When Beech Hill, one of The Disabilities Trust’s Sussex Community Houses for the Autism Spectrum Partners division, received a new shed there was a query about what to do with the old one. Mark and Michael, two residents at Beech Hill and staff decided to turn the old shed in to a new woodwork shed.

Both Mark and Michael are very good at woodwork so helped staff to build shelves and a work bench as well as go shopping for tools and materials.

The shed was immediately put to use by the residents at Beech Hill which helped them to undertake some fantastic projects, making useful items and toys for them and their families. Pictured and described below are some of the first projects the pair have completed and it looks like they have some wonderful woodwork skills already!


The dolls house

Mark has recently shown an interest in collecting dolls houses and furniture, which he looks for during his regular town trip and outings.

After returning from an unsuccessful dolls house hunting trips Mark commented to one of his support workers, Simon Kerr (who won a staff award last year) that they were all too expensive for him to buy. Knowing how much Mark enjoys his other hobbies, which include arts and crafts and woodwork, Simon offered to help Mark come up with a project where he would design and build his very own dolls house.

Mark (pictured right) immediately said yes to the idea and he happily set to work with help from Simon, designing and making a small template and model of the house he would like to build.

Once this was done, Mark then made up full size templates for all the walls and floors of his house and with support from staff wrote a shopping list and went out to purchase all the items and materials he would need to complete his project. He then enthusiastically began work constructing and decorating his own dolls house.

Mark worked very hard even choosing to do it when he would normally be relaxing in front of the TV. He is so pleased with the finished house he has put it on display at Beech Hill so anyone who visits can see how well his project has worked out.

The picture frame

Mark likes to have photos up around the house so he decided to make a wooden picture frame in one of his woodwork session. With help from staff he drew up the plans and selected the wood to use.

The cabinet

Mark likes to collect and display items so he asked staff if he could build something to put his pull chains in, one of the things he collects.

With help he designed, measured up and built his display cabinet and is really happy with what he has achieved, saying “I’m proud of that”.

The flowers

Mark wanted to make his mum some wooden flowers to have around the house as his next woodwork project. With help he drew up a plan and looked in the wood shed to find appropriate wood and stains we had in stock, and was pleased to find all he needed.

He marked up and cut out the wood to make the separate parts of the flowers, then used the power sander and other tools to smooth and finish the flowers, leaves and pots before painting and sticking them together. The team were on hand to provide support and ensure he was using the tools safely.

Mark was very pleased with what he had achieved and we can see why.


The bench

Michael is supported by the Beech Hill team to do all sorts of different activities and hobbies. One thing that he enjoys doing is sitting in the garden and relax in the sun. Recently with the change in weather he has started to take drinks and snacks in to the garden with him. Where Michael liked to sit didn’t have table for him to use so he decided to build his own with help from staff.

He has enjoyed doing lots of woodwork projects before at the Hollyrood Learning Centre and at Beech Hill. Particularly using the hand and power tools to do his projects, which staff supported him to use safely.

While waiting for the wood to arrive, Michael decided to sand and paint the bench he uses so that it would look like a matching set. He did a fabulous job.

The farm

After completing his table and helping to build the woodshed, Michael wanted to make a Christmas present for his sister’s children.

He had seen Mark make a doll house and with the help from staff he has designed and built a fantastic flat pack toy farm.

The chessboard

For his next wood work project Michael chose to make a chessboard after watching an episode of ‘Bottom’. To make the chessboard Michael first came up with a plan before heading to B&Q with the Beech Hill team to work out the cost of materials.

The finished board was varnished and tiled and looks great. Now the board is fully completed, tiled and varnished, he is going to make the funny chess pieces like they had on the show, including a “brown sauce bottle” for the king. He will make these out of salt dough or modelling clay, and we are looking forward to seeing the completed set

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