Some folks just drop in to complete one project
Teacher and jazz musician Tama Nathan is building a couple of electric guitars at the Men’s Shed North Shore. He’s on a flying visit home while trying to get a work visa finalized for the UK. He’d always wanted to make a guitar and decided that now was a good time as an antidote to the visa-application process which, since the Brexit vote, has become “super stressful”. Tama hasn’t done any woodworking since school so admits leaping into luthiery is ambitious, but he says that the wealth of knowledge among other members made this Men’s Shed an ideal place to attempt it. “They showed me how to use tools [that] I didn’t even know the names of,” he says. He got his plans mostly from YouTube videos and a couple of books. He carved the complex contours of the face and back from solid American ash timber using drills, routers, and sanders, while the body and sides were carved out of a block of kauri from an old boat. It will have an ebony bridge and maple fretboard, which will also have compound curves. He decided to test things out on a prototype but hasn’t made any bad mistakes with that, so he’s now got two guitars to finish. Tama’s lack of grey hair makes him stand out from the crowd but he found it easy to fit in. “They weren’t sure at first but I’m pretty cheeky, so they soon started giving it back,” he says.
Kran Radford joined the Men’s Shed after deciding that she didn’t want to put up tents anymore. She still wanted to take her daughter, Skyla, who has cerebral palsy, on holiday, so she bought a 1977 pop-up trailer, which could best be described as ‘tired’. After the welder who was going to fix it hurt his shoulder, she started googling and came across the the Men’s Shed North Shore. She said that she felt bad about just dropping it off and leaving. “They said if I wanted to do stuff I should join.” So she did. “I’ve learned a lot. I realized [that] if we’re on the road I must be able to fix it myself, and I’ve got a lot more confidence about picking up a screwdriver now,” she says. She hasn’t had much experience with tools but she was the first student to persuade Manurewa High School that girls should be allowed to do tech drawing. The current job is rebuilding the rusty drawbar and there’s lots to do including upgrading the wiring to current standard. She’s itching to get at the interior. “It’s all waiting, ready to go in,” says Kran. “I’d basically planned it out and bought everything before I even thought about structural stuff.”