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The Shed is now CLOSED until further notice.

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Last updated 24-03-2020

Things to do during the shutdown - 1

While we're closed, I thought it might be a good idea for us to write about projects we have done at the Shed, so I'll start with a piece about Shedric. He's a bit lonely at the moment, but setting a good example by avoiding social contact. Unfortunately that also means that we can't get a video or picture of him at the moment either.

The idea was to have a mascot to attract attention at fairs and in window displays. The torso came from M and S when they closed, andit was just an afternoon's work to make his head and limbs, using saw handles for the ears and folding rulers for the arms.

I had always wanted to animate him and thought maybe a windscreen wiper motor could wave his arm back and forth, but then Chris Nixon found me a Raspberry Pi computer and introduced me to a whole new world.

There's any amount of stuff on the web about using the Pi to control robots and wacky vehicles, and a lot of it is aimed at ten year-olds. But that's OK. We're all ten-year-olds at heart, just with a bit more pocket money. And the pocket money goes a long way. I've been amazed at how cheap the components are. The simplest Pi is under £30, servos and sensors only about £2 or £3 each.

Milton and I have fitted a servo to pull the arm down, and a spring to pull it back up again.It took a while to get to grips with new concepts and terminology, bu it is very easy to write programs to control a servo. In a language called Python you just tell it how many degrees to move, and how long to wait before doing something else. That was stage 1. I've now added a movement detector so that the servo program only operates when someone walks past.

At the time of writing (March 2020) Shedric just needs to be plugged in and he will wave his arm whenever he detects movement. It's all still very crude, but it's been fun to do.

During our lockdown I can't make any progress, but I'm thinking about what to do next. Maybe some LEDs to make his eyes flash. Any suggestions?

Article written by Richard Bunce.

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Remember the little girl at Stubbington Fayre?

picture of 5 plinky-plonks

I have been in touch with the mother of the little girl that bought a plinky-plonk at Stubbington Fayre. Chris H told us about this lass and how she wasn't interested in one of Oliver's football rattles but really took a shine to a plinky-plonk. Well her mother has now written me a few short words, It really puts the usefulness of these little things in perspective:

I got my daughter a ping tin (her name for it) at our local summer fate. My daughter is 7 yrs old and has PVL with secondary cerebral palsy affecting her right side. She's has limited use of her right hand and poor concentration with toys, only playing with something for a very short time before wanting something else.

When we got the ping tin she played with it all afternoon and into the evening, she asked for it the following day and again played for long periods.

She recently went into hospital for major hip surgery and the first thing I packed was her ping tin knowing it would keep her occupied for some of the long days ahead.

It's a fantastic invention and we wouldn't be without it now

Let us hope that her hip operation has succeeded and she is now plonking away with the best of them.

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Wallington commemorative seat (10 images)

Well, where do we start this one?

John Perry was a UK citizen who emigrated to Canada. He eventually joined the Canadian Army and fought in the Second World War.

Some years after the war he returned to the UK and moved into Waterside Gardens which was a new development in Wallington. John planted a Canadian Maple tree in the small green at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wallington Village Community Association was formed in the late 1970's and John was one of the founding members. Over the years John and his wife Margaret worked hard with others to save the “Wallington Bridge” which at the time was seen to be the cause of the local flooding.

John later became the chairman of the association for many years and was very instrumental in getting the Wallington village Hall built.

His son Michael who had stayed in Canada regularly holidayed in the U.K. to see his parents. Sadly John passed away in 2013 and his son Michael donated a sum of money so that a circular seat could be erected around the tree. This has now become a focal point of the cul-de-sac where his parents had lived happily for so long.

Over the years the weather has taken its toll and a lack of maintenance saw two of the six sections fall apart. The company that made the seat was contacted to see if they could repair it and they collected the 2 sections. After some 3 or 4 months the chairs had not been repaired so it was requested that they be returned.

We were then contacted to see if we could help in the restoration. The two seats were taken away and repaired. The seats were returned and in the process of trying to level the whole six part circular seat another two sections fell apart! These like the first two were repaired and now the seat is complete and levelled. A new brass plaque has been added to the chair in memory of John and Margaret.

In the spring when there has been a dry spell we shall return and treat the seat with teak oil

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Christmassy Bits and Bobs (6 images)

The fireplace at Asda - let's hope that Santa finds it OK

Our fireplace has re-appeared in the Asda store in Speedfields Park, Newgate Lane. You've got to admit those elves looked after it well over the last months, to my mind it seems to have weathered well and if anything, looks better now than in 2018, perhaps it's just the setting but it still looks the piece.

