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LA Monitor

Martinez is a woodworking wizard

County > Skills in carpentry help dress up facilities

By Arin McKenna Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 1:01 pm

His official title is construction specialist 3.

Tim Martinez

photo by Arin McKenna

His job duties include basic maintenance for all the buildings, keeping HVAC units functioning and overseeing in house construction projects.

His skills include plumbing, welding, laying carpet, putting up drywall and painting.

But Tim Martinez’s most notable skill is carpentry. Although most people do not know his name, it is likely that they have seen his work.

The most high profile of Martinez’s many carpentry projects for the county is the framing for “Valle Grande and Jemez River,” Sam Tubiolo’s triptych tile mural in council chambers.

The project began with screwing a plywood base to the wall for Tubiolo to lay the tiles on. Martinez then framed the panels by milling rough cut maple to 12-feet by 6- or 10-feet lengths, planing it down and adding dado joints (made by cutting a channel in the wood) for piecing it together.

“The artist, Sam Tubiolo, said, if I ever get another project, I’m going to call you up so you can come frame it for me,” Martinez said.

Many of Martinez’s projects are not evident at first glance, such as a maple covering for a steel railing on the ramp in council chambers. The addition is beautifully matched to the maple dais the council sits at.

The wooden holders for the councils’ name plates are also Martinez’s handiwork, as is the display space for councilor photos in the foyer.

Martinez also built a new base and legs for the conference table in the county administrator’s office. The table sat so low people were hitting their knees on it.

Carpentry is only a small part of Martinez’s workday.

“We do it all. When I say all, I mean everything,” Martinez said.

Major projects are continually being interrupted in order to address everyday maintenance issues.

“It’s almost like you’re on standby. You’re doing something, and you always expect to get a phone call and run somewhere,” Martinez said. “There’s always a toilet overflowing or a water leak somewhere. You’ve got to go to those quick.”

Martinez has taken to keeping a second set of tools in his truck so he does not have to bounce back and forth between job sites.

In addition, the maintenance crew of the Facilities Division helps with snow removal in the winter.

“That’s a tough time of the year, because we could be working snow removal for 12 hours and then get called out to a call, depending on what shift you’re on. So we’ve got to do two jobs at that time,” Martinez said.

Martinez has been involved in many major projects.

He helped construct the bridge for the hiking trail behind the aquatic center and remodel basement offices in the old municipal building. He also did the oak paneling and judge’s dais in that building’s court chambers.

Martinez also headed the project to finish the restaurant at the golf course community building. That project included completing work left undone by the contractor and outfitting the restaurant, Cottonwood on the Greens, to the vendor’s specifications.

Martinez and his crew plumbed, piped in and installed all the appliances, the walk-in coolers and the beer cooler. They built walls and cut windows and doorways.

Martinez is currently notching the stone pillars on the patio to hold the canvas panels that will keep the elements out.
The restaurant’s bar is another of Martinez’s masterpieces. The bar was made of pine, but the restaurateurs wanted it to match the fir used in the rest of the dining room. The bar’s floor is made from fir recycled from the Las Conchas fire.
Martinez ordered unfinished fir from his supplier in Santa Fe — unfinished is the only available option — refinished the entire bar and built new access panels for it.

Some of Martinez’s most significant projects — such as designing and overseeing the construction of a roof for the salt bins at the Pajarito Cliffs site — will never be seen by the public.

That project required laying I-beams, welding and roofing skills, as well as two months of overtime to ensure the county’s supply of road salt was protected from the elements when it arrived.

Martinez became “intrigued” with woodworking back in high school, and took wood shop in order to learn carpentry.
He honed his skill working with a couple of cabinet builders. But his work ethic comes from his father.

“I like to build strong and stout so it’s going to last forever,” Martinez said. “I get that from my dad. My dad is twice as bad as I am. Overkill. His house is going to withstand hurricanes.

“My dad was a machinist, so everything’s to the thousandths. I’m a carpenter. It doesn’t have to be that close. A 16th is fine with me.”

Martinez’s own standards may be looser than his father’s, but they are exacting all the same. He laughingly compares himself to Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor from the old TV series “Home Improvement.”

“You know how he used to say ‘More horsepower?’ Martinez asked. “I’m really meticulous about my work. It has to be perfect. I want it to be done right, even if I have to tear it down and do it again.”

“I have a saying: It ain’t a mess up if you can fix it. Except I don’t use mess up. I use a different word. And a lot of guys get frustrated with me because I’ll tear it all apart and start all over again.”

Martinez’s creativity comes into play as well. As someone describes a project to him he is already visualizing how he is going to do it and how it is going to come out.

Martinez has thought about a career change.

“If there’s an opportunity for me to advance myself, I think I would do it,” Martinez said. “But I like working with my hands. I don’t think I could handle sitting in front of a computer all day.”

Retirement is six years away. Martinez is not sure he would want to retire fully, but thinks it might be an opportunity for him to set up his own shop and do his own woodworking projects. He also looks forward to more time for hunting and fishing.
In the meantime, Martinez enjoys his work.

“I’m just lucky that I have the tools and the opportunity to do stuff like this, because I love to do it,” Martinez said.

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2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200

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