Roy Underhill picks up the grungiest wooden jack plane you’ve ever seen and cradles the old tool tenderly in his work-hardened hands.
If a proper collector picked up this plane, he would do one of two things: Clean it until it gleamed or heave it into the burn pile with the rest of the world’s grungy jacks. This Greenslade handplane belonged to Robert Simms, a traditionally trained English joiner who later worked restoring pieces for Colonial Williamsburg. As Underhill explains the plane’s provenance he picks a thick shaving from the tool’s mouth. This plane is one of the dozens of tools Underhill has been sharpening and tuning in preparation for the first classes of The Woodwright’s School, Underhill’s latest venture in woodworking education.
In addition to the other occupied storefronts, Underhill’s school is next door to a vintage-looking ice cream parlor (complete with tin ceiling) and directly in front of an appealing city pub (complete with taps serving Red Oak, a local microbrew). Then he mentions the photographer down the street who has a wall of unusually dressed Barbie dolls.
Underhill has been receiving local guests with gusto as he has been setting up his shop because they are all part of his master plan.
Chris is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking Magazine and the publisher at Lost Art Press. Christopher Schwarz has helped many of us solve some pretty frustrating problems over the years.


Keeping it cozy: reclaimed wood kitchen shelves, I love the shelves and how rustic they are. Aspiring heart surgeons need steady hands, a delicate touch, mental focus--and a whole lot of money for school. Alex discovered woodturning a month before his 11th birthday during a trip to a woodworking show near his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. Money is simply the marker used as tools move thru the galaxy to their best-use destination.
I have the Sears version and while I will admit that I do not use it all that much it is a great tool for some projects. One last thing the cheap rotozip I aggree is not great the better one I have put through it's paces had it for about 4 years now. There are bits for different things, and I have found the rotozip excells at drywalling, and is a pain in the butt for anything else. In addition to the workbenches and sharp tools, Underhill keeps an excellent library of essential woodworking texts at the back of the room. It’s a fresh curl of pine or ash that he’s been planing in his new shop and woodworking school in Pittsboro, N.C. After 30 years of writing and hosting “The Woodwright’s Shop” television show on PBS, Underhill has decided to also offer classes in the style of hand work he demonstrates on the show.


So Underhill scoured the North Carolina countryside until he happened upon Pittsboro, a tidy town of 2,500 outside the bustling cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The vintage tool chests throughout the school are stocked with working tools that students can use during the classes.
There are lots of local potters, “It seems every third person who visits is a potter!” he says.
Some quality time at the lathe helps Alex Lesniak, at right address each of those needs as he plans for a career in medicine.
Fascinated by the lathe from the moment he saw one demonstrated at the show, Alex begged his father, George, for one of his own.
There he found a storefront with big bay windows that looks out on Hillsboro Street, the town’s main drag. The entire stock of the plane is covered in a jet-black substance, with the exception of three areas: the plane’s sole, its tote and a hand-shaped area at the toe. He had to sell me on the idea of getting a lathe." After that, they both had to convince Alex's mom, Cathleen.



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