‘It’s all wood’ at Fort Bliss: U-Do-It woodworking shop helps Soldiers make what they need
Sgt. Ida Irby,
24th Press Camp Headquarters:
“When I was 4 years old, a neighbor made me a wooden turtle and I’ve had that turtle since then, but I always wondered how it was made,” said Spc. Paul Kammer.
After Kammer visited the U-Do-It woodshop and saw the scrap wood and tools, he decided to make his own wooden turtle.
Fort Bliss’ carpentry shop is furnished with a table saw, band saw, router table, drill press, joiner, cordless drills and palm sanders. The woodshop also offers free scrap lumber for small projects. First-time users must attend a mandatory safety training class, which is available Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“My turtle is turning out all right, and I’m doing better than I thought I would do,” said Kammer, with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 212th Fires Brigade.
“The woodshop was created for Soldiers to make whatever their unit needs,” said James Hal Krump, U-Do-It carpenter, including chain-of-command boards, physical-training stations and anything that supports the unit. It is also the only military woodshop in the Fort Bliss area.
Today, Soldiers work on information boards, cork boards and chin-up bars – each project saving the units as much as $4,500 compared to retail costs. Soldiers can save money, while taking pride in knowing they did it themselves.
“If you can think it, it can be made in this shop – only supply your own wood,” he said.
Krump is working his fourth year at the U-Do-It woodshop for PRIDE Industries of El Paso where he has helped Soldiers develop talents and build associates.
“I would love to see more people come in to complete small, personal projects,” said Krump. If they want to make a spice cabinet, memory chest, coin box or personal body armor stand, the shop has all the equipment to assist in the completion of these projects.
Krump said he enjoys just being in the woodshop.
“I get a kick out of seeing a Soldier that has never used any tools, and after a week or so they are getting pretty good at it,” he said. “They just wave me off and say, ‘I don’t need you, Hal,’ because they know their way around the shop. From step one to the last steps of a project, I can really see the satisfaction and smiles on the Soldiers’ faces.”
“Woodwork is relaxing,” Sgt. Stanley Showalter said as he carved away at a wooden plank. “It’s also rewarding because I can see my progress each and every day.”
According to Krump, woodworking can be therapeutic for Soldiers. He helps Soldiers to transition into home life after war. Some are enrolled in the Army Wounded Warrior Program, while others are here in the garrison environment.
“We had three guys come into the shop, and I could see that they were affected by war,” said Christopher Cerna, U-Do-It carpenter for PRIDE Industries. “They came into our program and opened up and we became good friends. We see Soldiers come and go. They go through the [Wounded Warrior Program], they get deployed and permanent change of duty – and we have stayed here.”
Cerna said he gets personal satisfaction after working hands-on to help Soldiers.
To learn more about the safety classes, call James Hal Krump at 568-1772.
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