The Pen is Mightier than the Saw

Reclaiming discarded scraps of wood and turning them into something attractive and useful portrays only too well what we are all about at Handcrafted. Even a bit of timber is worthy of another chance. The Handcrafted Pen has been a “bestseller” since we produced the first batch over a year ago. We can’t make them quickly enough.

To date, over 60 of these little beauties have been turned out, and we are working on another batch for our Christmas Fayre on Friday 2nd December.

Head of pen production is Tommy. He’s made scores of them and got it down to a fine art.

The process begins with any old scrap of hardwood: chair legs, pallet slats and antique coving have all provided good raw material. Tommy prepares the blanks by cutting them into short lengths and drilling a hole through from end to end. Then he turns the barrels on a lathe, using a specially designed chuck. The blanks are finished on the lathe with a good polish that brings the glow up in the wood grain. Finally the barrels are fitted with a metal sleeve, cartridge, nib and rings. If everything has been done right, it just clicks snugly into place.

Tom is always willing to guide trainees or visitors through the process of making a pen to take home.

While these pens represent a level of care and craftsmanship that we are proud of, they also have a very low impact on the environment. They are turned from recycled material that would otherwise end up being burned, and they slip into an envelope to post anywhere with minimal packaging. We think their unique appeal will spread a lot of cheer in the coming season.

Getting more than he came for: Ian’s Story

Ian started coming along to our workshop in Langley Moor about six months ago. He really needed somewhere to live, and he thought he could put up with a bit of woodworking if that was going to be part of it.

“I was staying at a friend’s house, but I couldn’t stay there indefinitely. I thought that, if I started Handcrafted, which I’d heard a little bit about, I thought I might be able to get some sort of accommodation. So, I started coming along, although I knew I wasn’t going to like it as it was working with wood and I’ve never been interested in woodwork. My last experience of woodwork had been over 30 years ago when I was at school.”

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Eight week turnaround: Jimmy’s Story

“There’s only so long you can sit and spend your time looking at four walls” says Jimmy, reflecting on his life just eight weeks ago. “I would wake up any time and sit in my room doing nothing all day, and  so I thought I’d get my referral put in and start coming here.”

Jimmy heard about Handcrafted from another resident at the hostel where he lives, and it sparked his interest as he already has a Level 1 NVQ based in woodworking.

In his first fortnight with us, Jimmy created a series of decorated placards for himself and friends. Then he came up with an idea for a set of coasters and a holder that proved so popular he got got his first order from it. Now he is in the workshop every day and has gone on to make his own design of bookcase and a CD rack and candle holder in the shape of his initials. These are the things that have given him the most pleasure:

“The biggest enjoyment I’ve had so far has been out of some of the things I’ve made that I have sitting in my room, like my bookcase and my placards.”

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Seven Brave The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

The concept of Handcrafted was first inspired by a man who said, “After 12 years or taking heroin, stealing cars and getting benefits; I want to be someone who actually gives something.” He went on to do the Three Peaks challenge and raise £500 for WaterAid to provide clean water to drought-stricken areas.

That same longing has clearly caught on because, this year, seven of our trainees did the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

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Coming back for more: Tom’s story

We’ve been reflecting recently about how people started to come along to Handcrafted in the first place.  Tom told us how he began to get involved.

“I’d been unemployed for a few years and one day when I was at the Job Centre they told me that I’d needed to go on a course and sent me to Groundworks. I went along and the people there suggested a placement at Handcrafted. I‘d not heard of Handcrafted before, so asked around and heard they were a local charity doing woodwork and gardening that had been started by some people who went to one of the local churches. This made me wonder if it would be all Bible thumping and singing ‘Kum ba yah’. I couldn’t have been more wrong! All of the team and the lads that went along were perfectly normal and just wanted to help people get on and do practical stuff. I really enjoy woodwork, but when I first started to go there wasn’t much space in the workshop so I spent most of my time down at the gardening project.

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Walking miracle: Brian’s Story

Life can sometimes seem to have a way of pulling the rug out from under our feet just when we least expect it.  Brian had been making his way to work when he has hit by a van – he ended up in a coma and spent best part of 2 months in hospital.  When he was discharged and made it home it was a difficult coming to terms with life after the accident, because of his injuries a return to work wasn’t possible.  Brian didn’t know what the future held and what he’d be capable of.  Then a friend told him about Handcrafted…. Brian takes up the story

“Richard said to me ‘Why don’t you come along to Handcrafted, and you’ll be able to help people?’ So I started coming along and things just seemed to fall into place. I’m still recovering and a lot of people are helping me. I’m not fully where I want to be yet but Handcrafted is a big help.  It gets me out and I’ve started to do things that I’ve not done since school and I feel better for it, as all I would have been doing was sitting in the house doing nothing, dwelling on things that have happened.

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Rediscovering forgotten skills: John’s Story

One of the things that we find most inspiring is when our trainees tell us how getting involved in any of our projects really helps them to grow in confidence and see themselves in a more positive way.  John has been coming along to or cycle maintenance project, and it’s clear that it’s not just the bike he’s working on that’s being rebuilt.  He told us…

“I heard about Handcrafted through someone at the Salvation Army, it sounded like it would be something a bit different to do,  so I came along.

I’d been through a spell of being homeless; sometimes I’d stay in hostels and I’ve even ended up sleeping rough at times.  My health has been challenging too and I’ve been through a time of going in and out of hospital.  I’d say my faith in Jesus really got me through this tough spell and helped get my life sorted out again, so now I’m living independently. On the journey to where I am now, Handcrafted’s bike project has also been really helpful.

I’ve rediscovered, through working on bicycles there, that I have skills that I’d forgotten about and this has boosted my confidence.  The workshop is really friendly and we enjoy a good laugh as we work on the bikes; Continue reading “Rediscovering forgotten skills: John’s Story”

It’s not all about woodwork: Paul’s Story

We start each day in our workshop by gathering everyone together for what has come to be known as ‘the huddle’.  It’s the time when we chat through the day ahead, discuss plans, ask for or offer to help and of course share any news.  We’ve recently shared a couple of stories on our blog and via Facebook about some of our trainees and we were telling the huddle just how popular these had been, and asked if anyone else would like to tell their story.  Without hesitation Paul said he’d be up for it and so here it is

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Love You to the Moon and Back

A trip to the handcrafted workshop may not be on the list of ‘things to do’ for many prospective bride and grooms but it certainly was for Jimi and Megan.

They asked for our help to create a special something for their reception.  Whilst most couples getting married hope their wedding day will be ‘out of this world’ this pair ensured it, guaranteeing themselves and their guests a star studded occasion when they held their ceremony in a planetarium.

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Brought back to life: Graham’s Story

Graham is a regular at Handcrafted; if you were to ever visit our workshop he’d definitely be one of the first guys to come and introduce himself and see if he could help you in anyway.  You’d be forgiven for feeling he was one of life’s naturally outgoing and confident people, but the journey he’s been on to arrive at this point hasn’t been without some pretty dramatic twists and turns.  He explains:

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