During his days at Neshaminy High School, the television habits of Langhorne resident Jeff Devlin were a bit different than his peers. His favorite show was This Old House, a renovation series that helped him recognize an innate passion for carpentry at the age of 15.
Fast forward a few decades, and Devlin is still doing what he loves. Not only has he starred on HGTV and DIY Network shows like Spice Up My Kitchen, I Hate My Bath and Stone House Revival, the latter of which restores historic homes around Bucks County, he’s sharing his expertise in person with those seeking home improvement advice.
On Saturday, Jan. 11, the master craftsman will host a VIP Make-It, Take-It workshop at the 2020 Philly Home Show, set for Jan. 10-12 and Jan. 17-19 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St., Philadelphia. The event will showcase more than 240 service professionals in almost every home category, and is expected to welcome at least 41,000 visitors.
For Devlin, who attended the Philly Home Show as a child, it’s an honor to return and offer an educational component.
“I get to do home shows all over the country, and that’s something that’s very fun,” he told The Times. “But the truth is that anytime I get to stay home, I’m crazy excited. I went to the Philly Home Show when I was little, before I even considered being a carpenter. Now, I get to go there on a different scale to say, ‘Hello’ to fans that watch the show, and also have a booth. If people want to walk up and ask questions, they can do that. It’s nice to be accessible, to get people excited about home renovations, the process.”
At Devlin’s VIP workshop, attendees will receive encouragement that they can fix something in their home without hiring a professional.
“A lot of times, people have that hesitation, like they’re going to do it wrong. I’m going to set up shop and bring a couple of my favorite tools with me to show how simple certain things can be. People with no skill, absolutely no skill with two left thumbs, whatever it is, can actually build and fix things in their house. I think a lot of it is the right tool for the job,” Devlin said. “And then just empowering people to know, ‘Hey, I can fix this myself’ and also letting them know which things they shouldn’t be fixing themselves and where their time is better spent with their family on the weekend.”
Additionally, workshop-goers will learn that carpentry can, in fact, be pretty cool.
“A lot of people look at woodworking as a curmudgeon, old man sport where you have to wear flannel and you have to be over the age of 60, but it’s more of a hobby than it is a career,” Devlin said. “Many people, especially older, are enticed by it because of the popularity of HGTV and DIY Network and all of the different YouTube clips on how you can do stuff.”
When Devlin isn’t making guest appearances at home shows, he can usually be found at Schoolhouse Woodworking, a retail store and woodworking shop located inside the Exton Square Mall. Guests can watch through the window as he works, or pop in to ask questions.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to see somebody’s eyes open up, whether it’s a 15-year-old kid that’s considering it that likes to work with their hands, or a 50-year-old woman that comes in and is like, ‘I want to empower myself and I want to build a cutting board. Can I do it?’ And then showing them how to do it,” Devlin said. “Sometimes, people can learn from YouTube and make their mistakes and fix them. But sometimes it’s just nice to have someone around. I like showing people what can be done.”
Devlin offered a few final words for anyone on the fence about stopping by the Philly Home Show.
“The reward that you get from being able to touch and have that tactile kind of emotion, to see things in person, meet the people that you’re actually possibly going to hire and get a feel for them personally, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” Devlin said. “I think some homeowners have gotten away from it, kind of like, ‘We’ll just order it on Amazon.’ But in reality, home shows do so much, and I just hope that everybody can come out there and say, ‘Hello’ and experience how cool it is to see all these companies that are in your area that can help you out.” ••
Tickets for the Philly Home Show are available in advance online or at the entrance. Parking and shuttle information is available at phillyhomeshow.com/information/parking. For advance tickets, show hours and full show information, go to phillyhomeshow.com.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org