All Posts by Donald Dawson

Model Aluminum NASCAR Hauler


Can you imagine the excitement in creating a Model Aluminum NASCAR Hauler from a model semi-trailer kit?

Our small custom metal shop specializes in these unusual challenges and transformations.

This was a multi-week project on a model NASCAR hauler’s exterior shell upgrade.

The model needed a welded reefer unit and a working ramp, and we accomplished both.

Now, the ramp can be raised and lowered by hand or by a battery-powered mechanical drive – just like the real haulers.

In fact, this project included in-person field research.

I’d been trying to see one up close but could never find them at the hours I tried, but on this day, we lucked out.

Unexpectedly, early on a Saturday morning walk with my wife, we spotted a driver and hauler delivering a new car to the Lamborghini dealership.

The driver was friendly and keen about the project and showed me around the hauler and let me take pictures.

He had to move an antique car from the top level to the bottom, so there was plenty of time to watch how everything worked, to study the structure and ask questions.

Complete, But More to Come

Today, after many weeks, the owner of the the model came to take it away.

I had been sending him pictures and he’d come by on a weekly basis to see the progress.

The completion of this project is bittersweet for me – as it is not my own model and I enjoyed my client’s weekly visit.

However, I look forward to teaching him in the future.

He wants to build a bigger and fancier unit from scratch.

I love teaching, and model building is in my blood.

So although this project has ended, fortunately another model of a different kind is on its way!



And Now For Something Bigger

North Vancouver Museum and Archives asked me to restore and conserve a gas-powered model seaplane representing our B.C. coastal air and sea transportation.

It’s got a 6-foot wing-span.

Now that’ll need to be suspended when I’m not working on it.

More on that later.

What Treasures Do You Have In Your Closets?

Keep your eyes out for metal items around your home that can be repaired, restored or repurposed.

Let’s get rid of this throwaway practice and rebuild or build new from what’s already there.

Especially if something has sentimental value.

You’ll be amazed what you can do when we brainstorm ideas together.

Look at some of the repairs or refurbishing I’ve done for some ideas.

Don’t be shy.

All questions are good questions.

And if you like this blog, please share it.

That’s always helpful.


Heritage & Other Personal Items Are Worthy of Repair


At our small custom metal shop, we sincerely care about the personal items and other heritage pieces you keep because of special memories.

Heritage items have a history to them and mean something to the people who have kept them.

They DO matter.

Often, a repair or refurbishing is minor.

At other times, it may mean rebuilding a part and that may take more time.

We discuss all of this with you before we begin.

We’ve had clients who’ve restored a belt buckle, an artist’s horse figure, a letter opener, a match box, and more.

The horse figure in the picture above came to us via one of our best collaborators, Wendy at Magic Box Hobbies.

She knows that we can repair many things, having made props at The Arts Club Theatre and other theatre houses.


Heritage and Repurposing Make a Great Combo

And we’ve had one client who wanted something built in a steampunk style for her daughter’s special birthday – out of her high school practice saxophone.

That was a combination of a heritage item and the magic of repurposing.

We made the birthday girl a water fountain for her deck!

Heritage Sax repurposed into a fountain

There are so many items of value that can see the light of day again, or can be repurposed, when we work with you and our endless imaginations.

We’ll talk with you on the phone or by email to figure out what to do with the items you have stored away.

Collaboration is something we love to do and we do it well.

If you call, or send us a picture, that’s a great starting point for a conversation.

All things metal are fair game for some fun!

And there are other objects that also have come in for repair.

The 1904 doll that came in this fall was a great success.

Though it took some time, in the end, it got repaired to working order.

There’s never a charge for asking.

Creative Solutions To Metal Work and Mechanical Issues

Today’s blog is the very first in a series illustrating the kind of problems my clients bring and the solutions I create for them.

Problem-solving mechanical and metal work issues is my super power.

Some solutions just require passing on skills for clients who want to learn blacksmithing, welding and fabrication.

For that, I offer one-on-one workshops.

Other solutions help our planet’s environment by reusing and repurposing old machinery and equipment.

And some are more whimsical solutions that play a role in entertaining others through metal art work.

I create solutions to your wildest, simplest or seemingly impossible problems.

Fabricated Table Legs

This client needed four 3/8’’ x 4” steel flat bars bent into a large square with welded angled supports.

He asked me not to finish the legs in any manner, including leaving fabrication tool markings.

The client provided the milled heavy timber for the table top.


fabricated metal work table legs


One day, while I was walking by a store front on the way to Granville Island with my wife, I was startled to suddenly come upon the fruits of my labour – fabricated table legs at The Luminous Elephant Arts Studio.

They cater to young people’s art classes and sometimes use the space for adult team building.

That was a rewarding moment, to see these tables go to good use.



fabricated metal work table legs