I have been with the Glenwood Men’s Shed in Sydney’s West for a couple years now. We have a variety of backgrounds and nationalities. A couple special needs carers bring their charges in, who mostly watch but can use safe tools if carer and committee deem it safe. Two father and son teams and a number of retirees that just need to escape the likewise retired wife.
I am young, in the mid 40s and have no friends living nearby. Picked up wood working as a hobby years ago so was interested in the concept of a place to go to for access to machinery. But found the benefits of having people to chat with on almost any subject is phenomenal in fighting depression. Now I am a committee member and the go-to man for a lot of advice and use of the bigger tools.
The most important time is the lunch break. We ring the bell and machines go off and we sit down and discuss how to fix the world, as men tend to do. Outside of Winter we have our own monthly bbq. Sometimes people will bring in something special to share.
Grants come from government and the church that owns the building (I think it was an old scout hall) for the bigger machinery and building improvements. Many hand tools are donations from widowers. Timber is sold to members at very reasonable rates. Screws, nails, glue, and 2nd hand paint is free.
We mostly work on our own projects. Sometimes we’ll do props for children’s shows like the castle entrance we put together. But usually it just pen turning or kitchen shelving. Smaller one man jobs.
One of the founders was also young (50s) and still working. Had a hard life. Most of his skin was burn scarred from a paint fume explosion in a confined space. He passed away last year when his body kind of quit on him. Within a week we had gathered the troops, bought materials and build him a 6 sided casket. It was the first real group project and it was a beautiful result.
Now we are making toys for Somalian refuge children.
Some of us go over to villages in Papua New Guinea and help erect and repair buildings in places that patrol nights with bow and arrow to guard themselves from raids.
Most people would be happy to pay $5-$10 to use the facilities for a day. We currently charge $50 a year for membership after first 3 free visits. Open 2 days a week with the option to do extra days if committee members are available. Opportunity to go to places like PNG and see another way of living. If your local Men’s Shed doesn’t have the tools for your project you will likely find they have the tools to make the tools for your project.
Check them out or contact the Men’s Shed Association for info on setting up a place for your community.