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Stagecoach vision becomes reality

February 28, 2000

Robert KendallBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




Robert Kendall had a vision: Stagecoaches.

"I was sitting around one day, trying to think of something else to do, and stagecoaches just come into my mind," said Kendall, 72, of Hagerstown.

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So the retired loading dock operator turned woodworker plumbed the depths of his imagination and produced a pattern for the wooden carriages he had long admired in the Western movies he used to watch.

Armed with saws and Super-Glue, Kendall now spends most of his days in his backyard workshop.

"It keeps me out of my wife's hair," the craftsman said.

"He spends some long hours down in that shed," added his wife, Shirley Kendall.

Kendall takes precise measurements before running the virgin hardwood under his table saw.

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"I once had it all Super-Glued and I noticed one side was shorter than the other," Kendall said. "I learn from my mistakes."

He uses a scroll saw to craft his miniature coaches' windows, and employs the thinnest of blades to carve around the spokes on his stagecoaches' wheels.

He spends hours adding steps, upholstered seats, foot boards, top racks, working hand brakes and water kegs to each stagecoach.

He sands and sands some more.

Each working stagecoach holds 28 screws, a few small nails, gobs of Super-Glue and Kendall's "autograph" on the bottom, he said.

When each small stagecoach is completed, it takes its place among Kendall's other wooden projects.

A would-be artist who never had the guidance he needed to pursue his dream, Kendall said he's crafted cartoon characters, bird feeders, wagons and remote control holders from wood.

The windowsills in his home frame some of this work, including an ink-on-wood sketch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. flanked by an ink-on-wood likeness of animated talk show host Larry King.

He spent much of his childhood drawing, but didn't discover woodwork until several years ago, he said.

"It seemed like something easier to do, but I found it's not easy," Kendall said.

Especially those wheels.

Now a Seventh-day Adventist, Kendall said the old shoot 'em up Westerns are too violent for him, but he still reveres actor John Wayne and the boxy stagecoaches that bumped down so many dusty trails in his films.

"I've always liked 'em. They just intrigued me, I guess," Kendall said.

He's given some of his mini-stagecoaches to family members as gifts, and hopes to begin selling his wooden models for about $50 each, he said.

"If I can sell 'em, I'll keep making 'em," Kendall said. "If I don't sell 'em, I'll find something else."

Robert Kendall will take orders at 301-797-0792.

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