Why carpentry? I sort of fell into it by accident. I had a friend who was building a house and he talked me into working with him and I just sort of stuck with it.
Favorite parts of the job: Trimming windows, trimming doors, base. Doing the finish work – like you come in and you put down the floor, then you trim the doors and windows and you put the base down – all the things that make the project look like it’s done.
Carpentry proverb: Better to measure three times and cut once than to cut it too short (‘cause I got a lot of tools in my van, but I don’t have a board stretcher).
Not so favorite parts of the job: There is a certain beauty, a charm, in destruction… incredibly messy, incredibly dirty and you’re wearing a respirator and it’s a terrible mess and it’s nasty and gross. When you get done, you look at it and you go, “that wasn’t so bad, look what we’ve done, that wasn’t so bad,” but in the middle of it you’re sayin’, “oh God, I wish I was working up there at Burger King or as a bank teller or anything, selling insurance for God’s sake”.
Creativity: Definitely. We’re making something better than it was before. There’s a lot of creative thinking into getting from point A to point B. It’s never a direct line.
A carpenter walks into a house… The thing that I see is “that door doesn’t fit well” or “that wall is out of square” and I can fix that in five minutes. I look for what I can fix.
Physical risks: You don’t feel like you’ve earned your pay unless you bleed, so we normally bleed every day or close to it. You’re always hitting yourself on something… nicks and cuts and bangs and bruises, but we’ve not really had anyone hurt badly. We’re lucky.
Would you recommend this kind of work? There are a lot of ways to get through life, but this isn’t a bad one.
In your truck: Everything that I could possibly need and most of what I own. The only tools I don’t have are things in my shop like a big table saw or a planer or a joiner; other than that, I’ve got a complete wood-shop in my van.
Psychological hazard: Tool envy.