Folk Stories

Episodes about Carpentry:

6: Hands on Learning with Sarah Smith

October 15th, 2018 (70 minutes)

Sometimes I have days when I wake up and think of everything wrong with the world (this is fun - I encourage you to try it sometime). Sometimes, this can feel overwhelming with all the problems going on - climate change, nuclear weapon proliferation, extreme social inequality, etc. Sometimes, it's hard to know where to start. And as a consequence, I do nothing about any of it.

This is why I'm glad that there are people like Sarah Smith out in the world who look at these issues and actually do something about them.

Sarah Smith is the Executive Director at Sawhorse Revolution, a non-profit that teaches carpentry skills to high school students and organizes them to build structures for and around the community. Examples of past projects include a 42-foot-long bridge, tiny houses for the homeless and an 18-foot octagonal platform wrapped around an old Douglas fir 30-feet above ground level (otherwise known as a very big tree house).

Sarah graduated in 2008 with an English degree right into the 2008 financial recession. Due to the difficulties finding a job at that time, Sarah used the time to learn some hands on skills such as sowing, cooking and carpentry. It was through her experiences participating in a carpentry camp in Arlington that eventually turned into the Sawhorse Revolution.

At Sawhorse, Sarah and the organization empower students to fix problems they see in the world through carpentry. While this might not be the solution to homelessness, it helps address the problems in one's own community and serves as a call to action for the rest of us.

In today's episode, we talk about taking the time to discover what you're good at, the mission of the Sawhorse Revolution and the programs that they offer, and doing social good with the means at your disposal.

Finally, a little house keeping - Folk Stories will take a two-week hiatus as I will be in China for two weeks of personal travels. As always, thanks for listening and if you want to leave feedback or nominate folks to the show, please send emails to feedback(at) If you want to follow the show and get access to extended interviews and updates on guests, you can subscribe to my mailing list here


  • how Sarah got started building tiny houses
  • origins of the Sawhorse Revolution
  • journey of self exploration after college
  • building tree houses and other awesome structures
  • lessons and takeaways from the Sawhorse Revolution
  • different Sawhorse programs and projects
  • tiny houses and what they are
  • day to day operations of a non-profit
  • future plans for the Sawhorse

Book Recommendations

  • Sarah kindly offered to use her awesome English prowess to do book recommendations. Email her with topics you're interested in to get a lead on your next book(s) at