heck is that?” and then they’ll start to get drawn in. That is subversive woodworking. The idea is to reach people who were not sold on it already. It was the same idea with the TV show – the TV screen is that front window. I wanted to reach curious folks who weren’t yet converts. 

–Roy Underhill, excerpt from “Subversive Woodwright: An Interview with Roy Underhill,” in Issue Eight


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