It may still be more common to come across men wielding chisels and saws than women, but there’s no logical reason why that should be the case. Just look at the example of 19-year-old Chelbie Jones who is a carpenter at Bouygues UK and Womenspire award winner; Chelbie is all too familiar with the challenges of working in a male industry and is now an active promoter of Women in woodwork. We weren’t meant to live our lives sitting in front of screens; it’s hugely rewarding to create something with our hands – that elemental desire to create is innate in all of us. Learning woodwork can enrich women’s lives and build life skills in a huge number of ways so it’s well worth considering.
Sense of satisfaction
If you spend hours every day typing at a keyboard or in a typical office job the sort of satisfaction gained from acquiring a practical skill can be an amazing stress buster and antidote. You’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment when you complete a project – there’s nothing better than the sort of pride you experience after a job well done. Woodwork teaches us that merely focusing on speed – which often results in poor quality products – doesn’t cut it in carpentry; it requires that you really commit your all – and completing a project in that mindset leads to an amazing sense of accomplishment and a great buzz.
You might even end up joining the ranks of women ditching their desk jobs in favor of a career in woodworking like Nina MacLaughlin who gave up a job as a journalist and is now happily building kitchens and bathrooms. Her book, Hammer Head: The Making Of A Carpenter tells the story of her career transformation.
Do your own DIY
Who doesn’t get frustrated by their own inability to handle basic home maintenance jobs? Who doesn’t feel frustrated and disempowered having to wait for some handyman (and it is normally a man) to sweep in and save the day? Having your own tools and knowing how to do the job yourself is hugely empowering, will save you money and prevents you from being taken advantage of by cowboy workmen. Jane Gordon is just one of the people who had a ‘eureka’ moment during a one-day DIY course and is now a convert to doing her own DIY. If you want to take things a step further and offer your skills to others you’ll discover that woodworkers are very much in demand; there’s a skills shortage so carpenters are hot property.
Using your hands is good for the soul
Woodwork creates a real sense of satisfaction from planning the project and seeing it through to completion. But the benefits go deeper than that – working with wood can improve mental health. The creative process helps fend off negative emotions and depression and woodworking is one of the most effective forms of therapeutic endeavors out there. A huge amount of thought and work goes into each project – from planning the piece, measuring it accurately, cutting the pieces, assembling them carefully through to sanding and staining. The carpentry process stimulates multiple aspects of the brain and forces you into new ways of thinking. The concentration on this single activity is almost akin to meditation and helps reduce stress.
How to get started
Perhaps the best first step would be to book onto one of the many nationwide workshops on offer. You might be surprised by how many courses there are that are specifically aimed at women and teach skills in a supportive and non-competitive environment. There’s a great Facebook group specifically for women that celebrates the talents of female woodworkers. One vital thing to understand is that woodworking is an art; it doesn’t require brute strength so long as you have the right tools and keep them in good condition. Just take a look at the stunning hand-carved spoons and bowls made by this collection of women for inspiration.
So there are many reasons that women should consider taking up woodworking. It teaches you that patience is essential if you want to achieve anything worthwhile in life; there are no shortcuts in carpentry and a degree of humility is essential. You’ll also learn when you need to accept defeat and start again – not an easy pill to stomach sometimes, but unavoidable when working with wood. Resilience is a hugely valuable skill to learn and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!
Follow this up with the story of Brenna Baker, the extraordinary Glass Artist & Founder of Hollywood Hot Glass.
The Girl builders & designers of Girls Garage are another amazing sets of Woodworking Humans to get to know.
Cassandra Alexander is a freelance writer and editor who has a real passion for all things spiritual. She adores being able to work creatively every day and when not writing she enjoys live music, hiking and spending time with her family.