Tools of the Trade: Thoughts From a Woman Woodworker

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Blog entry by naomi weiss posted 03-20-2010 09:24 PM 2396 reads 0 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch


When i was in the States, i got to pick up some new tools at the Woodworking Shows, about which i have blogged. That was in Columbus. When i was in New York, i experienced the awesomeness that is Sephora. How do i explain Sephora? Well, it’s kind of like the Veritas or Lee Valley of makeup, and going into the shop is like going into Woodcraft (i’m dying to see Highland Woodworking, mostly because the people there are super-nice) or Rockler, etc. CIMG1052 Sorry to belabour the point with all these shop names, but i am trying to make clear the comparison; Home Depot would be the equivalent to buying makeup at CVS (there’s no judgement there—sometimes you pick up a mascara at CVS, but not necessarily foundation; when you need the odd forstner bit or hearing protection, you get it at Home Depot, but you wouldn’t go there for a hand plane). I didn’t get so much at Sephora, and when i go to a woodworking shop, i take it slow as well. But sometimes, there are some breakthrough purchases that make a difference in your work. My sister Tali bought me a set of brushes (thank God these things are labelled—it makes things a bit easier), and it was the equivalent to receiving a set of chisels. Different tools for different jobs. No matter if your toolkit is for makeup, fine woodworking, or home repairs, your kit must be diversified for different tasks in order to ensure that the job gets done properly.

I’m not going to compare or rate the experiences. I was just thinking about how i felt a bit out of place at the Woodworking shows, where the vast majority of ppl there were white dudes over 40. When Chuck Bender told me i hit like a girl (the chisel with the mallet, and perhaps not hard enough?), i thought it was hilarious—he was right, and i want to emphasise that he was making a joke in good spirit—but it reminded me of my surroundings. Testosterone town.

When my sister wrinkles her nose at my woodworking tools, it’s actually pretty ironic. She’s got LOADS of makeup ‘tools’. And when some guys wonder quizzically why women have so many different makeup accoutrements, let’s call them, i would direct them to their own toolboxes (well, some. You know who you are!). Basically, everyone likes tools, no matter the format; they’re adult-toys.

A friend of mine, Rabbi David Debow pointed out to me that i’m in a pretty fortunate position—i get to play with makeup tools and woodworking tools. So i just want to end with a salute to my heroes; woodworking women, who walk in both worlds. I was very excited to see that the managing editor of Popular Woodworking is a woman—Megan Fitzpatrick (and fellow English PhD nerd—nice!). Of course, Kari Hultman’s blog, the Village Carpenter is an inspiration. And, as always, my mother, who owns and uses all the tools in the house.

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

21 comments so far

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4069 days

#1 posted 03-20-2010 09:45 PM

I have never been able to figure out the make up tools
when I finish the “project” it looks like one of my first wood working projects.
The angles are a bit off, the finish has some drips, I can’t seem to hid the chip outs,
and I end up looking like I could have used a bit more sanding. LOL
Glad you enjoyed the shopping spree,
and glad you are talented enough to use both kinds of tools…


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4465 days

#2 posted 03-20-2010 09:52 PM

which do you use for the make up Naomi lol…..............

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View ellen35's profile


2747 posts in 4206 days

#3 posted 03-20-2010 10:52 PM

A girl can never have enough tools!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Zipsss's profile


209 posts in 4887 days

#4 posted 03-21-2010 12:03 AM

Naomi, here is s site that may help, and is close to home. Ze’ev

-- Zipsss

View woodchic's profile


841 posts in 4131 days

#5 posted 03-21-2010 03:49 AM

A perfect day of shopping for me is to drag my husband to Victoria Secrets and then top it off with a visit to the Newer Woodcraft store in Lexington…................can’t go there without visiting them both. I never thought about using the make-up brushes for anything other than make-up…........but why not, might work, especailly for the older brushes that your gonna toss out anyway…..(Lol)..........Autumn, your a genious!


-- Robin Renee'

View skeeter's profile


233 posts in 4115 days

#6 posted 03-21-2010 04:21 AM

you “guys” are awesome.

