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Jenny Cronin, spouse of 1st Lt. Justin Cronin, executive officer, D Company, 1st Tank Battalion, edges the corners on a wood project at the Combat Center’s Wood Hobby Shop to make cutting boards Dec. 8, 2013.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Exploring artisanship in the Wood Hobby Shop

13 Dec 2013 | Lance Cpl. Charles J. Santamaria

The sound of saws, drills, and other machines vibrate through the metal walls as new creations begin to take form. The smell of freshly-cut wood permeates through the rooms as feet leave their impressions in the sawdust on the floor. Stacked on the shelves is a variety of wood: Cherry, Oak, Pine and Mahogany, all the raw start of wood-working projects to come.

The Combat Center’s Wood Hobby Shop can be known as a well-kept secret. It provides a place for Marines, sailors and family members, above the age of 16, interested in wood working to make awards, furniture, art and personal projects. The shop is open Wednesday through Sunday and offers several saws, drills, sanders and a laser engraver.

“Our shop is all encompassing,” said Don Miller, shop manager, Wood Hobby Shop. “We offer many things to our customers and give them the tools needed to help them make their projects and ideas become reality.”

The shop offers a variety of tools to use, which gives people more options and possibilities for the things they can create, said Sgt. David Dominguez, combat engineer, Combat Logistics Battalion 7.

The shop also offers an environment for Combat Center patrons to focus on something other than work and stressful situations they may have, and create something for themselves.

“It gives Marines a creative outlet,” Miller said. “Wood-working gives them an opportunity to occupy their time instead of staying in the barracks.”

For Miller, wood-working became a hobby while in the Wounded Warrior Project and for him, lent a sense of pride with each project.

“The process of making something and getting it to perfection is therapeutic. It helped with my healing process and gave me something to occupy my time,” Miller said. “It starts from a piece of wood and turns into your own creation. When anyone asks you where you got it from, you can say, ‘I made that.’”

Service members take pride in what they do when they use the facility. For some, the shop helps make wood-working become a whole new hobby in their life.

“I have never done something like a computer desk before,” Dominguez said. “I’m a combat engineer, so it’s my job to build things, but making creative projects that I can take pride in and make unique is satisfying.”

The different ideas and methods of using the different equipment in the shop from the people that used them created a melting pot of creative thinking.

“People bring creativity and feed off each other’s ideas, which bring a lot of energy into the shop,” Miller said. “Seeing all the different creations that come from people seeing projects happening around them and wanting to make those same projects in a different way becomes an exciting thing to see.”

The shop has seen projects from plaques and awards for a unit, to surf boards and canoes. The laser engraver the shop received now allows people to cut more precise and engrave images on wood, plastic, and even electronics like laptops with the exception of metal. Given the amount of resources available in the shop, the amount of possible things one can create are endless.

“We leave the people to be limited only by their imagination,” Miller said. “We want to let people truly create anything and it's just fun.”

Anyone interested in using the workshop must attend a one-hour safety class held on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. For more information on the shop or how to participate, call the Wood Hobby Shop office at 760- 830-7214.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms