KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — One man's bonfire is another man's raw material to build an Adirondack chair.
About six months ago, Andy Hathcock began using recycled wooden shipping pallets to make chairs, benches, cubbies, chests and other types of furniture. What started as a way to keep occupied has grown into a handful of commissioned jobs as word of his work has spread around the island.
His recent work includes the benches at the Java Flats coffee shop in Bell's Flats and the tables at Hope Community Resources, where his wife works.
Hathcock, 50, is a retired equipment operator at golf club manufacturer True Temper. He's a third-generation carpenter and has done side carpentry jobs with more traditional lumber all his life.
His wife, Brenda Hathcock, gets credit for introducing him to pallet furniture by showing him examples of pallet furniture online. The pallets have been an especially welcome material because they fit Hathcock's aesthetics and because traditional lumber is much more expensive in Kodiak than in Amory, Miss., where they lived until 2012.
The pallets are made of a variety of woods including spruce, pine and oak. In some pieces Hathcock burns the surface of the wood to make the wood grains stand out.
"Some of them have got some beautiful wood," Hathcock said Monday morning in his garage workshop in the Island Lake area. "I like wood with knots, lots of pretty grains you can bring out with a torch."
In Amory, pallets are not easy to find. In Kodiak, they're available in abundance, although less common in the winter when people burn them. Hathcock gets his pallets at Threshold Services Inc., Spenard Builders Supply and gas stations.
He custom designs his furniture and works without a diagram.
"If you can tell him what you picture in your head, he can pretty much picture it himself and that's how he builds it," is how his wife Brenda Hathcock describes his work process.
In general, Hathcock prefers larger utilitarian pieces to smaller decorative ones. His favorite pieces include his workbench and the benches he built for Java Flats.
The pallet carpentry is a hobby, not a full-time occupation, and it's likely to remain so. Healthy issues limit Hathcock to fewer than 20 hours a week in his shop. Nonetheless, he said he's happy to talk to people who are interested in having him make furniture. People interested in his work can call him at (662) 436-5405.
Long-term, Hathcock said he'd like to build himself a standalone workshop and expand the size of his tool kit to include a lathe, band saw and a larger planer. He'd also like to one day teach a woodworking class, he said.
Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com