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When I am doing construction work, I often listen to music. The rhythm keeps my mind occupied during the tedious moments. Since a radio is not always handy, I sometimes hum a few bars or, if I am feeling bold, I will venture to sing a few lines.

Don't imagine me strutting around as if I am Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. You won't catch me spinning madly in my front yard belting out "The hills are alive..." or straddling a dormer, singing a medley from "Fiddler on the Roof". My voice is not that good, and I am not the type to subject myself arbitrarily to the ridicule of my neighbors. My wife sometimes expresses the wish that my shyness extended to her. I do not hesitate to inflict on her an off-key melody now and then. I figure she is stuck with me and my half-octave range.

When I sing, I resort to tunes that have particular meaning in reference to the job on which I am presently engaged. The framing song is my favorite. It is based on a folk song that was popular in my youth. No doubt when you have picked up a hammer, you have at least been tempted to tap it out with your toes, or more appropriately the head of the hammer. You might recognize the refrain:

If I had a hammer.
I'd hammer in the mornin'.
I'd hammer in the evenin',
I'd hammer all over this HAaaAAND!

As you can see, I took some poetic license with the words. I feel free to make changes in songs. As long as I sing very quietly, I figure the copyright lawyers will not come after me. The above song has many variations, including: "If I had a hand saw"; and "If only I had bought enough 16D nails on my first trip to the hardware store, I wouldn't be wasting time now making a second trip". I like framing so well I have developed an additional song in its honor. Number two on the hit parade is the ever popular "Bent Nail Blues" sung to the tune of "Heartbreak Hotel":

Since I hammered this nail,
I bent it over in two
I could pound it in,
But I should pull it out and start all over again. Well, I'm so weary, Baby...
So weary I could go for a beer.

Have no fear about the masculinity of work songs. When you sing, you will be following in the time-honored tradition of laborers of past generations: miners, railroad workers, and longshoremen. All of whom were real men.

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Lumber Quality
Circular Saw
Frame Construction
Sub Floor
Secret Passages
Ceilings and Roofs
Good Carpenters

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About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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