Challenge of scale intrigues woodworker

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German WWII scale model tank.

After a work life that included stints as a homebuilder, cabinetmaker and truck driver, Art Beauchamp’s idea of retirement doesn’t include sitting around in front of the television all day.

Visitors to the Creston Valley Fall Fair once again had a chance to see his woodworking skills, where his scale model of a King Tiger tank won a ribbon.

“I just got a bee in my bonnet about that tank,” he laughs. “I purchased a 1/35 scale plastic model that I assembled. Then I used the measurements to make a 1/18 wood model.”

The German WWII tank’s official name is the Panzerkampfwagen Tiger, which Allied soldiers dubbed as Royal Tiger or King Tiger. The Tiger was a terror in battle, with its superior maneuverability and firepower often able to keep a dozen Sherman tanks at bay.

Beauchamp wasn’t finished when his 1/18 scale model was done. It was while searching on the Internet that he saw a larger 1/6 model and soon he was back in his workshop.

“It took three and a half months to build,” he said. “The King Tiger was an extremely heavy tank in real life and it could shoot three times the distance of a Sherman. The only way it could be killed was to take out the engine.”

Beauchamps model uses mostly wood in its construction. Eighty-four pieces of 3/8-inch wood treads were glued onto nylon tie-down straps to create each track.

“I had more fun trying to figure out how to make these things,” he says of the need to make jigs for repetitive cuts. “That’s the whole thing–the challenges. What kind of jig can I make when I need dozens of the same piece? Without jigs I’d be working forever!”

The larger model uses some metal bolts, as well.

Last year’s Fall Fair featured another of Beauchamp’s creations. A large dollhouse, also a ribbon winner, features 650 hand-split shakes on the roof, and countless strips of wood siding. He worked out the design from a picture “the size of a postage stamp.”

He donated the dollhouse to the Creston Valley Senior Centre so it could be raffled off as a fundraiser. The Tiger Tank was also donated, this time to the Army Cadets.

“It’s a good hobby,” Beauchamp says of making wooden scale models. “I like to use my head and hands to create things.”