SFWW & CCFMS: An innovative collaboration

In an innovative collaboration, the Southern Fellowship of Woodworkers (SFWW) has developed and delivered a range of woodworking experience days with the Church Crookham and Fleet Men’s Shed (CCFMS).

During 2022 there have been 20 courses with 125 participants from both organisations. No prior skills are needed and the Experience Days are evaluated by the participants to measure and maintain quality standards.

Each Experience Day lasts from 10am-4pm and is delivered in the outstanding 100m2 CCFMS custom-built workshop sited on the former home of the Gurkhas at Queen Elizabeth Camp in Church Crookham, which is now a housing estate with allotments and a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green space).


CCFMS members show off their completed chess boards following a dedicated Experience Day

The range of courses was prioritised by members from both organisations and the top 10 selected included:

• Vacuum Veneering making a Chessboard
• Traditional Veneering Techniques and Practices
• Carving a Dolphin on a Seascape
• Creating a Bench Hook and Shooting Board
• Carving House Nameplates
• Carving Initialised Coasters
• Restoration Techniques and Practices
• Dovetailing Making a Display Shelf
• Chisel and Plane Sharpening
• Bowl Woodturning

SFWW was established in 1994 by Peter Guyett who led the fellowship for many years. It brings together those with a passion for woodwork, whether enthusiastic hobbyist or skilled professional – see www.sfww.org.uk.


Through CCFMS, friendships are forged as well as increased social interaction among members

They meet monthly through the autumn, winter and spring in the stunning medieval Cross Barn in Odiham, Hampshire close to Junction 5 on the M3. In the summer months they organise visits to professional woodworkers’ studios, museums and other points of interest.

The Woodworker Fellowship

Going back to 1991, The Woodworker magazine decided to resurrect an organisation, The Guild of Woodworkers which had ceased in 1989, in the form of The Woodworker Fellowship, run by Zachary Taylor. Sadly this didn’t last long, once again due to lack of support on the part of woodworkers in general, finally ceased during 1994.

The original Guild of Woodworkers formed by The Woodworker magazine, started around 1976 when the Editor at the time was Anthony Talbot. A 75th year souvenir annual signed by Anthony Talbot and Charles Hayward was available or sale to Guild members.46 years have elapsed since the first germ of an idea proposed by The Woodworker magazine to encourage workers in wood to form a mutual Guild. By contrast CCFMS was established in 2017 by SFWW member, Allan Walker.


The Men’s Shed benefits from having a wide range of machinery and equipment. Members also share the necessary tools and resources required to work on any project

CCFMS’ Men’s Shed

Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women outside the working environment. Generally, men rarely share personal concerns about health and personal worries, often becoming depressed and insular. Men’s Shed wants to make a change, to give men a voice, and every opportunity to forge new relationships.

Men’s Sheds are about meeting like-minded people and having someone to share your worries with. They are about having fun, sharing skills and knowledge with like-minded people, and gaining a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. As a by-product of all of that, locally Sheds want to reduce isolation and feelings of loneliness, allowing men to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent. Men’s Sheds have become a vital asset to the local community in so many ways.

With the aid of a Lottery Grant, CCFMS created their Men’s Shed which is a larger version of the typical man’s shed in the garden; a place where you can feel at home and pursue practical interests. Their shed offers the facilities to pursue personal projects or for those feeling more community spirited, get involved in one of our many community projects, all in our purpose-built shed.

CCFMS has some amazing machinery and equipment, and members also share the tools and resources they need to work on any project. There’s no pressure, members can work at their own pace or for those wanting some conversation here in a safe, friendly and inclusive environment. More importantly it’s forging friendships, it’s social interaction and it’s drinking tea and eating biscuits. What’s not to like?

CCFMS is affiliated with the UK Men’s Shed Association, the support body for Men’s Sheds across the UK. They work to inspire and support the developmentof as many Men’s Sheds as possible, for the benefit of men’s health and wellbeing – see www.menssheds.org.uk.

