The equipment and materials you need for your Shed will depend on what the members want to do. Whatever that is you will face choices between buying new tools or accepting secondhand equipment. The advantages of new equipment include that they are likely to be safe to use, and they come with a user manual and maintenance hints and instructions. If these are followed then you will have a stronger defence if workshop practice is questioned. However most Sheds take in secondhand equipment and in the case of hand tools they can often be better quality than new.
Any donated or bought secondhand tools need to be safety checked by a competent person. You will need to decide whether you have competent people for the tools to be checked. Portable electrical tools should be PAT tested and a record kept of this. A search online might bring up user manuals or a maintenance schedule.
Men’s Sheds seem to generate goodwill and if you make it known what you are doing and that you need tools many Shed have been inundated with tools of every sort, though mostly these are the hand tools and DIY power tools you find in people’s homes. Key donors are widows whose husbands tools are of high quality and too valued to be parted with casually as well as Schools/Universities/company’s closing departments. When accepting tools you can find yourself with many duplicates and it is wise to ensure the donors know that in that case you will either sell the items to support the Shed or pass them on to a neighbouring Shed or to specialist charities for use in developing countries. (see below) Some tools are antique and ought to be sold to a dealer or though an auction.
If buying then some sheds have used ebay and similar methods for buying new or secondhand. Alternatively UKMSA can get you registered with Triton Precision Power Tools which is owned by an Australian company familiar with Sheds. They have 5000 products available and registration will get you get the same terms as a shop for your shed and your members (up to 49% off hand tools and 25% off power tools). We have had good reports on both Kreg and Triton brands. Later on you may also like to consider sending a photographic record of the construction stages of a product your Shed has made. If they can use it on their website section that aims to encourage people to do projects you will get a credit of £250 (at retail price). Bedford Shed and the Repair Shed are two that have done this.
Some other companies such as Screwfix have locally offered discounts to Sheds. In other cases companies have simply let Sheds benefit from that firm’s purchasing discounts by ordering through them.
Tool Renovation Charities:
Tools for Self Reliance has 60 UK bases. See www.tfsr.org.
Tools with a Mission has five local bases- www.twam.co.uk
Work Aid has one base in Bucks. www.workaid.org
Most Sheds seek to find or be given their raw materials, depending on the activity.
Wood is most often scavenged but can also be donated. Sheds tend to need wood suitable for joinery once operational but are more often offered heavier timber.
Construction timber – Company donations can be in quantities you will have difficulty storing so you need to be clear with them what you need and how much before saying ‘yes’. Scaffolding companies are required to replace any scaffold boards with minor defects (good for workbench tops)
Patio planking produces good-looking plant containers.
Pallet wood is frequently used, often in conjunction with tools designed to pull them apart with least damage.
Hardwoods for woodturning (e.g. for lamp bases) can be found needing rejuvenating in car boot sales or are often surplus at joinery shops or if buying then or can be bought commercially or at stalls in wood –fairs.
Fine woods can be found in old furniture offered to charity shops e.g. rosewood desktops but can’t be taken due to their size. See also Freecycle or Streetbank.