MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., -- Marines, Sailors and their families are offered a resource at the Combat Center that provides them the ability to create their own crafts and furniture for their homes.
The Wood Hobby Shop is one of Marine Corps Community Services’ facilities that accommodate the interests of its service members who want to spend their free time enhancing their crafting skills.
Wednesday through Sunday, service members can create any wood project for a small price. Wood selection is limited to the shop’s supply but patrons are allowed to bring in their own wood, said Don Miller, wood hobby shop manager and former Marine. There is an array of size and quality of wood the shop offers, most of which are cabinet- and furniture-grade wood and plywood. Miller supervises the patrons and assists them with their needs.
“People come in with an idea and we’ll help them get it done,” said Miller. The shop is also staffed with another woodworking specialist, Robert Henry.
The shop is also equipped with most wood working tools from heavy machinery to sandpaper. All who wish to use the shop must attend a mandatory safety brief before beginning their first project. Safety briefs are held Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m. concerning machine safety and proper handling of equipment. Only one safety brief is needed to use the shop, said Miller.
The most popular wooden crafts made at the shop are home furniture, plaques, shadowboxes, speaker boxes for cars and gear equipment stands.
“If anyone feels like spending their free time building furniture or other wood crafts, the wood shop is here for them,” said Miller. “I encourage all the Marines and Sailors who live in the barracks that don’t have much to do during their free time to come in and see what they can make. Usually when a Marine comes in and makes a project, he brings friends for his next visit. Their projects are our advertisement.”
To some Marines, such as 1st Sgt. William S. Harvey, company first sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Tank Battalion, the shop is used to make home furniture projects. Harvey has been building his collection of military books. Space on his shelves at home is scarce, and his wife asked him to find more room or another spot for his books.
“The shop is user friendly,” said Harvey, a Nevada, Ohio, native. “I told them what I wanted to make when I first came in, and they started me off. I’m three weeks into this project, and I come in most free chances I have.”
To other Marines, such as Capt. Devin S. Mullen, logistics officer for 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, woodworking is a hobby.
Before Mullen’s last deployment to Iraq, he and his father cut down a cherry tree in his hometown, Comfort, Texas. His father gave him the scraps of the log to use. After returning from his deployment, he began the project of constructing home furniture. Three months later he finished building a rocking chair and is now working on a bookstand with the same wood.
“It’s a useful hobby to have,” said Mullen. “It calls for a delicate touch and technique. The skills you gain won’t just apply here. It builds problem solving skills and planning skills. During a deployment, if someone tasks you with a project of constructing something, you’ll know how to start the project and what to do to finish. And, when you think you’ve done your best on your project and feel comfortable with your skills, you can use your confidence to take a chance and try something new or different.
“I encourage any Marines with spare time to use the wood hobby shop,” continued Mullen. “It encourages initiative and keeps Marines away from trouble. If you can do this and put effort into what you make, you’ll find you can do a lot more.”
In the shop are many projects people have started on and are close to finishing. Bed frames, coffee tables, pinewood derby cars and model boats and cars are some examples of these projects. Marine and Sailor spouses are some of the shops most frequent patrons. Anyone who wants a hobby should come in and give their creativity a shot, said Miller.
“People come in and provide enthusiasm and ideas - we will get them started on it,” said Miller. “Things can be difficult to make, but it’s up to the creator on how to carry on with a project. The diversity on the projects never ends. We’re always available to give advice and help.”