Bordon Men's Shed – a rebuild in progress

Bordon Men’s Shed members working on projects in their former old Military Police HQ

Various features on regional Men’s Sheds have appeared in this magazine over the years, and I imagine a fair few readers may even be members within their own communities. For those who aren’t familiar with Men’s Sheds and what they can achieve, however, simply put, these are community spaces in which men can connect, converse and create. The activities on offer are often similar to those typically carried out in garden sheds, but for groups of men to enjoy together, especially when it comes to working with wood and the associated skills required, which is a common interest.

These community groups help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which many can experience, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but most importantly, they’re fun to be a part of. The Men’s Shed is very inclusive, but members are expected to be able-bodied, due to the sometimes arduous nature of the work. Everyone is a volunteer. The Men’s Sheds governing body – UKMSA (UK Men’s Shed Association) – strive to raise awareness of Men’s Sheds and the life-changing impact they can have.

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1 The new Shed is housed in a large hangar-type building

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2 Equipment requiring sorting out having moved from one premises to another

All change
Here in Bordon, Hampshire, our thriving Woolmer Men’s Shed, started a few years ago but closed since the first lockdown in 2020, previously made use of an old Military building in the town, which we shared with The Furniture Helpline (FHL). Due to the planned redevelopment and building of 3,300 new homes, however, we were forced to find a new place to meet. Since FHL provides us with administrative support, we had no choice but to follow them. Luckily, FHL were able to secure a new building on Prince Phillip Park – one end of a large hangar-type building – which was empty and ready for occupation, so we joined forces once again. Starting over Within the new building, we were allocated the small area shown to the extreme left of photo 1, behind the left-hand white line. This gave us two 6 × 3m areas, where we’d build our workshops plus a smaller area for a tea bar. In our previous residence, we were allocated furniture to restore and renovate from FHL and hope to carry this on, once we’ve finished building our workshops.

All five members carrying out the build are in their 70s, and one in his 80s, so progress since January, when we started the build, adhering to COVID-19 regulations and social distancing, has therefore been slow. Once we’d moved everything from the old workshops, we found we had a lot of equipment to sort out (photo 2), some of which was given by generous donation. The aim is to build the partitions out of OSB with roofs as well as installing insulation. We used steel stanchions, which hold up the walls, as dividers and built the walls using a mixture of reclaimed 6×2 and 4×2 planks, plus new 8×4 ply sheets, which are 12mm thick.

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3 The middle wall, once constructed

The middle wall
The main walls are now in place and the door frames constructed (photo 3). The flooring is reclaimed OSB covered with new 4mm ply in readiness for vinyl contract flooring, which is being installed by a flooring expert. The walls have been screwed together in anticipation of future moves. We needed to have internal workshops in order to separate ourselves from FHL warehouse stock, which would also be stored in the hangar, so money was therefore required to build partitions, install electrical sockets and relocate all our equipment.

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4 Construction of a wall

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5 Pallet wood Christmas trees – the last group project completed by members

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6 2019 display at the Weald and Downland Living Museum, West Sussex

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7 The most recent photo of the whole project, which was taken up a ladder to give an indication of room size

Internal workshops
In the months since January, the build has progressed well (photo 7), and with the landlord’s permission, we’ve built two rooms – one ‘clean’ and one ‘dirty’ – which will contain all the machinery. We’ve yet to put a roof on, but it will be lightweight in order to keep the heat in – luckily waterproofing isn’t required! Inside the rooms, we’ve mounted old kitchen cabinets brought from our previous address (photo 8), and in a few weeks’ time, we should be able to move all benches and machinery, tool boards and storage, back into the rooms. We were also lucky in that one of our members had a friend who was giving up his workshop, so he donated an overhead sliding saw, pillar drill, lathe, bandsaw, table saw and many minor machines for sanding and finishing, along with various power and hand tools.

Once fully built and sorted, we’ll have numerous benches to work on, as well as a comprehensive wood store – mostly reclaimed – which will be used for all sorts of projects. In terms of past projects carried out by our members, these include the building of a plywood rocking horse, conductor’s podium, three crucifixion crosses and notice board for a church, as well as working on various group ventures, the last being pallet wood Christmas trees, requested by the local regeneration company, which were well received (photo 5). We’ve also shown our wares at the Weald and Downland Museum’s craft fair (photo 6) – where BBC 1’s The Repair Shop is filmed – as well as selling our display wheelbarrows, trugs, bowls and Christmas decorations. More recently, the local council have asked us to build ground and fence planters to place around the town. Whitehill and Bordon Town Council have been very helpful, providing us with a £3,000 grant to help towards building the workshops as well as offering ongoing financial support, with another grant in the pipeline. The Trustees of the Furniture Helpline have always supported us in many ways, and continue to do so.

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8 Typical cupboard installation

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9 Current Bordon Men’s Shed members, from top left to right: Ted Wood, Clive Handy and John McGlary; bottom: Peter Benson and Jim Bryant

Join our Men’s Shed
We currently have six members, pictured in photo 9 on a recent Zoom call, who are as follows, from top left to right: Ted Wood, Clive Handy and John McGlary; bottom: Peter Benson and Jim Bryant. We previously met twice a week, but when three people were in our old 3 × 5m workshop, it felt crowded. In the new place, however, we have a lot more space – the whole side of a disused hangar. It’s hoped this will allow many more people to take advantage of the facilities.

As stated above, most members of our Men’s Shed are in their 70s, and we need new blood: first to help us build the new workshops, and secondly, to carry on the legacy and assist with community projects. As already mentioned, we repair and renovate FHL’s furniture when required as well as working on individual projects. We’re hoping that the local population will support our recruitment drive for new members and join us at the club. We’ll be advertising via social media, the press and local radio, where I’ve already spoken about Men’s Sheds. We’d love to hear from any readers, or indeed anyone reading this who has an interest in working with wood. Our aim is to be open every day, providing supervision to anyone who wants to join and work on their own projects. Thank you.

Further information
For more information on Bordon Men’s Shed, contact Senior Member Clive Handy on 07799 154 748 or email [email protected]
Address: Bordon Men’s Shed, Building No.64, Bordon Enterprise Park, Bordon, Hants GU35 0FJ

COMPANY INFO
Bordon Men’s Shed
Building No.64, Bordon Enterprise Park
Bordon, Hants
GU35 0FJ
07799 154 748

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