Tamborine Mountain Men’s Shed turns scrap wood into instruments for The Offcuts

Scraps of wood usually ended up in a fireplace, but at the Tamborine Mountain Men’s Shed, scraps are made into ukuleles.

What started as a carpentry project grew into a group of buddies using the handmade instruments in their own band, aptly named The Offcuts.

Men’s Shed mentor Keith Browning said he was asked why he was constantly bringing home leftover materials, so he began teaching the band how to build the instruments.

“What we’ve found here is that we can use this material,” Browning said.

Instruments are made from everything from scaffolding boards to antique furniture.

“I made molds and jigs and put them in the shed. From there, we evolved into a dozen or more people involved in producing quality instruments,” he said.

While tools and skills are reasons to join the shed, friendship and support are what keep men coming back.

The Offcuts have a repertoire of 60-70 songs and have even started writing their own music.(Provided: Tamborine Mountain Men’s Shelter)

“They are men supporting men,” Mr. Browning said.

“Getting together, enjoying the camaraderie, sharing a cup of tea and learning new skills all at the same time.”

Growing repertoire

As the number of instruments grew, so did the band’s musical repertoire. Their first performance was at the hangar’s annual Christmas party.

instrument in progress
The men use their instruments to perform small concerts across the region.(Provided: Tamborine Mountain Men’s Shelter)

“We started with some Christmas carols and it grew from there,” singer Rob Reed said.

“We meet every Monday at Bowls Club to practice and have a repertoire of around 60-70 songs.”

The band have now started writing their own songs, inspired by the men’s shed community, including The Shed Shuffle.

Some songs are parodies of popular tunes, with lyrics from At The Hop reworked to become At The Shed, and the Hokey Pokey turned into Make a Ukulele.

“You take quarter-sawn lumber, check it’s good, look at the plans and make sure they’re understood,” according to the lyrics.

Men standing in a line playing handmade instruments.
Instruments are made from anything from scaffolding planks to old furniture donated to the shed.(Provided: Tamborine Mountain Men’s Shelter)

Strumming to raise funds

The band played gigs all over the mountain to raise money for men’s shed member Jim Stephens.

smiling man
The group raises money to buy special equipment so Jim Stephens can get in and out of his car more easily.(Provided: Tamborine Men’s Shed)

Mr Stephens was left paralyzed on the left side of his body after being treated for a brain tumor a few years ago.

He can drive, but has trouble getting in and out of his vehicle, so The Offcuts are on a mission to buy him a special rotating car seat, which they believe will improve his quality of life.

“He laughs at everything, and when he comes here it takes him about 15 to 20 minutes to get out of the car,” said Men’s Shed president Paul Hunt.

Mr Hunt said they had so far raised $4,500 but their aim was to raise $8,000 to cover the cost of the seat.

They’ve launched a crowdfunding page to help raise the rest of the money, and plan to book more live gigs in the area.

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