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Making Things Right

On sale

4th October 2018

Price: £9.99

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Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780857056702

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A celebration of good craftsmanship by a Norwegian master carpenter – the anatomy of a job well done.

“An enriching and poetic tribute to manual labour” Karl Ove Knausgård

“In Thorstensen’s skilled hands, the everyday story of a suburban loft conversion is turned into an urgent study on the value of doing good work. It should be widely read.” Robert Penn – author of The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees

This is, quite simply, the story of a loft conversion. It is also a book about work and identity, about collaboration and pride in skilled craftsmanship, and about what it means to make things with your hands in a consumerism-driven world.

A master carpenter and builder with thirty years’ experience, Thorstensen gives a matter-of-fact, reflective voice to the workers who construct our living spaces and our urban environment. He looks upon his tools as an important part of himself and as a reflection of his respect for his trade, and he addresses the gulf in understanding and communication between skilled craftsmen and “academic” workers.

From the moment of a client’s phone call to their occupation of a newly constructed living space, Making Things Right tracks the project as it takes shape: the delicate negotiation to establish an optimum plan; the collaboration with a trusted team of specialist painters, plasterers, plumbers, electricians; the handling of materials; the blood, sweat and frustration involved in doing a job well.

Why is it that manual skills are underestimated? After all, working with your hands gives you time to think. With all its practical detail, Making Things Right is the simple philosophy of a working life.

Will interest readers of The Craftsman by Richard Sennett: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain; The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees by Robert Penn; Do No Harm by James Marsh and A Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks

Translated from the Norwegian by Sean Kinsella


It is so rich in descriptions of all pleasures related to mastering a craft: the portrayal of the working community, the joy of seeing something take shape, and the knowledge that one has left a piece of oneself behind. The pleasure of drinking coffee from a thermos, listening to good radio, observe the city from new angles, and feel the weight of history when you continue building on something that the craftsmen before you started . . . A nice mix of sociology, philosophy - not to mention ethics
An important voice against knowledge deficiency . . . By documenting an entire course of a construction project in diary form, he offers insight into processes that very few people know anything about . . . The book is just as solid as the craft that he describes
Thorstensen writes convincingly about heavy work as something honourable, without ever stumbling into romantic notions of physical work as a way to fill the emptiness . . . For Thorstensen the meaning already exists in the work itself and within him
In Thorstensen's skilled hands, the everyday story of a suburban loft conversion is turned into an urgent study on the value of doing good work. It should be widely read. - Robert Penn, author of The Man Who Made Things out of Trees
Karl Ove Knausgård
An enriching and poetic tribute to manual labour, and to the ongoing importance of the art that goes into it. Ole Thorstensen writes about the values manual labour brings to society as a whole. Making Things Right is a sharp reminder that we cannot afford to lose them.
Nadine O'Regan, Sunday Business Post
A surprisingly absorbing read . . . illuminating for the humble homeowner and giving a great sense of his world. A quirky offering.
A.H.S. Smyth, Spectator.
Making Things Right won't tell you how to do your loft conversion . . . but it should tell you what sort of guy you'd like to have it done by.
Tim Alden, Independent
A finely honed masterpiece . . . with precise prose, Thorstensen examines every nuance of the process, from the practical to the philosophical, from the craftsman's point of view
Nina McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal
A swift and understated examination of a life spent working with one's hands . . . He does well to demystify the trades. The work is not magic - a matter of tools and time, patience, practice and desire. For its detailing of the labor involved, the book will as much be useful to someone facing a renovation as it will provoke nods of recognition from those in the trades.