A man needs a shed, so says the age-old adage. Sheds of yesteryear were, if I use my grandfather as an example, a deep dark hole under the house entirely fitting for a home mechanic. It was dimly lit by a lone 40 watt bulb hanging over a bench to which was attached a vise, clamped into which was usually an engine part under repair.
Invariably he would be soldering a leaky radiator or performing the laborious task of a valve grind – standard maintenance once the cars of the 40s and 50s had run for 50,000 miles. His glasses would be perched on the end of his nose for either looking through or over.
Sitting on the end of the bench together with a pencil would be the latest oily fingermarked Best Bets, beside that stuttered and whistled a little valve radio delivering racing commentaries, the result sof which would cause him to quietly calculate his winnings or carry on toiling to make enough money to invest on the next race.
My, how times have changed – and how sheds have changed. Many have graduated into Man Cave’s more akin to a sports bar than a workshop, but are nonetheless interesting in their content and decor, some from yesteryear and others with all the latest gadgetry known to man.
Mangawhai Walking Weekend last year added a ‘sheds’ module to its many walks which proved very popular with sheddies bringing new life and interest to vintage cars, fulfilling a lifelong penchant for woodwork or furniture restoration or what have you.
Sheds are places you can find something new in a project or something so old it generates lively discussion through its former familiarity. Co-ordinator of the shed module, Mike Robinson, was pleased with the response of last year’s tour group and, as more sheds have come to his notice, the shed ‘walks’ will run on both Saturday and Sunday of the Walking Weekend this year.
“We can’t give too much away of course,” says Mike “but we have a greater variety within the group this year and the four to five hour bus tour brings forth a lot of interesting discussion.”
Mangawhai now has an ‘official’ shed group, convened by Stephen Mackay, the edict of which is ‘an opportunity for people to commune over a shared passion for making things’. It will grow and change but initially it exists to support the growth of friendship and skills exchange through craft activities.
Top of Form, Waipu, is also on the bandwagon, or should that be ‘shedwagon’? The Waipu group has joined the Menzshed group, a movement begun in Australia as men's sheds – established as part of the health infrastructure that supports programs to improve men's health and wellbeing.
Kiwi’s have taken the title a little more literally. Menzshed NZ is a registered charity that exists primarily for the mutual benefit, success and support of member sheds and to facilitate public access to those sheds. They undertake a number of community projects.
Speaking on behalf of the Waipu group, Rob Webb said they already have 14 members with regularly 7 - 8 active members on their Tuesday get-togethers where they have most recently been working on projects for the local art group and the Waipu Museum and are one of about 60 member groups in New Zealand.
MAN CAVE: Does anyone know what really goes on inside a man’s shed? Pictured are dedicated Mangawhai sheddies (from left) Damian Stansfield, Owen Williams, Roger Handisides, Brian Dahl, and Phil Elrick.
SKILLS: Boys and their toys. Brian Dahl works on his latest project.