Woman Who Can Use a Hammer and Saw – October 1899

Besides needle work, cooking and washing dishes, the working housewife finds it useful to be able to turn her hand to many things not strictly included under housewifery or dairying.

Take carpentry for instance. How often do we find that we want a new shelf or a bracket, or we want to break open a box or to mend it or to alter its size. Or we require a new nest or to mend a broken perch in the fowl house or some little additional convenience in the dairy.

We cannot afford to pay perhaps to get such trifles done and we have not always an amiable and handy man always at our command in the house. Now many women know how to use a hammer and nails and as many more do not.

Once, when I was away from home (you must excuse another story) my boot soles exhibited signs of wear and I asked of my hostess the loan of a hammer to put in some “protectors.” This she for some time refused to do on the grounds that I could not possible hammer them in. It took a man to do it, she said.

There are lots of classes even in rural villages where you may learn paper work and wood carving but more useful even than either of these would be the knowledge of how to handle wood for the purposes I have hinted at. If one knew the use of a few plain joiners’ tools what were the size and shape, also how to keep these tools in order, that were an accomplishment not to be despised by the farmers’ woman kind. It is highly desirable to learn how even to put in a nail straight, or how to take it out without splitting the wood and losing your temper.

Some may say that it is unsuitable work for a woman but nothing is unsuitable that requires to be done and there is no one else to do it. Men are handy creatures no doubt but they are not always as willing as they are available.

Next to the happiness of having a man to help you over all the rough places is the pleasure of being able to walk over them alone and the highest satisfaction of all is to have the man and to be able to do without him. The only opposition that can be urged against a woman’s handling the saw and hammer is that if she proves herself skilful she will get all the railings and gates about the steading to mend.

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