A new book written by a Norwegian renovation contractor shows the trials and tribulations North American cabinet makers and contractors face are more universal than regional. His struggles with pricing, dealing with architects, building officials, clients, other trades and simply the challenge of doing good work will resonate strongly with most professional woodworkers.
Ole Thorstensen’s book is called “Making Things Right: The Simple Philosophy of a Working Life.” Translated expertly by Sean Kinsella from the original Norwegion, the book takes you on a journey through one major renovation project in an urban residence in Oslo, Norway. But don’t let the Scandinavian setting put you off. The book could just as easily have been set in almost any U.S. or Canadian city.
Thorstensen talks frankly about how he negotiates with his customers, not only before getting the job, but all throughout the process right to the last handshake and leaving the finished project. He shares his mental struggles with how his work is perceived, competition, compensation, and a reverence for solving problems in an efficient and elegant manner.
This isn’t a tale of a master craftsman doing work most of us would only dream of. Instead, it is the simple story of a man who prides himself on doing good work with his own hands and mind to earn a fair living. He revels in simple solutions he works out to solve problems. He gets frustrated when architects, clients, or even friends add complications to his life and work.
This book is not an instruction manual of how to do craft and contracting. It’s more like a conversation between craftsmen in a pub over a few beers. It’s worth a few rounds.
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