-- My philosophy: Somewhere between Norm and Roy

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19243 posts in 4450 days

#7 posted 03-21-2010 05:42 AM

I have always wondered why a woman would pull her eye brows out and draw obviously fake ones back on?? Or do the plane them off and chisel them back on ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View newTim's profile


622 posts in 4381 days

#8 posted 03-21-2010 05:49 AM

When did ‘white’ become a pejorative? What does race have to do with woodworking? Is this like going into Macy’s and declaring she was surrounded by a bunch of fat women under 30? As a white guy over 40 I have noticed nobody lets this get in the way of demanding I pay higher taxes or soliciting me for charity.

As they say on Spartacus, ‘apologies’.

-- tim hill

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12820 posts in 3931 days

#9 posted 03-21-2010 05:56 AM

Wow Robin,
If a guy were to have his mind living in the gutter (wait, that’s me :), he could totally think wicked thoughts about your shopping habits… lol,
Not sure that most of the guys on this site will get past your first stop at Victoria Secrets to read on to the good stuff about the Newer Woodcraft Store… lol, I had to read it three times myself…

Can I suggest you keep your tools in the shop and your make up kit in your bathroom… lol Just kidding, the idea of using make up brushes in the shop is interesting, but I think my wife would kill me…. Perhaps I’ll give it a test run by using some of her brushes and returning them before she notices them gone… would that work? :)

PS: Robin, if your husband ever bails on you for your trip to Victoria Secrets, give me a call, I’ll be glad to assist… :)

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4300 days

#10 posted 03-21-2010 06:29 AM

wow, I am speechless…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 4168 days

#11 posted 03-21-2010 07:34 AM

Thanks for all the feedback! Ze’ev—thanks for the recommendation—i check there every once in a while, but maybe i will do so more frequently…
Autumn—that is a good idea—you can also get those fat brushes angled, if that helps.
NewTim—i am sorry if my entry offended you, but maybe go back and read it. There is nothing pejorative about being white. Some of my best friends are white. ;-)
I didn’t quite follow your Macy’s example—i am under 30 and can’t remember the last time i was in a Macy’s (i am not sure it’s in Cleveland, and i left there 10 years ago).
If you were at the makeup counter at Macy’s and wrote that you noticed that everyone there were females, i wouldn’t assume that you used the word ‘female’ or ‘women’ pejoratively. Speaking about sex doesn’t make you a sexist, and speaking about race doesn’t make you a racist.
I will say that in hindsight i did not notice any blacks or ethnic minorities, though i did bump into some women who were not there solely because of their husbands.
When i blogged about the WW Shows, i got a few comments that it was nice to see younger people at the shows. This means that to a degree the WW community is aware that it’s not the most diverse market. There was a section at the WW Shows called ‘Handtool Rodeo’. What the heck does that mean? Are we going to ride the tools? I’m just saying that maybe the industry should consider how they are marketing the hobby. A lot of the WW magazines feature projects of period furniture, not modern projects. I think there are some great examples of modern furniture that still offer the woodworker a decent challenge. Wood working is a fine art; it must progress. If we included more modern examples, perhaps it would draw a more diverse crowd and enrich the art we all love so much. Just a thought…

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 4168 days

#12 posted 03-21-2010 09:35 AM

Autumn! Nice! I’m so happy i got to ‘help’ in some small way! Rock on Revlon, and Rock on LJ!

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4069 days

#13 posted 03-21-2010 03:14 PM

I didn’t post fast enough, but if you check an art supply store, there are fat brushes like this in different lengths and rigidities. Looks like Revlon is a winner too !


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Ger21's profile


1099 posts in 3905 days

#14 posted 03-21-2010 03:45 PM

At my last job, we actually built cabinets for Sephora stores. :-)

-- Gerry,

View naomi weiss's profile

naomi weiss

207 posts in 4168 days

#15 posted 03-21-2010 04:15 PM

Gerry, are you serious?! You’re my hero!

-- 'Humility is a duty in great ones, as well as in idiots'--Jeremy Taylor

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