I have been interested in carpentry for as long as I can remember. Lucky for me, my dad, Manny Silva, is a good carpenter and started teaching me about carpentry when I was very young. As I’ve gotten older and more responsible, he has slowly been teaching me the hands-on part of building as well the business part.
Mentors. One big help is that my dad has taken me to carpentry shows such as JLC Live where I have met many important carpenters in the business. One of those carpenters, Gary Katz, has been especially supportive. Gary believes in me and encourages me whenever I see him. When I was just 8 years old, Gary helped me write an article for This is Carpentry about installing a fence post. A few years later, I wrote a second article for TIC on installing clapboard siding.
Why I like carpentry. I’m interested in carpentry for many reasons. The first is that it’s very rewarding to see something I’ve created by using my hands and my mind. Another reason is that carpenters solve problems by being patient and creatively using what they know. But most of all, learning carpentry has been really fun.
Like many kids, I got a set of plastic tools when I was younger, and I followed my dad around, copying him with my tools. One of the first carpentry projects that I remember doing was nailing together small scraps of wood that my dad gave me. He started the nails, and then I lined up the boards and nailed them together.
I have always loved going with my dad to lumberyards, helping him pick out and load material into his truck. You can learn a lot at lumberyards. When I was old enough, he started training me to help with estimates by holding the end of the tape measure and by helping him count the items that he needed. Working around our house, he taught me things like the right way to hold the end of a board when he cuts it, and he also let me help with minor demolition jobs.
As I got older, my dad let me tackle more important tasks, like nailing things together, pulling things apart, digging holes, painting, or anything I could safely do with him nearby, carefully supervising. I’ve helped tear off a porch, build a fence, skim-coat walls inside, build built-ins, install siding, move dirt and rocks, and more.
Looking toward trade school. I remember my dad and older stepbrother taking me to an open house at a trade school. In the carpentry shop, they were letting visitors bang nails into a wooden post. I took a turn and one of the students wanted to start the 1 1/2-inch roofing nail for me. But I told him that I could do it, and I sank that nail in four shots. He said, “Great job! Can you teach that to some of the kids in this school?”
Right now I’m a 6th grader, and I’m pretty sure I want to go to the trade school in 9th grade. After that, the things I look forward to the most are building and repairing things, and driving trucks and heavy equipment. For now I just want to learn as much as I can, so that one day I can have my own carpentry or trucking business.
Carter Silva is an aspiring carpenter, in North Andover, Mass.