Mens Sheds

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Established Member
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Location
Essex
In prior posts I had expressed misgivings about these organisations based largely upon my experiences with a local charity whom I volunteer with, and am now posting this because I visited a local one last week where I was pleasantly surprised and perhaps realise I was a little unjust toward them.
I visited the shed at Cressing Temple Barns in Essex and I was immediately impressed by the people, the equipment and the environment they have, it comprises two large vaulted rooms one containing a large communal table for those just wishing to chat but also containing an array of fretsaws workbenches and smaller bandsaws and pillar drill. The adjacent and larger room contains a large table saw, bandsaws, multiple wood lathes and a P/T and dedicated thicknesser amongst a large array of power and hand tools. Some of the tools have been generously donated by local businesses and they have support from numerous timber yards too so that provides plenty of material for their projects and reduces the running costs of the shed.
The staff and members were very welcoming - I think they have ~40 members in total and open regularly every Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays from 9:30-3:30.
Needless to say I joined and am currently helping out where I am able, for me it is a new experience working alongside others and I find myself frequently just watching others doing their own projects and seeing different approaches to woodworking and picking up new techniques .
I am largely self-taught and I consider myself as being reasonably skilled, however I am always fascinated to watch and pick up new or alternate approaches to performing tasks and this environment provides ample opportunity to do that and learn from the experience of others.

Needless to say, I thoroughly recommend it, it opens up the possibility for me to work on larger projects such as doors and window frames where the constraints of my own workshop make such projects largely logistics exercises when for example the planer must be manoeuvred into the centre of my shop to allow a clear infeed/outfeed!
Had I known of it earlier I certainly would have joined up then, the facilities the have will allow me to downsize my own shop and free up much needed space. Just having the availability of a large planer/thicknesser will allow me to dispose of mine and just keep my jointer for finishing stuff so I see it as a win-win for me!
 
Like you, I've avoided my local Mens Sheds due to experiences in other hobbies. Your post encouraged me to take another look, only to discover that they are only open 10am to midday, on Mondays and Wednesdays, which screams to me exactly what I was concerned about, a bunch of retirees set in their ways, tutting at people doing things in a modern way, and then bemoaning the fact that nobody younger than 70 seems interested in the hobby (a self fulfilling prophecy when you actively discourage people from joining).
 
Men’s Sheds are all different, they are independently owned and managed. While the Men’s Shed brand is often used, that brand is not actually owned by anyone.

The UK Men’s Shed Association (UKMSA) is a membership club, they do not own, operate or manage any sheds at all.

As a consequence your experience at one shed is likely to be different to your experience at another. Most are hopefully as you describe, welcoming and active. There is however a considerable spectrum from those without any premises to those with large and well equipped workshops. Sounds like you have found one of the better ones.

The idea of Men’s Sheds is great, but the success or failure of any one depends upon the local characters who decide to start and run one. It only takes one arrogant and bombastic sod to ruin it for everyone.
 
I was keen to visit a Men’s Shed here, just a couple of miles away, to hopefully meet others interested in the same things as me and to pick up more skills. Unfortunately, I also fell at the first hurdle as they only open 10am to 4pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I don’t begrudge them choosing hours that suit themselves, but it is a shame they could not include at least one day a week that would suit people who work full time

Sean
 
Men’s Sheds are entirely owned and managed by volunteers. They receive no funding from the UKMSA or the government. Some have been able to raise small grants from local councils, but most rely upon member subscriptions and donations. Very few, perhaps none, have any paid employees. The average Shed probably has an income of between £5,000 and £10,000 a year.

Opening hours and days will be limited by both demand and volunteer capacity.

The volunteers who step forward to manage the Shed will have other life commitments and will be most unlikely to wish to supervise more than one or two sessions a week.

It could be the current volunteers are unaware of the demand for after hour sessions. I would encourage you to approach them, say you would like to join but work. Could they please let you know if any evening or week end sessions are started.

An alternative solution would be to consider launching your own Men’s Shed and find others who would prefer to meet after working hours or at week ends. You might even be able to negotiate terms with the existing Shed and use their space in return for a modest fee to help with costs.

All Men’s Sheds started with an individual thinking this would be a good idea and then seeking other like minded, then funding and then premises. I’ve attended a couple of these start up meetings and they went rather well.
 
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Your replies echo my initial misgivings and I appreciate each shed is likely to be run differently, and I think I was very lucky in finding this one.
I had a long chat with the secretary of it who actually lives locally to me and he said they were nearing capacity in terms of members and that they were the 2nd largest in Essex - they certainly have way more space and tooling than I expected and it is situated in idyllic surroundings adjacent to the medieval barns at Cressing Temple built in the 13th century by the Knights Templar.
I am looking forward to getting started on some of my larger projects and also on some of the community projects they undertake by way of recompense to the Temple who generously have given them at no cost the space and accommodation and even the electricity!
 
