Men’s shed project

Jill Harkins wrote an article on April 30th for the Philadelphia Citizen. Here are some excerpts from the article.

Men’s shed is a global nonprofit making its way across the U.S. It is fighting loneliness and depression in older men by bringing them togetter to build things.

Men’s Sheds are gathering spaces in which men get together to work on projects shoulder to shoulder, from building furniture to volunteering at community events. They are designed to combat loneliness among retired men by providing them with activities they can do, as a group, while connecting with each other. Research shows that depression increases along with age, for many of the reasons you may assume: loneliness, poor health, and the loss of family members, friends, and spouses who pass away.

This process, however, is not inevitable. Research has also proven that as sociability increases among elderly people, loneliness decreases; as loneliness decreases, depressive symptoms decrease. Given that white men 85 and older commit suicide at more than four times the rate of the general population in the United States, building a formal infrastructure through which elderly men can meet new friends can literally save lives.

I enjoy meeting new people and woodworking so I joined the Men’s shed recently formed in Elgin. One of their first projects came when a widow asked if they could remake a gate for her that had rotted away. Her husband had origianlly make the gate so it had a great deal of sentimental value. I offered to help with the project but found out it would be best if I did it myself in my shop.

Here is what the old gate looked like.

Here are some picutres showing the condition.

I made all of the pieces out of treated lumber, duplicating the original exactly. The new gate will last forever. I could use my scraps to make the little pieces. I seldom throw away a piece of wood. Feels good to get a chance to use them

The original builder used mortise and tenon joints as shown on the right above. I used the Festool Domino to make the mortises and then the Festool tenons. It is a very expensive machine but I make a lot of storm windows so it has paid for itself. The machine lines the moritses and tenons up so it goes together nicely.

This is what the mortises look like:

Here are the tenons in place

It is a lot of work to make all of those moritses in the little cross pieces but less than real mortise and tenon joints. They are equally as strong. Here is a finished gate half.

Here is the finished gate.

Other Men’s shedders painted and installed the gates as shown below. Everybody involved should be very proud. It was very satisfying work for me.

1 reply
  1. Tonita
    Tonita says:

    You are very talented. I was on the Old House Guy website and followed a link he had, on over to your site. I love old homes. I live in a tiny 570′ farmhouse and want to add some much needed curb appeal. I have been dreaming of fixing up my porch with flat sawn balusters and eventually window shutters and porch aprons. Your site and work is so inspiring. Because I am on a tight budget I have considered buying a saw to create some flat sawn balusters myself and then have them installed. With no carpentry skills I am not sure I am up for the task. I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps I just need to save up and hire help? Do they have any Men Sheds in Western NC? The men’s sheds sound like a wonderful outlet for men. What a wonderful idea. Love your website and it keeps me dreaming. Thanks.

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