“As the founder of a small home-based business, Woodwork for Women, and the author of a book of the same name, I find I couldn’t have dreamed up a more fulfilling place to be as I enter my sixties.
I was raised on a small dairy farm in West Gippsland, Victoria in the late 1950s and early 60s, with my two older brothers. I longed to be roaming out in the paddocks, climbing trees and building cubby houses and doing boy things, but I was only encouraged to cook and clean!
Having been told off one day for messing with the tools in the shed, I was sent inside to help bottle the blackberry jam – and it was another twenty years before I picked up any tools again.
By thirty years of age I was an experienced secretary, but later trained in the UK as a private detective – and neither gave me the fulfillment I hoped existed.
A spark of desire
Then one day I spotted a one-line ad in the Bristol Evening Post that read ‘Woodwork for Women classes’, and my heart gave a little jump. I wondered if I could learn this skill. The class was held in a woman’s lounge room, with a few small folding portable work benches and some tools set out between the TV and sofa, creating a calm, friendly atmosphere. I immediately adored the shiny, sharp blade of the plane as it licked golden curls off the wood and the smell of pine that filled the air. I was in love! So I signed up for an intensive carpentry/joinery course (similar to a four year apprenticeship) along with twenty- six other lads and men. When I told my flat mates they fell about laughing. I was petite in stature and I was a girl! What was I thinking? I learnt everything from roofing and stair casing, to building a six-paneled glass door and a window from scratch, using mostly hand tools, and amongst other challenging projects I hand made a large dovetail box for my tools.”
Continue reading Pat Gregory’s story in the first edition of Honestly Woman magazine.