Built to scale

Jim Arnold, owner of Reflections in Wood in Prince George, British Columbia, specializes in building custom scale wooden display models of trucks, equipment and aircraft. What started out as a hobby 35 years ago became a business in 2001.

“Most of my customers are, for instance, wives that want to give their husband an anniversary or Christmas gift,” says Arnold.

Most of Arnold’s orders are generated through his Web site. If the client wants a replica of a vehicle they own, he asks for detailed pictures. For other requests, he will search the Internet or sift through his extensive collection of brochures on older vehicles. He drafts a sketch and sends it to the client for approval.

“I pick the wood for the color and grain I want in the model. I don’t paint the models, but try to keep the natural colors of the wood with a finishing oil. I have used padauk, purpleheart, acacia, maple, birch, aspen, oak, cherry, black walnut, as well as some soft woods like Western red cedar.”

Through the years, Arnold has refined his techniques, and the models are always becoming more detailed and more to scale. Usually, Arnold works in a 1:20 scale. A logging truck, for example, is about 40” long.

Arnold estimates he has built 100 models, which sell for $600 to $1,200. The logging trucks are the most popular.

“I certainly enjoy building the models,” adds Arnold. “I enjoy the communication with the clients from all over the world, and I like the research part of it, too, because I learn something about the particular vehicles.”