Clean cuts

Bryant’s Cove wood­worker loves craft­ing ve­hi­cles


Most ev­ery­one needs a new hobby once they re­tire. For Wil­liam James, choos­ing one that uti­lized his spe­cial­ized skills was no prob­lem.

Af­ter 55 years work­ing in the car­pen­try busi­ness since the age of 15 — his fa­ther and brother were also car­pen­ters — the Bryant’s Cove na­tive shifted his wood­work­ing fo­cus to minia­ture modes of trans­porta­tion.

James spends up­wards of 100 hours to con­struct a sin­gle model mo­tor ve­hi­cle, rang­ing in size from a few inches to over three feet in length.

“ It’s tidy work. You have to be neat with it,” says James of his model-mak­ing, which re­quires a great deal of pa­tience and at­ten­tion to de­tail.

From look­ing at the fin­ished prod­uct, you can tell James isn’t ly­ing. The ve­hi­cles, which in­clude pickup trucks, dumps trucks, and 1930s style cars, amongst oth­ers, fea­ture smooth edges with plenty of minute de­tails fea­tured.

One piece he en­tered in this year’s Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Agri­cul­ture and Home Craft Fall Fair in Har­bour Grace gives am­ple ev­i­dence of James’ con­sid­er­able skill in craft­ing de­tailed wooden mod­els.

The model train he built in­cludes a box­car, a pas­sen­ger car, and a ca­boose, along with the en­gine at the front. Rest­ing on a hand­made por­tion of a train track, the model train is proudly dis­played on the man­tel­piece in his liv­ing room — he built the man­tel­piece as well, along with cab­i­nets, cupboards, plates, cups, and other items spread through­out his home.

James says the train re­quired more work than any other model he’s ever at­tempted, but it all paid off, as the train is now his favourite cre­ation. Judges at the fair took no­tice too, award­ing him with a Best-in-Fair hon­our.

“I wasn’t go­ing to send any­thing in, but some­one asked me if I’d en­ter,” says James, who isn’t nec­es­sar­ily mak­ing these mod­els to at­tract ad­mi­ra­tion. “I just does it be­cause I like to be at it.”

The hobby got its start with an 18-wheeler James built based on in­struc­tions from a cat­a­logue he pur­chased. Be­ing an old pro work­ing with wood, the trans­port truck was built with rel­a­tively few has­sles, though James says there are al­ways sec­ond-takes to deal with.

“ There’s a lot of things you’ll have to do over. You’ll dam­age it when you’re mak­ing it, be­cause I have to make all the parts — I don’t send away for any.”

From there, his work took off. The shed in his back­yard serves as James’ work­shop, with nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of his cre­ations on dis­play.

While James gives away some of his pieces to fam­ily mem­bers, he has not made any at­tempts to sell them — com­pen­sat­ing James for the amount of labour that goes into each fin­ished item is a pricey af­fair.

Wil­liam James says trans­port trucks are amongst the eas­ier mod­els to build with wood. The cre­ation of plows and crane in­volve more minute de­tails.

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