Our Projects

Redditch Community Shed Rescues Christmas!

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The library in Alvechurch is attached to the First School and they always decorate a Nativity scene

for Christmas. Last year, probably in the confusion of Covid, they mislaid it and the ladies of the

local Knit & Natter group volunteered to make a new set of figures for them. They also volunteered

the Redditch Shed to make a stable to complete the scene.

A expert in the library told us that most buildings in the Middle East two thousand years ago would

have been mud brick because there aren't too many trees around. Furthermore, it doesn't rain that

much and the animals would have been stood outside in the central courtyard of the inn. No matter,

we weren't going to start casting miniature bricks so we went with the mediaeval half-timbered look.

Most of the frame was made from sycamore, wood from a tree that had been blown down in a

Shedder's garden. The same storm also claimed a laburnum but that wood was snaffled by a couple

of wood-turning Shedders because of its two-tone grain. It'll make a nice bowl or something, but

that's another story.

The sycamore was sliced (very carefully) on the bandsaw to give us a set of half-round logs and

these formed the basic framework of the stable. The roof beams were just slices of pallet wood that

were carved and distressed with a Stanley knife to make them look a bit more rustic, as were the

uprights in the fence. All the joints were glued and pegged. Nobody except a woodworker will notice

this but we have our pride and shiny Posidrives would have been really out of place.

As a compromise the back wall of the stable was made to look like rough mud plaster. A sheet of

hardboard buttered thickly with PVA and covered by some sieved sawdust from the dust extractor

gave us a nice coarse speckled beige finish. Cleaning the sieve before it went back to the kitchen was

a pain, but that too is another story.

The roof was compromise. Clay tiles would have been historically correct but they'd be fragile and

would have been a lot of work. Straw would have been easier and would have looked good but that

too would have been fiddly. Luckily the knitters came round for a trial fit of the figures before we

started thatching. They thought that a solid roof would make it difficult to see what they were doing

and would hide most of the figures from view. We decided to go for open rafters - more of a pergola

than a stable.

The floor posed a different problem. The knitters had bought some self-adhesive Velcro patches to

fix the figures in place. The idea was to sew a hooky patch to the base of each figure and for us to

glue the fuzzy patches to the floor in the right places. This was never going to look good and we

found a better solution thanks to Prestige Fashion Fabrics in Birmingham. Despite their name, they

literally sell everything from silks to sackcloth, including large rolls of the fuzzy fabric used on

display boards. We got an offcut of sand-coloured material and solved two problems in one go. The

hooky Velcro sticks nicely anywhere on the floor now and floor's the right colour for a stable in the

desert.

The finished picture shows our joint efforts on display in the library. There are a couple of engraved

plaques across the front: "Alvechurch Knit & Natter" and "Redditch Community Shed" and this has​

given both groups a little bit of publicity in the library and in the local paper. You can also see the

lugs from a pair of over-centre catches on the front. These locate the clip-on cover. It's not in the

picture but there's a large plywood box that fits over the whole display. This was made to protect the

stable in storage and it's big enough that they'll not lose it again.

All this work was finished in the autumn and with time in hand the Knit & Natter group decided to

make a second set of Nativity figures for sale. These were displayed in the library (nothing fancy this

time, just a chunk of board covered in more of the sandy fabric) and visitors were invited to place

their bids for the figures before Christmas. In total this effort raised £100 for village charities. All in

all a good return for some odds and ends of wool, a fallen branch, and a couple of bits of MDF.

The stable is now safely stored away and the librarians are already using the top as extra work surface. Fortunately I saw this coming. The top's only 3 mil ply but there are cross braces underneath it so it

doesn't flex.

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One of our members Wally did a fantastic job completely refurbishing a Myford lathe to fully working order including building a stand.

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This is a newly finished cigar box guitar made during lockdown by Shed member Dean, using scraps of wood offcuts.

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A chance viewing of a youtube video led to Arthur building a Lichtenberg fractal wood burning tool.  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

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Our Shed members working hard at the Sandycroft Centre, Redditch, our temporary base, weed clearing, pruning, and planting.

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A brilliant garden windmill built by shedder Graham during sessions at Redditch Community Shed.

A fantastic wishing well constructed by Brian one of our regular shedders.

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