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Among their many projects, Rachel Napier, Maxwell Club manager and her friend Pam Wickham from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., built the bench that sits outside the entrance to the Maxwell Club, complete with the hand-painted Airman's Creed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phil Berube)
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'Hideous' project starts woodworking hobby

Posted 3/10/2014   Updated 3/10/2014 Email story   Print story


by Phil Berube
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/10/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.  -- It all started a couple of years ago after she asked her husband to build a wood bed for their dog Bama, a Great Dane.

The end result was "hideous," according to her. "My husband is not a builder," she added.

Rachel Napier held on to the bed long enough to show her best friend Pam Wickham, visiting from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

"I showed her the ugly dog bed," said Napier. "We put our heads together and said we can definitely make a nicer bed than what my husband made. We did. Bama's new bed is gorgeous and painted in Alabama Crimson Tide colors."

Interesting thing is, is that neither Napier nor Wickam had any experience working with wood, let alone power tools, before setting out on their first project.

Now, just two years later, Napier recites her list of power tools as easily as reciting the list of chores that needs to be done at the Maxwell Club where she serves as its manager.

"Sliding miter saw (we each have our own), drills, two different sanders, clamps, levels, reciprocating saw, rotozip, jig saw, carpenter's square," she offers.

It's with these tools and more that the two woodworkers have created a number of items.

Working together, Napier and Wickam have built work tables with drawers (two at each house), a pergola, a deck, outdoor bars and grill tables with ceramic tile tops, benches, shelving, outdoor bar stools, children's table with chalkboard top, step stools with storage ... and the list goes on and on.

What is even more impressive than their list of projects is the fact that neither has ever taken a woodworking class.

"We learn by doing," said Napier. "We draw up our own plans for everything we make. I'm not saying we haven't made plenty of mistakes, we have, but we learn so much from those mistakes."

The duo's most recent creations can be seen at the Maxwell Club.

They built two cash register stations, two glass storage units with tile tops and three wood benches for the club. Two of the benches are by the lounge door and the third is outside the main entrance. Each bench has "Maxwell Club" hand-painted on them, but the bench by the main entrance also has the words to the "Airman's Creed" painted on it.

"We wanted the bench out front to make a statement and to remind everyone what our military represents and the sacrifices they are willing to make to ensure our freedom," she said. "We are proud to serve these men and women every day at the Maxwell Club."

With a list of completed projects as long as any found at any high school's wood shop class, the pair has no plans of slowing down.

Next on their to-do list are more decks, a bench-coat rack combo and a swing that will fit a twin mattress.

Not bad for a hobby that started with a bed not fit for a dog.

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