CAMP ZAMA, Japan (June 25, 2020) – Wayne Hatfield loved the 26 years he spent in the Navy, but it wasn’t until he retired that he had time for a hobby.
So Hatfield began using the woodshop at the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center, which features a wide variety of machines and tools, and in the three years he has used the facility, he has finished a long list of projects that includes candleholders, shelves and a candy dispenser, to name a few.
“[The woodshop has] pretty much everything that I would love to have at my house, but there’s no room at my house here,” Hatfield said. “I have a few things at my house, but not like this.”
Sabrina Tsai, manager of the Camp Zama Arts and Crafts Center, said the woodshop’s equipment can accommodate anyone from beginners to experienced woodworkers like Hatfield, and although the shop does not have a full-time employee, staff can help if needed.
For example, Yaritza Padin and Yarid Prescott, friends who used the woodshop for the first time June 23, wanted to cut wood for a tray, a donut stand and a stove cover.
Prescott, who used a miter saw to cut the wood, said she had used power tools at home before, but never the bigger machines in the woodshop, so she had to learn how to use them first.
It went well, Prescott said.
“[The staff] were very informative about everything,” Prescott said. “[Yoshinori Kuriki, a hobby craft instructor at the center,] guided us through it all, and he was there to see that we were doing it correctly, including our posture. He was great about it.”
Padin said she was mostly tagging along with her friend, but enjoyed using the facility.
“I like that there’s a facility here where we can come and pursue projects,” Padin said. “I like using the equipment. I think it’s accessible due to the fact that we’re overseas.”
Prescott said she plans to return.
“It was a good experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try something out to go ahead and come,” Prescott said. “They’ll get a lot of help.”
Hatfield said he pretty much knew how to use most of the equipment before he started using the facility, but staff members have always been helpful and friendly.
“The staff is great here,” Hatfield said. “I think they leave me alone because they see that I know what I’m doing and I’ve been here so many times. It’s not like they just let me have whatever I want here; it’s just that they know I’m safe.”
Hatfield has created so many items at the facility that he has dedicated an Instagram page, @hatwoodcraft, to showing photos of his work.
“This place is beautiful,” Hatfield said. “I love it in here.”
Tsai said that since the nearby Naval Air Facility Atsugi no longer has a woodshop, the facility at Camp Zama is the only one in the area.
The shop is a perfect place to make a memento of Camp Zama, Tsai said, and the hammering and cutting associated with woodworking are good stress relievers.
Using the shop costs $3 an hour, and patrons must watch a 25-minute safety video before using the facility, Kuriki said. Patrons must also bring their own materials, such as wood and paint.
“This is a special place, so it’s very popular,” Kuriki said. “Americans like making custom items themselves.”
For more information, stop by the Arts and Crafts Center in Building 360B from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday, or call DSN 315-263-4412 or COMM 315-263-4412.