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Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Memoirs > 0393239136
  1. Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter
    Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter
    Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter
    Image(s) provided for illustrative purposes and may differ from the actual product
  2. Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (55 reviews)
    Price R192.00

Additional Information

A warm and inspiring book for anyone who has ever dreamed of changing tracks: the story of a young woman who quit her desk job to become a carpenter.

Nina MacLaughlin spent her twenties working at a Boston newspaper, sitting behind a desk and staring at a screen. Yearning for more tangible work, she applied for a job she saw on Craigslist―Carpenter’s Assistant: Women strongly encouraged to apply―despite being a Classics major who couldn't tell a Phillips from a flathead screwdriver. She got the job, and in Hammer Head she tells the rich and entertaining story of becoming a carpenter.

Writing with infectious curiosity, MacLaughlin describes the joys and frustrations of making things by hand, reveals the challenges of working as a woman in an occupation that is 99 percent male, and explains how manual labor changed the way she sees the world. We meet her unflappable mentor, Mary, a petite but tough carpenter-sage (“Be smarter than the tools!”), as well as wild demo dudes, foul-mouthed plumbers, grizzled hardware store clerks, and the colorful clients whose homes she and Mary work in.

Whisking her readers from job to job―building a wall, remodeling a kitchen, gut-renovating a house―MacLaughlin examines the history of the tools she uses and the virtues and varieties of wood. Throughout, she draws on the wisdom of Ovid, Annie Dillard, Studs Terkel, and Mary Oliver to illuminate her experience of work. And, in a deeply moving climax, MacLaughlin strikes out on her own for the first time to build bookshelves for her own father.

Hammer Head is a passionate book full of sweat, swearing, bashed thumbs, and a deep sense of finding real meaning in work and life.

8 illustrations

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Nina MacLaughlin
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

There are some books that you read that make you view things differently. This is one of them. For a long time I have felt that the rat race is perhaps not for me but I have had no idea about what I would enjoy doing as an alternative. This book has genuinely given my a path that I think I want to follow. Giving up a stable income to go and do something that you love is always a hard decision but this book charts Nina's progress as she does just that. It's a great insight into her thoughts as she gave up a secure job to work as a carpenter. I enjoyed the fact that she was simply working as a carpenter but she was doing everything relating to construction jobs. Her mentor is fantastic and watching Nina develop her skills over time was great. I also liked the tool history lessons given throughout and found the style of writing to be relaxed, descriptive and engaging. If you see my other recent reviews you'll notice there are some woodworking books and tool reviews cropping up. This book... Read more
This made a good Book Club book. Nina McLaughlin writes well and her experience is unique. I appreciated her staying focused on the process of becoming a carpenter, not wandering off into analysis of the people, her relationships etc. At the same time she shows that learning to live with the inevitable mistakes she made, learning that botching a job then correcting it is part of the process. And she transferred that knowledge to her relationships.
My Book Club jumped into a discussion of our own careers, what other careers might have appealed to us. After 10+ years of meeting we learned new things about each other. Very satisfying.
It took me three days - part time - to finish the book and when I saw that I was almost to the end, I felt a loss. I had gotten to know these two women as if they were old friends and I was going to miss them. For 3 days, whenever I picked up the book, I couldn't stop and the pages went fast. So did the time, so engrossed was I in the images and feelings I was made to experience by this wonderful writer. I now have memories of her life, as if I had lived it. Read this and find out for yourself. These are all the words that come to me. I am empty, but happy, and I have learned, about
carpentry - and life.
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