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Roy Underhill (born 22 December 1950) was raised in Washington, DC, and was the first master housewright at the Colonial Williamsburg reconstruction. Since 1979, he has been the host of the PBS series The Woodwright's Shop. As of 2011, the show was the longest-running PBS "how-to" show.
Underhill was introduced to traditional woodworking by a sister who worked at the Smithsonian Institution. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a degree in Theater. In the early 1970s, Underhill and his wife moved to Colorado to form Homestead Arts to pursue a career in acting. When that failed, the Underhills moved to a remote area of New Mexico where traditional woodworking was one of the few means of survival.
In the late 1970s, Underhill moved back to North Carolina and Duke University, pursuing a multi-disciplinary course of study including engineering, forestry, and history and was subsequently awarded a Master of Forestry in 1977. At the birth of his first daughter, he approached the UNC Center for Public Television with an idea about a traditional woodworking show. Initially rejected, the idea was finally accepted; in 1979, filming began on The Woodwright's Shop at West Point on the Eno in Durham, N.C. Around the same time, he also took the job as master housewright and later director of interpretive development at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.
More recently, Underhill also works as a communications consultant. He is the author of several books, including The Woodwright's Eclectic Workshop and Woodwright's Shop: A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft.
Underhill has started teaching traditional woodworking in a classroom environment he calls "The Woodwright's School". As of November 2011, his classroom is located in Pittsboro, North Carolina
Many hand tool aficionados hold Roy Underhill in extremely high regard and may refer to him with the shorthand "St. Roy".