Gazette Archive 5/12/04
A Book Review by Jess Webb
Title: Building Antique Model Cars
This is an excellent book for any woodworker who builds models, and an outstanding one for those interested in building model cars. William Reeves has produced a book that faithfully recreates six antique cars in wood down to the tiniest lug nuts and valve stems on the wheels, and he provides explicit, detailed instructions for those who might want to do the same.
The book is soft covered, magazine sized and attractively printed on heavy paper stock. It is filled with excellent color photographs done by Gerry Grajewski and contains a multitude of sketches, patterns and dimensioned drawings illustrating each detail of construction.
Mr. Reeves is a Canadian, lives in Winnipeg and has a long held interest in history, antique cars and woodworking. He successfully combines all those interests in this book. He is an acknowledged authority on antique cars and recently won first place in the Canadian Woodworking Show with one of his antique car models.
In the introduction to the book, the author gives a brief general history of automobile evolution and describes how his interest led him into model making. He gives a short summary of the construction process involved in building one of his models and ends with comments on materials and levels of difficulty. He strives for accuracy and says: "The dash of the assembled model, also made of wood, looks the same as it would look if you sat on the seat of the real car and looked at the dash in front of you."
The first portion of the book is devoted to a discussion of wood choices, safety and pattern transfer methods. This is followed by a detailed discussion of tools and jigs, amply illustrated with photos and drawings. An example of the high level of detail throughout the book is indicated here with four pages and 20 illustrations being devoted just to wheel construction. This general section ends with notes on finishing the completed model and construction of a glass display case to house it.
The remainder of the book is devoted to very detailed instruction on the building of a 1911 Stanley Steamer, 1905 Cadillac, 1903 Model A Ford, 1903 Mercedes, 1907 Locomobile, and 1903 De Dion-Bouton.
Each project starts with a short history of the car involved and a detailed parts list that includes part name, size, material and number of pieces. It continues with instruction on making each part using numerous drawings, patterns and photos to illustrate the text, and ends with a discussion of final assembly. The cars are not painted and Mr. Reeves names the hardwoods and grain direction he uses to achieve the colors and contrasts of various parts. There are a few small metal parts, and the author uses a small metal/wood lathe for turning these parts. This is a piece of machinery not found in most general woodworking shops and might require other solutions than those shown for some woodworkers.
I was continually impressed throughout this book with the high level of detail and thorough, step by step instruction provided by William Reeves. It is obvious that he not only knows his subject, but loves his work. Despite his assertion that the construction is straight forward and requires patience more than anything else, I suspect this level of construction is not for everyone. However, for anyone with an interest in model making or antique cars, this book is a bargain at $12.95.
Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble