Gunnedah Woodturners has lovingly restored a much-treasured cabinet made by the late Ray Hawkins.
Mr Hawkins was president of the woodturners nine times over three terms and made a number of pieces of furniture, one of which is owned by Di and Owen Hasler.
Mr Hasler said the cabinet was made in 1996 out of river red gum and housed a small fridge. After the fridge “died”, he pulled the cabinet apart and left it in the shed for a year or two, wondering what to do with it. The woodturners had previously restored some pieces for Mrs Hasler and she suggested approaching the group about rescuing the cabinet.
“In my relative naivety, I thought it would be a relatively easy task,” Mr Hasler said.
Member Dan Birkett asked Mr Hasler to look into origins of the cabinet while the group worked out how to go about restoring the piece.
“When we received this item, it was just a pile of bits and pieces and we weren’t sure how I went together or what its original purpose was and we spent a while umming and ahhing what to do with it,” Mr Birkett said.
The woodturner said they had to figure out what to make it into because it had designed to encase a fridge and had no back or base.
“Just putting it together would have rendered it completely useless, so we went on and decided to change it,” he said.
“It took us quite a lot of work to put it together, far more than we thought we were going to do.”
The men added a base, backing, shelves, fittings, a magazine rack and created antique-style hinges. They also created a plaque detailing the origins of the cabinet and gifted it to the Haslers.
“This is a small gesture for the work you’ve been doing in the community,” Mr Birkett said.
The Haslers are thrilled with the finished result.
“I can’t say how thankful we are that you’ve done this for us in memory of Ray,” Mr Hasler said.
“I had the privilege of calling Ray a good friend and it’s very sad we lost him a few years ago.
“He had a real passion for making furniture.”
The Haslers are now settling the cabinet back into their home and will find a purpose for it.
“Originally, I was going to have it out the back for Owen to put his shoes in but it’s too good for that,” Mrs Hasler said.
The woodturners are already bending their backs to a new project – expanding their quarters in the Gunnedah Showground. They are preparing the ground behind the main building so they can build a new shed.
“We’re one of the few groups expanding,” Mr Birkett said.
The group currently has about 80 members.
“Some days we have up to 30 men working in here.”
The group is paying for the shed and anticipate it will take a few months.