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Does Mark Harmon Do Woodworking?

Many who have worked alongside Mark Harmon remain baffled by his excitement to work fourteen-hour days. 

As an actor on NCIS, it’s quite necessary to be willing to ramp up long working hours when production starts. For stars like Harmon, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. Still, putting in those hours means leisure time is put on hold until production takes a break. 

While most of Harmon’s time is seemingly spent playing a special agent on one of the most popular television shows to date, he doesn’t say much about his personal life.

Nonetheless, Harmon’s character—Leroy Gibbs on NCIS—has a thorough knowledge of woodworking and has frequently been seen building boats in private. The character’s profound passion raises the question, does Mark Harmon actually do woodworking himself?

Harmon and Woodworking

When he isn’t acting, Harmon is more of a homebody. He’s not big on social media and enjoys spending most of his time with his wife, Pam Dawber. 

In the early days of Mark Harmon, the future star spent weekends working in his dad’s workshop. He also picked up a summer gig doing carpentry while he was in high school. In fact, when Harmon was younger, he even helped his neighbor build a biplane. He mentioned the fun fact about his childhood to the producers of NCIS, and they wrote it in one of the scripts.

In 1985, Coors produced a commercial starring Mark Harmon, where he revealed his love for both beer and woodworking. The commercial opens with Harmon walking away from his woodworking station outside, dressed in work clothes and a utility belt. 

Before Harmon got married, he says that he turned a 1930’s tool shed into his home. The full renovation took about two years, and Harmon even admitted that anybody else likely would have started from scratch. He followed up by saying, 

If you give a house a chance to talk to you, you learn things.

Mark Harmon’s Acting Career

In 2003, NCIS cast Harmon as the character Leroy Jethro Gibbs; the producers thought he was a perfect fit. Gibbs is known widely for his few words and his facial expressions, and Harmon has portrayed the stoic personality of Gibbs very well. He went on to play Gibbs for eighteen seasons, which is still running today. 

Harmon once told Men’s Journal about what his life without acting would look like. He responded by reflecting on his past, saying that he’d most likely stick to carpentry. 

Harmon mentioned how he couldn’t get hired as a carpenter even though he enjoyed getting up early and doing great work. He said,

If you did it right, it outlasted you.

Harmon still enjoys working with his hands, just like his character Gibbs. 

Gibbs’ Passion for Woodworking

Writers of NCIS took much of Harmon’s background and personality, working his authentic qualities into the character. Harmon’s character Gibbs is not only a special agent, but he is also a former Marine and avid woodworker. 

The woodworking interest that Gibbs portrays in NCIS was meaningfully passed down from Harmon himself. When Gibbs isn’t investigating, he spends his time working on wooden boats in the basement of his home. To deliver the character in a way that is even closer to home, the tools that Gibbs uses throughout the series are said to be Harmon’s personal gadgets.

In various other scenes, Gibbs builds wooden toys with his father for Christmas; he also builds doors and furniture. During one particular scene, the crew is looking for something that went missing in a warehouse. Gibbs goes under a desk, finds a hidden compartment, and, nodding to his woodworking knowledge, he says, 

Dovetail joints don’t go with nails. 


While Mark Harmon dedicates plenty of his time to NCIS, he has the opportunity to express his passion for woodworking through his character, Gibbs. Harmon’s background in building homes and doing carpentry—even his own woodworking tools—was passed down to Gibbs, which fans have enjoyed watching throughout the show’s past eighteen seasons.

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  • Rob is a blogger and podcaster of Bois & Bar Talk and tries a new beer every week. He loves to talk about gaming, sports, music, and all kinds of pop-culture things. He tries to learn something new about the world and himself everyday!

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