By Chad McClung
Famed funnyman Nick Offerman, known to some as Ron Swanson, the lovable libertarian woodworker on television’s Parks and Recreation, has crafted his third book: Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop.
I enjoyed Offerman’s two previous books, Paddle Your Own Canoe (a New York Times bestseller) and Gumption. I was ready for a third installment, especially one that delved deeper into Offerman’s approach to woodworking. My wife claims that I’ve ‘geeked out’ on Offerman. I can’t deny it. With its unique combination of mirth and straightforward how-to, Good Clean Fun has helped me discover new ways to have fun in the shop.
Right up there with his wife, music, the great outdoors, bacon, and single-malt Scotch whisky, woodworking is clearly one of Offerman’s great passions. Good Clean Fun takes the reader into the Offerman Woodshop (OWS). There he and a group of fellow artists produce fine handcrafted furniture along with fun stuff like kazoos and mustache combs. Offerman has generously used this book to showcase the artists who work in his shop – their diversity, personalities, advice, and specific projects they’ve built. Yes, there are also step-by-step instructions for making things from simpler coasters and pencil holders to more challenging projects like a canoe paddle and a walnut slab table.
Good Clean Fun has plenty of practical advice from and for woodworkers of all skill levels and backgrounds. There are good tips on getting started in woodworking –from how to setup your shop, to what tools you need. I especially like the details on how to buy and mill your own lumber, and how to twist a bandsaw blade or punch out someone who can do it better than you.
In addition to the woodworking expertise and modern projects, there is of course, Offerman’s signature wit, presented in a variety of ways. You’ll find beautiful collages, hilarious comic strips, fashion advice, recipes for a cookout, and a quiz on wood. There are even profiles of woodworking royalty, like Mira Nakashima and Christian Becksvoort.
If Offerman’s goal is to expose a wider audience to the world of woodworking, he’s hit the nail on the head. The guidance is sound and presented in a much more entertaining manner than you’ll encounter in other woodworking books. Good Clean Fun may be the first woodworking book that’s actually fun to read.