By Karl Weisel (Wiesbaden Family and MWR)January 17, 2019
WIESBADEN, Germany - Do you have a piece of furniture that needs refinishing or repairing? Want to learn how to frame treasured photos or artwork? Need a particular piece of equipment to complete a woodworking project?
Look no farther than the Wiesbaden Arts and Crafts Center. The center's Wood Shop offers patrons professional expertise, guidance and use of a wealth of tools to complete projects -- in addition to providing custom work.
"We still have a lot of people who walk in here and say, 'I've been here for years and didn't know you were here,'" said John Gardner-Brown, Wood Shop manager. "We want people to take advantage of all that we have to offer."
"We're so lucky to have this facility here," said David Justen as he worked on a project to build picture shelves. "Places like this in the States cost a lot more to use."
Justen, who said he had done some small carpentry projects in the past, including recently finishing a dining room table, added, "This place blew me away. It has everything you need -- all the tools. We're so lucky to have John. He's a professional and knows the ins and outs of the industry. And he takes the time to explain things to you."
"My wife has a job on base and I needed something to do," said Kyle Gross, a Wood Shop volunteer who said he grew up learning the craft in his father's shop.
"I needed some furniture for the house and this is a lot cheaper than buying it," said Gross, adding that he helps out wherever he can when people come in looking for assistance in the Wood Shop. Recently he had the opportunity to help out with Pinewood Derby and Mousetrap cars.
"A lot of it is learning by doing," Gross explained, pointing to readily available guidance from the Wood Shop manager and a wealth of tips on YouTube. "It's a matter of practicing the technique until you get it right."
People of all abilities -- from beginners to more advanced -- are welcome at the Wood Shop, said Gross.
"It's nothing complicated," he said, adding the main thing is to come into the shop "and get your hands dirty. Start with something small and then work up from that."
"Once they learn the basics, they are very enthusiastic," said the Wood Shop manager. "I look at some of the work that people do in here and it's just fantastic. It's a great way to turn off from their daily lives."
Typical projects include everything from PCS repairs -- repairing furniture, clocks or mirrors -- to picture frames, plaques and leaving gifts, said Gardner-Brown.
"One of the biggest projects we did was to build the front half of an Abrams tank, to full scale," for an exhibit in the U.S. Army Europe Mission Command Center, he said.
"The best thing for me is the reaction of the customer. The majority of our work is commissioned work -- such as building desks for units. … I've built children's toys and even a coffin for a deceased cat -- everything from the sublime to the ridiculous," Gardner-Brown said.
"Some people will bring in old photographs and want to make antique frames to match the photos. On all projects, we can help with the design," he said. "That's the beauty of having things done in here -- they are custom made to the client's desire and budget. We get quite a lot of projects where I'll do the labor piece and the customer will do the finishing."
The Wood Shop manager can also assist in selecting and suggesting sources for purchasing the proper wood for a project.
The Wiesbaden Arts and Crafts Center's Wood Shop is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
A safety and orientation course must be completed before using the equipment. Classes are held the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 5:15-6 p.m.
Patrons can pay $30 for unlimited use of the shop per month or a one-time fee of $10, he said.
For more information on getting started on a project, custom work or a gift for a departing colleague, stop by the center in Building 1214 on Clay Kaserne or call civ (0611) 143-548-9838.