Nick Offerman, leaning against a wooden shack somewhere in Northwest Los Angeles, has the appearance of a rugged outdoorsman, with his well-groomed beard, pomaded hair and flannel shirt.
For good reason: The man best known for playing the meat-loving craftsman Ron Swanson on NBC’s “Parks & Recreation” is an accomplished woodworker.
But please don’t call him “lumbersexual.”
“I feel like that’s a term I’ve always had a distaste for, because I look like this already,” Offerman explains next to his overall-clad “Parks & Rec” co-star Amy Poehler. The two are shooting NBC’s crafting competition “Making It,” due July 31 (10 EDT/PDT), highlighting Offerman’s craftsy expertise and Poehler’s enthusiasm for handmade goods.
He’s a longtime fan of durable Carhartt work wear “that became very popular with the hip-hop community in the ’90s,” he says. “I would wear it to my work as a carpenter, and people would say, ‘Oh are you a fan of Biggie?’ or what have you, and I would say, ‘No, I’m a carpenter. Some of us just, you know, actually chop firewood and build things with tools.’ “
Eight of those tool-savvy men and women appear on “Making It,” a six-episode quest to find a “Master Maker.” Contestants are put to work on a barn-like set covered in wood, ropes and glue guns, competing in themed challenges judged by a panel, “Project Runway”-style. Offerman and Poehler mingle with makers and moderate the judging with experts: Simon Doonan, creative ambassador for Barneys New York, and Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy’s trend expert. Each episode contains two challenges – one quick “faster craft” and more time-intensive “master craft – and an elimination.
In one three-hour “faster craft” challenge contestants create unusual Halloween costumes from household objects such as socks, loofahs and cardboard boxes. The finalists did not disappoint.
“Oh my God, you guys look insane!” Poehler exclaimed to the costumed crafters before cameras started rolling. Lighthearted jokes continued throughout judging, which was funniest when the co-hosts were clearly ad-libbing. And Poehler was laughing hysterically.
“I’m not necessarily a ‘maker’ myself, but I think I represent the people that are watching the show just like you’re watching any cooking show or travel show where you’re really interested in the process and hopefully get inspired along the way,” Poehler says. She’s a fan and a recipient of Offerman’s handiwork.
“I received many handmade, beautiful things from him. And from me, he’s received a couple of Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, a candle, a couple of great phone cards,” she jokes.
One of Offerman’s famous gifts? A “Parks & Rec” wrap present: A canoe paddle made from the red oak trim and doors of the NBC set. “The truck they were on bounced just right as they drove past my (wood)shop,” he jokes.
Offerman hints that he’ll be giving a different kind of gift to someone on “Making It”: He was recently ordained.
“Perhaps someone will get married on this farm, who knows?” says Poehler.
“Maybe two squirrels?” asks Offerman.
“We can do two squirrels, and do a little acorn wedding. They can hold a tiny little four-leaf clover,” Poehler says in a comically high-pitched voice. “Or maybe they talk really low?”
“Judy, come on, it’s time for the wedding,” Offerman says in a deep voice. “The humans are waiting for us.” He continues, sound like an announcer: “You may bestow the acorn upon the bride.” A beat. “That’s a euphemism. Squirrels are very dirty.”