Thomo made a Christmas stable for 1Community, it looks really smart in the window with all of the little knitted figures and even though I do say it myself, the 3D printed star just finishes it off.

Mick made a sand tray for 1Community for a luccky dip type game called 'Pick the Snowman's Nose', maybe the design brief was a bit off. It was made to their specification but needed 5 bags of play sand to fill it which just made the basic idea impractical. Hats off to Hayley though, a quick twist and it was compartmentalised with the prize in one half and the Snowmen's noses in a smaller tray in the other half. Apparently it has proved a good little earner for them. Only downside was when it was delivered and whilst transferring the tray and five very heavy bags of sand to the shop - the driver had a parking ticket slapped on his car.

On 19th November HSBC very kindly allowed the Shed to open their pop-up stall in the bank once again. The new lines in laser cut novelties proved a very popular - great move John Cam.

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Autism Hamshire logo Plinky-plonks

(6 images click to enlarge)

Probably most of you know by now that Oliver's Kalimbas (plinky-plonks) have found a special outlet at Autism Hampshire - apparently people with autism are finding them very therapeutic. Currently Autism Hampshire is stress-testing the tobacco tin version and we should know fairly soon the outcome of these tests. Once we have their comments it is expected that they will be climbing all over us for additional units, not just tobacco tin versions but other variants of the design that we can pursue (thinking caps on lads).

They have now opened their first shop/hub in the old Razzmatazz shop in Fareham. When Knight & Lee (John Lewis) in Southsea closed they gave a lot of furniture and equipment to the organisation which they wanted slightly modified. Barry, Colin and Neil did a great job of fitting casters to the various shelving units, unfortunately the original build quality wasn't up to it but with a small tweak everything went swimmingly well and the results of their labours can be seen at the hub.

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Welly boot racks for Titchfield School (17 images)

Roarrr! Roarrr!

We really aren't going into production to make police truncheons although that is what it started to feel like. Titchfield School asked us to make welly boot racks for each of their classes - 6 classes each with 30 pupils (if each child has two boots how many pegs are needed to store all of the boots? - a bit like 'if 2 men take a day to dig a hole, how long does it take to fill it with water?' - I hated junior school arithmetic). So that meant 360 lengths of broom handle, each broom handle cut into 4 pegs - how many broom handles were needed - my head hurts).

Broom handles were cut, ends chamfered and sanded, one end drilled for securing to the cross members and then painted, alternate pairs of pins were painted green and grey. Whilst this was going on the two Colins and Brian were busy drilling the cross members to accept the pegs. There were pegs everywhere, most of them covered with wet paint. It was more like a factory working on piece rate. Still they are now done, the cross members and supporting structure painted and now all delivered and installed - not too sure whether it was luck or judgment that they all fitted but there certainly wasn't any room for error.

All we can do now is hope that they do the job well, maybe the guys that worked on the project will be able to get to the school and join the children 'JUMPING IN MUDDY PUDDLES'

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Titchfield in Bloom

Titchfield in Bloom certificate. Swift (Apus-apus).

The society running the Titchfield in Bloom project asked the Shed if we could make some swift boxes - that is boxes for swift birds (apus apus). We were only too happy to supply and forgot all about it. Suddenly the above certificate and an Abbey Garden Centre voucher arrived. Sort of just like Christmas.

Thank you, it really was a surprise to receive the approbation and we were only too happy to help.

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Gomer Junior School (7 images)

Go on Colin - 'it it with the 'ammer.

It seems that our expertise in building wood stores is becoming well known. The latest one is for Gomer Junior School, these pictures are at the beginning of the project - Brian, the 2 Colins and Geoff at work. I think that Colin B has the good old idea of if it don't fit HIT IT. Oliver was obviously extremely dubious at passing the working party. I just stayed out of the way and now that they have finished the wood store they are starting on a mud cooker.

Update 24-10-2019: Images of the finished items in place at the school added.

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Canine Connect4

Harry playing Connect4

It was with some laughter and surprise when we were asked if we could make a Connect4 game for a supposedly clever dog called Harry. Dogs can't play Connect4 was the stock reply from members. How wrong can you be.

Harry definitely shows an innate ability to play the game as this video, taken very early in his training shows. Isn't it amazing what you can get a dog to do for a lick of a cream cheese tube? The board was made by Colin B and the discs were printed on the 3D printer. Work is now underway on an automatic feed system so that he can pick the discs up on his own. After that it must be to teach him to count to 4.

