From dining sets to toys, the wooden items that made a house a home

Every day items were often made in the back workshop. Source: Pixabay.

Who doesn’t remember growing up with homemade wooden items, made with loving care in their father’s workshop, shed or garage?

Whether it’s the dining room table and chairs, a play set in the garden, or simple things like wooden pencil cases, creating something new with the skill of one’s hands was a pleasure, and a tradition that’s been carried right through the years, with plenty of men joining the Australia’s Men’s Shed Association to continue their handcrafted work.

As mass production of everyday items began to take off in the 1950s and ’60s, wooden items increasingly took a backseat. But many will recall the wooden pencil cases that were common at school at the time.

A recent post on community Facebook page Australia Remember When asked users to share their memories of owning a wooden pencil case during their school days. With one layer for pens and pencils, it could slide apart to reveal another for your sharpener and erasers, known to Aussies as rubbers.

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The post read: “Who remembers the pencil cases we used to have in school? The below pencil case is made entirely of wood. The lid slides on and off, and the the top section swings out to reveal a second level and another pencil case underneath. I had one like this but I had decorated it over my school years with various doodles and engravings.”

One user commented: “I had one just like that one, I had it for my whole school life, it held everything that was needed, I am afraid I haven’t had it for many years,” while another added, “I remember it was a project we had to make for wood work class but had a broken wrist at the time so couldn’t do it.”

But it wasn’t the only item people may remember making themselves, and a time when it was normal for there to be a toolbox, hammer and woodworking equipment in the shed or garage at home.

Handmade, wooden birthday and Christmas presents added a touch of personality to gifts, and relatives often crafted toys for children rather than buying them in stores. From rattles for babies, right through to toy airplanes and trains, some much-loved masterpieces came out of garage shed and home workshops.

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Now, Men’s Sheds across Australia provide space for people to create some of their most-loved items again, with equipment and support on offer, as well as plenty of companionship.

Wooden trains and other toys were very popular as gifts.

The official website explains: “Not all Men’s Sheds are the same- if you looked inside you might see a number of men making furniture, perhaps restoring bicycles for a local school, making Mynah bird traps, fixing lawn mowers or making a cubby house for Camp Quality to raffle. You might also see a few young men working with the older men, obtaining new skills and learning something about life from the men with whom they work.”

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It adds: “Members of Men’s Sheds come from all walks of life – the bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands and would like something meaningful to do with that time.”

The traditions are kept alive within the association, drawing inspiration from home sheds and workshops of decades before. But do you think it will continue to remain a popular hobby into the future?

What are your memories of woodworking and having everyday, wooden items at home? Do you have woodworking skills? How do you use them?