There can’t be many people out there who like sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. Even competitive thumb-twiddlers can only practice their craft so much before they need some downtime.
But what are you supposed to do when you’re effectively grounded due to efforts to slow down a pandemic? Or, for those reading this in the distant future, when you don’t have much of a social life and you’re starting to grow weary of streaming services?
Oh, you could attach the electrodes to your Duolingo account and make another half-hearted effort to learn Japanese, but we both know that isn’t going to happen. You’ll give up after a few days. You also won’t get far writing that novel you’ve been contemplating for some time: the one about the dog that travels through time, solving mysteries. Doctor Doo. No, Scooby Who.
What if you could do something satisfying in a tactile way? Physically engaging like exercise but with enough of a purpose that it won’t get tedious within minutes? That’s a great idea — and carpentry fits the bill. Here’s more about why some woodwork wouldn’t go amiss:
It’s fun to collect the necessary hardware
We like collecting and owning things: it’s just in our nature to gather our material possessions, look upon them, and derive pleasure from knowing them to be superior than those of our neighbours.
Here’s the thing: you could collect figurines, but you can’t really do anything with those except pose them mid-battle and make laser noises (great, but limited).
Carpentry tools, however, are like Pokemon you can actually use. Catch a Hammerion and a Nailius and you can connect pieces of wood for practical purposes. Source a Jigglesaw and you can get more creative in your projects. When you build up your collection of tools over time, you feel that you’re filling in practical gaps: kitting yourself out for a war against uneven tables.
You get to slice, drill, and generally clobber things
We cling to the veneer of civility, but at heart, we’re brutal creatures who like to bend the world to our will.
That’s part of the appeal of video games: without actually hurting anyone, you can apply an unhealthy dose of chainsaw to anything that gets in your way, or just looks at you, or simply exists in the vicinity. Carpentry is similar, only without the enemies but with real-world impact.
Here you have a saw, and there you have a plank of wood. Do you need that plank to be in smaller pieces, or do you simply wish to exert your physical dominance? Either way, you can hack that plank in two, feeling the jagged notches devastating the structural integrity. Follow it up by spinning a sharp metal rod extremely quickly and using it to riddle the result with holes.
Basically, spend twenty minutes wielding your tools and you’ll feel like a very low-budget deity.
Seeing constructions come together is rewarding
Owning property that you can work on is great, but carpentry doesn’t have to be house-scale to be worthwhile: you can assemble something much smaller and still feel accomplished.
Even just a box can be a decent project. You cut some pieces of wood, drill the holes, screw them together, add a lid with a hinge, then use sandpaper and wood polish to finish it — then you have something you can use. Something that’s more than the sum of its parts.
Bigger projects, though, can really get you through some tough times. Find something that you can work on over weeks or even months, and every day can yield visible progress. How often do you get that? When you try to learn a skill, or even work on yourself physically, the results can be somewhat unpredictable. Not so with carpentry. It’s always obvious what you’ve been able to get done, and that’s immensely rewarding.
There’s always something more to be done
Lastly, carpentry is such a great pastime because you can always find something more to do. Maybe that cabinet you made last year is looking a little ragged: time to sand it down and give it a fresh coat of polish before weatherproofing it for good measure. Could you use more options for keeping your bath towel at hand? Put up some hooks. Put up all the hooks you want.
Or maybe you want to get artistic and cut out some fun shapes you can hang up. Get some old wood you don’t need for anything else and let your jigsaw work its magic, then get to painting. Pretty much anything can be art. Why buy something to display on your wall when you can have a great afternoon making something instead?
Carpentry was good enough for Jesus, and good enough for The Carpenters (shh), so it’s good enough for us. The next time you’re bored at home, don’t pick up a controller or a bag of snacks. Grab a hammer and some nails and get to work.