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Uplands School

Letter from the headteacher
First get to the task in hand First get to the task in hand
At the start (9 images) W.I.P. (9 images)
That looks much better Replacement fence
At the finish (9 images) The fence and small meeting hut (8 images)

Uplands School asked the Shed if they could renovate a very tired looking structure. At the start of the school holiday various members applied themselves to the task. After removing the protective fence, inspecting the structure and carrying out a risk assessment work started, tools were unloaded and the existing structure was stripped down. From the look of one of the timbers (last picture) it was just about in time. The relevant materials have been acquired and the hope is to finish the job by the end of the week.

The final couple of tasks were to sort some fencing around a pretty nasty bit of waste ground and repair a small meeting hut. The hut was very unstable so cross members and brackets were added, and a lot of screws and wood were replaced. Ah well - term time has started again so for now we are finished at Uplands. Let us hope that the little ones have as much fun enjoying our handiwork as we did supplying it.

After the kind invitation to join in an assembly Chris H, Colin B, Colin M, Ken and Eric went and had a very pleasant half an hour although they just couldn't get used to how quiet and well-behaved so many young people could be. The school very kindly gave us a Wickes voucher and we handed over a bird box and a bug box for their nature garden which was gratefully received by the science teacher.
school presentation

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Could the plinky-plonk orchestra become a reality (2 images)

Wooden kalimba

Oliver's plinky-plonks have always been an item of interest and comment wherever we have exhibited them but now they have gone beyond that. Oliver gave one to 1Community for sale, the manager from the Adults' Health and Care Centre spotted it and thought that it might be of use to some of her clients who suffer from autism so with Oliver's approval she gave it to her - the guess proved correct and Oliver has been busy creating new ones ever since. Perhaps one day we may be entertained by a plinky-plonk orchestra. She also has one of his hand crafted football rattles (takes all sorts).

"Just to let you know that the instruments have been very popular with people, especially when they are showing off about their football team winning a match. They have been kept in my office in between music sessions for safe keeping and lots of different service users like to visit me each day and they sit and play me a tune on the other instrument (I don’t know what it is called) it has such a lovely, well-tuned sound.
Can you please pass on our many thanks"

Day Opportunities Manager, Adults’ Health and Care, Fareham Community Link

ps. The 'other' instrument is an African one which pre-dates western instruments such as the harpsichord, cornamuse and virginal by a few thousand years yet they are still in everyday use in the continent. Originally made from wood and bamboo, with the advent of metal they turned primarily to wood sound boxes with metal tines.

Oliver has started to manufacture westernised versions of these instruments which changed their title to Kalimba in the 1950s, using such ‘junk’ materials as old cycle spokes, concrete reinforcing rods, tobacco tins and hacksaw blades but basically they are the same instrument.

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Orchard Lee Junior School wood store (8 images)

Orchard Lee Junior School approached us to create a wood store to go with the fire pit that they are planning. Designed, built, painted and erected by Mick, Colin and Brian.

"We recently were put in contact with the Men’s Shed Fareham when we were searching for someone to make us a woodshed to store the logs for our firepit area at school. Chris Nixon visited us one morning at school to discuss our plans - from then we felt that our request was important to the team at The Men’s Shed. A couple of weeks ago we had our new woodshed delivered and installed. The school are overjoyed with the shed and thoroughly enjoyed the service provided. We cannot thank the gentlemen enough for their hard work and craftsmanship. The quality of the shed is fantastic and an absolute perfect fit to our original requirements. We hope to be working with the Men’s Shed in the near future!"

If we are going to take on more projects of this size then we really must find some larger premises.

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New facility (2 images)

The Shed has just welcomed a new member who has his own laser cutter/engraver. Something that could well become a useful tool for the future. Apparently it ain't as easy as you might think to put one of these in, water cooling, extraction, .... but it might well be worth thinking about if we can turn items like this out, for now we can piggy-back on John's personal machine.

Orders for X-wings, Millenium Falcons, and other bespoke items can now be supplied, an example is the sign made for 1Community - you can see it in the 1Community shop in Fareham Precinct. (More images to follow).

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Titchfield Allotment Society Noticeboard (4 images)

Some members of the Shed went to a meeting attended by most of the volunteer groups based in Titchfield. Not too sure how but when we left we found oursleves allied to the local Farmers Market Group and with a request for a strong outside noticeboard for the Allotment Society. As with all of the other activities like this the Society agreed to pay for materials whilst the Shed supplied the labour for nothing.
The last time that I saw it it was looking really good. Fully treated wood so it should last with a Perspex covering.

