Woodworking at 55 MPH

Woodworking comes in many forms and has many specialties. One of the more interesting niche areas of woodworking is the dedicated group of craftsmen restoring and maintaining Woodie Wagons. (The iconic cars of the 1950s and popularized by many a movie and the surfer culture) One such craftsman is my friend Steve O’Shaughnessy who is also the head of the Preservation Carpentry Department at the North Bennet Street School.

When visiting the the shop the other day I took some quick pics of his current project which is the restoration of a 1952 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon. Back in the 1950s some of this woodworking and maintenance was performed by the local Buick dealership — imagine that today?

Steve has been meticulous in going through all the body and mechanical systems and cataloging all of the original wooden parts of the car. Since then he has systematically been replicating the wood pieces from Ash using a combination of his duplicarver system, skill and perseverance — as many of the pieces have delicate compound angles that have to fit just right in order for everything to line up. He was able to consolidate the original pieces and use them as templates when fabricating the new parts, but even with those templates on hand it still takes a lot of work to get it all fitting tight.

When he’s done he’ll have a classic show car and a piece of fine furniture he can drive down the highway at 55MPH — I can’t wait to see it completed.

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