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A new kind of power meeting
Women learn how to work tools for projects
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Martine Olsen cuts a two-by-four Saturday during a Habitat for Humanity power tools clinic for women at Howard Brothers hardware in Oakwood. Hardware manager Mark Whiting, center right, instructs Olsen, of Clarkesville. - photo by NAT GURLEY

The sounds of power tools humming and hammers hitting nails were heard Saturday as sawdust particles floated through the air at Howard Brothers hardware store in Oakwood.

It wasn’t because of a new construction project, but women learning proper techniques and safety of different tools used for different construction projects.

The “Use of Hand and Power Tools” class was part of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program and is a nationwide program that normally takes place the week of Mother’s Day, said Tim Williams of Habitat for Humanity of Hall County. 

“This isn’t something they can only use if they volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, but they can take the skills they learned today and use it in their own home,” Williams said.

Some of the tools the women worked with included miter and circular saws, power drills and different-sized bits and hammer and nails.

They worked on what one instructor called a knee wall, which is a small-scale model frame of a wall, normally found inside homes.

Linda Martin said she came Saturday because she wanted to learn the skills so she can successfully build a chicken coop.

“I’ve loved it. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time, because women, especially middle-aged women, we didn’t get shop in high school,” she said. “And now we’re trying to do things.

“I don’t know basic construction techniques. ... I just want to feel more empowered. I want to figure out how to do some things and not have to depend on my husband to do them.”

She said she was familiar with a drill press and had used tin snips when she makes jewelry, but wasn’t as familiar with hand-held power drills and bits.

“I’m intimidated by big power tools, so this was great to get the safety fundamentals,” she said.

She added the instructors’ guidance gave her enough confidence when she tried the tools for the first time.

“It makes us feel good about what we are doing within the community when we see homeowners taking pride in their own home,” Williams said about the turnout and response from the participants.

“It’s very rewarding.”

Marsha Simmons said she didn’t know anything about the tools before Saturday’s demonstration, but jumped at every chance to gain experience using them. 

“There are so many things that I want to know how to do and I don’t,” she said.

“This is liberating. Not everybody has a husband and not everybody has a husband that’s skilled, either. My husband learned (tools) on his own, but together we work well as a team and I’d like to be able to do more of the things that he usually just does.”

Simmons said the miter saw caught her interest more than any other tool they learned about.

“It’s exciting to learn a new skill,” she said. “The instructors did a great job. They took a lot of time explaining what the tools did, answering any questions we had.

“I feel like I just scratched the surface and now I’m intrigued to go ahead and try it and learn a little bit more (about tools).”