Okay, so I wasn’t wielding a sword. Nor was I perched precariously on a rock, calling upon the power of Grayskull (because that would be a breach of modern day OH&S). But, on Saturday 5 March I became a fully-fledged ‘Princess of Power Tools.’

Arriving in Salisbury that afternoon, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Despite having litigated a number of injury claims, I had never really set foot in a large-scale workshop – this was unfamiliar territory. Thankfully Meg and her husband Clint possess the kind of effervescent personalities that put you right at ease.

Being immersed in a group of interesting and supportive women also helped. These were resourceful women, driven by ecological concerns; women who wanted to build tiny houses and recycle furniture. These were women who had long harboured desires to try their hand at woodwork, but had been fearful of trespassing on a ‘man’s domain’; the very notion and stereotype that She Skills aims to dispel.

After changing into our work boots, Meg took us for a tour of the premises, before seating us in a classroom where we conducted a risk assessment- big thumbs up from this legal eagle! And then it was time to get to work.

Our project for the day was to create timber wall cubes, which we would put together using mitre, butt and halving joints. With a manageable class size, Meg and Clint took us through the process step-by-step, gifting ample personal attention.

After imparting the mantra ‘measure twice, cut once,’ we were taught how to assess timber for faults, and how to cut through that timber with both a drop saw and with a tenon saw/mitre box combination. We sanded, drilled, glued and designed to our heart’s content. We experienced the pure joy of building something, and the contentment that comes from an afternoon devoid of screen time. It’s fair to say the safe and successful operation of the tools left me feeling calm, empowered and capable in a way I haven’t felt for ages.

What I really loved was the level of encouragement from Meg and Clint.  While they instilled in us the skills to create frames, this class wasn’t about crafting faultless pieces, but rather having the confidence to try something new.  This was hugely refreshing considering the damage wreaked on women by the elusive pursuit of perfection.  That said, courses will evolve over time to meet varying demands and capacities. So, if you fall in love with woodwork, there will be further opportunities to enhance your craft. And hopefully more cake and cuppas too.

She-Ra – eat your heart out. From now on, I’ll be calling upon the power of Ryobi!

by Beth O’Connor