Braxton Citizens' News, Community

Frametown man makes replica of FVFD firehouse

By Shirley Shuman

At the June 20 regular meeting of the Frametown Fire department,  James Samples presented the group a replica of their firehouse done to scale. Frametown fire chief Andrew Griffin commented on the expertise he saw reflected in Samples’ work. “It’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s unbelievable that anyone has that much skill to do something like that. James does amazing work.”  Samples discussed how and why he had made the replica along with some of his other work.

Explaining that he had earlier given the Frametown Fire Department a prototype of their building to raffle off as a fundraiser, he decided to build the more detailed and exact replica as a gift. “I enjoy woodworking,” he said, “but this was also a gift of gratitude. When I had a stroke, they transported me from my home to a medical helicopter, and I was flown to Morgantown for treatment, I’m grateful for that.” This work will be kept at the firehouse.

Samples started work on the replica in May.  He began the project  by taking a photograph of the building and proceeded to make the frame of rough pine lumber. He used a molding machine to make the siding out of plywood  and  a laser saw for the doors and trim. Then, he noted,  to make the roof look like a metal roof, he used a miniature saw. Samples then attached “really small dowel rods”  to make the ribbing of the roof.

Not surprisingly, the firehouse replica is not the only example of Samples’ woodworking. “I like to sponsor organizations and causes,” he said, “so I’ve done several pieces for other organizations and even for individuals.”  One example he gave was the doll house which he said “was for the Gassaway bank’s efforts to raise money for the Relay for Life.”  He had earlier made a doll house when he lived in Pennsylvania, he noted.

Samples has made and  donated many more pieces of his woodwork, but perhaps the one he is most proud of is the fiddle he made for his father, Russell Samples. . “Dad was talented at whittling, I remember, and he used to carve tops out of wooden spools. His major talent, however, was fiddling. He played his fiddle all over West Virginia and was very popular,” he noted.

He continued. “I quickly learned that I had no musical talent whatsoever, but I could whittle, and I developed that into woodworking. I told my dad, ‘I can’t play a fiddle like you and my brother do, but I can make you a fiddle,’  and I did.”  He also made a banjo. James Samples, in what he terms “the second part of my life,” has spent a great portion of it woodworking, and he obviously enjoys it. “If it fascinates me, I’ll make a model of it,” he said. “God gave me a talent,”  and he uses that talent for the benefit of others.