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.