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SHWI Mad Skillz: Pretty Girls Make Shelves

SHWI Mad Skillz is one of our spin-off groups organised by Di and Anna T. They organise bespoke sessions where SHWI members can learn a new skill in a smaller-sized group. Last week, ten members went along to Sheffield City College for a night of furniture making. Committee member Kirsty tells us all about it….

The last time I was let loose with a band saw was my year 9 design and technology class and to be honest, I spent most of the lesson in the toilet swapping notes with my mate who was doing IT next door. Making furniture was just not a priority at 15. But now, I’m 27 with my own home and I need to know the right way around a power drill. So I was really up for a night of furniture making. 

The Women’s Workshop is nearly 25!

Anna and Di had organised Sheffield City College teacher Anna Childs to give us a one-of taster session of the course that she runs in the Women’s Workshop there. Due to numbers, the courses in the workshop are now open to men too. Liz Kettle from WEST (Women in Engineering Science and Technology), a voluntary organisation that encourage women and girls to take up careers in non-traditional roles in Science, Engineering, Technology and the Built Environment, was keen to show us the facilities.

Liz and Anna met us on a rainy Wednesday night and supplied us with plenty of tea, coffee and tunnocks biscuits (just what some of us needed after the horrific traffic). They introduced the course, how WEST can help women with bursaries and outreach work and then it was down to what we were making – shelves. 

Anna explains what we’re going to do

Anna took it step by step – explaining how we would go about starting the project then letting us do it ourselves. It was scary to be let loose on the big machines like the drill and sanders but Liz and Anna were very encouraging (and nobody lost a finger, so yay!). Using her example, we measured, sawed, drilled, screwed and sanded our wood into something that looked a lot like a set of small shelves!

I must say that there was some more talented members in the group than me – Chloe and Carolyne took so much care in sanding and smoothing their shelves that they were left with something very professional looking. Mine on the other hand was a bit rough and ready but acceptable enough to go on my bathroom wall. 

Anna and Liz were so generous in their time and resources and we were so grateful to have the opportunity to play with all their tools and create something really worthwhile. 

Our finished shelves!

If you’re interested in one of the furniture making courses, have a look at the page on the Sheffield City College website

Kirsty Bowen

SHWI Committee member


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