I joined the Tetbury Shed earlier this year ad our workshop is a 20' converted container. Our membership is small running to about 12 blokes and all bar one is retired. We are moving from a rundown industrial estate to a much better site in the New Year and hopefully expanding and getting another container or portacabin. Almost all of the kit we have is either donated or on loan from one of the members. I have started another thread in the turning forum asking about the best small lathe and bandsaw for us to get then the loans are put in to the members own workshop.

I joined because I took earlier retirement 29 years back and have been turning ever since. I hope to be able to pass on some of my experience to some of the other members and they seem keen.

Do I like the idea of the Shed? Yes I do and think it gives a really good lift to the old bujjers like me and our members. The daughter of one member told me at a craft fair on Sunday that it had really helped her dad and that for me is what it's all about.

Mouse said " It only takes one arrogant and bombastic sod to ruin it for everyone." The answer seems to me that if you have a member like that then you tell him/her that if they don't like it then as it's a free country they are free to leave and please shut the door on the way out. If they are upsetting others the same applies.
 
I reckon I got way more when I attended a wood carving club than I ever returned back. I think older guys are often schooled in the way of committees and organisation from there time in bigger companies and trade unions. But if you take all comers you will get some people who are a challenge. A firm hand is always best as soon as it rears its head. Woodcarving was a bench and a few chisels. Lord knows how health and safety pans out at these outfits. Or who has responsibility. When I first opened a workshop I toyed with opening it up to small groups but I remember a veritable whirlwind of disapproval from this forum so I didn't go further. Also I know very few retirees who are willing to pay more than a peppercorn( regardless of wealth!)
That said the turning club I also know many members of are really well run and attended. These are more monthly demo based rather than hands on. It depends on having reasonable boundaries in place from the start. And a small bit of member vetting. I've known people to steal from these clubs. Fights break out, quiet drinking. Huge tantrums. Etc
 
In prior posts I had expressed misgivings about these organisations based largely upon my experiences with a local charity whom I volunteer with, and am now posting this because I visited a local one last week where I was pleasantly surprised and perhaps realise I was a little unjust toward them.
I visited the shed at Cressing Temple Barns in Essex and I was immediately impressed by the people, the equipment and the environment they have, it comprises two large vaulted rooms one containing a large communal table for those just wishing to chat but also containing an array of fretsaws workbenches and smaller bandsaws and pillar drill. The adjacent and larger room contains a large table saw, bandsaws, multiple wood lathes and a P/T and dedicated thicknesser amongst a large array of power and hand tools. Some of the tools have been generously donated by local businesses and they have support from numerous timber yards too so that provides plenty of material for their projects and reduces the running costs of the shed.
The staff and members were very welcoming - I think they have ~40 members in total and open regularly every Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays from 9:30-3:30.
Needless to say I joined and am currently helping out where I am able, for me it is a new experience working alongside others and I find myself frequently just watching others doing their own projects and seeing different approaches to woodworking and picking up new techniques .
I am largely self-taught and I consider myself as being reasonably skilled, however I am always fascinated to watch and pick up new or alternate approaches to performing tasks and this environment provides ample opportunity to do that and learn from the experience of others.

Needless to say, I thoroughly recommend it, it opens up the possibility for me to work on larger projects such as doors and window frames where the constraints of my own workshop make such projects largely logistics exercises when for example the planer must be manoeuvred into the centre of my shop to allow a clear infeed/outfeed!
Had I known of it earlier I certainly would have joined up then, the facilities the have will allow me to downsize my own shop and free up much needed space. Just having the availability of a large planer/thicknesser will allow me to dispose of mine and just keep my jointer for finishing stuff so I see it as a win-win for me!
Another option is makerspaces, but they tend to not be so focused on woodwork.
 
two things
I was a memebr of a turning club in south Beds....brilliant place n people.....still have the lathe I bought from a member....have know idea if it still around....
wish there was a mens club around here....
been here 4 years and havent found a wood worker or a home engineer....all very sad......
 
I'm a member of a Maker Space that gives over the space to a Mens Shed for 6 hours on a Monday. One day they will leave us, but until they have enough money to find their own shed we are happy to let them use ours. Our space is heated with loads of wood working, laser, 3D printing, electronics and sewing. Generally it works well, they offer services to local charities, they just struggle to put things back in the right places....
 
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