Roy Underhill is the well-known carpenter who hosts the “how to” show about woodwork entitled “The Woodwright’s Shop”. The show has 37 season and counting, while the number of the episodes is close to 500.

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Early life and family

Roy Underhill was born on 22 December 1950, in Washington D.C. USA. His zodiac sign is Sagittarius, and he holds American nationality. His father held the position of a federal judge in Washington, while his mother was a talented artist. Roy shared in many episodes of his show that he always had that inner belief in his own success in life, inherited from his parents – they always supported him in everything he did, especially when he failed and needed the support most of all.

Roy (R) and feathered friend…

Posted by The Woodwright's Shop on Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Roy is the youngest son of his parents, having two brothers and a sister – Roy once shared that it was she who actually introduced him to woodwork in its traditional way, as she worked at the Smithsonian Institution.

Educational background

Matriculating from his local high school in 1968, Roy enrolled at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The now famous carpenter once dreamt of acting and directing in the theatre, so at first he graduated with a BA in theatre directing. Later he enrolled at Duke University to learn environmental studies, including history, forestry and engineering. In 1977 he graduated with an MD in forestry.

Career

Theatre directing endeavor

Roy first moved to Colorado, and gathered together a company of people who were as passionate about acting as he was. Unfortunately, the other part of Roy’s dream never became reality, as his group failed to attract attention to their production, so Roy quit directing and his group he called “Homestead Arts”, and moved to New Mexico where he joined a socialist commune supposedly developing their utopian plans to change society. Clearly recognising that this life was not what he wanted, Roy moved back to North Carolina to continue his studying in college.

Woodwork career

While performing the presentation of his skills at Duke University, Roy impressed his professors so much that one of them even suggested that he show his tricks on TV.

Roy was pleased with the idea, and followed the advice. Inspired by his successful presentation, he built the shop he then called “The Woodright’s Shop”, admitting that the word “woodright” doesn’t actually exist, that he had made it up. However, the name didn’t confuse customers, who came to buy wooden items Roy made to develop his woodworking skills. Feeling ready to present his work on television, Roy approached the local station of the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), but his idea was rejected. Not giving up, Roy returned the folowing year, having all his tools with him and ready to shoot a pilot episode to prove his serious intentions. His idea was now accepted, and the show began airing in 1979.

During the same period, Roy was also accepted as a carpenter at the Colonial Williamsburg reconstruction center, which provided him more opportunities of working with interesting projects, as the company built houses from guides used in the 18th century, calling them ‘the new houses from the past’.

“The Woodright’s Shop” series

Roy’s series started in 1979, and PBS launched two seasons of the show, when the production company made the decision to go national. Subsequently the show had 15 seasons (13 aired nationally) and the number of episodes 481, and one of the longest series on TV during which the host didn’t change.

There is another show related to woodwork, house improvements and other crafts, entitled “This Old House”, which started the same year, and is still aired by WETA-TV (Washington D.C. office). It is worth saying that most of the episodes of the show are filmed in one cut, and as one episode last for around 25 minutes, Roy looks exhausted by the end. He even injured himself during several episodes, but they didn’t cut those scenes, as Roy supposed it added even more realism to the show, and made the work not look so easy as it could in the hands of a skillful professional. Roy insisted that people should be aware that woodwork isn’t a joke, though it is fun.

Author, teacher, technical consultant

Along with his successful career on TV, Roy also worked as a communications consultant. In 2005 he acted as the woodworking expert for the movie “The New World”, in which he explained to the cast and crew the woodwork details of the founding process of the 17th century settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. Colin Farrell, who starred in the movie, also took some woodwork lessons from Roy to look more realistic in the scenes of the film.

In 2014 Roy acted as the woodworking technical consultant for “Harbinger”, the movie filmed by the director Kieran Moreira.

Roy Underhill

Working in the team with two talented carpenters, Robert Tripp and Luis Ruiz, Roy created several wooden objects for the house filmed in the movie, which was a drama about an adopted child of ten years, who climbed an oak tree to catch his unborn baby-brother who he believed was going to fall from space into his arms.

Roy is the teacher in “The Woodwright’s School” too, teaching the traditional woodworking methods. He is also the author of eight books, among them “The Woodwright’s Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft” (1981), “The Woodwright’s Workbook: Further Explorations in Traditional Woodcraft” (1986) and “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker!” (2014). He is also the co-author with Lisa C. Mullins of “Styles of the Emerging Nation (Architectural Treasures of Early America, 13” (1988).

Personal life, wife Lane Underhill

Roy married Lane in 1970 – apparently while they were studying at the University of North Carolina. Lane has always supported Roy, even when both of them experienced hard times and had no work. However, the couple remains together, which make them one of those unique families who have live together for (almost) 50 years. Lane is a singer, who performed ballads in the taverns of Colonial Williamsburg. Lane and Roy welcomed two daughters, Rachel and Eleanor. While Rachel keeps the information about her personal life and career low-key, Eleanor is a very famous figure in the world of music.

Daughter, singer Eleanor Underhill

Roy and Lane’s younger daughter Eleanor was born in 1981. From her early years she was interested in music, as it surrounded her all the time with the songs her mother sang and listened to.

When Eleanor was only three years old, she showed interest for such musical instruments as piano and ukulele, eventually playing a large number of instruments, among them the guitar, trombone, banjo and harmonica. Eleanor wrote her first song when she was 14 years old. In 2009 along with her friend Molly Rose, Eleanor founded the music band they called “Underhill Rose”, and eventually released four albums, Eleanor admitting that they were all inspired by her favorite musicals “The Sound of Music”, “Singing in the Rain” and her favorite – “Dirty Dancing”. Eleanor also likes mentioning that she was born the same year the MTV music channel was launched, so she was destined to become a performer. Eleanor shared that the list of her favorite music bands includes The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills and Nash, while her (and her mother’s) favorite singer is Barbra Streisand.

Among her passions there is painting, as Eleanor is a very skillful illustrator. She is also a certified science teacher.

Appearance, clothing style

Roy has brown hair and brown eyes – his height, weight and vital statistics are not available. As to his clothing style, he always appears on the TV screens in his famous carpenter plaid hat, suspenders and white shirt.

Net worth and salary

As of 2019, Roy Underhill has accumulated a net worth of $250,000. Along with his stable income source – his long-term TV show “The Woodright’s Shop” – he also benefits from his lessons at “The Woodright’s School”, and the items he creates.

Author

Benjy is currently a reporter for BiographyPedia based in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to joining BiographyPedia in July 2019, he was a Bizarre TV reporter and theatre critic at TheSun. Benjy has also written for DailyMail and TMZ. Benjy studied journalism at Goldsmiths University of London, graduating in 2009. You can contact him at [email protected]

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