Downhill all the Way at the North East Soap Box Challenge

Prince, Michael Jackson and David Bowie needed a spanner to fix their coffin …

What’s the punchline?

Wait … no. This actually happened?

 

It’s Saturday, August the 18th at Herrington Country Park, and pit crews are making last-minute adjustments to their vehicles before they run the challenging downhill skidaddle of the North East’s inaugural Soap Box Challenge. Continue reading “Downhill all the Way at the North East Soap Box Challenge”

First Day in the Workshop is a Lift Off

Even though our trainees keep telling us that they are pleasantly surprised how friendly and inclusive our workshop is when they first come along, those first impressions are so important. It’s like day one in a new job or school: you don’t know what to expect and if you are going to fit in okay.

Adam landed on day one with a skateboard under his arm. This wasn’t his main method of transport for getting to the workshop but a lifelong passion he’s had since the age of six. Together with his previous experience as a joinery apprentice, he was rearing to take things to the next level.

Continue reading “First Day in the Workshop is a Lift Off”

Backwoods Ingenuity: The Kentucky Stick Chair

When I first heard the words ‘Kentucy Stick Chair’ it was hard to dismiss the image of a piece of furniture somehow constructed from pieces of deep-fried chicken. It turned out that what we were really talking about was no less extraordinary.

The original Kentucky Stick Chairs would have been made from humble sticks and slung together with rope. All that would have been needed was a saw and a way to make holes in wood – a perfect example of ‘off grid’ innovation. Our chairs are made with cut timber and threaded bar, but they stay true to the spirit of their ancestors by using whatever is to hand and keeping the original simplicity of the design. Continue reading “Backwoods Ingenuity: The Kentucky Stick Chair”

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. Continue reading “The Pen is Mightier than the Saw”

Breaking Cycles at our Popup Workshop in Gateshead

It’s 10am. Greg is giving a trainee hints about starting his own bike repair business: how to avoid handling stolen bikes and the tools and equipment that he will need.

There’s a relaxed atmosphere that seems a million miles from any classroom I’ve ever sat in – but teaching and learning is happening here. The work of the day is getting under way. Over the next few hours one of the trainees (Si) will strip down an old bike, replace worn parts and rebuild it to be safe and roadworthy.

Greg tells me they always start with the brakes. That strikes me as a good principle for getting a life back on track, “start with the brakes”, and it’s happening here. The project offers the opportunity for people to call a halt to the destructive cycles in their lives, and rebuild from the basics. Continue reading “Breaking Cycles at our Popup Workshop in Gateshead”