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Breast Cancer Haven (4 images)

Breast Cancer Haven in Titchfield offers support for those suffering from breast cancer. We were asked to create a new bra ping-pong board for them as their's was old, tired and too big and heavy. Ken and Mick came up with this folding version. When the Haven has populated it with brasierres as targets for the ping-pong balls I shall add another picture. (Just one quick thought, I wonder whether you get a bigger prize for landing the ball in an A cup as opposed to a double D cup?).
br> Apparently about 400 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, mainly in men over 60 but not unknown in younger men, nowhere near the nearly 55,000 female victims but needs to be thought about, perhaps we ought to ask the organisation for a presentation on the subject.

What a brickbat of a thankyou

"It was so wonderful to see you all at the tea party at the centre. It was an incredibly busy day, but very successful, raising over £1,800 just on that day!

I am pleased to say that bra pong has been used for the first time! Please find photo attached. It was HUGE success, both with transporting it, putting it up, ease of use, storage, game playing, colour, just about everything!! We honestly can’t thank you all enough for your help with this, it will make a HUGE difference to our work, and enable us to make an awful lot of money".

All we can say is "It was our pleasure to support you"

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We must be on a horsey theme

After repairs to the Fareham Lion's horses Thomo was spotted in the stables working on not one, not two but three rocking horses. The first picture to be captured was when he started to glue the rlevant pieces together.

I shall try and keep an eye on him and bring regular updates as it is quite a project that he has embarked on.

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Ready for the off

Fareham Lions were having a problem at their stables, the horses kept going lame and we were asked if we had any veterinarians that could look at the problem.
We transported the thoroughbreds to the surgery and found that the way that the hooves (wheels) had been fitted was causing the problem - somebody needs to speak with their farrier. We modified the way that the wheels were fitted and gave them a slight touch up.
Now they are all straining at the bit for their next outing.

Received from our contact at the Lions:

Dear fellow friends at the Fareham Shed.

Many thanks for your work in refurbishing our ‘Horses’ which we use & allow other groups to use to raise funds for many schools, groups and charities. Not only were they picked up but were delivered on completion ready for their next known outing in May.

Thank you gentlemen

On behalf of the President and members of the Lions Club of Fareham.

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The Black Lotus

Budha's corner

It sounds almost like a new crime novel but apparently daffodil and tulip garden ornaments are easily found but an 88 year old lady in Portchester wanted a lotus flower to finish off the little Budha corner in her garden and she couldn't find one anywhere, so she contacted us.

Step up Oliver and Bob - A template was drawn up and Oliver brought his plinky-plonk expertise into play. Bob turned up a middle bit (can't think what that bit of a flower is called) and Chris H delivered it.

It was received with delight, a very generous donation to our funds, and a subsequent wish for a small bookshelf to fit into a specific recess in the living room wall.

Chris L very kindly obliged and once again we had a delighted lady who was very happy with the end results. To finish the saga the 3 Chris's (sounds like a music hall turn) turned up to deliver the shelf and to take some pictures.

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Dunking biscuits

How to make a biscuit fit a cup

At last, somebody has found a REALLY useful function for that big blue machine in the corner.

Click the picture to have a little chuckle at this one but watch it for at least the first 30 seconds before you give up.

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Our solution has found a problem (7 images)

Simple reducer, hand belt sander and fixed belt sander

I always said that our 3D printer was a solution to a problem that we didn't have. Well the other week we found the first two problems - Bob wanted a couple of adaptors for the exhaust systems on a fixed and portable belt sander. Our dust collector wouldn't fit directly so these were designed and printed and they work superbly.

Then Tony said "one of my kitchen appliances has a broken doo-hickey, can you print another one for me?" Oliver wanted some train wheels for a model that he is making. Voila. Faux fans for Geoff's model engines, no problem and the last one in this group (for now) a control knob for a portable plane, that turned a piece of junk into an extremely useful piece of equipment. So it looks as if it could well become a very useful piece of kit.

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blowtorch bookends

I wondered why John was polishing a pair of old blowlamps - then he gave me this picture and I thought 'what a good idea for old, unloved tools'. I just hope that he made sure that they were empty before he mounted them but you must admit that they really do look good.

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Alpine Drums

At last, a real use for all of those old toolboxes that we keep seeing. I wonder how many fingers and thumbs got trapped in the making of this video?

Do they have Men's Sheds in Germany and does anybody fancy starting up our own drum corps?

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We have received correspondence from the UK Men's Shed Association to the following effect:

Our membership currently entitles us to a 49% discount on hand tools and a 29% discount on power tools from Triton Tools - We will need to set up a Shed account with them before this can be used, once we have done this then members will be able to order through us.

10% off of all items through Lumberjack Tools (same system as Triton Tools).


5% off all orders in excess of £200 with Shedstore. Just use the discount code of MENSSHEDS.

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