Woodworking shed is Len Taylor’s favourite space

By Liz Mellino

Nestled behind Shepparton Sports Stadium is a small shed housing a creator's dream.

With wood samples lining the walls, machines humming in the background and sawdust coating the floors, it is obvious how this would be a woodworker's paradise.

Dozens of workbenches fill the shed, while impressive machinery and hand tools line the walls ready to be used.

From furniture and shelves to wooden children’s toys — this is a space were people of all ages can come to create.

This space is home to Goulburn Valley Woodworkers and it is Len Taylor’s favourite place.

The Shepparton local is Goulburn Valley Woodworkers’ former secretary and president, and current events co-ordinator, and has been a member of the club for the past 30 years.

You will find him here two days a week, working to bring the dozens of ideas buried in his head to life.

And while his woodworking resume is more impressive than most, it appears his skills with wood did not start at a young age.

“It's funny how I got into (woodworking) because when I started off I didn’t have any idea — I came from an electrical background,” Mr Taylor said.

“Dad was an engineer with Repco and I was a sparky and when I retired I just wanted to do something completely different.

“Everyone said to me ‘I suppose you will do electronics or something like that’ but I said ‘no, I want to get into something completely different'.”

Growing up, Mr Taylor said his father had a wood lathe which he often asked him about but was told it was "not complete".

GV Woodworkers past secretary, president and current events coordinator Len Taylor.

After testing it out and admitting he originally "wasn't very good", Mr Taylor took the machine to Furphys to have the missing pieces restored.

“I had a bit of a play on it and again I wasn’t very good so I went and had a couple of lessons at TAFE with Matt and Chris who have got Envisage Furniture,” he said.

“I did a couple of sessions down there and then I was talking to somebody and they said ‘oh, you should join the woodturners club’ ... I thought ‘oh well. I will go along and see what’s going on'. That was 30 years ago this year.”

Over the past three decades, Mr Taylor admits he has learned a lot from other members at the club, saying each has unique skills and ideas to share with the group.

With the youngest club member aged seven and the oldest now 94, Mr Taylor said he enjoyed passing on his knowledge to new members.

“We have had an influx in a lot of new people and younger people, and I've often said to the older ones ‘what are we going to do with all of this collective knowledge, we have to pass it on to somebody’," he said.

“The last couple of years we have also had more women join than blokes, which is great.”

The walls of the GV Woodworkers shed are lined with different samples of wood.

Looking back on some of his most memorable projects, Mr Taylor recalls a nine-piece dining setting and a customised table and chairs with inlaid butterflies.

His skills have also been recognised in the community with many requests coming through for restoration work at people's homes.

While he has shared many great memories at the Packham St shed, Mr Taylor's time there will soon be over, with the club looking for a new space to call home.

The shed has been leased from Wanganui Park Secondary College and, with Greater Shepparton Secondary College now a reality, Mr Taylor said the club had been given two years to move.

With a proposal from KidsTown on the cards, it appears a new chapter will soon start for the club.

And while Mr Taylor's time at the old shed is coming to an end, the memories, people and knowledge shared within its four walls will be carried on through his work.

The club makes 400 children's toys a year which they donate to charity.

“Probably a lot of it is to do with the company — you get to know different people and work on different projects,” Mr Taylor said.

“You get a project in your head and quite often you will get problems and you’ll come up here and we will talk to different members and say ‘oh, I had that problem one time and I fixed it doing this'.

“If we can pass that (knowledge) on well that’s going to be great ... I hope to keep doing it for as long as I can.”

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