Meet a volunteer repairer: Bernie

Bernie has a background in the building industry. He has been self-employed as an electrical contractor, bricklayer, home handyman, installed close to four thousand IKEA kitchen systems and also been a professional actor. As a practical and creative thinker, Bernie brings personality as well as fixing skills to Repair Cafe Perth.

Why did you get involved with Repair Cafe Perth?

Having recently retired, I have been actively seeking local volunteering work – mainly from the various museums in Perth. However with the current refurbishment of the Perth Museum underway, limited options were available, so the opportunity to work as a volunteer alongside Angie and Elle and some wonderful, committed volunteers at Repair Cafe Perth, couldn’t have come at a better time. I am an advocate for reducing waste wherever we can and continue to encourage others to be the same.

What areas of DIY are you interested in?

I have always been interested in working with timber and have made coffee tables, dolls houses, furniture, cabinets, and boxes of various shapes and sizes. Depending upon the extent of damage, I am able to repair a number of wooden and plastic items including toys. Some metal items also.

Tell me about an item you’ve fixed at repair cafe

One of the trickiest items brought to me for repair was a broken 1930’s wooden base and glass topped coffee table. The owner inherited it from his grandmother, so it was of great sentimental value. The glass top was embedded into a timber surround. This in turn was then attached to a curved, four legged, base frame. This base frame had become separated from the main timber top. It is never easy working with glass, so a thoughtful process of repair was required by both myself and the owner. I eventually came up with a plan of approach which the owner agreed to. He very kindly bought a coffee for us both and I set to work with the assistance of another volunteer colleague. This was a two person repair. Thirty minutes later the owner was on his way home with an almost ‘good as new’ coffee table and a smile on his face!

Some final thoughts

I have discovered working at the repair cafe, that it is not that people cannot carry out the necessary repairs, but are not always able to figure out how to repair. This is why we encourage people to sit and watch. Of course not everyone will have the tools required either, but at the repair cafe we probably will. There are few repairs we are unable to fix, perhaps due to various health and safety reasons. However, we can more than likely advise accordingly. A number of items in our lives are of tremendous sentimental value and if we just ‘chuck them out’ due to a breakage, then we are also chucking out, forever, precious memories.

The repair cafe to me represents a very valuable community service to which we can all contribute and be proud of. The satisfaction in repairing and going home with a ‘just like new again’ item means that we are all winners!