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Timber’s the write stuff

Retirement Living Connectedness Community Independence Positive Ageing
  • IRT Tarrawanna Gardens resident Barry Humes hand crafts pens
  • His pens are crafted from wood, plastic and acrylic
  • Barry discovered his love of wood turning when he joined a men’s shed
  • Barry’s pens are now spread across the globe
Barry with some of his beautiful pens.
Barry with some of his beautiful pens.

Barry Humes has a passion for wood turning and crafting beautiful pens.

“I love timber, it’s got character.”
Barry Humes

As IRT Tarrawanna Gardens resident Barry Humes studies the array of wooden, plastic and acrylic pens he has crafted, he ponders the source of his creativity.

“I couldn’t tell you, to be truthful; it just evolved,” the former miner, truck driver and fibrous plasterer says. “I’d always worked on motor cars, building them and painting them. I’d knocked around panel shops and mechanic shops. When I retired I had a fairly sizeable garage, and I started mucking around with different things.”

He discovered his love of wood turning when he joined the Corrimal Men’s Shed and got the opportunity to try out a wood lathe.

“The bloke that owned the lathe showed me a few things and I eventually bought it,” he says.

He scoured the internet for tips and ideas and through practice became proficient at turning wood.

His home is filled with his work, from bowls to tables and even intricate bandsaw boxes – made from a solid block of timber, using only a bandsaw to craft the piece.

He started making pens from remnants of timber he didn’t want to throw away.

“I tried different styles and ways of making pens and got better at it over time. I just play,” he says.

Barry either gives away the pens as gifts or sells them, to cover his costs. They’re popular with people heading overseas, who take them as gifts for family and friends. As a result, Barry’s pens are now spread around the globe, as far afield as Britain, China and Japan.

Barry's well set up workshop.

Although he works with acrylic and plastic, his favourite material is timber.

“I love timber, it’s got character,” he says.              

He rattles off some of the different timbers he’s worked with – white cedar, acacia, Himalayan birch, jacaranda and Huon pine.

“Getting good timber is the hard part and it’s very expensive. Once I get a piece I split it into usable pieces and season the ends so it doesn’t crack. It needs to be dried undercover, out of the wind, sun and rain and doesn’t get used for two to three years.”

Barry goes to the men’s shed twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Other days he can usually be found in his garage, crafting another beautiful piece of woodwork.

And if he’s not actually working with timber, he’s probably making his own brew – a skill he’s mastered with two decades of practice!

“I’ll often have a couple in the afternoon,” he laughs.

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