Commitment to the local community SFWW is a Supporter of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and reaches out to three schools with their School Design Award. This recognises the woodwork attainments of two students in each school with the winners receiving a certificate of achievement and a prize book.


The Shed offers great facilities to pursue personal projects or get involved in community-focused ones

For the last two years the book has been Beyond Parnham, the story of an educational phenomenon that inspired a generation of designers and furniture makers under the leadership of John Makepeace OBE. John added a personal note to each student, which was particularly well received.

John Makepeace was the Guest of Honour at a fellowship Members Day to celebrate the end of lockdown and he gave an inspiring presentation on the qualities of good woodworking: design, structure and materials using a chair he had created to illustrate the detail of these principles in action.

CCFMS also has an active outreach programme to their local community with projects for pre-school, schools and other local initiatives. These include hosting local Girl Guides and Cubs groups for group sessions making bird and bug boxes. Another reaches out to pre-school children making hedgehogs banging nails in a pre-shaped block.

Another superb initiative was providing purpose-built lending libraries for local junior schools to enable their students to share books among themselves. At the other end of the scale, CCFMS built a wooden steam engine complete with working smoke stack for the Fleet Rotary. This is now owned by CCFMS and will be used at Christmas to raise funds for three local charities.

Their commitment to the local community has been recognised by Fleet Carnival in 2022 when the Shed was honoured to be the Charity of the Year. Their outreach work was further endorsed by the UK Men’s Shed Association at their national ShedFest 2022 gathering at Worcester University Arena when CCFMS was named ‘Shed Partnership of the Year 2022’.

Breaking new ground

The collaboration to deliver the Experience Days broke new ground and enabled the participants to acquire and refine new skills and tools. For the Chisel Sharpening Experience Days a customised Sharpening Station was created with a float glass panel mounted on an inscribed block featuring the correct angles for chisels and plane blades. 3M Microfilm strips ranging in size from 100, 80, 40, 15 and 9 microns were attached to the float glass panel and provided an excellent basis for sharpening blades with a honing guide.

Carving House Nameplates used the traditional Trajan Roman Alphabet to create attractive signs. Participants used the Auriou Letter Carving Chisels designed by renowned woodcarver Chris Pye to create a nameplate to their design and specification.

Creating a Bench Hook and Shooting Board used traditional designs using tulipwood and MDF to build practical workshop accessories that enabled the participants to craft their own devices to a pre-determined design and practise using them to cut and plane timber.


CCFMS members with their completed ‘dolphin on a seascape’ following another of the dedicated Experience Days

Collaboration Experience Day Programme 2023

A recent survey of both organisations members has identified further topics for their collaborative 2023 Experience Day programme, which includes classic woodworking skills.

Plans include a Fellowship Signature Box in the style of a traditional Japanese Carpenters Box with three potential options among others in the 2023 programme:

Finishing Woodwork Projects
• SFWW Signature Chisel Box
• Stool – Mortise & Tenon Joint
• Sawn Timber Breadboard & Cheeseboard
• Carpentry Exercise 9 Joints
• Tea Box
• Case and Drawer
• Upholstery
• SFWW Signature Carpenter’s Box• SFWW Signature Bijoux Box
• Step Stool
• Boot Bench
• Ash Bowl Woodturning

Courses will be delivered by CCFMS and SFWW Members assisted by Ryan Saunders, a local carpenter with excellent demonstrating and teaching skills. Ryan worked in the USA for Tom Lie-Nielsen providing technical ands ales support to the marketing of their exceptional range of tools including their planes and chisels.

Plans for expansion

CCFMS is also expanding its footprint with the acquisition of a second location in the newly developed Hartland Village, situated midway between Fleet and Farnborough in natural woodland.

This is an ongoing successful collaboration between two distinctive organisations with similar interests and endeavours sharing their skills, resources and capabilities for mutual advantage and benefit. Both organisations welcome interest from prospective members. To get in touch with either, see details below.

UK Men’s Shed Association – www.menssheds.org.uk