Trinity Men’s Fellowship Eccleshall - Staffordshire

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Peter and Jo Wilshaw

Garden furniture upcyclers

Our first Covid-19 lockdown project was to refurbish our garden furniture. The table and chairs had begun life white, but we painted them bottle green about 10 years ago. All the urns were white, now cream (although the large urn has been green at sometime in its 100+ year life). The bird bath was black.

Everything was very tatty before we started. It's been tricky at times but we're quite proud of what we've achieved.


 I have dug out an old mandolin which belonged to my Great Great Grandfather. I have had the mandolin now for many years but never really got down to sorting it out and learning to play it. So now is the time!

Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the instrument before I started work on it but I am very pleased with the result. The more observant of you will have spotted that of the eight strings, the two thinnest strings on the right are missing. I have a new set on order! You will also have noticed that it is not the classical mandolin shape but guitar shaped. Hence it is called a Mandolinetta. It was built between 1902 and 1910 so at least 110 years old!

The back is interesting - it has a transfer print, under the varnish, so was put there when the mandolin was built.

From my research into the instrument I found that there are two pictures. Mine has the girl playing the tambourine and the alternative version has her playing a lute.

I also spent quite a long time repairing the case, which is made out of CARDBOARD! How ever it managed to last for over 100 years is amazing. The lid was off, it was all out of shape and there were loads of scuffs where the cardboard was showing through the covering. Anyway, with some black cotton material, PVA glue and black shoe polish I have managed to get it presentable and usable again.

On the right a selfie of me working on the instrument in the shed. I now class myself as a Luthier .............. well perhaps just a starter?

Next task is to learn how to play it, now that the strings have arrived. I will keep you updated. Perhaps a YouTube video?

We’ve treated our isolation rather like a holiday, and we’ve just pootled about the garden. It’s amazing what you can do when the sun shines.

We’ve planted out most of the veg patch and built an extra bay onto the compost heap.

Ironic that the garden is further on than usual when Open Gardens and the usual planting of baskets and mangers have had to be cancelled.

Phil & Wendy Baskerville compost heap from recycled bricks

The strings arrived by post and this morning, 14th April 2020. I fitted them to the mandolin. I also downloaded a great app to help me tune it up and after a few tweaks it is sounding great. Much brighter than with the old strings, well the six I had out of the eight!

David Milner’s Project

Subject: Shed. Having pulled out the chair, having taken note of the workshop of the Director of Communication, having observed the perseverance of the X Chairman, I suddenly had a headache of immense proportions so had to resort to shed mode, overlooked by the old goat, naturally!

David Sandham becomes a Luthier …… in his dreams?

We've been looking after our son's dog during the lock down. She will only do her toilet on grass but is too old and arthritic to get up the steps  to our lawn.

Solution: lift some slabs in the patio and replace them with turfs from the lawn.

It seems to have worked but the lawn's not so pretty!

Lester Stuart’s kindness project

Not so much a project but something to keep me busy most days since lockdown. So I have repainted my geese and bird cage which were getting decidedly rusty and Mrs A and I are planting out approximately 70 flowers, potted on from plugs from Johnson Hall, into large pots and hanging baskets. Not as impressive as the very realistic gnome set up by David Milner outside his shed but everyone must do the best that they can

Chris Archer, Vincent van Gogh of the avian world

As mentioned above this is the alternative image which can be found on the back some of the instruments.  Also the alternative pick guard with white detail on a brown background. These photos were taken from the Internet.


David becomes an ARMOURER after being a Luthier last week!

When I was about 13 or 14 I saved up pocket money for ages and eventually purchased a BSA Cadet .177 Air Rifle. Now at the age of 76 I still have this gun! Today I found it again and decided it needed “seeing to”.

So it was into the shed with Rocket WD40, cleaning rags, silver polish, wood polish. After removing the dust and other crud, it was well sprayed with WD40 and polished  until it was gleaming.

You may wonder why I am working on a lovely scarf. Well, over the years  it has been brutally attacked by moths and as a result it now lives on a shelf in the shed to be put down on the bench when I wish to protect items from becoming scratched. You will also see it in action in my first project, the Mandolin, at the bottom of this page.

Note the fact that I also found some pellets.

You can not see it clearly but it has the letters BSA embossed on the stock.

There is a number on the gun and I investigated it on the Internet, which confirmed that it was constructed between 1951 and 1959.  This fits perfectly with the fact that I bought it new!

Once all cleaned, polished and oiled I took it out into the garden and fired at a target in the woodshed. I was amazed that it was still quite powerful after all these years. This must be oldest object I possess which I bought from new? Now it will probably be put away for another decade or so?

“Years ago we had a 25 foot Norway spruce (Christmas tree) growing in the garden then it suddenly died. I had it planked at Beech sawmills and turned it into the coat rack as in the photos.

Recently, we've realised there's nowhere for our 4 year old granddaughter to hang her coat. A look round the shed soon located some apple wood from a branch I cut off three years ago so granddaughter and I produced two new coat pegs which I fixed onto the rack at the appropriate height and she varnished.

The remnants of the piece of apple wood then went into the wood burner, Nothing goes to waste round here”.


Lester uses timber he has created from his garden to create, then modify something really useful.

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