MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Staff Sgt. Pablo Alarcon, warehouse chief, 1st Tank Battalion, enjoys spending time at the Combat Center’s Wood Hobby Shop working on projects to give as going away and retirement gifts. Since he started woodworking a year ago he has made approximately 15 unique designs.
I got into woodworking over a year ago when I was in Yuma, Ariz. My first project was a plaque for a Marine who was getting out of the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, the resources we had in Yuma were not adequate so it was just a simple piece of wood to put on their wall.
I wanted it to be a little more unique, because whenever I make something, it’s personal. When I work on a plaque I like to make it related to the Marine’s occupation or something to do with their personality.
I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 15 years but just started woodworking last year.
What got me into woodworking was my Marines. It’s up to us to let the Marines go to the civilian sector the best way we can. We always talk about taking care of our own and I think this is a way we can give them some type of memento.
Every single project has something special about it, I always like to go one up and test the boundaries. I like the challenge of making a design I’ve seen with my own touch.
Most of my projects are given as gifts. Half of my projects have been made as gifts to my Marines and the other half are requests by word of mouth.
They will always remember their first day and they will always remember their last day. A lot of stuff in between, the Marines will forget, but they will always remember those days.
It’s a way to let Marines know that we appreciate the hard work they do. It’s just a small token to let them know we wish them the best.
The biggest thing is when you do a shadow box or plaque for someone, you can see they actually do appreciated it.
Right now I’m working on my first footlocker, so it’s a learning experience but when I’m done, I know I’m going to be doing a couple more.
In my projects I like to use clocks, because everyone always uses a clock. When you get out and you’re a civilian you can actually use it and always have something that describes who you were.
Woodworking is relaxing because you’re on your own and there is no pressure. There is no one there behind you and it gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Before the Marine Corps, I used to do murals for the city. I guess you could say I have somewhat of an artistic side. It’s been a while but I used to work with water colors and ink.
My goal now is when I get out, I want to have my own woodshop. I want to start building my own furniture just to say I did it. I think I can come up with some good designs and put some unique detail in it.
My favorite wood to work with is oak stained with ebony and any of the dark wood. When you engrave your design onto the wood it sticks out more. Oak has what I like to call tiger stripes. It gives your designs a little more personality.
I’ve done projects where I’ve messed up one cut and had to start all over again. I’ve learned when I start a new design to use a big piece of wood so if make a mistake I can fix it.
I’d encourage Marines who have nothing to do on a Saturday or Sunday to come check out the Wood Hobby Shop. A lot of Marines aren’t mindful that this facility is available. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people like me who have zero experience that can come out here and get assistance and make really cool stuff.