Ode to a Carpenter
By Kim Hanson
A carpenter has a keen passion and intimate relationship to the building on which he is working. He knows each material that belongs in the house. He knows how it smells when it is cut and the type of dust it generates. A carpenter knows how many pieces to put together to give enough strength to the wall, yet just enough so that they can lift it by themselves. He knows the proportion of pieces moved today to just how many aches each piece lifted will bring the next day. When a builder walks away from a completed project, he knows a building in a most memorable way that an owner never will.
A carpenter dresses in layers. He instinctively knows to dress warm in the morning when it is 45 degrees and stands ready to peel when the weather warms to 60. Once in a while when the temperature stays in the 70-degree range, he celebrates. When sitting down to eat lunch, he takes a simple bucket or a stool full of slivers, mindful that he is not at a picnic -.
A carpenter goes to work knowing he may spend the entire day in a dark, musty crawlspace, or perched upon a warm, steep roof. Or perhaps he may spend a day walking on expensive carpet or a floor made of wood imported from Africa. He may enjoy a spectacular view as he install the siding. The materials he works with may be beautiful to look at (for example, a $20,000 Bocci ball lighting fixture) or extremely hard to lift - like a 500 pound railing. These things are usually beyond his control - a result of decisions made in the office months earlier by clients, the boss or an architect. He must rely and trust the person he works with - sometimes on the other end of a very heavy truss; he tries to be patient and kind as he teaches the newer apprentice carpenter. Carpentry requires teamwork.
A carpenter’s life is hard work. Yet it is full of self-satifaction as he watches his hands take raw materials and turn them into unimaginable beautiful transformations. He works to make things square, level, by the end of the project. He can smile with satisfaction as he hands the key over to the owner.
A carpenter is a creative individual, He relies on being self-motivated to arrive early in the dark and pick up his tools 15 minutes after quitting time. He is a smart man to take materials and produce a beautiful, warm shelter to fill a basic human need. A carpenter is honorable and inspiring to watch.
Thank you to all our valued carpenters at Hanson Carlen.