Log in


A soft side of carpentry

By: Salwa Samir

Steve Jobs once said: "I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I knew I needed to change something." This quote summarises the story of Asmaa Megahed, a garment factory worker turned carpenter.

She obtained a technical diploma before working for a while in a factory producing ready-made clothes.

After a while, she felt unhappy with the job. She got married to a carpenter and used to go with her husband to the workshop in Abdine that he inherited from his father. She watched him at work and soon fell in love with carpentry.

She began to work with her husband in his workshop and soon gained a reputation in the district as a good carpenter. “I find that carpentry is really the job of my dreams,” Megahed, proudly told the Egyptian Mail.

“My husband encourages me to discover the world of carpentry, which is an unusual profession for females in our society,” she added.

Megahed, a mother of two, said that at the beginning, she used to go with her husband to buy carpentry tools such as circular and hand saws, jigsaws for cutting curves, tape measures, rasps, chisels, hammers and screwdrivers.

Megahed spent four years doing carpentry work and gaining experience in her husband’s workshop. She became famous in her neighbourhood, and her reputation even surpassed her husband’s.

“Clients are astonished to see me working as a carpenter. Some of them leave the workshop, especially males. In time, they change their minds and recognise that men and women are equal on the job.”

Everyday, Megahed goes to the workshop, which is near her home, from 9am to 3pm. Then she goes home to cook a meal for her family and to study lessons for her children.

“In the summer holidays I can stay in the workshop until dawn, with my husband,” the 32-year-old Megahed said.

Wood is one of the most commonly used materials in the world, and almost any type of wood can be used to build furniture.

Each type of wood has its own unique characteristics, which in turn can add different degrees of warmth, emphasis and beauty to the decor.

The types of wood include beech which has a reddish colour and a linear, striped pattern that is very soft with minor colour variations.

Another type of wood is moski, (a type of pinewood), which can be used to make inner frames and invisible parts of the furniture.

Oak is a strong and durable type of wood with pretty grain markings.
The female carpentersaid she upgrades her skills in the profession by surfing the internet and watching carpentry-related videos on YouTube to follow up the new trends in carpentry and furniture.

In her first days in the workshop, she used to mend the broken pieces of furniture. Later, she bought new machines to design wooden products and furniture on her own.

When she was asked whether she faced any challenges in the profession, she replied, “When I use the machines to cut the wood, I must be very careful; and when I spray the wood with thinner, I use a special mask. Apart from needing to take these two precautions, everything is okay,” she said with a smile.