Airman carves out passion

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christian Clausen
  • 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Growing up in a family of tradesmen, Nicholas learned the value of working with his hands at a young age. As the son of a construction worker and the grandson of a carpenter, he became inspired by their work and ventured to become just as self-sufficient as they were.   

While Nicholas is skilled in many trades, woodworking is his passion.

Now a Tech. Sgt. and a 432nd Maintenance Group Quality Assurance inspector, he continues to work with his hands, by ensuring quality maintenance during duty hours and by making unique gifts and awards for his fellow military members in his spare time.

His projects have supported the base over the past two years and with each new carving his reputation has grown as others discover his woodworking talents.  

“It started out with my supervisor who wanted me to build Tiger Chalks (unit awards),” Nicholas said. “Then another person in the aircraft maintenance unit asked if I could make a plaque. He was impressed, so people kept coming back for more and I continued on.”

In total, Nicholas has made approximately 70 items for fellow Creech AFB members.

His most recent gift, a shadow box set in a coffee table, is one of his favorites. He logged over 40 hours perfecting it for retired Chief Master Sgt. Edward, 432nd Wing Weapons manager.

“He did a lot for me and a lot for the weapons community and he’s been a great mentor,” Nicholas said. “The least I could was help provide a gift to recognize his 30 years of service.”

The gift was a testimony to the quality of his work and after weeks of planning with the Wing Weapons Standardization Section, left the chief almost speechless.

“Chief [Edward] didn’t say a whole lot, it was more in his expression,” Nicholas said. “He couldn’t stop looking at it. He was quiet with a huge smile, and in his eyes you could see his happiness. He said thank you, I don’t know how many times.”

While Nicholas may be the go-to guy for unique gifts, he doesn’t claim credit for his work.

“I don’t do it for recognition at all,” he said. “If someone wants to recognize me for it, that’s ok, but I’m not striving for that. It’s a memento to recognize the person’s years of service so, I’m happy to do it.”

Above any praise, he revels in the joy of seeing people’s reactions of his work while also enjoying doing the work.

“That’s the best thing,” he said. “I get the joy out of making it, but I also get the joy out of seeing their reactions, getting that sense of wow. It’s cool because I’m bringing something they wanted to life.”

Creating works of art has been a long process and as a little boy he was inspired by his family’s creations. As he grew, so did his woodworking passion.  

 “I took my first woodworking class in eighth grade then in high school,” Nicholas said. “I always did woodworking and design. I’ve always enjoyed building things, taking things apart, putting them back together and finding new ways to make things more efficiently.”

Even after he joined the military, 12 years ago as a weapons loader, he still found time to go to the base’s hobby shop and make projects. When he bought his house in Las Vegas, he slowly began collecting tools until he filled the garage, while making changes to his home along the way.

“I renovated my whole house top to bottom,” he said. I installed flooring, molding, and furniture as well as plumbing, landscaping, wiring and created a custom entertainment center.”

The entertainment center was his proudest creation. It required woodworking, custom wiring, audiovisual and lighting.

No matter if it’s his own home improvement project or a gift, woodworking has given Nicholas an escape.

“Working on projects is a fun and relaxing way to decompress,” Nicholas said. “It’s fun and I get to learn new things and exercise my mind by solving problems.”