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Focus on Service

The Carpenter

From birdhouses to a warship

When Tyler Weber was a young boy growing up in Ballwin, Missouri, he used to walk around his home and admire the railings, his rocking horse and all the other assorted wooden knickknacks. When he asked who made them, the answer was always the same: "Your grandfather."

His grandfather, Earl "Bud" Grey, was a carpenter, like his father before him, and his father before him. When Bud retired from working at a local general store, he started devoting more time to carpentry projects. He transformed his basement into a carpentry shop and started doing projects around the house. When he noticed that his 10-year-old grandson, Tyler, had taken an interest in woodworking, Bud started getting him involved.

I was raised mostly by grandfather mostly, so I had all this extra time to build into his passion. Every project he made - a cradle, a rocking horse - whatever it was, I was always fascinated with how he did it. It was like magic to me."
-HTFN Tyler Weber
The first project he remembers is working with his grandfather to build a birdhouse for his great-grandmother, who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, but loved bird watching.

"I'll never forget the first birdhouse I made with him." Weber recalled. "It wasn't even a birdhouse. It had three sides, a base and a sloppy one-half angled roof. I called it a birdhouse. I think we made her 10 birdhouses and put them out back for her to see the birds; she loved that."
Three photo collage. Left: HTFN Weber working Middle: Weber and his grandfather Right: Weber cutting wood.

Weber built more than twenty birdhouses of different sizes for different bird breeds, sometimes building a new one weekly, working alongside his grandfather.

The two generations continued to work together throughout Weber's middle and high school years. Often times, weber would bring home what he was working on in woodshop and get Bud's input.

I really started to create this passion for it - this love for the art of woodworking. It is like an artist molding his clay. I get to take an ordinary piece of wood and make almost anything with it."
-HTFN Tyler Weber
When Weber made the decision to join the Navy, he thought his carpentry days would be put on hold. Fresh from "A" School, Weber was in for a surprise when he reported to his ship.

Not long after he checked in. Weber learned about the carpentry shop.

"When I learned about the place, I was so fascinated," Weber explained. "That's where I'd like to be."

He didn't have to wait very long. After a few months onboard, Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Jose Cardenas, the work center supervisor for Ike's carpentry shop, was told he could get a new person in his shop. When Cardenas was asked who should join the team, his first response was, "Weber."
Three photo collage. Left: HTFN Weber close up Middle: Weber hands close up Right: Weber cutting a board.

"He's a hard worker, and he seems like he enjoys his job." Cardenas said of Weber. "The last thing you want is someone coming into work and being miserable. He comes to work every day looking forward to what we have to do."

Weber looks forward to this job because, to him, carpentry is more than just work. It's art.

"It's just like painting. Painters will take their shades, and their colors, and make a painting and make it have meaning. It's the same thing that a carpenter will do to wood. To take a plank of wood that's blank, there's nothing done to it, and craft it into just about anything... It's inspiring."-HTFN Tyler Weber
Now that Weber works in the carpentry shop, he still reaches out to his grandfather every once and awhile for more advice.

"He's had a large impact because he was there - and still is there - through most of my life. I know he'll continue to be there," Weber said. "Even now, when I have questions, I might call him and say, 'Hey, I've got a question for you' and sure enough, he knows the answer."
Graphic that depicts Bob Duncan, who builds model wooden boats for the Maritime Museum in San Diego.